If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
It's not easy but the reality is, with the tens of thousands of photographers new to the industry since the digital influx, the fact that it is not easy to run a business is the only thing that makes it possible. The saying "if it were easy, everyone would do it" holds true but sometimes it does feel like everyone is doing it. When I do a Google Places search for photographers around my new studio there are at least eight photographers listed within four square miles of my space. Don't let this congestion deter you. Just use your marketing channels to let your new prospective clients know why they should choose you over your competitors.
A legitimate business with a clear message will almost always succeed. Build your business with the same passion you put into your photographic work and you will make your chances to thrive much better. Approach your business plan, marketing materials, and customer service with the same tenacity you put into learning photographic techniques and that drive and effort will be apparent to your customers.
These images are o from one of the first shoots in the new studio. I am shooting for local non-profit dance group.
I contacted them to photograph their dance company, as it is a passion of mine. I will also trade with them for local arts promotion.
They have a strong following in the metro area so this will be a beneficial collaboration.
That is where the "not-so-easy" part of running a photography business comes in.
Opening an "actual" photography business is hard work. I say "actual" because there is a big difference between "real" businesses and the fleeting fly by night photography businesses that are popping up around my town and yours. Insurance, taxes, business registration, furniture, utilities, equipment, marketing, etc... (That list goes on and on). All of that and in the meantime you also have to figure out a way to keep the lights on.
It is a balancing act that can be daunting in and of itself but to make matters worse, the "part time" photo businesses are placing their prices down to ridiculous levels that are only possible with a lack of commitment and irresponsibility. But to the observant eye this non-commitment is obvious, but fighting against it came seem overwhelming.
The first part of the fight is deciding which team you are on. Whether you do photography full time or part time is not the question. The question is whether you understand that a photography business is just like any other business and should be run as such.
To find out what side of the battle you are on ask yourself some simple questions.
- Do I have liability insurance?
- Do I pay sales tax?
- Are my prices based on actual information?
- Have I registered my business in my state?
These are just some simple business questions that need to be considered and this assumes you have put the time in to make yourself proficient enough with photographic techniques to even be considering taking peoples money for your service and product.
Lets be honest if you do not have liability insurance you are pushing your luck and not to mention putting your clients at risk. Along the same lines if you are not paying income or sales taxes you are taking money from your local community and you could be putting your families finances in jeopardy.
Roll your sleeves up and fight the good fight.
This is a cover that I recently photographed for a local community magazine.
I do photography for them in trade for ad space to advertise my portrait studio.
With magazine ads running up to 1300 dollars per month the trade arrangement is more than beneficial to my new business.
I not only get to rub elbows with local business owners and community leaders but get my ads in front of thousands of potential clients right in my community.
I moved from California back to my hometown to open a studio in June and it wasn't until just last week that I actually took a photo. I keep telling myself I need to be working on my personal projects but the reality is that getting the studio (and any business for that matter) off the ground is A LOT of work. It has taken all of my time getting the place up and running but now that it is done I am feeling like it is all paying off. I have always wanted my own creative space and now, because a lot of hard work and planning I finally have it. And now that I have it I intend on keeping it.
Just be able to tell yourself this: "I am in this profession for the long haul and am willing to put in the work and effort to make that happen. My main goal is to make sure my business succeeds and thrives and is also protected in the event that something bad happens." That is really what anyone that has any type of business should be thinking... and photography is no exception. If you can honestly tell yourself this statement and have done the right things for your business to make it true then you are on the right side of the battle.
These photos are the first from a newborn portrait session held in the new studio.
It is my cousin's three-week-old daughter.
It is nice to be back in my hometown where I can photograph my friends and family and watch their children grow up.
© Wes Kroninger
Wes Kroninger is the author of "Wes Kroninger's Lighting: Design Techniques for Digital Photographers"
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