Tag Archives: business tips

A New Way to Boost Productivity

Many of us are running micro and small businesses. There is a constant challenge in this type of operation to be making the most of the available hours. Some people are excellent at this and always seem to have spare time, while others seem to work endlessly without ever really getting ahead. I pride myself on running a healthy business which leaves me time to do other things in life. In the last month though, I’ve found a new way to boost productivity. It’s not one I’m particularly proud of (!) but there is a lesson in here.

I like the wisdom and irony in the saying ‘the bleeding edge of technology’. It’s similar to the leading edge of technology except it’s one that comes at a cost. It can be painful. I have several friends in this space. They feel compelled to have the latest photographic equipment and will buy new equipment whether they need it or not. They’ll also buy it regardless of whether they have existing equipment which can do the job. I prefer not to be at that expensive, bleeding edge. I typically don’t buy the latest model camera body as soon as it comes out. I will wait until it has been in the market for some time, and has been proven to be effective. I’ll typically buy when the price comes down, perhaps 12 or 18 months after the model first came out. Where’s this heading and where is a new way to boost productivity?


Couple

Greater productivity in my post production work leaves more time for shooting.

While I’ve been good at steadily updated my photographic equipment, the same can’t be said for my computing power. I’ve been using an old laptop, which I have stuck with for too long. It runs slowly. It takes too long to start up. It’s weighed down by the thousands of images I’ve shot and downloaded onto it.

So, I’ve recently got a new computer and am in the process of using it more and more, and using the old one less and less. So where is a new way to boost productivity? You won’t be surprised to hear that the new machine runs much more quickly than the old one. I estimate my productivity for post production work (and even writing blog posts!) is up approximately 25%.

business

Is Christmas the time for you to upgrade your businesses computing power?

While it’s an embarrassing story to tell, I really believe my ‘computer time’ efficiency has improved 25%. That leaves me more time to speak with clients, or do more shoots, or just enjoy the Melbourne summer.

I definitely should have upgraded my computing power at least 2 years ago. In future, I will be thinking of this as an investment in an asset for my business. I might not be at the bleeding edge of technology, but I’ll make sure my computer is adding to my business and not slowing it down. How good are you at upgrading your computer assets? Are they adding or detracting from your business?

Thanks for reading a new way to boost productivity. I hope it’s given you reason to consider your own business needs.

5 Great Reasons to Have a Break From Your Business

I have just had 3 weeks overseas. It was a great time to have a break and to reflect on my photography business. I had plenty of time to consider where it is at now, and where it is headed. I feel refreshed! It has also enabled me to make some really significant decisions on where my business is going – more posts on that to come in the next few weeks! I was reflecting that isn’t it funny that I was looking forward to a holiday, but I was going to miss my business and my clients. And I did! But it has made me really appreciate getting away for a break. Here are 5 great reasons to have a break from your business.

fitness

This isn’t me (obviously!) but after a 3 week break I feel physically refreshed and energized

Reason 1 – A Physical Refresh.

Many of us are running one person businesses and while I love the hustle and bustle of my business, it wasn’t until I got away that I realized I was tired! I was too busy to realize it before! For most of the first week on holiday I relaxed and slept really well. For the next 2 weeks I ate a lot healthier than I normally do, and did some exercise. I feel much better for it. Do you need to schedule time for a physical refresh?

market

Being on holiday it was fun just shooting the people, places and experiences in South Korea. That made it one of the great reasons to have a break from your business

Reason 2 – Shooting was Fun Again.

When I’m at home I rarely find time to just shoot for fun. While I am quite good at setting personal projects for myself, it’s very rare for me to shoot random stuff just for fun. Taking a good break enabled me to shoot for fun again, and to experiment. I would never do that when I am shooting for a client. It was great to be experimenting and to shoot for fun again.

Reason 3 – Space Helps Perspective.

Being a long way away (14 hours flying time!) helped me to detach from day to day business issues and to reflect on the overall shape of my business. That helped to then re-shape where I want to move to in the future. I like to be busy shooting and meeting with clients. It was a blessing to be not able to do that for 3 weeks.

alarm clock

Without the pressure of immediate deadlines I had the space to plan for the future

Reason 4 – Time Drives Considered Decisions.

