In many respects, taking the photos is the easy part. Learning how to edit them, present them, sell them at the right price, market the business and create a brand - those are the difficult bits. The really hard thing, especially for a new photographer like me is to realise that you can charge real money for your work. And that's the big challenge for any photographer, writer, artist or musician, getting a realistic price for your work. What's realistic? Realistic is what allows you to make a living and reinvest in your business. Realistic means you can eat, go on holiday, buy a beer and save a bit for the future. My needs as a photographer are little different to any other professional. And why should they be?
If you are thinking of setting up a photography business, either full time or part time, you do yourself and your industry no favours by undercharging. That was a hard lesson that took me a while to learn. And sometimes it's hard to stick to your guns. You need to realise what you are worth.
The really important thing for me was to develop a style that suited me and that my clients loved. At first I thought it was important to create my own look but other photographers who were helping train me, Stuart Randall, Tamara Peel, Gary Walsh and Annabel all said the same thing, 'your style will develop, it will find you and grow with you, don't try to manufacture it'. If you do you will fail! And don't copy anyone else. Sure you can look to others for inspiration but you must always put your own stamp on it. What's the point in being a cheaper version of something else? Who would want to be a cheap version of Venture, Paul Yaffe or even Annabel Williams? If that's what you want then maybe you're doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons. Of course many of us start off by imitating those we admire or aspire to be. The important lesson for me was to be as individual as possible, to create images that people would love to buy and would want to show off to their family and friends. Something that their friends and family would want too, but be safe in the knowledge that each commission (because that's what it is) would be unique to them, reflecting their own personalities, values and lifestyles.
Slowly but surely, month on month our sales are growing, and repeat business and recommendations with it. We are establishing our place in the market. With so many competitors (everyone with a camera) it's better to forget about them and focus on building your own brand, reputation and following. The people who love what you do will come back and will tell their friends. Always remember, they can't do what you can do! We've achieved so much in the last two years! I have found out more about who I am, I've learned how to show regular, normal people how fantastic they can look - a major boost for people's self confidence, and we've started to build a brand and a business.
We've opened our own gallery to inspire clients and to show them their pictures. We've created three jobs, helped our friends develop their own businesses and have had an enormous amount of fun. We've invested a fortune (well it seems like it to us) and the returns are starting to come. The funny thing is, whilst the sales figures are important (we average around £1,200 to £1,400 per client sale) the thing that really matters to me, the real measure of success is the reactions of our clients. When you can put a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye of the most macho of fathers then you know you've done your job well. How can you put a price on that?
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 330 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 20th January 2021