- 5 Things to Research Before Starting a Photography Business
- Don't Make These Silly Photography Business Mistakes
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How much do you like photography? Obviously, you like it very much, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading websites about it.
Photography is very rewarding. You get to feel the thrill of creating art, of capturing important events, or giving something valuable and worthwhile to others. Those can be very tangible rewards.
Another reward for your love of the art and craft of photography can be monetary in nature. The monetary reward may be large or modest, may be the result of a whole day’s work or come from a single image.
How Do I Start a Home-Based Photography Business?
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There are a lot of very talented photographers, but only a percentage of those people bring in real cash from their talent. What makes the difference?
Keep At It
One of the things most needed to start a home-based photography business is persistence. If your first bids or proposals don’t get results, re-examine your proposals. Maybe you need to tweak a phrase or clause.
It could be your bids are fine as they are, but simply no one has hired you as of yet. Sure, from time to time someone gets lucky and has an amazing opportunity just fall into their lap, but you can’t rely on luck. You need to keep trying, keep plugging along.
Your business model may be different from submitting bids or proposals. You could be operating a web based store-front for fine art images. Or maybe you are opening a studio in your home. The same principles of persistence apply to these endeavors as well.
Find a Niche
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Most likely, you’ve been a photographer for a while. And you have found a certain style of photography or a certain subject matter that you are really good at. Well, that’s your niche. You can have more than one niche, but there are usually one or two things you do exceptionally well.
Often times, a person starting a home-based photography business thinks they have to cover all bases. They offer themselves as a wedding photographer, small product photographer, real estate photographer, family portrait photographer, sports photographer, photojournalist, and videographer all at the same time.
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I call this the shotgun approach. There may be some initial limited success with this approach. But what also happens is that potential clients might see you as a jack of all trades, master of none situation in their minds.
By marketing your strengths, you create a stronger personal brand. Instead of your clients seeing a watered down version of everything you could possibly do, they see an outstanding representation of something in which you truly excel.
Those web article business photography tips you see everywhere saying to build a brand for your business, this is what that means. Find your niche, set yourself apart.
Go Outside Your Niche
Once you find your strong personal brand, be prepared to take on other photography work. When that wedding client loves your images and asks if you do pet portraits, why not give it a try? If you small product contract client is selling their home and needs real estate images, offer that service.
Obviously, you don’t want to get in over your head, though. If you are happy taking portraits for high school seniors and the thought of shooting a destination wedding gives you the willies, maybe you should consider all the pros and cons involved.
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We also may need to temper our tendency towards overconfidence. To be honest, not all photographers are cut out for wedding photography or wildlife excursions or fashion model photography.
You could ruin your personal brand as a home-based photography business by ruining one unrepeatable event for your client. Don’t be that photographer!
However, trying out other styles or genres of professional photography might also lead your home-based photography business into a better, more profitable, or more enjoyable photography niche. Be reasonable, but also be willing to expand.
Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
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While professional photography is not all about the gear by any means, having the right equipment for the job does help.
I’m not saying you are required to have the latest and greatest cameras and lenses in order to run a successful home-based photography business. But, there is a reason why some products are described as professional equipment.
Usually, it’s more related to durability over other quality factors. As an example, a kit lens on an entry level camera can deliver superb images. But once you find yourself relying on a piece of equipment for creating income, you want something that has a good record of durability.
Some of those extra features can be welcome, as well. For instance, exposure bracketing, spot metering, or multiple focus points for the camera. Fast maximum f-stop, speedy autofocus, and close focusing for lenses. Advanced flash functions and other options that are added to higher end cameras, lenses, and accessories can make some jobs either easier to do or able to do.
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As an example, let’s take a look at 3 digital cameras from Nikon. The Nikon D5 is a top of the line, ultimate photography tool. It is a virtual hockey puck in terms of durability and has features that weren’t even imagined a mere 15 years ago. It also costs as much as a decent used car.
The Nikon D750 (full frame) and D7500 (APS-C) are what I call prosumer level. In other words, they have durability, features, and quality that would be welcome to a professional photographer or an advanced hobbyist. But the prices for these cameras are within range of many photographers.
The Nikon D3500 and the kit lenses marketed with it are considered entry level. Though sturdy enough for general photography, these cameras are not built for extreme use. Plus, they lack certain features that working photographers like to have. The image quality is superb, so you could get fantastic results from it.
A decent photographer could capture beautiful images with a smartphone or a compact point and shoot camera. Just like a good carpenter could use basic power tools. But pro level and higher end equipment exist for good reasons.
Again, I’m not saying to become a gear head or an equipment snob, but using good tools is always preferable to having to “make do” with lesser equipment.
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In your home-based photography business, you’ll be providing images or imaging services to clients for payment of some type. The client will expect a certain level of work from you. So, you will need to consider how to protect yourself from things going wrong. Trust me, things will go wrong at some point.
As a protection for yourself and your photography business, consider insurance, image backup, and financial services.
Insurance is a good idea for several reasons.
You need to protect against theft and damage of your equipment. You need protection from liability for you and your stuff when on a job. Things like someone tripping over cords or you dropping a valuable antique you are photographing. And you need a form of errors and omissions insurance for failing to provide what was contracted.
Many carriers provide all three types of coverage at once with policies designed for photographic businesses.
A better insurance against lost images is having a backup of the images so you won’t have to file a claim for loss in the first place. You could save all of your memory cards, similar to how we saved chromes and negatives back in the day. But that gets cumbersome and doesn’t let you search for images.
A separate drive for image storage, such as the Synology DiskStation DS419slim NAS (network attached storage) device is a great idea. It is a physical storage device that is also connected to a user accessed local network and also to the cloud.
If you use an imaging program with cataloging features such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you can find your images readily. Besides protecting from loss, an NAS is also a more convenient method to store your image files. This makes re-editing and re-ordering a better process for you.
Besides, even if you have zero experience using a NAS, Synology has developed this little guy to be incredibly easy to use. Setup takes just a few minutes thanks to the intuitive operating system.
It’s also a small unit, so it can easily sit on top of your desk without taking up tons of room. This, combined with its sleek looks and quiet fans, mean that it blends into the background of your workspace. I don’t even realize it’s there any longer!
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One business photography tip that gets overlooked sometimes is to make sure you are handling the home-based business finances properly. Financial mistakes can cost you money or could cost you your home-based photography business all together.
Avoid a going-out-of-business sale by investing in financial software and the training for how to use it. You could hire a local accountant, especially one familiar with small business taxes. Or you could make use of online business communities that host professionals willing to do online gig work.
Those online communities are also a fantastic way to start or build up your own home-based photography business, by the way.
The Best Photography Business Tips
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The best photography business tips are whatever tips you personally need to succeed in your own home-based photography business.
Some valuable tips are how to create and maintain an online presence, how to market it properly, and the importance of a business plan. Those tips are all over the internet.
Our tips will help you see some other important considerations. Find your niche, expand your talents, get the right tools, protect yourself and your images, and don’t give up if things aren’t what you want at first.
Follow some of these tips, and you will likely have a profitable and enjoyable home-based photography business that you can keep going for quite a long time.