I have been thinking about taking a major step in a different direction in my photography business. When I was on the first long plane ride I had a lot of time to think through that option and to write down all of the issues associated with it. Over the next 3 weeks I had time and space to revisit and challenge my earlier thinking. It was this space that has helped me reach a significant decision on the next steps for my business. Are you making space for yourself to assess progress and future direction? or are you buried in the day to day busy-ness?

Reason 5 – Realize What You Miss and What You Don’t.

Being away from my business for an extended time made me realized what I missed the most! It also made me realize what I didn’t miss – which was the extensive time I can spend in front of a computer. I know I’m better in front of clients than in front of computer screens, and am going to start to make that work better for me.

I hope my experience and the great reasons to have a break from your business have been helpful to you. Schedule a break and make the most of it!

 

 

6 Photography Business Tips from the Under 12’s

Last night I watched an under 12 girls basketball match. Our team has been having some ups and downs, and have lost more games than we have won.  As I watched them trail for most of the game, hit the lead for the first time in the last quarter, fall behind again, and come through for a close win – I saw the parallel in their journey with the journey of most photographers. Here are 6 photography business tips from the under 12’s!

Tip #1. Hard work can produce results. When people enter the photography industry they think it is their unique way of seeing the world, and being able to translate that into images, that is the key to their success. For most photographers running successful businesses, they know that their success is built on a combination of talent and hard work.

The under 12’s reminded me of that last night. The team they were playing were probably more talented, but our team kept working hard, and eventually got the win. If your photo business results aren’t coming, it might not be a lack of talent. Are you working hard enough to produce the results? Are you contacting enough potential clients?

Sport shows us that success from hard work can be very sweet

Sport shows us that success from hard work can be very sweet

Tip #2. Practice pays off. This group of girls have been together since November, training twice per week and playing once per week. It is a long season for them. We are in March and this is only the third game of the season proper. Encouragingly they are starting to play together as a team. The effort they are putting in at training is starting to pay off.

Are you practicing your photography when you don’t have a paying job? Are you honing your skills? Are you learning a new play? Practice pays off. Perhaps you should be practicing your shooting, or post production, or client meetings?

Tip #3. Teamwork matters. In junior sport, sometimes one or two dominant players can carry a team to success. Last night, out of a team of 10, 2 players were unavailable and 2 were in early foul trouble. The remaining 6 players got a lot more court time than usual. They worked together and shared the scoring. They cooperated to add defensive pressure.

Often photographers running their own business think it’s a one person show. It’s not. You are in control like the coach was last night, but you are not the only one contributing.

Who are the team mates who help drive your business? An accountant? A second shooter? A model? Someone to do your post production work? A mentor? A ‘go to’ person who knows how to help you out of a creative rut? A partner to do your print jobs? A strong team is key – even in a ‘one person’ business. Teamwork matters – build a strong team.

Tip #4. There are hurdles to overcome. Last night, one of the dad’s couldn’t come to the game. I sent him messages every few minutes to keep him up to date with the score. When I look back at those messages, we were behind, 8-3, then 12-10 at quarter time, 22-18 at half time, and we were tied 31-31 at three quarter time. The first time we hit the lead was 36-35 with 4 minutes left. With 1 min 16 seconds left we were up 40-36, then 40-38, and with 2 free throws with 8 seconds left we won 42-38.

Just like in a photography business, they didn’t have it easy. The other team were tough. They had to persevere. And like a determined group of under 12 basketballers, there will be hurdles to overcome in your photography business. It’s easy to give up. Don’t. Expect hurdles and keep going.


Tip #5. It’s Important to be adaptable.
In the basketball team we have 2 tall players, and typically one is on the court while the other rests. Given the early foul trouble to other players they both needed to be on the court at the same time last night. The team adapted (and got a few more rebounds!) As a working photographer you also need to be adaptable.

