November 24, 2014, 09:09:06 PM

Author Topic: when/how to start a photography business?  (Read 4659 times)

cheeseheadsaint

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 117
    • View Profile
when/how to start a photography business?
« on: October 08, 2012, 02:37:30 PM »
Hi! Haven't been on this forum for a while!  now that I'm in college and always strapped for cash, I'm hoping to make some money with this beloved hobby.

I've been shooting since sophomore year of high school(portraits, sports, wildlife). Shot homecoming/prom portraits for dirt cheap(Free to $10) for friends and friends of friends. But here, now I have a fresh start to set prices and not worry about friendships getting in the way.

Any tips on starting out?
Canon Rebel XSi, kit lens, 50mm f1.8, ef-s 55-250mm IS, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, 6D

canon rumors FORUM

when/how to start a photography business?
« on: October 08, 2012, 02:37:30 PM »

jeremydylan

  • Guest
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 06:36:12 PM »
Many people think they are making money with photography when in fact they are simply subsidizing the cost of their hobby/business with their salary.

If you truly want to understand what it takes get yourself a copy of John Harrington's "Best Business Practices for Photographers" http://www.amazon.com/Best-Business-Practices-Photographers-Harrington/dp/1598633155

To give you an idea of what you'll need to charge in order to make a  profit use the NPPA Cost of Doing Business Calculator found here: http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/cdb/cdbcalc.cfm

The results may shock you.  Running a successful photography business cost quite a bit of money in order to be profitable.  Many people think photographer's are ripping them off with $1000 plus photography shoots.  The reality is those costs are often more than justified.  When I heard how much one of the local photographers in my area was charging for a photoshoot, I figured they were being overcharged and I could make a killing.  $15K and three months later I feel I'm almost ready to open my doors for business and make a profit.

If you truly love photography and take the time to learn how to operate a business, you can be successful.  Good luck, keep us posted how it goes.

crasher8

  • Guest
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 08:30:01 PM »
I just like to have it pay for my gear!

Orangutan

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 749
    • View Profile
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 08:44:03 PM »
I'm hoping to make some money with this beloved hobby.
Any tips on starting out?

Find a local pro who runs a solid business and offer to be a second shooter/assistant.  You might try the older photographers since that may have several benefits: if they've been doing it a while they know how to run a business; they may appreciate help with physical and/or technical challenges; they will know the "tricks" of dealing with adverse conditions;  they may feel a desire/obligation to mentor younger folks to "pass on the trade."  Be willing to start as a volunteer or for low pay.  At this point it only costs you time.

If you decide to go solo you should start in the "low rent" district.  Do inexpensive jobs under favorable ambient lighting so you don't have invest time and money in gear.   Be willing to turn down jobs in unfavorable circumstances.  DO NOT take every job you're offered.  Find a good boilerplate contract form that limits your liability.  There are books on the legal aspects of running a photo business: borrow or buy a couple

Before you spend money on gear make sure you know how to run your business, and are willing and able to handle it (e.g. clients).   There is a difference between being an avid photographer and a successful business owner.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 08:47:00 PM by Orangutan »

awinphoto

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 2010
    • View Profile
    • AW Photography
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2012, 09:17:56 PM »
Watch creative live tomorrow. They are totally going over business and photography. Www.creativelive.com/live. Watch it Saturday. It's free when it's live
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

sb

  • Guest
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2012, 09:47:32 PM »
It goes something like this:

Craiglist Posts->Low end Jobs->skill improvement->website improvement->gear improvement->moderate advertising->more business->higher prices->networking with other vendors->brand recognition->off you go

And you better have a full time job while doing all of this.

7enderbender

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 635
    • View Profile
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2012, 10:08:55 PM »
I don't know. But here is something I wish I could tell my 20-some-year-old self. Not sure how well it would be received - or if it answers your question at all.

Funny, because I just discussed this with my wife tonight. She is a writer/poet/creativity coach. I am a musician/photographer/politician/economist/philosopher... you get the idea. Only all that stuff that - while it keeps us sane to some degree - doesn't make a lot of money if any. I actually have a "real" profession and a 40+ hour office job that pays for the mortgage, food on the table and a family plan plus the occasional less necessary thingamabob or two.

So the question was: do I have regrets not pursuing any of my other, more "risky" (financially and otherwise) interests as a "professional"? Actually, no. Sure, you can always ask the what-if-question. But that's not getting you anywhere after the fact. What if I had been hit by a truck?

