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Top 10 Things You Should Have Before Starting A Photography Business

So you've realized business is the way to go if you're ever going to be happy and fulfilled within your lifetime.

 

You've read tons of articles about how more and more people capitalize on their passion and flourish.

 

You've browsed through endless blogs of people who've successfully built their brand as a make-up artist, a videographer, a florist, a marketing consultant, a sales guru, a wine expert through online word of mouth thanks to social media.

 

You're tired of the 9 to 5 routine.

 

You can't wait til the weekend to go photo exploring.

 

You're all dreamy looking at other photographers' websites and portfolio.

 

You're insanely jealous reading their blog and looking at photos of events they covered over the weekend.

 

You realize there's more to your talent than being the go to photographer at your friends' and families' weddings and birthday parties.

 

You know it isn't just a hobby.

 

You know it isn't just something you're good at.

 

You wish you had more time to just immerse yourself in doing what you love and hey, if you get paid for it, that would be awesome!

 

You decide to dive in.

 

Congratulations.

 

I mean it. Nothing can be sweeter than waking up knowing you'll be doing what you love all fucking day.

 

It's a constant exciting learning and rewarding experience.

 

It's liberating and fulfilling.

 

I wish I could go 3 years back and tell my nervous and insecure self that it's going to be okay. Let go of the pretenses. Be yourself. Start a blog now. Say whatever. Start hustling. Make the most of your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

 

But being as stubborn as I was, I probably wouldn't have listened. Even to myself. Which is fine and dandy since I've realized mistakes are the best teachers. A cliche, yes, but soooo so true nonetheless.

 

Nonetheless?

 

Who says that?

 

Here are 10 of the basic things I think you should have before you make the plunge. The plunge? What the?

 

1. A real passion for the craft. It is not a hobby. It's not something you dabble in here and there. It's not because of the new DSLR you got for Christmas. It's not because cousin Larry asked if you could take his wedding photos during the summer. It's not because of a lucky shot of an already beautiful sunset.

 

It consumes your thoughts. Almost every. waking. moment. You spend hours online after coming home from work reading and commenting on photography blogs and forums. You have lunch while browsing RebekkaGuðleifsdóttir's new images on your iPhone. You're itching to go home to try out this new trick you just read about on a Photoshop magazine and you go to bed at 3:00 am to wake up at 6:00 am to go to work but you're psyched cause you were able to do it!

 

If you're thinking the second paragraph sounded psycho, stop reading. Don't waste your time. You obviously cannot relate and you're not cut out for this. If you thought it was too much, obsessive even, you're absolutely right. And what you thought was your passion for photography is merely an interest. Keep your job until you find what it is you're really passionate about.

 

2. Authenticity. I've learned that what closes the deal isn't much about your gear, your experience, not even your portfolio. Don't get me wrong, these all count, a lot. But what makes the most impact is how you connect with your clients. I can't describe it in detail since each person is different. Each connection is different from the other. As such, I can't give you a step-by-step guide on how to do this. There is only one rule. Be yourself. Authenticity can be easily overlooked but one thing you have to keep in mind is people aren't stupid. They can sniff a poser from miles away. You can't fake a connection. It comes from something within you and something within them that clicks. So be you.

 

For example, I meet a couple at Starbucks. They've seen my work, we've exchanged a couple of emails, we've chatted for a bit on the phone. More or less we've had a feel for each other's personalities. Most of the time, when they ask to meet with you, you have more or less closed the deal. They just want to see you. Not how you look like, but how you connect with them. They themselves may not realize it but that's what they're there for.

 

So anyway, I'm sitting there, see a couple who enters the door seemingly looking for someone. They see me. They see that I'm looking at them with more than curiosity but expectation. We recognize each other even if we haven't seen each other before. This almost always happens. I get off my butt as they approach me and depending on how they appear to be receptive and how much we've already connected by phone or by email, I give them a hug or shake their hands.

 

They see me and ask "Filipina ka ba?" ("Are you a Filipina?") I say yes and the mood automatically changes. I already know I will be at their wedding in a few months. We start talking in Tagalog and both of us are more excited than we were knowing we're working with one of our own. We've reached our comfort zone.

