This week on the blog:
I have previously blogged about my journey and reasons for starting my own business as a photographer (see pictures added for attention ;-), and I thought it might be helpful to know exactly what I did, and what I have learned along the way is/was important!
This is a list of some first steps that I think are super important if you want to make photography into a business!
GETTING THINGS IN ORDER: BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR IN PHOTOGRAPHY
1) PASSION - First and foremost, I recommend you have a passion for photography and making beautiful images! I would guess since you are considering starting a business, you have some passion for the process! Now this isn't absolutely required because if you have skill, you can certainly put in the work and make money from it, but to really operate as an entrepreneur, you will need passion (no matter what field you go into) because running your own business is not as glamorous as it may seem!!
2) GEAR - Whereas you don't need to have the best of the best when starting off in business, I do believe that if you are going to be charging for sessions, you need to have a good enough set up to produce quality prints! You can do that in this day and age for surprisingly cheap! Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, etc....offer quality cameras that wont break the bank but will render fantastic quality images! You don't have to "go big or go home". When I started my business, I shot with a hand me down SLR and lenses but the quality of the images was beautiful (technically speaking...I provided the creative side of the beauty of course ;-). That being said, When you can afford it, upgrade to meet your needs as you grow in the industry! Not every camera is meant for every situation! Go try them out so see what "feels" good in your hands and get the opinions of the sales person and other photographers who shoot what you plan to shoot! There are a lot of excellent quality cameras out there, brand is just personal preference and each of them offer different benefits!
Another route to consider is buy used! I personally get a little more leary of buying used equipment (even though my first camera and lenses were used), however I have photographer friends who ONLY buy used, and have incredible gear!
3) COMPUTER - When I started my business this was not a requirement, but unless you chose to shoot film exclusively, you will need a decent set up. I would put a fast computer as a high priority now, in the age of digital. You will want a computer that has a pretty big hard drive, RAM and a FAST processor since you will probably be post processing way more images regularly than you did pre-business! If you don't have enough space, your system will run so slowly that you will pull your hairs out, one by one, with frustration in editing, aside from the fact that you will waste a ton of time. I did this for quite some time before I could afford to upgrade to something that would streamline my business more! It made a world of difference to edit on a fast computer!
MAC or PC both offer excellent options specifically designed for photo editing! I use PC.
4) EDITING SOFTWARE - There are a lot of software options for working with modifications to your photos! You probably already have one that you are comfortable with at this stage of the game, but if you aren't using ADOBE Lightroom and Photoshop, I recommend you invest and learn. Even though the program is HUGE and can do way more that you will ever want to know about lol, you can learn the basics to start! I look at Photoshop as a learn as I go tool. I started knowing the very basics, mastering those, then moving on to learn more about how I could control my final image. It's a learning curve for sure but a really fun and satisfying process when you learn something new!
5) EXTRAS - Although I don't think you need a TON of extras, I would recommend having at a minimum, a back up memory card and back up battery. If something goes funky on a shoot, or god forbid you forgot to charge your battery and you run out of juice during a session, you will have back ups! This is actually very important IMO! I have learned the hard way to carry back ups!
6) MARKETING TOOLS - You definitely need a way to let people know that you have opened a legit business and to share who you are, your pricing, samples of your work, and policies! I would create a web site that has the basic categories such as listed above! You can purchase a site and build one on your own for relatively inexpensive, and have a wonderful face for your business! I built mine using WIX and find it very user friendly (good for someone like me who is not very computer savvy), and I have also heard great things about Squarespace! Of course there are many you can chose from!
I also strongly recommend establishing a good Instagram and Facebook page! You don't have to use it as a direct advertisement tool but more for a way for people to get to know and trust you as a person, which could translate into a business relationship down the road!
7) DELIVERY SYSTEM - You need to decide how you want to get the finished product to your client! You may choose to sell prints, you may choose to sell digital files! Either way, you need an established system to use!
I sell the digital files, and use a gallery sharing web site called pixieset.com. They will allow me to upload individual galleries that are beautifully displayed for the client. They can either view them with you in person or you can send them a link to view on their own. They are able to download all the files directly from the site!
You may chose to sell prints but you will still need a place to load the client's photos to share the session, and to link to the lab where the client's choices will be sent for printing.
8) BACK UP - I know I put this last but it is definitely not least, as far as importance! You may have never thought about having back up of your own images but I can tell you, also based on personal experience, that you MUST back up your files. Things happen, to your computer, to the client's computer...you will want to be able to quickly access the session if something goes wrong. This little piece of advice I can't stress enough! I use ONeDrive.com but there is also dropbox and a host of other online back up sites that you can use!
Starting your own business can be exciting and scary! As long as you are equipped with the basics to get you started, you can expand as you learn and find out what YOUR specific needs are! Trust me when I say it's a process, and we all function a little differently! I am continually seeking to learn, modify, listen to my clients needs and make changes all the time! I enjoy the process!
I have learned so much from other people's journeys in addition to my own experiences so I wanted to share mine in case it can be of value to anyone else! I am always available to chat, really, I am! Reach out if you want to ask question, want to share stories or just chat about stuff! I enjoy the connections!!
Until next week....💜