Learn, Learn, Learn!
Whether you are just starting out in photography or you’ve been doing it for a while, there is always room to learn and improve your skills. As a professional photographer, you should always look for new techniques, new equipment, and new skills to discover and add to your repertoire. Style and trends are constantly changing and growing, and keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s popular is essential to staying ahead of the competition. There are a lot of great resources for learning new things that you can incorporate into your business. Suppose you’re looking for something quick and affordable. In that case, you can check out a nearly endless number of youtube tutorials, from equipment reviews to Photoshop tutorials, to lighting techniques, and so much more. Sit down a make a bucket list of topics you’d love to learn more about or skills you’d like to improve, and then get to work learning them!
Another huge part of learning and growing as a photographer is practice. Take your camera everywhere you go and when you see something that inspires you, makes you smile, or just looks pretty, take a picture! Take pictures every day and play around with them in your editing program. The more you practice, the more familiar you’ll be with your equipment, your editing software, and how to set up the perfect shot.
Don’t Overdo it
When you’re starting as a professional photographer, it’s easy to go overboard buying props, equipment, backdrops, and the million other things marketed towards professional photographers. After all, it’s fun! However, don’t fall into the trap of buying too much. Instead, you should set up a budget for equipment and stick to it! I recommend starting with a lump sum to get the essential equipment that you’ll absolutely need to get your business started. Then you can have a monthly budget to spend on adding to your collection of backdrops, props, costumes, and any other accessories or tools you want for your business.
Before you purchase your gear, take the time to do your research. Write down the different photography services you’d like to offer, and then research the best equipment for those specific types of photography so that you can utilize your financial resources the most effectively. There’s nothing worse than wasting money on tons of expensive lenses when your business really only uses a few of them.
Passion is Paramount
Speaking of different photography types, you must offer photography services that you are passionate about. Photography is, more than anything, an art form. Art without passion is boring and bland. No one photographer is great at all the different types of photography. For instance, if you’re not a baby person, you shouldn’t be offering newborn photography sessions. Think about the things you love and the types of photos you are most inspired by, and then niche down your offerings to those particular photography styles. If you love what you’re doing, that passion will shine through in your photographs, and they will be that much better for it.
Jack of All Trades
While you should be niching down your services to include only things that you’re passionate about shooting, you will need to be a jack of all trades in other areas of your business. Owning a photography business is so much more than just taking pretty photographs. You need to have excellent customer service skills; you need to know how to maintain your finances, how to market your business, how to establish and maintain a social media presence, how to create and maintain a website, and how to establish your brand in a way that is recognizable and reflective of who you are and what you do. Even if you don’t currently have the skills to do all of these things, you can and should take the time to learn! If that all feels incredibly overwhelming, then the next tip is for you…
Build a team
If a one-person show is not your jam, then you need to build a rock-solid team to help you! Outsource the tasks that you don’t have the knowledge, time, or inclination to do independently. Whether your team is in-house or virtual, having an extra set of hands or two to help you build and run your business can be a huge help!
A great way to bring in clients and keep them coming back is with special offers that they won’t get everywhere else. This can include seasonal mini sessions with a gorgeous set, a unique theme, and a smaller price than regular sessions. You can also offer packages that give your client a discount when they order a certain number of prints or book a certain number of sessions in one year. A great example of this is a through-the-year package for newborn photos. Instead of offering a single session just after birth, you can provide a First-Year Package that includes a new session every few months for the first year of a baby’s life at a discounted rate. Another great example is offering wedding packages that include an engagement session, pre-wedding event photos, and wedding day photos in a single package. Finally, you can offer a referral program to your current clients. For each new referral they bring in, you can offer a discount on their next scheduled session. All of these special offers create incentives for your clients to keep coming back to you for all of their future photography needs.
Above all else, an essential part of starting a photography business is to do as Nike says, and just do it! If you’ve got a passion for photography, and you’ve been thinking and dreaming about making that passion into a career, the best thing you can do is just start! You can start small by taking photos for friends and family as I did and slowly building your network and skills while you begin marketing your business to others. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep working hard, and with a bit of luck, and a lot of heart, eventually, you’ll make your way! Happy snapping!