 

This is just an example. Nationality is just one of many many points of connection. It may be because you both love watching the Kardashians. It may be because their theme for their kid's birthday party is Ni Hao Kailan, something you totally relate to since you just gave your daughter a Ni Hao Kailan birthday party and start offering suggestions on where to get the best theme birthday cake for a good price. It may be because you both share a love for Vietnamese cuisine. It could be anything.

 

So be yourself. You can filter out clients who are obviously not a match. Not by declining them. It will naturally just not push through. Cause you'll both feel it. So it goes both ways. They can relax during their special day cause they're comfortable with you. They trust you. They know you'll take charge and will have no hesitation but more of excitement in seeing the results.

 

On your end, you'll be more into the event. You'll be pumped up making the documentation extra special, extend a little bit to catch that keg stand and can't wait to impress them when they see the final product.

 

3. Decent gear. You have to have a good camera. Absolutely no point and shoot. You don't have to have the most expensive one out there. Shoot, you could even get second hand gear on eBay or Craigslist if you have to (just make sure it's still got a lot of life left in it but you already know that, duh).

 

I have a confession. From the time I started, I have used a Canon 350D shooting events for two and a half years. Two and a half years. With no back-up. I must have been a total idiot or just had a whole lot of guts or just plain lucky or a combination of all three.

 

I've managed to successfully cover 73 events within that time frame and promptly delivered results to happy clients. Many times I've been at events and some of the guests' camera's were better than mine. Many times. I was embarrassed. But I also knew I'd produce images from my ancient gear that will blow away the thousands they've spent on theirs. I loved that camera but eventually had to part with it and get a back-up if I didn't want to get screwed. I didn't want to push my luck.

 

I share this because of a few things:

 

- There is no reason not to start because you are not (yet) the owner of a 5D. Stop right now if that's your way of thinking. You're not passionate about photography. You're a techie. Start googling the latest gadgets out there. If it gives you a hard on, I wasn't mistaken.

 

- You don't always have to have the latest and most expensive gear to produce amazing results. If that were the case, then Lisa should've just bought a DSLR, handed it over to Uncle Bob and have him cover her wedding. I can't believe I still have to explain this but it's amazing how a lot of people out there still think that good photos are the result of a good camera. It's like telling Tyler Florence "You must have a really good oven." Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds? A camera is a tool. Now how a person uses it is a totally different story.

 

- Make sure you have enough editing skills to tweak the images in Photoshop (or whatever it is you prefer to use). If you don't, you're fucked.

 

Aside from a decent camera (plus points if you have back-up), make sure you have enough batteries (3 to 4 fully charged batteries would be good for a full day event), enough memory cards (about 32GB total for a full day's coverage since you'll be shooting in RAW and these files are bigger; please don't shoot in jpeg, I'll explain in another post) and a good external flash (very very essential).

 

4. A laptop with internet access (or go to Starbucks). You might be saying "Duh, of course I have a laptop." Well,duh, I was just making sure. This you need for numbers 5, 6 and 7.

 

5. Essential software (for editing, burning, watermarking). For editing, I started with CS2 then CS4 now I'm using Photoshop Elements 9. I've had no formal training in post processing. Didn't take lessons. Wasn't able to afford it. Instead, I invested ridiculous amounts of time studying on my own playing around with the stuff.

 

For burning, depending on your operating system, you might already have this as one of the default features. I have and still use Nero just because I'm so used to it.

 

For watermarks, your signature on your images, I initially used TSR (free version) but now use Photoshop Elements since I've noticed it's faster marking huge files and it has a wider selection of fonts. No need to be fancy. The simpler the better.

 

6. A website and a blog. This is when my business turned around. I could see the spike in bookings after I launched my site. Get your own domain with matching email address. I should've should've done this right from the moment I started. But oh well, experience is the best teacher remember?

 

I started off using my Gmail account and got a Flickr Pro account (feeling like a pro) to display my portfolio. Nothing could spell out N-E-W-B-I-E in bold size 72 Wide Latin embossed font. Which I was but I didn't have to present myself that way. Yes, I was new in taking photos and getting paid for it. But I was experienced in the actual craft itself. Dang! I'm so full of it.

