photo by millann via iStock
As someone who has been running their own photography business for well over a decade, I have made my fair share of common photography business mistakes.
From under preparing for end of year taxes to forgetting a backup battery, if there’s a photography business mistake you can think of, I’ve made it.
The problem is that, if you’re new to the industry, you aren’t aware of what photography business mistakes to be on the lookout for. So, we brainstormed at PhotographyTalk and asked each one of our editors to name their top photography business mistake.
But before we get to that...
One of the most common mistakes photographers make is partnering up with printing companies that don't cut the mustard. I love canvas prints, so I've worked with a number of canvas printers in the past.
In the video above, I share the results of my 2020 canvas print shootout. Which company is best? Which companies disappointed? Have a look at the video to see who comes out on top!
photo by urbazon via iStock
We all agreed this is the most egregious photography business mistake, but at the same time we also all agreed that it’s one of those mistakes professional photographers make because they have to.
Since there are so many small photography industries across the world, it’s pretty impossible for us to tell you exactly how much you should charge your clients. It’s also pretty impossible for individual photographers to figure this out without doing some serious market research, and without making this photography business mistake themselves.
photo by RossHelen via iStock
While we realize this isn’t really helpful, there are some concrete pieces of advice we can give you to help examine whether you are making this photography business mistake.
For instance, if you continue to charge your clients what you are currently charging them, how long will you be able to keep your business open? Will you have enough money saved for a new camera when you need one? Will you have enough money saved if something goes wrong in your personal life and you need to take a few months off?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you are also making the photography business mistake of undercharging your clients.
Editor's Tip: If you undercharge your clients, you not only have trouble paying yourself, but paying for the quality gear you need to create the best photos. Aside from things like your camera, lenses, lighting gear, and so forth, you need a high-quality monitor that enables you to create color-correct images. My personal choice for a monitor is the ViewSonic VP3881. It's a 38-inch curved ultra-widescreen monitor that has impeccable color accuracy and detail. With all that real estate on the screen, I have no trouble zooming in and inspecting each photo. And since the VP3881 has 4.39 trillion colors, I know my images will print just as I intended.
Using Bad Paid Advertising Avenues
photo by Farknot_Architect via iStock
Another photography business mistake I see with amateur photographers pretty frequently is using bad paid advertising avenues, like internet directories.
Not only are these directories charging far too much because they understand amateur photographers can get pretty desperate for clients, but they also don’t work. You can trust me because I’ve tried them.
This isn’t to say that all paid advertising is a photography business mistake because I use targeted ads on Facebook and have done so for years. This type of incredibly niche advertising makes sure that your ads are getting right into the hands of people that need them at that exact moment of their lives.
But, keep in mind that most photographers truly rely on word of mouth for most of their new clients. Likely the best thing you can do for advertising is ensure your clients have the ultimate experience with you, that way they recommend you to their friends and family.
Working With Companies That Create Cheap Products
photo by LumiNola via iStock
This photography business mistake almost makes my skin crawl. I understand that you may be trying to cut costs wherever you can, and using Walmart canvas prints is much cheaper than working with a local print studio, but your clients can tell if you are trying to sell them products that aren’t of the highest quality.
Since most photographers rely on word of mouth referrals to gain new clients, you only want to work with companies that create products that will last a lifetime.
Think about it. If you work with a client that loves your photography, but you sell them a canvas print that either immediately fades while hanging up in their living room or has an ink smear on it, that client will be far less likely to give you any referrals.
Sure, that decision may save you some money up front, but in the long run it’s going to cost you a lot.
That’s why I work with CanvasHQ. CanvasHQ is a little bit more expensive than cheap canvas printers, but I’ve had clients tell me they would still spend three times the amount they did because they love the finished product so much.
CanvasHQ prints are rated to last up to 100 years because they strictly use the highest-quality ink and canvas, and they hand build their frames and hand stretch your print over it.
Plus, just like with some of the cheaper canvas print alternative companies, CanvasHQ constantly has a countdown on their website so you know the exact turnaround time you can expect on your rush jobs.
Finally, CanvasHQ is a small business, so they provide direct customer service help throughout the entire process. For example, their customer service agents have caught problems with my photos that I didn’t.
Don’t make the photography business mistake of working with a company that doesn’t care about your clients.
I hope this list of what not to do as a professional photographer will help you through this pandemic and beyond.