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- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
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- Selling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
Everyone thinks being a professional photographer would be a dream job. You get to be creative and take photos all day, make lots of money, and avoid the drudge of the 8-5 shift. While it's true that professional photographers do have some luxuries that a typical desk job doesn't, there is a lot more time and effort put into their work. Time spent taking photos isn't as much as you would think. There are many other things that the pros have to worry about if they want to be successful. Here's a breakdown of how a typical professional photographer spends his/her time:
This is what most people think professionals spend most of their time doing which makes perfect sense. Of course a photographer is going to spend a lot of time taking photos. But studies have shown that the pros only spend about 10% of their time shooting. While this is what they are being paid for, the shooting itself doesn't actually take very long. Studios are set-up quickly and ahead of time so that when the model(s) arrive, they can quickly capture what they need. Traveling photographers may seem like they spend a lot more time shooting as they do it in bulk. They'll travel to a location and shoot for several days or weeks. But the more they shoot, the more time they end up spending staring at a computer screen too.
This is what professionals spend most of their time doing. You may hate the thought of sitting at a desk for hours sorting and editing hundreds of photos, but it's a time-consuming task that needs to be done. Many photogs themselves will complain about this aspect of their job as it take up about 30% of their time. Most prefer to be out in the field or in a studio shooting. But high-end photography work requires quite a bit of editing. A simple increase in contrast and saturation isn't going to cut it for most of your clients.
Even worse than editing, bookkeeping also takes up a good chunk of a photographer's time. Between taxes, insurance, updating contracts, recording expenses, and billing clients, you'll spend some additional hours sitting at your desk burning the midnight oil as you crunch numbers.
Communicating with Clients
Whether it's meeting up with a client at a coffee shop to discuss your next project or e-mailing your client about a good location for the next shoot, communication is an important part of a successful photography business. Staying in communication with your clients helps ensure clear understanding and expectations between the two parties. Lack of communication can lead to a misunderstanding, and misunderstandings can lead to big problems for you and/or your client.
Networking and Marketing
You have to market yourself if you want to get more jobs and meet new clients. Photographers rarely work for a single employer and their contracts can vary in length from a couple days to a couple years. This finds most professionals bouncing around from employer to employer or constantly seeking out potential clients. Marketing can involve promoting yourself through fliers, ads, and social media. Networking involves meeting new people either as potential clients or professional contacts and involves attending venues and conventions.
This may not take up as much time as some of the other tasks, but it is something that you will encounter as a professional photographer. Your camera, lenses, laptop, studio lights, props, transportation equipment, etc. will all need to be upgraded and adapted to your current needs as you progress up the photography business ladder. Your needs will change. Your assignments will change. You'll start to take on bigger projects and your gear will need to change as you attempt to tackle these new situations. This means more time at the computer researching the product that best fits your needs.
Written by Spencer Seastrom