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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 22 Aug 2011 (Monday) 20:35
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What business edge do you feel you have over others

 
Fettaugraphy
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Aug 22, 2011 20:35 |  #1

I plan to get more serious about my photography and register it as a part time business. This is a question for those that have successfully turned a hobby into at least a part time business.

Given the likely crowded market in your area what edge do you believe you have had to drum up business. Is it, advanced PP ability, good customer service,fast turn around, a good network, unique style etc etc . What feedback have you received from your clients.

For the record, I am considering entering the sports shooting market which is probably a very tough nut to crack.


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PeaceFire
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Aug 22, 2011 21:07 |  #2

I was prepared to answer until you said sports. Eek! I tried that once, I'm not built for it! Good luck, though! I think determination is the most important thing. Know that you won't make a million at first... or ever... but if you stick with it you can do great. I think what separates the real "pros" from the "amateurs" is how long they are willing to stick with it. When I first started I felt like there were a million photographers in my market that I was competing with but none of those people are still in business. Sure, new ones took their place but now I'm more established and I get the "good work" just based on the fact that I have a portfolio and can say I've been in business longer then 6 months.


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cdifoto
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Aug 22, 2011 21:29 |  #3

I'm approachable. People like me. I'm harmless. That's my edge.


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robbug
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Aug 22, 2011 23:07 |  #4

cdifoto wrote in post #12981783 (external link)
I'm approachable. People like me. I'm harmless. That's my edge.

I chuckled :) (in good fun) after seeing some of your posts. :) :) Harmless until... "The stupid ... it burns!" :D I always enjoy watching your responses on the forums.

Sorry back on topic...

Honestly from my experience, it has been networking. Knowing this person and that person. If you don't know them, make it a mission to know them. And not from a "Hi my name is ....." but more from "how can I help you further your goals" kind of angle.

Everyone has a motive and goal. It's finding how you fit in to their big scheme that allows you further networking opportunities which allows you to reach your goals. Oh being dedicated to your work helps too. And yes, sports photography is pretty tough. Competition is high. Either way, fortitude, dedication and persistence with a sprinkle of luck usually helps.


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jsvphoto
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Aug 22, 2011 23:10 |  #5

Like any business, relationships are key.

I don't do a lot of sport photography, but it's probably about 1/4 of my annual sales. I have a loyal following who now come asking me to shoot for them, they volunteer to round up new clients for me, and they pull strings to get me special access to the field/court. All this started because a guy I work with knew I had started a photography business and asked if I'd be interested in taking some photographs of his son playing football...

The other thing is don't be afraid to rent some equipment, if you need it. Your fee may have to be adjust accordingly, but it'll be worth it. I can't afford to buy the 300 F2.8, but I can afford to rent it a couple times per year (get two shoots per rental period). The equipment allows me to get better shots, which increases my print sales. Definitely worth it.

And don't be afraid to charge - for your "session" and for your prints. If you're giving it away, you're only hurting yourself. Even as you're learning, your images will likely be WAY better than anything mom and dad can get from the stands with the P&S, so your clients will be happy. As you get better, they'll be even happier.

Carry yourself like a pro. It'll instill confidence in you and the client. Use contracts. Have a proof gallery with a limited number of images (only your best shots). Give them an order form. And deliver your images in premium packaging. That'll set you apart from the cheapies who shoot a jillion shots of anything and everything and sell the entire glut on CDs for $20 each. To me, that's not only horribly un-fun, it also doesn't lend itself to a professional appearance or a decent profit.

Just my two cents. To be taken for what it's worth, for sure, since I'm only a part-timer myself. If it weren't for my "day job," I'd starve to death... :)


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DLitton
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Aug 22, 2011 23:21 |  #6

thats very well said jsv :)


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Channel ­ One
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Aug 23, 2011 06:15 |  #7

Fettaugraphy wrote in post #12981414 (external link)
Given the likely crowded market in your area what edge do you believe you have had to drum up business. Is it, advanced PP ability, good customer service,fast turn around, a good network, unique style etc etc .

A combination of servicing a niche market combined with some rather intensive networking and social marketing ideas.

What feedback have you received from your clients.

Excepting a few it has been mostly positive, with a good rate of referrals.

Wayne


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Stone-Rogers
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Aug 23, 2011 07:30 |  #8

First, I run my photography business as a business.
I measure profits, sales and keep an eye on trends. I keep my skills up with training and keeping my gear up to date, (where needed).
Quality product, excellent customer service and outstanding presentation are all key to operation of my business.
This is what set me apart from the pack.


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Fettaugraphy
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Aug 23, 2011 20:39 |  #9

Thank you all for your input. Especially JSV.