Your path to success might not be exactly as you originally thought. You might have to shoot some local events and build a network before the high paying weddings start rolling in. You might need to shoot some corporate portraits before celebrities are knocking on your door. Be adaptable and be patient. Sometimes business success avoids the highway and takes the scenic route.

basketballTip #6. Success is very sweet when you have to work for it. This basketball team has had more losses than wins so far. But the look of satisfaction on the girls faces last night showed how much it meant to overcome a strong team and come away with a win. They had to work for it. The stadium was hot, and there were some very tired kids at the end of the game. But there were some very satisfied looking kids. They had achieved something important.

And in our photography businesses, it won’t be easy. Success after struggle is very satisfying. If you are currently struggling, re-visit the five previous lessons, and trust that success is coming. When it does arrive it will be sweet.

Thanks for reading 6 photography business tips from the under 12’s. Remember that whether you have had a good week or a bad week, there are lessons to learn to take forward into next week. Like the under 12’s, your next opportunity is already looming. Be ready for it. Happy shooting.

5 Productivity Killers to Avoid

A photographers workflow is key to business success. A well organised and efficient workflow sees them getting jobs completed and delivered to clients – allowing time to find more clients and shoot more jobs. As I work with photographers to improve their businesses, I see weaknesses in their workflows which hold them back from booking and shooting more jobs. It’s ironic – they are struggling with booking more jobs, because they are captive to an inefficient workflow. Check out the 5 productivity killers to avoid.

Workflow

Using your time well is key to an efficient workflow

Productivity Killer 1. Believing That All Time Spent on Social Media is Productive. Social media is very, very important to most modern day photographers, but how you use it is key. When I hear from photographers that they have spent all day working on their marketing I ask what they have achieved. Too often, it has really been hours surfing on social media. Staying connected with friends and topics of interest is fun and important, but does not generate income for your business. Make sure your business social media time is effective, not glorified time wasting.

Productivity Killer 2. Sitting at A Computer with No Objective. It is really easy for today’s photographer to sit down at their laptop or tablet and get very little done. I see it with nearly every photographer I talk to about their business. It seems to come from the idea that ‘being busy is good’, and ‘I must work on my business’. I see people talking about working on their business when the reality is they have no objective and no outcome. So what’s the alternative? Before you sit down with that coffee and your laptop decide ‘in the next 2 hours I am going to finish editing last Wednesday’s family portrait shoot’. Sitting at a computer without an objective is likely to be a time waster and enthusiasm killer. Set an objective. Get it done. Complete. Deliver. Bill. Next please.

deadline

Set the task, set the time frame. Get it done.

Productivity Killer 3. Spending Too Long Editing Images. Editing images is a really easy way to fill the week, especially when you haven’t got any other jobs to shoot. Sound familiar? Running a successful business is about getting jobs shot, edited, packaged, delivered, and billed. It’s not about spending 70 hours a week working hard and not making a return. Do yourself and your business a favor – get into the habit of getting jobs completed promptly. Give yourself time to find more clients. Too long editing images is not the way to make a strong business.

Plan

Time really is money. Refine your workflow and spend more time finding clients

Productivity Killer 4. Allowing Distractions to Your Workflow. This productivity killer sits right along side numbers 1, 2 and 3.

Most of the photographers I work with are running owner / operator businesses from their home. Working from home has advantages, mainly the commute from the bedroom to the lounge room. And it has disadvantages – like household jobs and the kitchen being just a short walk away.

To minimize distractions – create a work space where you work, not one where you sit and then get side tracked. Make it separate from your living space. Know that when you go there, it’s to get your business moving.

Don’t allow distractions to slow your business. There’s thousands of potential clients waiting for you to get out and meet them!

Productivity Killer 5. Using Multiple Devices at Once. I’ve been amazed to find photographers allowing their workflow to be interrupted. And more amazed at how they do it. One of my photographer clients regularly sits down in his ‘editing time’ with his laptop open, his smart phone alongside, and his ipad next to him. He doesn’t want to miss a message or a phone call while he edits. Needless to say, he is not efficient at getting jobs completed, delivered, and billed. Then he suffers by not having enough clients. Focus is needed. Don’t let multiple devices distract you.

