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It’s something I’ve been writing about for a while now, but I think it’s a subject that needs proper attention: new photography businesses. Many aspiring photographers dive into the market, with variable levels of experience in photography and often minimum or no business skills. Sadly, many never pass the one year mark and close shop a lot sooner than expected. Here are some rather harsh truths that young photography entrepreneurs have to face in order to increase their chances of business survival.
Unless it is not your private time, and you are doing something for a client, and I don’t mean just shooting, you need to charge for that time. That time includes planning, traveling, retouching and basically anything else related to the contract. It might not seem fair to charge for something else other than just photography, but from a business perspective, it is all time invested in a certain client, time you’re not really getting back. If you keep charging only for the shooting part, you will end up losing in the long run.
Running a business without proper insurance is a light version of Russian roulette. It only takes one unfortunate accident or a dropped camera or lens to put you out of business faster than you can process it.
If your clientele is made of 2-3 clients only, that means that you are pretty much tied to them and their success. If, by an unfortunate event, one or two of your clients fail as a business, you aren’t going to be very happy either. The key is to try and find as many clients as possible, but without making compromises in terms of rates.
You should own copyright to all your photos, unless stated otherwise in the contract. That means that you should be making money from them in the future, not just for the day you took them. You are a creative professional, and the results of your work are intended for longer use by other companies. Unless they buy the copyright straight away, you need to come to an agreement about the duration of the use of your photography.
Hourly rates are good in the beginning, but in the long run, they will prevent you from being paid for your talent and skill. After all, that is what you’re selling at the end of the day, because as we all know, everybody else can push the button. Hourly rates are the way to go for event photography and other assignments that have a specific time frame and don’t require you to gather all the available talent and put it into the shoot. For everything else though, I recommend a different pricing method. Also, taking the time to understand each client’s needs and price your solutions accordingly should benefit you in the long run.
Image credit: slavikbig / 123RF Stock Photo