So I'm perfectly happy with how things turned out. I can pursue music and photography and some other stuff how ever I wish since I don't depend on it financially. At least to the degree that fits into a 24h time frame which is really the biggest problem in the end. On the contrary, I know people who went pro and have to do things that they didn't sign up for like shooting/playing weddings, teach little 12 year olds without any talent, etc. What's "worse"? Donno.

So that's one answer. The other is: go for it while you still can. What do you have to lose? Start part-time while you're still in school and you can operate on 5 hours of sleep. The trick is, I think, to find the right interest that you're passionate about. Because ultimately it comes down to how much work you're willing to put it to make it happen. Not just the actual taking pictures part but the networking, learning business skills, being in the right places, etc.

And here's another one: learn the principles of pricing theory. And don't believe anyone who will tell you anything about cost+markup. That's about the dumbest thing in general and makes things even worse for 90% of "artist types" out there. Always think of the customers' value and make them pay dearly for it. I know, the photography business has been destroyed by people working for little money or even free and even uncle Joe has a DSLR. But then again there are plenty of obviously successful people out there who prove this wrong.

I just finished Helmut Newton's autobiography. He knew this instinctively it seems. And he was just driven and never stopped even when things sucked badly.

Good luck.
5DII - 50L - 135L - 200 2.8L - 24-105 - 580EXII - 430EXII - FD 500/8 - AE1-p - bag full of FD lenses

canon rumors FORUM

Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2012, 10:08:55 PM »

Richard8971

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 382
  • "There is no spoon" - Neo
    • View Profile
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2012, 10:12:02 PM »
Well, someone once said that if you "love what you do, you will never work a day in your life."

I believe this to be 100% true, however, not to many of us actually WORK in the field that makes us the happiest. I consider myself lucky; I work at a busy automotive collision repair shop and have been doing this line of work for 20 years now. My job is fast paced, challenging and never gives me the same problem to solve twice. Now, that being said....

I am also a photographer. I have been so for the last 4 years. My friends know I take photos and I regularly share them with whomever I meet. I can look back and compare my work now and see how it has changed, how my style has changed. It has nothing to do with my equipment, my equipment simply gives me more or less options depending on what I buy and take with me for the day. Some of my best work was from XTi and T1i Rebels... It's WHAT you take a photo of and HOW you compose it that sells, NOT the camera it was taken from.

It takes a while to get your roots and figure out where you want to take your "art". Anyone can take a photo of a bird or landscape, but the trick is... how do YOU take a photo that someone wants to BUY??!! That doesn't come overnight, so 1) you work a full time job and do photography second (takes longer), or 2) quit your job and go into photography full time. Both require lots of money and time but at least if my photography fails to produce a paycheck, I can fall back on my painting work. But, the question is... if I worked my photography like a job and pushed it, would I be farther ahead with it today?

Hmmm... I have sold prints and I just made my first publication sale (stock photo for print) this past week. :) As I signed the release form I realized that it took me 4 years and over 10K of camera equipment to make a hundred bucks!

Oh and if you throw a website into the mix, that raises the costs even more and time needed to make it work... wow...

Well, at least I enjoy photography. :)

D
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 10:17:57 PM by Richard8971 »
Canon 5D2, 7Dv2.03, 50D, 40D, T1i, XTi...XT (& lenses, flahses), various powershots... You get the idea... I have a problem. :)

Wife shoots Nikon, D7000, D7100, (lenses and flashes)... we constantly tease each other that our cameras are better than each others!

Richard8971

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 382
  • "There is no spoon" - Neo
    • View Profile
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2012, 10:21:59 PM »
I just like to have it pay for my gear!

Amen to that! Man, I have a LOT of prints to sell... Anyone want to buy a photo of a baby (no feathers, still in the nest) roadrunner eating a lizard whole? It's a great shot and I will let it go 100% for 10 grand. :)

D
Canon 5D2, 7Dv2.03, 50D, 40D, T1i, XTi...XT (& lenses, flahses), various powershots... You get the idea... I have a problem. :)

Wife shoots Nikon, D7000, D7100, (lenses and flashes)... we constantly tease each other that our cameras are better than each others!