Thanks for reading 5 productivity killers to avoid. Let’s focus and get the job done.

7 More Questions for Photographers Going into Business

I wrote this post for photographers considering getting into the business of photography. It outlines key questions to ask when you are getting up and running. This week I have spoken with two readers of Beyond Here who are in the early stages of their photography businesses. It prompted me to consider other questions which you should consider when you are starting out. Here are 7 more questions for photographers going into business.

Funny sign

Define what success looks like so you can see business danger coming

1. What does success look like? To know how you are going you first need to decide what success looks like. To do that, I suggest you break it into 3 sub questions.

1a. What income do you want to generate? This is the financial measure of how the business is performing. It gives you a point to focus on. Regardless of how busy you are, and whether you are enjoying the type of photography you are doing – this measure answers the question – is my business financially successful? An example might be – in you first year of operation you would like to make a profit (revenue less costs) of $30,000.

1b. How do you want to spend your day? Think about what balance you would like between shooting, editing, marketing, delivering product, taking time off, having a holiday and other responsibilities in your life. This question will determine whether your business is meeting your lifestyle needs.

Kookaburra

Keep focused. If you are a wildlife shooter, don’t let other work distract you

1c. What type of photography work do you want to do? This is a really important question. It will help determine whether your business is meeting your artistic need.

Let’s take an exaggerated example. Imagine you got into business because you love landscape images. Then you are asked to shoot a friends wedding. You do a good job and referral business rolls in. Soon, you are spending 2 weekends per month shooting weddings when you got into business to enjoy the great outdoors and shoot nature images.

Determine the type of work you want to be doing to help you stay focused.

It’s okay for a landscape photographer to shoot an occasional wedding – just don’t let those occasional jobs take over your business.

Client

Define what your ideal client looks like.

2. What does your ideal client look like? Define what type of client you are looking for and your marketing will become more focused and effective. Consider the difference between – ‘my ideal client would like family portraits’ with ‘my ideal client is a family. The parents are in their thirties and work in professional roles. They live in an upper-middle class area in the eastern suburbs. They own their own home and appreciate the value of fine family portraits to hang on the walls. They have 2 children, one in primary school and one in pre school.’

3. What hours are you prepared to put into the business? This is where the line between hobbyist and business owner becomes clear. The successful business owner is clear on the number of hours they are prepared to put into the business – and will work those hours even if they “don’t feel like it”. The hobbyist will focus on other activities until their ‘phojo’ comes back. That’s not a criticism of the hobbyist – its that the business success is very important to the business owner and they are prepared to keep working at it.

4. How much do you need to charge per job? This is a simple calculation but is often overlooked. If you are planning to generate an income of $2500 per month and anticipate shooting 10 jobs per month – you need to charge enough to make a profit (revenue less expenses) of $250 per job. Yes, the calculation is that simple. Make sure you do it.

Getting started in a photography business is a very exciting time. If you are clear on the answers to these questions you are well ahead of most. At this early stage of your business its about being clear about what success looks like and having goals to keep you focused. Thanks for reading 7 more questions for photographers going into business. Go find some of those ideal clients!

7 Money Tips for When You Start Your Photography Business

Starting your own photography business is a very exciting time. This week I have been helping a photographer who is making that leap. He is very excited and can’t wait to put his business skills to the test, along with his photography skills. He has several future bookings, but not enough to guarantee the financial success of his business in its first year. In the course of our conversations we discussed how important it was to keep overhead costs low while the income builds up. I have summarized that discussion into these 7 money tips for when you start your photography business.

Work from home

Working from your home avoids the additional expense of business premises

Tip #1 – Work From Home. To keep overhead costs down the most cost effective business premises are your own home. You can effectively set up your business and pay no more for your premises than you are already paying. It might not be a space you want to bring clients to, and it might not be as prestigious as having your own studio on High Street – but working from home is very cost effective and helps to keep your overhead costs low.

Lens

Do you need to buy a new 70-200mm L 2.8 lens? Or could you rent one for the job?

