Our Guest Expert today is Lauren Britz, a native South African who ended up in Sunny South Florida after traveling the world. Having graduated as a Professional Photographer she’s aimed to make a name for herself in all realms of photography. Her company ShutterFlies Photography specializes in weddings, engagements and any thing else going on in your life.
Be sure to get this book if you plan on starting your own photo biz: Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
The Business of Photography
… by Lauren Britz
Here are the TOP 7 ways to make your photography business a real success.
1) Do what you love. There is no greater motivation than your photography passion to drive you to go the extra mile for your clients and for yourself. If you truly want to do photography for a living – then do it! It does take time to transition into doing photography full time but do not hesitate any longer – start now!
Put your photography identity together right away and put it out there. The longer it is out there the more people will notice you and one fine day you will get hired. From there the ball will keep rolling.
You will also notice that the minute you choose to do what you love and you find a way to make it a reality, you will become a workaholic. An incredible man once said, “If you do what you love, you won’t feel like you’ve done a days work in your life.” – Unre Visagie.
You may have heard or read about the very talented author, Stephen Covey. In his book, ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, the first habit he talks about is – Be Proactive. By being proactive you find your way from being dependent to being independent. If that corporate job is numbing your brain, now is a good time to start.
2) Be brave. You’ve probably already thought to yourself, “Yeah, if only it was that easy. I don’t have time. I don’t have money. There are a million photographers out there”.
Well, nothing is that easy; you have to make the time, and you don’t need much money. It takes some effort on your part to get the ball rolling but the good news is that once you’ve done your first few jobs it get easier to get keep the ball rolling. Like anything in life, getting started is always the hardest part. Here are some very affordable ways to get your marketing and your business up and running:
– Don’t quit your day job… yet!
– Find a photography name that suits you and that you love. Many photographers simply use their names. You can go to Business.gov to make sure the name is available.
– Find a friend or a small business to design your photography business identity for you, including an online portfolio, a logo, business cards, letterheads, business stamp, pamphlets… anything that you can use to get your name out there. One great Fort Lauderdale business that can help is 3DPedrique, a 3D and graphic designer who does a great job at a very affordable price.
– Network, network, network! Become an online social networking whiz. If you’re a little hesitant then hire yourself a social networker for cheap! With all the social networking online today you can go one of two ways – drown in the inevitable mass of information or target yourself nice and neatly into a group that needs, wants and is willing to pay for your photographic skills. Try the local Fort Lauderdale networker, Social Susan, a master of social networking, both online and offline at a great price.
Stephen Covey’s second habit is – Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Vision. This is based on the idea that to succeed things need to be created twice. The first creation being leadership, and the second one being management. Management means finding ways to do things right; leadership is making sure you’re doing the right things.
3) Be organized and get involved. Make order out of your chaos. Get an organizer of your choice, whether it is a diary or a Smartphone. Make it your best friend in the world and put everything in it. Let it work for you by reminding you what needs to be done instead of you having to worry about the things that need to be done. Make a habit of listing all your shoot dates, photography meetings, gallery outings, photography outings.
Create a physical or online filing system in alphabetical order and make a habit of filing all necessary documentation. Do yourself a HUGE favor and rid yourself of clutter. You will feel much lighter; increase your energy and productivity. Read through the LifeOrganizer for more tips.
4) Be Honest, forthright and competent. Covey’s third habit is – Put First Things First: Principles of Integrity & Execution.
Integrity is the value you have of yourself to determine what you find acceptable and not. You will often be dealing with clients, such as bridezillas, that will expect the impossible from you will drive you crazy. Decide where your integrity lies to create accurate expectations with your photography clients.
Be pleasantly forward with them as to what is and what is not possible when shooting, and remain competent with any photographic skill you’ve promised them.
Covey’s 7th habit is – Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal of body Continual Improvement. Photography incorporates many different aspects, not only technical, but physical, spiritual, mental and of course social.
Keep your skills razor sharp and forever growing by practicing and by continuously critiquing your own work or offer other photographers the opportunity to do it for you. Please do not be too hard on yourself.
5) Do not undersell yourself. First things first; find the photographic skill level that you are most comfortable with for now and let your pricelist reflect that accordingly. Do not start charging your clients $6000 if you’re only doing mid-size 6 hour weddings. Work your way up that ladder. The same is said for underselling yourself. Don’t offer to do an entire wedding for a mere $400 because it is a reflection of your work. Set the expectation for your clients and yourself. If you don’t believe you are worth it – they won’t either.
6) Use each other. Synergize. Join the club. Create a synergy with others. Covey’s fourth, fifth and sixth habits fall nicely into this category.
Habit 4 – Think Win/Win – Principles on Interpersonal Leadership teaches that agreements between people are mutually beneficial. See other photographers around you as resources, not as competition or enemies. There may be a time when they need you and you need them. Let’s say if they accidentally booked two weddings on the same day (it happens a lot) and you come to mind, they could pass the business off to you or vice versa.
Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood is probably the most important one; communication is THE most important skill in life and business. If you want to get and keep people coming back to you for photography services or to be referred by past clients you MUST learn to interact effectively with them. As this habit states, “if you are to influence me, you first need to understand me.”
Become and empathetic listener and inspire openness and trusts with potential and past photography clients.
Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation is vitally important, and probably the most difficult for most photographers. In order to find synergy with other photographers and clients you have to have good intentions and be genuine. If you let other photographers influence you will “gain new insights and facilitate the generation of new options.”
Find ways and willing accomplices to become part of a mutually beneficial work relationship. There are way too many photographers out there that refuse to share and in the end they are the ones that will be left behind while everyone else that is joined takes over. The South Florida Camera Club based in Fort Lauderdale is a wonderful club that has been going for years and welcomes anyone with an interest in photography and they allow all types of business networking.
7) Believe in yourself. If there is one promise, it is that you WILL encounter photographers that are cold, stern, unethical and miserable. When this does happen, continue on your path and do not let them undermine your abilities in yourself and affect your business.
I know it sounds all “airy fairy” to those who are not perceptive to the unseen ways of the universe. But watch. You have nothing to lose. Try it.
You love what you do so do it with passion. There will be many people giving you the eye when you tell them you want to start your own photography business. Many will pass it off to general conversation. Perhaps you get the impression that people don’t think you’ll succeed. None of this matters… Who cares? The only thing you should care about is that you’re doing what you love, and you know you’re good at it.
This article is by Lauren Britz of ShutterFliesPhotography
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