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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 04 Jan 2015 (Sunday) 19:46
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Advice for starting. Am I good enough?

 
linnjo
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Jan 04, 2015 19:46 |  #1

There is nothing I want more than to be able to make a living doing what I love the most. How do I get there?

I'm still in the "friends and family" stage of photography, but would like to get real clients. What should I improve before I start charging? Are my pictures alright? Anything missing?


LOTS OF EXTRA INFORMATION:
- I've recently been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and photography is the only thing I am comfortable with even when I meet people.. Since I will not be able to get a "normal" job until I get healthy again, I've been thinking a lot about photography. It sure would be nice to have an income and build a better portfolio. It's the only thing I want to work with, so why not start now? Should I wait for months/years to get better before I try?

- I'm this far a natural light photographer, using only a reflector for fill light. But I will learn some off camera flash too, (even if I'm still convinced I don't really like the look of it.)
- Also saved up some money to get the 70-200L since the Canon 50mm 1.4 is the only lens I've ever owned and sometimes I wish I had other options.


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Alveric
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Jan 04, 2015 20:11 |  #2
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Have to master flash before you can call yourself a pro. Think of it this way: a bloke who drives a car to work at an office can have his choice of auto or manual tranny: he doesn't have to know how to drive manual if he doesn't want to; a guy working as a mechanic at a garage has to know how to drive both, even if he prefers auto himself: he has no choice.

You're that second guy.


'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
Why 'The Histogram' Sux (external link)

  
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Grumps ­ Photo
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Jan 04, 2015 20:15 |  #3

Seem like decent photographs, a good base to build upon.

I was making photos for about a decade and went back to the local college and did the continuing ed certificate. Covered composition, lighting and portfolio building as well as the SW side (PS, Multimedia, etc). Learned much that I had not taught myself for not too much money. Experience photographers and SW gurus teaching, so worthwhile.

Beyond that is finding a forum to get good useable feedback on your work. Avoid the sites that seem to be totally negative all the time, may take a few tries to find the right place.

Keep at it, it is fun.

Happy New Year.


Grumps
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Nogo
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Jan 04, 2015 20:23 |  #4

Making a living at photography requires you to be a business owner. Success at business can be stressful. If you feel you can't handle a "regular" job right now, you are probably not ready to take on the stress of running a business. There are customers to deal with, paperwork to handle, taxes, forms and a host of other things you will only know you need to deal with when the time comes. Being a professional photographer is not just about shooting photographs, no matter how good you are.

If you can find an established photographer who needs a second shooter, this would probably be a lot less stressful. Other than that, I would forget about becoming a business owner of any type if your motivation of doing so is to have a job that is easier to "deal with."


Philip

  
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FarmerTed1971
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Jan 04, 2015 20:28 |  #5

How are your business skills? Do you have a business plan?

I'd hate for you to jump into the one thing you love only for it to end up being another reason to be depressed. Getting healthy should be your number one priority.


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banquetbear
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Jan 04, 2015 20:40 |  #6

...there are worse photographers than you out there making money. If you are really passionate about photography then the quality of your work will always improve: so it isn't a great metric on whether or not you should start a business.

If you want to make this your career: then the buck stops with you. You need to make a decision. Yes or no? As yoda would say: do, or do not?

That is the biggest hurdle you need to get over. If you say "yes", then you can actually start the process of starting a business. Writing a business plan. Finding your niche. Defining your market. That process took me two years. So if you keep putting off making a decision the longer the whole process may take in the long run. And there is nothing wrong with saying no for now.

I have mentioned before about the crippling social anxiety I suffer from. Put a camera in my hand and I'm the life of the party. Without it: I'm rushing for the door. Being in business won't fix your issues. They haven't fixed mine. I've developed coping strategies so I can get through the day. You need to be able to a whole lot of things that you hate if you want to make money. And if you don't: you will starve. And you will go out of business. And you will hate photography.

There is never a best time to start. Decide if this is what you want. It is a long, hard road: especially for people like us. But this was the best thing I've ever done. Year three now going into year four: and last year was a huge year and next year will be even better. Best of luck.


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texkam
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Jan 04, 2015 21:10 |  #7

Just pulled an all nighter getting 111 event pictures published. Tomorrow I need to do the paperwork and billing. Christmas day, I was shooting tabletop product for a different deadline. It's all fun and games until you're a business owner. Can you say anxiety?

You have some talent, but you need to understand the business. Good luck.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 04, 2015 21:35 |  #8

First off don't even consider friends and family clients (not even as non "real" ones), they aren't. They are just people you've taken photos of. It is an important headspace shift as many start off thinking of them as non paying clients when the reality is they are nothing like clients.

How does your anxiety and depression cope with stress? The photography part of running a photography business is the easy part. 80% of your time will be spent doing business stuff... marketing, bookwork and more. You're going to need to be able to cope with those things.

One of the biggest growth area in workshops and seminars within the photography industry these days is focused almost entirely on helping people deal with the anxiety and depression they have got themselves into by trying to run a business. I've seen many professional body sponsored events along these lines. People are getting into the photography business thinking all they need is decent photos and the rest will fall into place. The reality though is that it doesn't. It is a dog eat dog industry as literally anyone can take photographs which are of an acceptable standard to the general public... Selling them however is another thing altogether though.

