by Richard P Walton Published 01/08/2012
Photography is a great way to earn a living and beats working for one instead; sometimes it's worth thinking about how lucky we are to get paid to take photographs. There are people grafting 12-hour shifts on building sites in the freezing cold, people risking their lives to save lives and people starving on the streets in the world.
If you want to make a lot of money from photography then learn how tobe a good photographer so you can work for the high-end markets.
Shoot for show before you shoot for dough, then the dough will come.
8. Forget about the industry
You are not the photography industry, you are an individual who enjoys taking photos and exploring all the possibilities of being a photographer.
The state of the industry should not affect you and your business.
I'm sick and tired of hearing about how bad the industry is, people constantly telling me that other photographers are cheapening the trade making it hard for us to make any decent money any more. The state of the industry can not be blamed for the state of our businesses. I know lots of photographers who are financially doing better than ever before and why is this? ...they know their market and know how to market themselves for it.
If you have competition around you then you need to start thinking how you can be different, then you no longer have competition. Are Ford in competition with Porsche? They are two different companies with two completely different markets and selling two completely different products. However, they are still selling cars, just like we are selling photographs.
Put yourself in a position where you are looked at as an individual artist, offering something unique that separates you from photographers that people have cliches about.
9. Don't worry too much about kit and all the latest technology Good photography comes from the mind and imagination, no piece of kit or technology can compete with our minds. The best feeling is creating something that you've never seen before. Cameras can take photographs but they can't create beautiful pieces of art. We all have the gift of being able to think for ourselves and as photographers we have the amazing ability to show other people our visions on paper. We do not need the latest expensive kit to do this.
I wasted a lot of time and money on kit during the early years; I always thought that if I bought a better camera or better lens I would take better pictures. Unfortunately it's not that simple. I know nothing about mechanics. Do you think that if I bought a set of MAC tools I could refit a clutch? I bet if I gave a good mechanic some rubbish old tools though, on the side of a motorway, he would be able to.
I have an old Centon flash that cost £25 on eBay, that, along with a Canon 20mm 2.8 lens on my Canon 5D mk1 have produced most of my portfolio. In 2010 I shot all of my studio portraits on a Canon 50mm 1.8 (the cheapest one, around £70). That lens has made a fortune. I now use a Tamron 28-70mm 2.8 that I paid £200 for secondhand, that shot 90% of my wedding images last year and all of my studio work.
Don't get sucked into the hype, spend the money on a nice holiday instead, you'll have some great experiences and some great photos even if you only take a compact camera.
10. Know your market
This is something that is really important, look at your work and business and ask yourself where you feel you should slot in. Are you the bottom end of the market, middle market or the higher end of the market? A bit like Porsche, Audi and then Vauxhall. Ask yourself honestly, which one am I?
There is no shame in being the bottom end of the market, you just have to make sure you are set up for it. Don't try to undercut others and work in the bottom of the market if you simply can't afford to. If the photographer down the road can get away with charging £400 a wedding this doesn't mean you will be able to. So it's important to thoroughly look at your business costs and times before you start copying the other photographer's going rates.
The same applies to the other markets. You can't offer high-end wedding albums to the low-end market if you aren't charging high-end prices.
Regardless of taking photos, business is business and the best investment you make is in some good marketing and business training.
Running a photography business is no different to any other.
11. Follow your dreams
It's important to keep focused on your dreams, remind yourself why you first fell in love with photography, don't get into a trap of photographing things you would have never thought of photographing. There are loads of areas in photography and they are all capable of being successful businesses. Concentrate on the area you love not the area that looks like the easiest way to make money. Some people put weddings in this category - while they look appealing and people think we get paid £2,000 for a day's work, unfortunately it's not the reality. Studio portraiture can and does make a lot more money for a lot less work.
12. Finally have fun and create fun
Don't forget that photography is fun. It's important to remember that creating fun experiences for our clients is just as important as giving them great images. After all a photograph is purely a memory of an experience.
If the experience was good fun for them then the photos will simply remind them of it.
Thanks for reading. I hope this has been of some use to you and I wish you all the best in your photography career. Don't forget to be an individual and keep searching for the artist within you.
Until the next time,
Richard P Walton FSWPP
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