Tip #2 – Rent Gear. When you are starting out and have a new project you may not have all the equipment you need. At times like this it is very tempting to go out and buy that new lens so that you can do an expert job. Resist the urge. A smart money managing photographer will resist the urge to buy lots of new gear until they have the cash flow to afford it. In the meantime, rent any additional equipment you need.

Tip #3 – Minimize Studio Costs. If your photography business involves studio work, the cost of your studio can have a big impact on the financial performance of your business. It is tempting, and great for our egos, to buy or lease a top quality studio space. Unless you have the client bookings to afford it, a lease on an unused studio space can quickly deplete your businesses cash reserves. Remember the objective is to have a successful business and make studio arrangements that your business can afford. Have you considered renting a studio on  a daily or half daily basis? Can you build an effective studio in your home?

home studio

Will a small home studio be adequate for your young business?

Tip #4 – Go to Your Client. Having your own studio premises makes it very easy to have clients come to you, but can be very difficult to afford when you are starting out. Have you considered the alternative? Go to your clients. Shoot in natural light. Or with portable lighting. Hold your client meetings at their home or their favorite coffee shop. The extra distance you travel will be offset by not losing sleep over lease payments you can’t afford.

Tip #5 – Outsource Printing. Are you an expert in the print process? Do you have a passion for the latest print machines? Are you doing enough printing to justify investing in the latest technology? If you do, you are in the minority! If you’re not a print expert, get an expert to do your prints. Let them invest in the latest machines and inks, and pay them for each piece you have printed.

Tip #6 – Become an expert in off camera flash. Finally a tip for people wanting to invest in some equipment and improve their skills! Yes, I encourage you to become an expert in off camera flash. It will help you shoot well lit images in a large variety of lighting situations – and at the same time avoid a major investment in lighting equipment. Win, win! You’ll improve your skills and also your income producing potential, without burdening your business with another investment. Remember, when you are starting out, keeping costs down is important while you build the income up. The focus needs to be on achieving business success – not on looking great while your business goes broke.

debt theme

Debt pressure can be crippling for a young business. Use debt cautiously.

Tip #7 – Avoid Debt. Debt can have a very serious impact on the viability of any young business. Your business will go through good times and bad, and debt adds pressure when times are tough. Your lender won’t be concerned about jobs that are going to materialize soon, they are just interested in getting their money back. Adding debt, adds pressure. Avoid debt if you can.

Thanks for reading 7 money tips for when you start your photography business. I hope they have been helpful and will help keep your expenses low while you build up the income.

Dig More Streams

Dig more streams is a saying I got from David Du Chemin’s excellent book, Visionmongers. (If you haven’t read Visionmongers please see here for a short review.) Dig more streams refers to creating more income streams for your photography business.

Tricks of the Trade

Is it time to write that book or e-book you’ve been meaning to get around to?

The principle here is to critically evaluate your photography business and examine whether you can generate a greater financial return by offering different products or packages.

What are some examples?

If you are a wedding photographer – can you create more products for your clients to purchase? If you normally do electronic images and prints, can you do albums as well? If you are shooting family portraits, can you expand your product range to offer canvas prints as well? or other print products? Or can you restructure your package offerings to provide more value for your client and more margin for your business? If you are an experienced industry professional, can you write and sell a book or an e-book? Can you expand your current business by selling prints to a worldwide market via online portals? Can you use your spare time to build a stock photo portfolio? Can you teach a beginners course on how to use a digital camera?

These are just a few of many, many examples. What are the opportunities for you and your business?

What are the advantages of being able to dig more streams?