 

So anyway, get your own domain. It's not even that expensive. Learn HTML (the best way to go) or use one of those sites that offer pre-made templates. You'll have a custom designed one eventually, watch. But for now, this will do.

 

Pick a hosting site that allows you to have a gallery. Right now, I have a short gallery on my website with a link to my Flickr account where I upload about 80-90% of my work (some people don't want their photos published for religious, personal or insecure reasons). Yes, I still have my Flickr account. Why? Cause it's so dang cheap (like twenty something bucks for a year) for unlimited photos! And, it's so easy to use. If I come across a better site than this I'll let you know.

 

Your website will be where you showcase your awesome services, say something quick about yourself, present your best images, list your prices and packages, collect and show off those testimonials from past clients, etc.

 

Your blog will be your home. I'm still working on blogging every single day. That's the goal. I looked at my past posts and saw intervals of a week and even close to a month. That is horrible.

 

Quality is better than quantity doesn't really apply here. If you want to connect, build a community, you have to have a combination of both.

 

Be transparent. Let people get to know you. When you're not shooting, what do you have your hands on? What do you think of the last Underworld installment? What level are you at at Zombies (Black Ops)? What are you thinking? Mix business with personal posts. Attract people you connect with and filter out those who don't.

 

7. Social media accounts esp. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Like the website and blog, I wish I made the most out of these from the get go. These are powerful tools that allow you to reach out and let people get to know you. Building client relations that would've taken years a decade ago now only takes seconds. And they're freakin' free! The playing field has changed tremendously and an insane number of opportunities are out there waiting for you. Make it happen.

 

8. Business cards, professional address labels for mailing disc copies and professional disc labels. These are little details that make a difference. Make them as simple and as clear as possible. If you're heading off to Vistaprint to take advantage of their 250 business cards for $10 offer, it's all good. But please take the initiative to spend an extra $1.99 to take their logo off the back. Everyone knows about this promo but not everyone needs to know you got your stack for just ten bucks.

 

9. A phone. A cellphone. Not a home phone. This elicits a response same with the laptop but I've worked with a couple of people who didn't have one. For what insane reason, I do not know. How can you let the couple or coordinator know you're on your way? What do you do when a potential client wants to get a hold of you while you're on your way to a shoot? What happens when you need help with directions on the way to the reception? There are countless reasons to have one I was hesitant in including this on the list cause it's soooo such a given.

 

10. A whole lot of guts. So you've got numbers 1 to 9 in the bag. You're ready to throw yourself out there. You'reready to hustle.

 

If you're really passionate about this, if this is that one thing that truly makes you happy, makes you tick, there is no looking back.

 

It's not as simple as making yourself pretty for a party, taking pictures here and there, making small talk with the couple's friends and family, going home with some extra bucks.

 

I will slap the shit out of you.

 

Your first gig will be more like feeling like you're about to piss your pants on the way to the venue, your heart racing, nervous as hell, asking yourself "How did I get myself into this?" at the same time screaming "I got my first fucking gig!", entering a church full of strangers, trying your damn best to be calm and at least look like you know what you're doing.

 

It's ok.

 

When it's all over you'll get goosebumps (I have some right now as I thought of my first wedding) and an indescribable high having covered your first official paying gig.

 

You actually did what you absolutely love for a few hours and got paid for it! This is fucking awesome!

 

Hold on. The event is over but the job ain't done. You just harvested your grapes. Now it's time to make the wine.

 

Work your magic. Spend all waking minute poring through all those images and making them perfect.

 

Now hand them the wine.

 

It's time to celebrate.

 

4 Comments to Top 10 Things You Should Have Before Starting a Photography Business:

Comments RSSreflexology london on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 8:16 AM

there is zero doubt In regards to the effectiveness regarding walking AND It\'s really precise It walking could be the Simplest medicine regarding THE health IN ADDITION TO that's why we always recommend for you to anybody pertaining to walking 30 minutes a time frame at the least that will will impact a great lot at health. merely need always be serious on this issue. ones discussion is actually quite sensible AND ALSO useful. ones main differentiation between treating depression with holistic medicine versus prescription drugs will be not on the medicines themselves, but at the method of diagnosis.