scotthillphoto

  • Power Shot G7X
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
    • Scott Hill Photography
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2012, 10:43:54 PM »
Well like said earlier second shooting is great, but you need to have good gear in order to really jump start your business... I have dove head first and have been shooting for almost 3 years. Within the first year I was working at the bottom at a newspaper shooting the junk shoots then started working for a university part-time shooting sports and events. Now I still have a part-time regular job but my photography is covering half of my income. But branding is very important you want people to recognize your work. And never spend money you don't have! And like someone posted earlier with the link to the cost of being a real photographer, when you are paying taxes, insurance, etc those things do add up and your "profit" becomes much less, and websites, advertisements, gear repair are more money "pits" so my advice is either go big or just keep it at home as a hobby. lol

But good luck in whatever way you do go!
Bodies: Canon 7D and 5D Markiii - Lenses: 70-200 2.8L, 50 1.2L, 30 1.4, and 10-20 3.5 - Then flashes, strobes, stands, etc....

sb

  • Guest
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2012, 10:56:25 PM »

And here's another one: learn the principles of pricing theory. And don't believe anyone who will tell you anything about cost+markup. That's about the dumbest thing in general and makes things even worse for 90% of "artist types" out there. Always think of the customers' value and make them pay dearly for it.

"How much should I charge?" becomes a much easier question to answer when you rephrase to "How much does it take for me to actually agree to do this?"

At first, the answer will be "I'll do it for free as long as I get some cool shots for my portfolio", but that answer will  change very quickly. As your skill goes up, you will value your time more.

triggermike

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 117
  • Canon Shooter
    • View Profile
    • mike fossler photography
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2012, 11:29:40 PM »
Time is money.

When setting "reasonable" prices, you need to get a feel for 'how many' will buy and look at the time you spent. Here in USA, when starting out, you probably want to making at least $50/hr.

verysimplejason

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1367
    • View Profile
    • My Flickr Account
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 11:55:16 PM »
It's the same thing with me.  I just want to earn money to pay for my gears but how?  I still don't know.  I've been joining photography contests whenever available during my free time to at least have a little bit of "free" money to set aside for my gears.  Fortunately I'm able to win some and gain at least 1/3 of what I've spent so far but it's very hard to earn that way.  After all, photography is purely subjective.  Beauty always depends on the eye of the beholder.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 11:55:16 PM »

Richard8971

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 382
  • "There is no spoon" - Neo
    • View Profile
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2012, 01:27:38 AM »
After all, photography is purely subjective.  Beauty always depends on the eye of the beholder.

Ah... the same 'ole, same 'ole.

Again, ANYONE 'now-a-days' can take a photo of whatever they want, when they want! The times have changed and so has the playing field in which we play. 20 years ago, digital was almost unheard of... now? Even my cell phone has a 5MP camera in it!!!

So, now that just about every average "Joe" can take photos, what now? How do YOU make your images stand apart from the rest of humanity?

Unless you happen to land a job at Time magazine or a local newspaper where you simply capture the "current event" of the day, you have to keep looking (daily) for that "once in a lifetime shot"! It's a tougher field to break into and it's getting harder and harder every day. Now that full frame cameras are now VERY afforable options.... man. You have to really work now to get that "perfect" photo that people will WANT to BUY!

D
Canon 5D2, 7Dv2.03, 50D, 40D, T1i, XTi...XT (& lenses, flahses), various powershots... You get the idea... I have a problem. :)

Wife shoots Nikon, D7000, D7100, (lenses and flashes)... we constantly tease each other that our cameras are better than each others!

janvehrenkamp

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2012, 05:21:14 AM »
I try to keep it short, here's what worked for me:

The first is the most important:
#1 DECLARE YOURSELF A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. (Not photographer/student/housewife/hooker/photographer or anything like that.)
#1a create a business plan

#2 Shoot everything you can and promote it like mad (blog, direct mailings, leave behinds, business cards).

#3 Don't give away your images for free to _anyone_ (except maybe a charity or non-profit that you really believe in).

#4 Get a different image than the other photogs(like someone mentioned before) - you have to really stand out, in order to be noticed at all. If all the other photogs turn left, turn right. (Obviously that isn't always the best option - you have to get a feeling for it, and even then you'll be wrong 50% of the time.)

#5 Until you get clients that pay for an image with a certain look, shoot what you like, and shoot it a lot.
(As soon as you have a client telling you "I want this type of image", get him/her that image.)

#6 Never make promises you can't keep, and always deliver more than you promised!

#7 GOTO #1

And my favourite: Break the rules, if necessary. (Be extra careful, when breaking rule #3.)

canon rumors FORUM

Re: when/how to start a photography business?
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2012, 05:21:14 AM »