You’ve got the camera, you’ve taken some classes, and you’re ready to turn your love of photography into a gold mine. Or, are you?
From the earliest beginnings of modern photography, photographers have been on a mission to turn the images they create into money. While many have been successful in doing so, many have struggled to survive in a market that is becoming more competitive everyday. The advent of the digital camera, in conjunction with the digital darkroom, now available on your home computer, has made it easier than ever to create and share images. You don’t even have to mix chemicals.
For many, creating for creation’s sake isn’t enough; the lure of selling your art is strong. Others do it; why can’t you?
You can! Here are some tips from someone who has traveled the rough road of the business end of photography.
– Presentation vs. Representation
We’ve all done it, we’re all guilty; at some point, we have shown our glitziest, most bedazzling photographs to lure potential clients. While there is nothing wrong with showcasing your abilities, you’ll be doing yourself, and your client, a favor by showing them a broad spectrum of your work. Don’t be afraid to show the range of what you’ll likely be offering to a client. Remember, all they will have to use in their decision-making process is your presentation, so make sure your presentation is a good representation of your work. If all they get to see is your best work, then you should be prepared to produce your best work for every job you get, because…
– Expect Expectations!
The best intentions can be ripped to shreds by a difference in the expectations of a client and what the photographer actually produces. It’s so important to openly and honestly communicate with your clients. Don’t leave anything to chance. They pay you, and entrust you, to provide a service for them, and they likely have a resulting vision in mind. Try and find out exactly what their vision of the finished product is. Be honest about what your capabilities are and the timelines in which you can deliver them. You’re better off losing a client to an honest presentation before a job than losing a client after a shoot because of miscommunications.
How much do you charge? What is your time worth? There is no set-in-stone answer to these questions. However, somewhere between the extremes of “too much” and “not enough” is a median. You can pin-down what kind of investment you’ll be requiring of your clients by doing some homework. Look for other photographers, in your area, doing similar work for similar clientele. Do research on the internet, make phone calls, ask questions; most photographers, despite the possibility of new competition, will tell you about what they do and how they charge.
– Products & Production
Okay, so now the shoot is successfully shot, and safely backed-up. Files are archived and you’re ready to sell this baby, right? How? The end product you’ll offer is paramount in showcasing the images you put so much time and effort into. In the end, the products from the shoot are all your client is interested in. It’s not that they don’t appreciate the preparation, the time, the effort…the blood, sweat and tears…understandably, they just want their product. This brings us back to honest representation that would have taken place early on in the presentation. If you’ve delivered what has been expected, you’ll have been successful.
– The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo
No matter what type of job you’re taking on, the importance of a contract, a written agreement between both parties, can’t be overstated enough. It will serve as a written blue print of the the expected services you will deliver, and the compensation the client will deliver. And, in what manner these expectations will be fulfilled. You can find sample contracts for a variety of photo jobs online, or, if you’re really immersing yourself in the business, talk to a business attorney who can steer you in the right direction.
No matter what you’re photographing…weddings, portraits, sports, landscapes, interiors, architecture, products, pets…you can be successful if you present yourself honestly and conduct yourself around your clients in a professional manner. Long after the campaign to attract new clients through Search Engine Optimization, Facebook posts, Twitter blasts and word-of-mouth has happened, you’ll be remembered, and either hired or rehired, for the work you’ve done. My experiences have shown that my past clients remember either very good or very poor partnerships. What would you like to be remembered for after a paid shoot?
_______________________________________________________________________________Guest Blogger: Mike Brown is a 1987 graduate of the Ohio Institute of Photography, self-described as semi-retired, and spends his free time on the beach photographing tropical landscapes in Jupiter, Florida where he lives with his wife and two children. Photography By Mike Brown donates a portion of proceeds from sales of images to local and national art education and enrichment programs for children. Visit Mike’s facebook Page : www.facebook.com/
This is the second post in the CMD Business Series for 2013! Stay tuned each week for more.
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