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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 28 Jan 2014 (Tuesday) 18:06
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Career change – want to become a photographer and make a living by it.

 
wisdom2thewise
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Jan 28, 2014 18:06 |  #1

Hi guys.

This is a call out for me to get some feedback and guidance into making a career change into Photography. I’ve been a hobbyist for the past year, by taking picks of my kids, places of interest and the odd birthday occasion, where feedback from others have been overwhelmingly positive.

My career up to this point has been working in the consumer electronics business, as an Internal Sales Manager for a local wholesaler, selling fridges, washing machines etc. Recently, I’ve encountered what you might say as a “wake up call” and mentally, I’m burnt out in my role and have decided to call it a day.

I have a passion for photos and its artwork and wanting to embark on something new and completely different in my life. How does one get started in this industry?
I’ve looked into the short courses side of things, but I feel that I’m more inclined to learn hands on with someone, rather than be confined in a classroom environment. I need to learn all aspects of photography and would like to use this skill to provide me a reasonable income. I have no knowledge of running my own business, nor how to make a webpage and blogs.
I’m new to post processing (Lightroom) though, I do need some training.

Anyone think I’m crazy?

Stephen.


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Now what prime should i get with the 7d mark ii?...

  
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Scatterbrained
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Jan 28, 2014 18:10 |  #2

Yes, I think you're crazy.

I would say, take your time, get feedback from other photographers rather than family and friends, and good luck.


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jmikolich
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Jan 28, 2014 19:10 |  #3

If you are not familiar with PP, running a business or webpage and blogs, much less SEO & other things.. I think you have some time to go.. start practicing with the things you can do for free or little $$$ while working that day job.


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lennlen
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Jan 28, 2014 21:46 |  #4

I'd have to agree with Scatterbrained.
A year into the hobby is a bit short to drop it all and switch over. You should consider shooting a few paid gigs on the weekends first, "interning" or shooting second camera with someone local first before you jump in so haphazardly.


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a_roadbiker
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Jan 28, 2014 23:52 |  #5

Whatever you do at this point, do not invest in an expensive camera. Your investment in photography will be never ending. Aside from the business components (website, accountant, advertising, business cards and collaterals, banking, associations, etc., the equipment investment will not be insignificant and will increase as tome goes on: camera body, lenses (more than one or two), Speedlites and studio lights, light stands, remote triggers, light modifiers (umbrellas, soft boxes, etc.), reflectors, a good tripod, backdrops, software, spare batteries, memory cards, light meter, and on and on and on. It never seems to stop.

The equipment largely depends on what you want to do. Artwork? Portraits? Corporate stuff? Commercial? Weddings, Landscape? Real Estate? Product shots?

Naturally you should start small and grow, and take the advice already given. Get involved and make sure you like it. Be a helper. DO some free stuff to see how well you are received. Watch YouTube to learn from some other photographers and about the equipment. Adorama TV is a good place to get a lot of info.

The thing you will need the most of is... patience. This will not grow overnight. Starting from scratch I would give it 2 - 3 years before you can start using it as a source of sustenance. You have to build a reputation. A good one.

Don't quit your job at the electronics store yet...

Jim


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Alveric
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Jan 28, 2014 23:58 |  #6
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Some required reading before you embark: Making a Life and a Living in Photography (external link).


'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 29, 2014 01:10 as a reply to  @ Alveric's post |  #7

...first things first: you have kids and presumably a family to look out for. Before you make any decisions, don't forget this.

I made a decision to make photography my career about a year after I bought my first DSLR camera. The difference between me and you though is that I don't have kids: and I've had experience running a business before. So its doable. But like everything you need to start from first principals.

Your photography skills, in the long run, are important, but won't make or break your business. I've been in business three years and in that time some of my friends, who I consider to be better photographers than me have started and closed down their photography businesses. You need to understand what being in business is. It is your skills as a business person, as a salesman, as an advocate for everything that is you, that will make or break your business.

Start with something like a SWOT Analysis (external link)on yourself. You need to be honest with yourself: what are you good at and where are you going to fail? Do you procrastinate? Are you a dreamer? Can you not manage numbers? Are you a great people person? You need to identify where you are weak and where you are strong: and find ways to compensate for your weak points and to use your strong points to your advantage.

It took me about 18 months from the moment I decided to become a professional photographer before I opened my "virtual doors" to my business. I had identified my camera knowledge as a weak point, so at the age of 37 I went back to school for six months. I needed to put away enough money to get my first set of proper gear (a 7D, a used 5D, a few lenses and speedlights) and the gear that I bought was closely aligned to my business plan.

Which brings me to the business plan. Some people don't think its worthwhile. If you don't understand business then I think its essential. The process of creating your business plan will help you to understand what you are doing. If it takes you a couple of years to identify your market, do your financials, and figure out how to slot into the market, then that is a good thing. It will help you figure out whether or not things are viable or not: and will stop you committing yourself until you are ready. And two years from now you will be a much better photographer and editor and you will look back at the work you do now and go "did I really think that was good?" Any business is inherently full of risk: and at some stage (if you decide to continue) you are going to have to take the plunge. But the more you can do to minimize the risk the better.

So you've got a lot ahead of you. But you will get a lot of good advice here. Ask lots of questions, don't jump into things, be deliberate and goal orientated, and remember the numbers won't lie to you. Best of luck whatever you decide to do.


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Alveric
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Jan 29, 2014 01:37 |  #8
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Are you able to survive for the next two years without income? You better be, because your profits, if any, will have to be invested in the business.


