Having your own photography businesses is great however it is not as easy as many people think, and before taking the plunge and starting your own photography business there are some important questions you need to ask yourself. It is imperative you answer the questions as honestly as you can so you don’t waste your time, effort and money going down the wrong photography route and starting a photography business that you can’t manage to operate, grow and nature, and make money from.
Before starting any photography business I would recommend noting down the following questions and carefully consider them:-
1. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS?
The first question you have to ask yourself before starting a photography business is “what do I want to get out of this?” since the answer will determine exactly what you will need to do in the future to make your photography business a success.
For example, if you intention is to stick to your day job but use your photos to earn a little bit of pin money on the side you are not going to have to exert much time and energy on starting your photography business. If, on the other hand, your overall intention is to quit your day job and tell your boss where to stick their job and turn a full time professional photographer, you are going to have to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and most probably a fair amount of money to start up your photography business and get it off the ground.
2. DO YOU HAVE THE APPETITE TO START AND RUN A PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS?
Once you have decided what you want to get out of starting a photography business you need to decide whether you actually have the appetite and the desire to see it through. Okay, at this moment in time you may think you have the appetite to spend a lot of time and effort in building a photography business and nurturing it to something great, but will you feel the same in the future? When the going gets tough and you have to dig deep to keep the business going but are earning nothing out of it, will you still have the appetite and drive to see it succeed?
There are many people out there who think they have an appetite for something and once they start the desire gradually dwindles before disappearing completely. The loss of appetite can be due to a number of reasons including short attention span, boredom or always seeking a new challenge. Are you one of these people who constantly moves from one thing to the next?
3. HAVE YOU GOT THE TIME AVAILABLE TO START AND RUN YOUR OWN PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS?
Starting your own photography business is going to take time and effort, the precise amount of which will depend on what your end goals are. For example, quitting your day job to start your photography business and turn full time professional is going to require substantially more time than if you are only going to try and sell the odd photo because you don’t want your work sat on a hard drive where no one is going to see it.
Before starting your own photography business you need to establish just how much time you have to devote to it. Whilst it may be tempting to spend every waking moment working on a photography business you need to make sure you leave some time free for other interests and pursuits. You need some downtime and time available to spend with family and friends.
To assess just how much time you can devote to starting your photography business you may wish to devise a schedule of time and note down what activities you do, when you do them and how long they take. This will help you identify all the “spare time” you have to devote to your photography business.
4. WHAT PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES ARE YOU GOING TO OFFER?
When starting your own photography business the services you offer can make or break your business. If you offer services that are not in demand you are not going to make any money. If you offer services where there is a lot of good competition you are going to struggle to get in there and get some business, although it is possible if you’re lucky. Ideally, you want to offer services that are in demand and with little competition, however this is what all professional photographers try to do and getting this situation is pretty rare.
There are lots of photography services you could offer. You could be a “jack of all trades master of none” and offer all the different services, such as portrait photography services, wedding photography services, senior photography services, macro photography services, birthday party photography services, pet photography services etc. etc. Alternatively, you may wish to be more niche and offer one or two services, but try and be the very best in the market.
Whether you go broad (and offer all photography services) or go niche (and offer only one or two services) the decision is entirely up to you It is worth noting you can make a living a photographer with either, however there is more money to be made with being niche if you can become the best in the market of course.
For some photography services you may want to offer with your photography business the article titled “Photography services for success” may be something you want to take a look at.
5. HAVE YOU GOT THE PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT YOU NEED?
When starting a photography business you need to determine whether you have the equipment you need for the photography services you are proposing to offer, as well as the style of photos you are going to capture and sell.
You may be fortunate enough to already own all the equipment you are going to need in starting your own photography business, however If you don’t have the equipment you need you need to work out whether you have the resources available to get it in the very near future.
The quality of the photography equipment you need will depend on the services you offer and where you sell your photos. For example, if your photography business consists of selling photos in print on demand stores on postcards, canvas prints, posters and the like you can get away using an entry level camera and consumer specification lenses. If your photography business consists of taking wedding photos you are going to need a top end camera and professional grade lenses so you can capture high quality photos.
Regardless of how good a professional photographer is image is everything. When you get customers paying a lot of money for photography services they expect the photographer to use top end equipment, and it is important to have this equipment to meet the customers’ expectations. I can remember going to a wedding where the wedding photographer used an old (and now discontinued) Canon 450d along with the cheap consumer grade Canon lenses. The photographer raised quite a few eyebrows amongst the photography enthusiasts attending the wedding and there were many guests taking their own photos of the day with equipment of a higher spec than what the professional photographer was using, which is a joke. The bride and groom paid a lot of money for the photographer, and whilst the photos were okay they weren’t brilliant and were not worth the amount the bride and groom had to pay.
Needless to say no one present at the wedding is going to recommend the wedding photographer to their friends. Had the wedding photographer turned up with a full frame professional camera and a bag full of L series lenses things may have been different since the guest would assume the wedding photographer was good, not least because of the expensive gear.
6. HOW MUCH ARE YOU GOING TO CHARGE FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES?
Before starting your own photography business you need to make sure you can actually make some money, i.e. a profit from it, after all that is the whole idea of going in to business, right?
As I am sure you are aware, in order to make a profit you need to make sure you get more money in than you spend out. The key to making a profit is charging the right amount for your photography services, and whilst setting the price may seem easy in theory in reality it is a different story.
Pitch your services too high and you won’t get any work. Pitch your services too low and you won’t make much money. You need to set the price of your services at a level high enough to generate a good profit but low enough for customers to think they are getting a good deal and willing to pay.
In my experience the best way to set the price for photography services is to take a look around the local market place and see what other photographers are charging for their services, and also what customers get for the money. This type of research is simple before starting your own photography business because the local photographers won’t know you are about to be their competition and they will think you are nothing more than a potential customer. Once you have established yourself as a professional photographer this research is more difficult. Because of this it is always worth doing some research, checking out how much the competition are charging and set the prices for your services before starting your photography business.
7. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO WIN WORK?
Before starting your own photography business you need to establish how you are going to win the work. Setting up the business, starting to trade and then thinking about how to win the photography contracts and acting on it is not a good idea since a lack of money will see you photography business fail before it even gets going.
In order to win work you need to let potential customers who you are, where you operate from (i.e. how to contact you), the photography services you offer and how much you charge. It is important to start advertising your photography business and showcasing your portfolio long before you even start to trade. Creating an awareness and generating some excitement about “the new photographer” in town will help you hit the ground running when you start to trade.
The above are the key questions you need to ask, and answer before starting your photography business. It is worth pointing out that there are no right or wrong answers to the above questions. Everyone is different, everyone has their own unique dreams and ambitions, everyone has their own lifestyle and everyone is unique. The key is to answer the above as honestly as you can so you can devise the most suitable plan of action and give your photography business the best chances of success.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.