Thinking about starting a photography business? Congratulations! It takes a lot of time and effort to get to the point where you can make money off of photography. Dedication is one thing that small business owners need to have in abundance in order to pull off running a business. Hopefully, these five tips will help you get started on the right path to getting your business established and running smoothly.
For the last decade or so, photo researchers and editors and individual stock photographers have been experiencing the improved search and purchase capabilities of the Internet. Electronic photo buying has almost totally replaced traditional transaction methods.
When Susie and I examined our options for jump-starting a wedding photography business, there really wasn’t a lot of help out there. All the available advice was about leveraging the clients you already had … which didn’t apply, because we didn’t even have any leads. The only option we saw for getting clients quickly was a bridal show. We didn’t relish the work or expense involved, but we can honestly say that it would have taken far, far longer to start our business without these shows.
One of my “passions” is photographing weddings. Although I am not a wedding photographer, somehow over the years, accidently showing up at strangers’ weddings and making a few photographs has grown on me and it has slowly evolved into one of my lifelong projects.
The brilliant yellow colors of the aspen trees in Colorado, the high school game that was won at the sound of the buzzer, the family pets’ visit to the veterinarian. No, these weren’t microstock photos these were words, describing these scenes. They were what our parents and grandparents used when they wanted to share an event or experience with a family member or neighbor.
Today, those same experiences and events are still happening, but the communication is different. It’s digital: Cameras and mobile devices.
No wonder there are so many pictures available these days. And the number will keep multiplying as picture taking machines become cheaper and better. And, amateur photographers and their photos become more plentiful.
Many veteran photographers who have dozens and dozens of photographs published each year are finding that the public is stealing those images and not paying for them. More importantly, those photographers don’t care.
Recently I completed work on a yearlong project. When I undertook the photography essay I did not realize the extent of the time and consideration that would be demanded to complete it.
After months of thought, shooting, post-production and enhancing the images, I have a body of photography that conceptualizes my impression of worship in a small New England town through architecture and religious objects.
How do you deal with a customer who seems to want to do it all on the cheap? First, you need to determine how cheap you’re willing to work. In this edition of Ask the Photo Business Coach, we talk about setting price points to accommodate such customers.
You can become a monopoly.
“A monopoly?” you say. “Me, become a monopoly?”
My Webster’s tells me a monopoly is a “commodity controlled by one party.” Applied to our stock photography industry on the web, that means if you have very extensive photo coverage of one subject – you have a mini-monopoly.
I took this photograph in 1983. At that time I was working as a medical photographer at a Montreal hospital. I was always in the habit of using the staircases to get around instead of the elevators because I needed the exercise and it was quicker.
Naturally, while working, I almost always had a camera with me, and on this occasion, while on my way up to one of the floors to photograph a patient with some obscure feature, which only doctors can find interesting, I encountered Felix. I paused a few moments and took three shots before I continued on my way. But this is not what this story is about.
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer said something that was insensitive to some and downright insulting to many.
“There’s no such thing as Flickr pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers. And then there’s everything that is professional photographers – certainly there’s varying levels of skill – but we didn’t want to have a Flickr pro because we wanted everyone to have professional quality photo space and sharing.”
A reader recently wrote me, asking: “What is the possible editorial worth of my collection of offshore Atlantic ocean fishing; high school sports from the 1950’s – 1980’s; and aerials of the Pittsburgh, PA, skyline?”
My response: “In any marketing endeavor, the successful route to follow is to determine who needs your product.”
Another question you could ask yourself: What will happen to all your photos when you’re gone?
I remember reading a few years back about the largest-known living organism in the world. Located under the Oregon forest, it is a 2,200-year-old fungus whose fruits, otherwise known as mushrooms, peek out here and there. Probably because of their unappealing nature, fungi are poorly known, and it is estimated that millions of yet-unclassified species exist. What has been recently discovered is that they seem to operate as a network inside the forest, communicating information from tree to tree via the moist soil, somewhat informing and organizing the environment they feed upon.