'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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Savethemoment
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Jan 29, 2014 03:47 |  #9

Photography for me is purely a hobby & a passion, and I never intend for it to be anything more. So I can't give you business advice. But I suggest that you ask yourself:

Would the pressure of having to earn money every week from photography, shooting things you may not be especially interested in (real estate, products, other people's kids etc), for people who you won't necessarily like, damage your passion for photography? Would it ruin, or compromise, your enjoyment of your hobby? If so would that be a price worth paying to escape from the industry you're in now?

I'm sure many professional photographers make a living while retaining their passion for, and enjoyment of, photography. But others may not - only you know yourself well enough to try to figure this out *for you*.

I have also heard that being in business as a photographer involves about 80% business and only 20% photography. No doubt these figures vary, but it seems worth keeping in mind that most of your time is likely to be spent running the business rather than actually taking photos. People here who are in business will be able to elaborate.

Good luck with whatever you decide.


Always learning
Always looking for the good light

  
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PhotosGuy
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Jan 29, 2014 09:38 |  #10

Good advice above.

wisdom2thewise wrote in post #16645343 (external link)
...where feedback from others have been overwhelmingly positive.

How much of that enthusiasm is due to the fact that the work was done for free? How about a link to some of your best images so that we aren't so much in the dark, here?

Anyone think I’m crazy?

Maybe your wife? She's part of your support system, so I wonder if you have discussed this with her?
I started when I was young & single, & would have made a small fortune... if I had started with a big fortune. (Read that again!) ; )

Transitioning from hobby to paid-service: How did you do it?

Things you wish you knew before you started your photography business...

The best piece of advice for someone starting out...

Going Professional, Where to Begin? (external link)

So, you wanna be a photographer? (external link)

Terms and Conditions - it is all about money.


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gonzogolf
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Jan 29, 2014 09:46 |  #11

Turning pro is one way of making sure you take the joy out of photography. When you are a hobbyist its an amazing experience to capture and create and express yourself through your camera. When you go pro, you have to take jobs that might not satisfy that creative drive. The majority of pros arent out there doing their thing and setting their own terms. They are shooting weddings, birthday parties, portraits of fat ugly people, and slogging out a living making mostly mundane images. Sure there are moments where the creative and commercial cross paths, but its a long hard slog getting there and you better be a better businessman than you are a photographer if you want to make it.




  
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mikeinctown
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Jan 29, 2014 09:47 |  #12

Banquetbear, your points are spot on. Far too many people with great ideas don't know how to run a business and fail at it. It's been several years now but at one time the stats were 90% of all business startups will fail within the first three years.




  
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breal101
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Jan 29, 2014 10:37 |  #13

gonzogolf wrote in post #16646882 (external link)
Turning pro is one way of making sure you take the joy out of photography. When you are a hobbyist its an amazing experience to capture and create and express yourself through your camera. When you go pro, you have to take jobs that might not satisfy that creative drive. The majority of pros arent out there doing their thing and setting their own terms. They are shooting weddings, birthday parties, portraits of fat ugly people, and slogging out a living making mostly mundane images. Sure there are moments where the creative and commercial cross paths, but its a long hard slog getting there and you better be a better businessman than you are a photographer if you want to make it.

This is mostly true from my experience, I wouldn't say that the joy of photography is gone because I really do enjoy what I do. I work in commercial/advertising photography and the challenges are always there to make it fun. Working with other professionals makes it a lot easier. If I had to shoot for the general public I'm sure I wouldn't have lasted the 30 years I've been in business.

It took me three times trying to get started because I absolutely refused to shoot for the general public. This was after working for two other commercial photographers for a total of 5 years and working as a photographer for a government agency another three. I still made a lot of mistakes in business and if I hadn't been single I'm sure I would have failed the third time as well.

Photography, especially for those who do work for the general public is fast becoming a part time job. Also the market is flooded with part timers who will work cheap because they can. For commercial photographers it's a different story, the jobs are usually scheduled during the normal workday.


"Try to go out empty and let your images fill you up." Jay Maisel

  
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benji25
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Jan 29, 2014 10:38 |  #14

Reading threads like these make me glad I majored in accounting and then discovered my love for photography as opposed to the other way round.


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airfrogusmc
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Jan 29, 2014 10:58 |  #15

breal101 wrote in post #16647025 (external link)
This is mostly true from my experience, I wouldn't say that the joy of photography is gone because I really do enjoy what I do. I work in commercial/advertising photography and the challenges are always there to make it fun. Working with other professionals makes it a lot easier. If I had to shoot for the general public I'm sure I wouldn't have lasted the 30 years I've been in business.

It took me three times trying to get started because I absolutely refused to shoot for the general public. This was after working for two other commercial photographers for a total of 5 years and working as a photographer for a government agency another three. I still made a lot of mistakes in business and if I hadn't been single I'm sure I would have failed the third time as well.

Photography, especially for those who do work for the general public is fast becoming a part time job. Also the market is flooded with part timers who will work cheap because they can. For commercial photographers it's a different story, the jobs are usually scheduled during the normal workday.

Agree and I also work in advertising/commercial field specializing in healthcare. No wedding, no family portraits, etc. Have been doing it full time and supporting the family with it since 1986 though not in the field I am now in that entire time but for the past 23 years. My personal work is more the hobby side an I love it still. Probably more now than 25 years ago. If it weren't for my personal work I would have probably been burned out years ago.

If you are just getting started get a great accountant FIRST THING....

And as you move forward get help in those areas you are not good in and don't much like. The kiss of death is thinking you can be good at everything and that you can do it all. I've seen'm come and go over the years and the ones that get to a really successful level are the ones that figure that out.




  
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