The primary reason you should be starting a photography business is to make money. That is the most fundamental reason for a business existing. If it doesn't make money it isn't a business its a charity where you give all your money away.

Note the following.

You don't need to master flash before you start your business... you need to be able to make sales.
You don't need a photography education before you start your business... you need to be able to make sales.
You don't need to apprentice/work for someone else before you start your business... you need to be able to make sales.
You don't need to have a passion for photography you start your business... you need to be able to make sales.

As Mark says a business plan is the first step (a proper one not the half arsed efforts most people put together). Before you start in business you need to know if your business has the possibility of being financially viable. How many hours can you work (capacity is finite)? What will that time be spent doing? How many shoots will you have to do a week to break even/make a profit? The list goes on.

The reality in the industry today is that if you open your doors to business you stand about a 95% chance of not making it past two years. Without a proper business plan for a sustainable business you'll find yourself in a financial hole as so many do, hence all the depression (I mean "photography") workshops about the place.


Peter

  
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seres
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Jan 04, 2015 21:50 |  #9

Lots of good suggestions here.

First, you have to master the craft, and that means mastering flash in all forms.

Then you have to master the skills to successfully run a business. So many start-up businesses fail in the first few years simply because the owners didn’t understand the mechanics of running a business. On the job training just won’t work for a business owner.

Someone suggested finding an established photographer who needs a second shooter. Excellent idea! Try that for a year or so, and then decide if you want to start your own business.


—Eric

  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 04, 2015 21:54 |  #10

seres wrote in post #17366568 (external link)
First, you have to master the craft, and that means mastering flash in all forms.

Seven and a half years in and just about all I ever use in on camera bounced. Pretty much all I know about using it. Certainly not requirement for starting a photography business.


Peter

  
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Alveric
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Jan 04, 2015 22:41 |  #11
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Flash knowledge also depends on the kind of photography one wants to pursue. Portraitists can get away with natural light a lot, and even some other genres like sports, landscapes, and the like can be done perfectly with the one light that came free with Creation. You can create a style, a vision or what have you around 'natural light photography' and be successful. Yet, the moment you're required to shoot headshots on plain (white, for instance) backgrounds or shoot subjects that will need to be clipped and dropped onto a composite, you WILL have to use flash. Wanna shoot food? Optimally, you need three lights: main, fill and accent —at least one of which will need to be of different quality (hard vs. soft) than the others. Examples abound.

Once you begin collecting people's money in exchange for your services, you'll have to solve problems efficiently and quickly; clients seldom have the patience or the time to be waiting for the hydrogen-powered, 2*10^30 kg lightbulb in the sky to give you the light needed for the shot as required/outlined in their creative brief.


'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
Why 'The Histogram' Sux (external link)

  
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banquetbear
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Jan 04, 2015 22:53 |  #12

Alveric wrote in post #17366630 (external link)
Flash knowledge also depends on the kind of photography one wants to pursue. Portraitists can get away with natural light a lot, and even some other genres like sports, landscapes, and the like can be done perfectly with the one light that came free with Creation. You can create a style, a vision or what have you around 'natural light photography' and be successful. Yet, the moment you're required to shoot headshots on plain (white, for instance) backgrounds or shoot subjects that will need to be clipped and dropped onto a composite, you WILL have to use flash. Wanna shoot food? Optimally, you need three lights: main, fill and accent —at least one of which will need to be of different quality (hard vs. soft) than the others. Examples abound.

Once you begin collecting people's money in exchange for your services, you'll have to solve problems efficiently and quickly; clients seldom have the patience or the time to be waiting for the hydrogen-powered, 2*10^30 kg lightbulb in the sky to give you the light needed for the shot as required/outlined in their creative brief.

...that still doesn't make it a business requirement. It is a technical skill that some genres of photography benefit from. But it is the least important thing to be worried about at this stage of business planning.


www.bigmark.co.nzexternal link

  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 04, 2015 23:14 |  #13

banquetbear wrote in post #17366653 (external link)
...that still doesn't make it a business requirement. It is a technical skill that some genres of photography benefit from. But it is the least important thing to be worried about at this stage of business planning.

Exactly my point.


Peter

  
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banquetbear
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Jan 04, 2015 23:25 |  #14

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #17366684 (external link)
Exactly my point.

...well, great minds and all!

The images posted by the OP are marketable as is. He/she may need to add strings to their bow: but learning flash is like learning the zone system: if you need the knowledge to take your business in a certain direction then learn it: but don't waste time learning something you don't need.


www.bigmark.co.nzexternal link

  
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gonzogolf
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Jan 04, 2015 23:50 |  #15

À professional in a land where there is only a couple of hours of daylight duringn the winter months learning flash is essential. You can't be a pro and shoot only when the light is good or when its convenient for you. Available light photographer usually means, intimidated by flash photographers. There are too many circumstances where available light is not sufficient or poor quality. Flash is the most available light because you can always bring it with you.




  
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Advice for starting. Am I good enough?
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