Reply to comment 


As Seen On Tv on Monday, June 22, 2015 12:33 AM

It was very useful for me. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to...

Reply to comment 


Photo Exodus on Tuesday, August 04, 2015 2:25 AM

I am very happy to read this nice post and really useful information. Thank you for sharing this informative information. It really help me.

Reply to comment 


Marketmagnify Blog on Friday, March 04, 2016 11:54 PM

This execution in the market gives a channel turns for photography to learn better with all the skills to set the long run.

So you've realized business is the way to go if you're ever going to be happy and fulfilled within your lifetime.

You've read tons of articles about how more and more people capitalize on their passion and flourish.

You've browsed through endless blogs of people who've successfully built their brand as a make-up artist, a videographer, a florist, a marketing consultant, a sales guru, a wine expert through online word of mouth thanks to social media.

You're tired of the 9 to 5 routine.

You can't wait til the weekend to go photo exploring.

You're all dreamy looking at other photographers' websites and portfolio.

You're insanely jealous reading their blog and looking at photos of events they covered over the weekend.

You realize there's more to your talent than being the go to photographer at your friends' and families' weddings and birthday parties.

You know it isn't just a hobby.

You know it isn't just something you're good at.

You wish you had more time to just immerse yourself in doing what you love and hey, if you get paid for it, that would be awesome!

You decide to dive in.

Congratulations.

I mean it. Nothing can be sweeter than waking up knowing you'll be doing what you love all fucking day.

It's a constant exciting learning and rewarding experience.

It's liberating and fulfilling.

I wish I could go 3 years back and tell my nervous and insecure self that it's going to be okay. Let go of the pretenses. Be yourself. Start a blog now. Say whatever. Start hustling. Make the most of your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

But being as stubborn as I was, I probably wouldn't have listened. Even to myself. Which is fine and dandy since I've realized mistakes are the best teachers. A cliche, yes, but soooo so true nonetheless.

Nonetheless?

Who says that?

Here are 10 of the basic things I think you should have before you make the plunge. The plunge? What the?

1. A real passion for the craft. It is not a hobby. It's not something you dabble in here and there. It's not because of the new DSLR you got for Christmas. It's not because cousin Larry asked if you could take his wedding photos during the summer. It's not because of a lucky shot of an already beautiful sunset.

It consumes your thoughts. Almost every. waking. moment. You spend hours online after coming home from work reading and commenting on photography blogs and forums. You have lunch while browsing RebekkaGuðleifsdóttir's new images on your iPhone. You're itching to go home to try out this new trick you just read about on a Photoshop magazine and you go to bed at 3:00 am to wake up at 6:00 am to go to work but you're psyched cause you were able to do it!

If you're thinking the second paragraph sounded psycho, stop reading. Don't waste your time. You obviously cannot relate and you're not cut out for this. If you thought it was too much, obsessive even, you're absolutely right. And what you thought was your passion for photography is merely an interest. Keep your job until you find what it is you're really passionate about.

2. Authenticity. I've learned that what closes the deal isn't much about your gear, your experience, not even your portfolio. Don't get me wrong, these all count, a lot. But what makes the most impact is how you connect with your clients. I can't describe it in detail since each person is different. Each connection is different from the other. As such, I can't give you a step-by-step guide on how to do this. There is only one rule. Be yourself. Authenticity can be easily overlooked but one thing you have to keep in mind is people aren't stupid. They can sniff a poser from miles away. You can't fake a connection. It comes from something within you and something within them that clicks. So be you.

For example, I meet a couple at Starbucks. They've seen my work, we've exchanged a couple of emails, we've chatted for a bit on the phone. More or less we've had a feel for each other's personalities. Most of the time, when they ask to meet with you, you have more or less closed the deal. They just want to see you. Not how you look like, but how you connect with them. They themselves may not realize it but that's what they're there for.

So anyway, I'm sitting there, see a couple who enters the door seemingly looking for someone. They see me. They see that I'm looking at them with more than curiosity but expectation. We recognize each other even if we haven't seen each other before. This almost always happens. I get off my butt as they approach me and depending on how they appear to be receptive and how much we've already connected by phone or by email, I give them a hug or shake their hands.