By adopting the ‘dig more streams’ approach you will be able to:

  • generate additional income from your existing activities (e.g. by adding albums and prints to your wedding photography service)
  • create new income streams (e.g. selling prints online)
  • generate repeat business (e.g. selling a first anniversary package to your wedding clients)
  • add more value to your existing clients (e.g. if you specialize in new born images, keep a note of the babies birth dates and follow up with a 1 year old special offer, then a 2 year old special offer, then … you get the idea!)
  • capitalize on the growing number of professional and semi professional photographers by meeting their education needs (e.g. writing an e-book about how to shoot weddings)
tiger

Selling wildlife canvas prints locally and online has helped me dig more streams

One example from my own photography business is that I often am asked about my experience as a stock photographer. That leads to photographers asking me what they can do to build a stock photography portfolio themselves. The repetition of those questions lead me to write an e-book called Build A Five Figure Income in Your Spare Time which covers my own experience plus advice to people starting out in stock photography. If you would like to check it out, please see here. If you’ve got a digital camera, a computer, determination to keep improving, and some perseverance – then financial success as a stock photographer is possible for you.

Thanks for reading Dig More Streams. Has it prompted you to think about more streams which are possible for you and your business?

Seven Traits of People Running Successful Photography Businesses

This week I took part in an interesting discussion between photographers in a Facebook group. The discussion started with one photographer asking if others thought it was a good idea to do her own personal and business tax returns. (For readers not based in Australia, the tax year here ends in June and people begin submitting tax returns as early as July).

It is very hard to answer her question without knowing her circumstances. She may be a qualified tax accountant and it might be worthwhile doing her own taxes. That scenario is unlikely and my advice was that it is best to have a specialist do your taxes. That’s what I do for both my personal and business tax returns. I find it is worth the peace of mind knowing that my tax returns have been done properly. It also means that I get all of the deductions available to me as a small business owner. But most importantly, using an expert to do my tax returns leaves me more time to look after my clients.

Tax time

Taxes are one example of business tasks better left to a specialist.

The photographer in the Facebook group had just completed her first year in business as a photographer. Her comments reminded me that it is very common when we are starting out to try and do everything ourselves. We may not have the business cash flow to be able to pay for a range of services, or we just figure that because we have the time, we will do things ourselves to save money. Some might think that is a valid approach, but all of the people I know who are running successful photography businesses take a different approach. That lead me to consider the traits I see in people running successful small photography businesses. Here they are, seven traits of people running successful photography businesses.

The photographers I know who are running successful photography businesses have these things in common. They:

(1) Get help with business activities they are not expert in – that includes but isn’t limited to doing taxes, editing images, printing, preparing contracts, framing prints, delivering products to their clients. The list goes on. Where they are not expert, or where they can’t add value, they get an expert to help.

(2) Understand the value of their time. This is where being a good business person really shows. They may be able to do their own taxes, but they know it will take them 3 weeks where an expert can do it in one week. Why would they want 3 weeks of their year tied up doing taxes? They know it is not a good use of their time to be tied up doing this type of task.

(3) Build relationships with clients. This is the one element of their businesses that they won’t leave to someone else. They know that the connection they make with their client is critical to the ongoing success of their business. All other things get set aside to make time for their current clients, and for finding new clients.

(4) Build their own skills. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses keep adding to their core skill set. They invest in learning new post processing techniques, or learning how to better market their business, or learning how to shoot expertly with a new piece of equipment. They don’t get distracted with trying to do their own taxes. They build their skills so that they can better serve their clients.

(5) Network with other successful photographers. People running successful photography businesses take time to build relationships with others doing the same. They discuss the business as well as the art. They share ideas and learn from each other.

(6) Take time off. Yes, people running successful photography businesses know that they need to take time off. They need to get away and relax. They put the dates in the diary at the beginning of the year. They are deliberate about taking a break and recharging the batteries. Is that what you do? Or do you have a break when you don’t have any clients?

(7) Don’t give up. Small businesses, like people, go through good times and bad times. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses understand this. In the good times, they don’t get carried away with their own success. They view it as an outcome of the work they have put in. And equally with bad times, they know that tough times will pass. They keep focused on their clients and the quality of their work, knowing that short term down times will not effect their long term success.

Holiday

Successful small businesses owners understand the importance of time off to recharge their batteries

If you are starting out or looking to refocus your photography business, challenge yourself on each of the points above. Are you doing tasks which would be better done by an expert? Have your skills grown in the last year?  Are you putting enough time into finding or looking after clients? Are you getting distracted by trying to do everything yourself? How well are you doing on the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses?