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cdifoto
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Aug 23, 2011 23:35 |  #10

robbug wrote in post #12982320 (external link)
I chuckled :) (in good fun) after seeing some of your posts. :) :) Harmless until... "The stupid ... it burns!" :D I always enjoy watching your responses on the forums.

Thanks. I'm actually not kidding though. I do high school seniors and they like that I don't talk down to them. I engage them in the process. They help plan. I don't dictate. I'm 30 years old - almost their parents' age now - but they aren't made to feel that I'm an adult in the same sense that their parents and teachers are adults.

I'm also ridiculously short. Not just for a guy but for a human being. That's part of it. How can a guy who's shorter than almost every teenage girl be intimidating?


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jsvphoto
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Aug 24, 2011 22:06 |  #11

DLitton wrote in post #12982387 (external link)
thats very well said jsv :)

I assume you mean the part about how I'd starve to death without my day job, right?  :p


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YFZ_52
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Aug 26, 2011 10:11 as a reply to  @ jsvphoto's post |  #12

I do some portrait work on the side when I have time. Pretty much just to help out with the "toys" bills. Thoes trucks and Harleys get expensive haha.

It seems you are getting a little more serious but still in the same range as I'm in now.

I think I have an edge around my hometown because I know LOTS of people and I'm a very easy going guy. I've raced ATV's at a semi-pro level, I was in bands, I know owners of tattoo shops, etc, so I have a wide range of crowds I know. That being said, I shoot pictures for people I know from one crowd and then a bunch of others they know come to me for work. I make friends with them, and that trend keeps going! I'm laid back and can talk an ear off (in a good way haha).

As for sports - I enjoy shooting sports but wouldn't try that as my main source of side money! If you can do it, good for you, I give you credit! These days there are so many parents with decent DSLR's and zoom lenses that you REALLY have to market yourself and have amazing pictures to back it up. If your shots are good but not great, Mr. Smith down the sidelines from you will flip a disk with the shots for free to your potential client and your snuffed for work! Get a website and start getting your name out. If you know parents with their kids into sports and start doing a few things for them, word can spread!

Good luck!


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Keltab
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Aug 26, 2011 15:10 |  #13

First, great advice so far!
Next, I would recommend you start with sports you really know well. Being able to anticipate the action will yield far more keepers - and the chance for that truly "WOW" image. And, getting those images out in front of your potential audience will help too. And if you plan on selling your stuff online, make sure you have a business card to hand out to anyone at the events.

And cdi - I have to mention I agree totally with your comment about being harmless. Of course, I have to overcome quite the opposite of you - I am 6'5" tall and 310 lbs (not quite as much fat as that may imply!) However, personality and demeanor go a long way with clients - both child and adult.



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ssim
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Aug 27, 2011 16:38 as a reply to  @ Keltab's post |  #14

I spent many years doing this part time and went full time about 6 years ago. Like many I dabbled in a number of different areas and two areas that many like to take a run at immediately are sports and weddings thinking that there is enough of these activities to go around. There are some photographers that will specialize in only one but that doesn't necessarily mean that it makes them good at it but you should assume they are.

The biggest mistake that I see allot of part time shooters making is that they make themselves a nice fancy website but then they still act like they are doing it as a hobby. If you want to be viewed as a business then you have to act like one. This means getting your ducks in a row before you start shooting for clients. It has already been mentioned but things like contracts are very important and are usually ignored in the beginning. Don't take assignments simply because you can get them. If you are not equipped gear or knowledge wise defer these until you are. You don't want to screw up an assignment when you are first beginning. By all means be honest with potential clients. Full disclosure on your experience and capabilities will put them at ease.

I will still shoot pretty much anything that comes my way but I have focused on commercial as the type of work that I actively market to and chase. I deal almost exclusively with advertising agencies and the advantage that I can offer them over part time shooters is that I can be available on a Thursday. I know I don't have to go and ask my boss for a day off in order to do photography. This is something that the agencies know and it is something that I make sure they know. Most of my shoots are multi-day affairs so that also works to the advantage of someone doing it full time. The returns available on commercial work exceeds anything that I can get in the local market by doing weddings, portraits, sport teams, etc.

I've done some sports and still have a couple of local teams that I do each year and it is a saturated market. Every team has a parent with a camera that wants to do exactly what you are wanting to do. Its possible to buy just about any job with your pricing but you are only hurting yourself in the long run by doing this. Try bringing these teams up to respectable rates in the future and you will get push back from them.

What advantage do I have over the part time shooters? To reiterate what I have said above is that I can be available anytime and that I make sure that the customer knows that this is all I do and I am committed to it. Part time shooters can be successful but you need to act like you are a business, be professional.


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Warrior17
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Aug 28, 2011 00:07 as a reply to  @ ssim's post |  #15

Thank you for the great advice ssim.




  
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What business edge do you feel you have over others
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