They see me and ask "Filipina ka ba?" ("Are you a Filipina?") I say yes and the mood automatically changes. I already know I will be at their wedding in a few months. We start talking in Tagalog and both of us are more excited than we were knowing we're working with one of our own. We've reached our comfort zone.

This is just an example. Nationality is just one of many many points of connection. It may be because you both love watching the Kardashians. It may be because their theme for their kid's birthday party is Ni Hao Kailan, something you totally relate to since you just gave your daughter a Ni Hao Kailan birthday party and start offering suggestions on where to get the best theme birthday cake for a good price. It may be because you both share a love for Vietnamese cuisine. It could be anything.

So be yourself. You can filter out clients who are obviously not a match. Not by declining them. It will naturally just not push through. Cause you'll both feel it. So it goes both ways. They can relax during their special day cause they're comfortable with you. They trust you. They know you'll take charge and will have no hesitation but more of excitement in seeing the results.

On your end, you'll be more into the event. You'll be pumped up making the documentation extra special, extend a little bit to catch that keg stand and can't wait to impress them when they see the final product.

3. Decent gear. You have to have a good camera. Absolutely no point and shoot. You don't have to have the most expensive one out there. Shoot, you could even get second hand gear on eBay or Craigslist if you have to (just make sure it's still got a lot of life left in it but you already know that, duh).

I have a confession. From the time I started, I have used a Canon 350D shooting events for two and a half years. Two and a half years. With no back-up. I must have been a total idiot or just had a whole lot of guts or just plain lucky or a combination of all three.

I've managed to successfully cover 73 events within that time frame and promptly delivered results to happy clients. Many times I've been at events and some of the guests' camera's were better than mine. Many times. I was embarrassed. But I also knew I'd produce images from my ancient gear that will blow away the thousands they've spent on theirs. I loved that camera but eventually had to part with it and get a back-up if I didn't want to get screwed. I didn't want to push my luck.

I share this because of a few things:

- There is no reason not to start because you are not (yet) the owner of a 5D. Stop right now if that's your way of thinking. You're not passionate about photography. You're a techie. Start googling the latest gadgets out there. If it gives you a hard on, I wasn't mistaken.

- You don't always have to have the latest and most expensive gear to produce amazing results. If that were the case, then Lisa should've just bought a DSLR, handed it over to Uncle Bob and have him cover her wedding. I can't believe I still have to explain this but it's amazing how a lot of people out there still think that good photos are the result of a good camera. It's like telling Tyler Florence "You must have a really good oven." Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds? A camera is a tool. Now how a person uses it is a totally different story.

- Make sure you have enough editing skills to tweak the images in Photoshop (or whatever it is you prefer to use). If you don't, you're fucked.

Aside from a decent camera (plus points if you have back-up), make sure you have enough batteries (3 to 4 fully charged batteries would be good for a full day event), enough memory cards (about 32GB total for a full day's coverage since you'll be shooting in RAW and these files are bigger; please don't shoot in jpeg, I'll explain in another post) and a good external flash (very very essential).

4. A laptop with internet access (or go to Starbucks). You might be saying "Duh, of course I have a laptop." Well,duh, I was just making sure. This you need for numbers 5, 6 and 7.

5. Essential software (for editing, burning, watermarking). For editing, I started with CS2 then CS4 now I'm using Photoshop Elements 9. I've had no formal training in post processing. Didn't take lessons. Wasn't able to afford it. Instead, I invested ridiculous amounts of time studying on my own playing around with the stuff.

For burning, depending on your operating system, you might already have this as one of the default features. I have and still use Nero just because I'm so used to it.

For watermarks, your signature on your images, I initially used TSR (free version) but now use Photoshop Elements since I've noticed it's faster marking huge files and it has a wider selection of fonts. No need to be fancy. The simpler the better.

6. A website and a blog. This is when my business turned around. I could see the spike in bookings after I launched my site. Get your own domain with matching email address. I should've should've done this right from the moment I started. But oh well, experience is the best teacher remember?

I started off using my Gmail account and got a Flickr Pro account (feeling like a pro) to display my portfolio. Nothing could spell out N-E-W-B-I-E in bold size 72 Wide Latin embossed font. Which I was but I didn't have to present myself that way. Yes, I was new in taking photos and getting paid for it. But I was experienced in the actual craft itself. Dang! I'm so full of it.

