For Photographers: Tips when you're starting out
As I start writing this, I can't help but worry about all of the people that will say, "Why is she doing this?" Well friends, let me tell you... I am no seasoned photographer. I'm still learning every. single. day. I'm just now finally getting to a point in my career/passion/life, that I feel like I can say I'm a professional... BUT, I'm certainly not to a point where I want to be forever and I don't think I will ever be. I have been doing this for ALMOST 5 years now. I would have to say that 2014 was my first year in OFFICIAL business and 2015 (last year) was the first year I was proud of. Looking back to 2015, I learned that I could have been smoother sailing, had I had someone there to help me and teach me the ways of the photography world. I KNEW NOTHING. Seriously. NOTHING. and as I was taking free workshops (yes, they have those!) , paying for classes, watching creative live on end, I learned things that I should have known in the very beginning before even taking on clients; but in a way, I am glad I didn't, because now I can look back at the struggle, and help people like you, who are going through the same thing.
I have a lot of aspiring photographers contact me at least twice a week, asking questions about their camera's or editing, or really everything in general. So I decided to write a blog post on the most helpful tips I could give you (and a little inspiration).
Again, in this big wide journey of photography, there are a LOT of differencing of opinions... and that is the magic of this, there is no right or wrong way (though some may disagree) and you just have to find what works for you and your business.
1. FIND YOUR EDITING STYLE.
This one is going to take you a while, and especially as you are just beginning, it is probably going to change 203428309582309580239 times. If your indecisive like me, even in your 5th year will you be changing. Two months ago, I thought I had found ME. My style. I loved it. It was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Everything was richly saturated and it was bright without being light and airy. But knowing myself, I have always had a thing for dark and moodiness... so, like last week, I started playing around and now I'm like, YES, that is us (my husband pierce just joined me full time) this is our brand, this is everything. I hope to keep it this way, but who knows with my indecisiveness. Which is bad for me to be saying that because I'm about to tell you that consistency is key. The first time I found my style, it was a breakthrough moment. Other Photographers commented on it (one in particular, Talara Jo, who is an amazing women and photographer in my town and also has mastered style beautifully so you should check her work out.) I just knew that was it, I had finally found MY style. You do not want to confuse your clients and trick them into getting something they are not going to be getting. Your clients book you because in their mind, they already know what their photographs are going to look like, and you do not want to ruin those expectations by delivering something completely different. If you are thinking of changing up your style, find some models and go for it. Do not try it on paying clients first.
2. FIND YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC STYLE.
This should have probably been number one as it does come before your editing style. You need to define your purpose as a photographer. Why are you doing this? Are you trying to tell a story? Are you creating moments for your clients? What are you trying to do while shooting clients or whatever you may be shooting. Are you posing them or are you solely shooting candid moments? Maybe you are like me, and do a mixture of both. Your clients want to know this, and they will ask if they can't see it from your work.
3. GET LEGAL!!!!!
Taxes- This also should have been number 1 but hey, it's here now. You have to get legal if you are running any type of business. If not, you will not pay taxes, and you will eventually go to jail. HAHAHA, but seriously, legitimize yourself and your business. If you have the funds, get an accountant or if you do not, get a program like quickbooks and keep track of ALL of your business expenses and service income. When tax time comes, this will save you such a headache. You will need to get a federal tax ID, and any other requirements your state or local government requires. Fortunately, I was apart of the YEA! (Young Entrepreneurs Academy) in high school so I learned all of this with the help of other entrepreneurs and I wasn't thrown to the lions den like you may be feeling right now if you weren't aware of this stuff.
Contracts- Once you start taking yourself seriously, and you began getting clients that take you seriously, you are going to need a contract. Clients are going to feel much better about booking you and you are going to feel much better about taking on clients with a document that protects both of you. You can hire an attorney to write up a contract for you or you may also be able to find one that works for your business on websites like Design Aglow. If you decide to go that route, make sure all of your business specific policies are outlined and protected.
4. PHOTOGRAPHY- THE OVERSATURATED MARKET
I can't help but role my eyes every time I see a new photographer in our area. But then I have to take a step back, and remember all of the seasoned photographers that were rolling their eyes when I first started. I remember how embarrassing it feels when you first start and you scroll through all of your favorite photographers photos and wonder if you will ever be THAT AWESOME. Let me tell you my friends, you will be. Keep your head up. You are going to feel like giving up and you are going to probably give up once or twice but if you are serious, and want to do this FOREVER, then NEVER stop shooting. Shoot in your downtime. Shoot for free. Shoot for you. Personal projects and styled shoots are the most soul fulfilling and creativity inspiring practice you can have. One day, when you have been doing this for awhile, you will be rolling your eyes at every new photographer and you will learn that not everyone sticks around... Most will give up. Most will not succeed. But you have to keep learning and practicing and give it ALL YOU HAVE GOT.
5. IPS OR SHOOT & BURN?
This is a really hot topic in the photog industry right now. IPS (In-Person Sales) is in my opinion, a traditional way of providing income for your photography business. Props to these photographers who run their businesses this way, and are successful. When I first started, I had NO earthly idea that this was even a thing. I knew when I was a child, and my stepmother had our photos done, we always bought packages of prints and canvases and the whole shebang. When I found out that IPS does work for businesses, my whole world was shook and I immediately switched to IPS. I was in love with the fact that people would pay you a "sitting fee" or "session fee" and then later view their photographs from their session and then choose if they wanted to purchase prints or products. As this was working for my business and I was still profitable, I wasn't shooting as much as I wanted too. I love shooting, I love editing, and I love creating. IPS in my opinion is for those who want to work smarter and not harder. While doing IPS, I was shooting maybe twice a month with HUGE sales but I was falling out of love with photography. I did not want to loose something that I had been so in love with so I switched back to "shoot and burn" which many photographers will disagree that is seriously the best thing FOR ME. I want to stay busy. I want to meet lots and lots of people and travel lots and lots of places. By doing that, I don't have time to try to upsell my clients canvas sizes and extra prints. I'm fine with that. I still want to offer them professional products, but I allow them to order them on their own time. Find the method of business that you love and stick with it.
Now that I've talked your head off about my journey, I want to hear about your journey. Whether you are just starting or maybe you have a lot of experience. Are there any questions you want answered? I think I will start a series of these posts because I LOVE teaching and I LOVE inspiring. Eventually, I think I would like to have my own workshop.
You can e-mail questions or comments to our e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
hank you so much for reading all of this guys!