No, we are not turning into botanists here, although it is also a fascinating subject. Rather, it is the first thought that sprung when I discovered Symbiostock, an underground, little-known network of related organisms thriving thanks to symbiosis.
From the moment a Brownie camera was put in my hands, I was hooked on photography. Fell in love immediately. What child would not want to see the world through an apparatus that an 8-year-old could operate? Even before the Brownie, I began circumscribing my world with a pencil. Looking at a blank sheet of paper was not daunting to my young self; it was liberating. I could create a universe of my own!
The thing about photography/art for many young people is that there is so much to capture, to draw, to photograph. It was thrilling to create images of my vision. And so I drew, painted, photographed, collaged, inked everything I could: landscape, architecture, people, flowers, still life. All of what I saw was fascinating to interpret as well as to transcribe.
If you are Jewish, and you live in Montreal, sooner or later, you will die, and end up at Paperman and Sons Funeral Parlor. Naturally, I had heard of it since I was a kid, but since nobody close to me had ever died, I never went there except to attend other families’ funerals. That means, I never knew what went on upstairs – I knew nothing of the business of death.
That changed in 2001, when my mother died at the age of 92. Suddenly I had to go to Paperman and Sons and “do business.”
We are on the footsteps of a new photography landscape that is or will be affecting everyone who intends to draw substantial revenue operating a camera. While we can see and feel the changes, how to adapt is not evident. Mostly because we are trying to apply or adapt old models to new rules and it just doesn’t fit.
Sales is a vital part of running a business. In this edition of Ask the Photo Business Coach, we talk about how to be a salesman when you absolutely hate selling.
Anyone interested in a career as a photographer – as well as photographers in mid-career – should carefully examine how the business is changing.
If we look at image use on the Internet, it is undeniable that more images are being made available for viewing. Here are some numbers:
Architectural photography is a wonderful occupation. When I am shooting for a client, such as a decorator, developer or architect, I usually have free reign to take my photographs with little interference. If there are intrusions, I can work around them or them around me. Recently, I photographed a restaurant for a client during lunch service. I tried to be out of the way of staff and customers, and everyone was very accommodating. The wait staff yielded to my efforts to get the best shots in a low light situation and the diners, while some looked curious, did not mind the lens clicking or my occasionally hanging over a booth. Smooth going for the most part. And the client was happy with the shots!
Not so long ago, search engine optimization (SEO) was concerned only with using the right keywords and getting links to your website from as many other websites as possible. Manage that, and your website was sure to rise to the top of the search engines.
Then along came the Web 2.0 and the rise of social media, and everything changed.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” The Chinese philosopher Confucius was reported to have said. A lot people tell me that they can’t take pictures in their local environment. “Why?” I ask.
A couple of weeks ago, a developer asked me to take photos of some warehouses in Brooklyn. The buildings were on a street that had a lonely, barren industrial look. The structures were huge, boxy structures. No ornamentation. No interesting ironwork or mullioned windows. But the warehouses were brick, which always appeals to me.
It’s no secret that social media can be leveraged to monetize your reputation as a photography expert. But there is a dark side to this: a whole new generation of photography role models coming up who are unfit to be role models.
Take a look at the two photos below. Believe it or not, I shot both of these sunsets on the same day standing in essential the same place (on the shore of Long Island Sound) with the same camera (an Olympus UZ-810) and they were shot only about 10 minutes apart. Yet, the photos look very different from one another, and that’s due largely to three choices that I made for each shot: when I took the picture, the focal length that I chose and, very importantly, where I placed the horizon for each shot.
A few years ago, I saw a video about the late photographer, Garry Winogrand. The camera would follow him around on his day-to-day street shooting and he would offer comments to the camera as he worked. At one point, he turns to the camera and says, “Taking pictures is easy. All you have to do is decide what goes in the frame, and when you click the shutter.”