So anyway, get your own domain. It's not even that expensive. Learn HTML (the best way to go) or use one of those sites that offer pre-made templates. You'll have a custom designed one eventually, watch. But for now, this will do.

Pick a hosting site that allows you to have a gallery. Right now, I have a short gallery on my website with a link to my Flickr account where I upload about 80-90% of my work (some people don't want their photos published for religious, personal or insecure reasons). Yes, I still have my Flickr account. Why? Cause it's so dang cheap (like twenty something bucks for a year) for unlimited photos! And, it's so easy to use. If I come across a better site than this I'll let you know.

Your website will be where you showcase your awesome services, say something quick about yourself, present your best images, list your prices and packages, collect and show off those testimonials from past clients, etc.

Your blog will be your home. I'm still working on blogging every single day. That's the goal. I looked at my past posts and saw intervals of a week and even close to a month. That is horrible.

Quality is better than quantity doesn't really apply here. If you want to connect, build a community, you have to have a combination of both.

Be transparent. Let people get to know you. When you're not shooting, what do you have your hands on? What do you think of the last Underworld installment? What level are you at at Zombies (Black Ops)? What are you thinking? Mix business with personal posts. Attract people you connect with and filter out those who don't.

7. Social media accounts esp. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Like the website and blog, I wish I made the most out of these from the get go. These are powerful tools that allow you to reach out and let people get to know you. Building client relations that would've taken years a decade ago now only takes seconds. And they're freakin' free! The playing field has changed tremendously and an insane number of opportunities are out there waiting for you. Make it happen.

8. Business cards, professional address labels for mailing disc copies and professional disc labels. These are little details that make a difference. Make them as simple and as clear as possible. If you're heading off to Vistaprint to take advantage of their 250 business cards for $10 offer, it's all good. But please take the initiative to spend an extra $1.99 to take their logo off the back. Everyone knows about this promo but not everyone needs to know you got your stack for just ten bucks.

9. A phone. A cellphone. Not a home phone. This elicits a response same with the laptop but I've worked with a couple of people who didn't have one. For what insane reason, I do not know. How can you let the couple or coordinator know you're on your way? What do you do when a potential client wants to get a hold of you while you're on your way to a shoot? What happens when you need help with directions on the way to the reception? There are countless reasons to have one I was hesitant in including this on the list cause it's soooo such a given.

10. A whole lot of guts. So you've got numbers 1 to 9 in the bag. You're ready to throw yourself out there. You'reready to hustle.

If you're really passionate about this, if this is that one thing that truly makes you happy, makes you tick, there is no looking back.

It's not as simple as making yourself pretty for a party, taking pictures here and there, making small talk with the couple's friends and family, going home with some extra bucks.

I will slap the shit out of you.

Your first gig will be more like feeling like you're about to piss your pants on the way to the venue, your heart racing, nervous as hell, asking yourself "How did I get myself into this?" at the same time screaming "I got my first fucking gig!", entering a church full of strangers, trying your damn best to be calm and at least look like you know what you're doing.

It's ok.

When it's all over you'll get goosebumps (I have some right now as I thought of my first wedding) and an indescribable high having covered your first official paying gig.

You actually did what you absolutely love for a few hours and got paid for it! This is fucking awesome!

Hold on. The event is over but the job ain't done. You just harvested your grapes. Now it's time to make the wine.

Work your magic. Spend all waking minute poring through all those images and making them perfect.

Now hand them the wine.

It's time to celebrate.

4 Comments to Top 10 Things You Should Have Before Starting a Photography Business:

Comments RSSreflexology london on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 8:16 AM

there is zero doubt In regards to the effectiveness regarding walking AND It\'s really precise It walking could be the Simplest medicine regarding THE health IN ADDITION TO that's why we always recommend for you to anybody pertaining to walking 30 minutes a time frame at the least that will will impact a great lot at health. merely need always be serious on this issue. ones discussion is actually quite sensible AND ALSO useful. ones main differentiation between treating depression with holistic medicine versus prescription drugs will be not on the medicines themselves, but at the method of diagnosis.

Reply to comment 

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