Thanks for reading the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses. Have you seen other traits that set people apart? Please leave a comment and share your experience.

What to Include in Your Photography Contract

When you are making the step from photography as a hobby to photography as a business, one of the challenges is getting contracts organised. For many of us, this is an unfamiliar area and is about as much fun as doing our tax returns! Equally, we know that it is important because it puts in writing the commitment of the client and the photographer, and protects us should anything go wrong. So, what to include in your photography contract?

My Business

Contracts are vital to outline commitments of all parties and to protect your business

Below is a list of what I include in my photography contract. Please keep in mind it is not a definitive list. If you are an experienced industry professional and want to add input for other readers, please comment on this blog post. If you are new to the world of paid photography and contracts, please add your questions in the comments area on this post. I will do my best to answer them, and other readers will add their thoughts. Just keep in mind that I’m a photographer and not a lawyer. If you want expert legal advice, you will need to speak to a qualified legal professional.

What to include in your photography contract?

Who is the contract between? In my case it is between my company and my client. As I shoot weddings and portraits, my client is usually an individual or individuals, but the client could also be a business if you are shooting commercial work. For weddings, I include both the bride and groom as the client and ask them both to sign the agreement.

What are the details of the shoot? The contract applies to the specific shoot you outline on the agreement. For example, if it is a wedding, this part of the contract covers where it will be held, the date, the time photography starts, the time photography finishes, and any special details of the wedding.

Copyright and Images. My agreement outlines that my company owns the copyright for the images produced. It also makes clear that the client can use and display the images for personal use.

Permissions. I include in my contract a section which specifically outlines that my company is able to use the images for any industry competitions and in general promotion. In many contracts you will see a separate ‘model release’ section. I cover this in a single paragraph outlining the permissions given by the agreement.

House rules and cooperation. This section of my contract is specific to weddings. It makes clear that if there are any house rules from the venue that may limited the photographer, it is the responsibility of the client to discuss them with the venue. It also makes clear that if the client wants specific guests included in the images (like in family formals) that they will assist in organizing the people to be in the right place at the right time. And while I have never had a major issue with a wedding guest pushing in on me, I make it clear that if that occurs it is the responsibility of the client to deal with the guest.

Payment

I make it clear in my contract when payment is required

Retainer and Payment. I ask my clients to pay a non refundable retainer at the time the contract is signed. I also outline when final payment is due. In the case of weddings, payment is due 4 weeks before the wedding date. I find I do a lot better job for my clients when, not only am I sure of being paid, but when I have been paid already.

Limit of Liability. This is a vital section of my contract. It outlines that if something goes wrong (like if I am in hospital with a broken leg on my clients wedding day), that I will organize a suitably qualified replacement photographer. The key part is that it makes clear that in the event of things not going smoothly, that my liability is limited to a refund of monies paid. That protects me from any damages claims in the event that things go really wrong.

Completion schedule. This section outlines my commitment for when my clients can expect to receive their images. I have a separate clause which also outlines that additional time will be required for albums, prints, canvas prints etc.

Free Format Area. I leave a free format area towards the end of my contract. This is a space that, if I am sitting with the client, we can hand write in any specific details which either party would like to add to the agreement. It can also be used for notes about what the clients photography package includes.

Signatures. At the end of my contract I have a simple line which reads ‘I hereby agree to the terms of this agreement’ with space for the client to add their name, signature, and date. I also add my name, signature, and date as their photographer.

Client

Getting the contractual side out of the way allows me to focus on delivering a great experience and images to my client

I have heard of some photographers using very long, complex contracts. I believe in simplicity and not overwhelming my client. Mine is 2 pages.

I hope this post covering ‘what to include in your photography contract’ has been useful to you. Please use this as guidance only and speak to a qualified legal professional for expert advice.

Investing in Relationships

When I started Beyond Here, I had in mind that the content should apply to photographers, and also to people running other creative businesses. That has only partly been the case so far. Most readers right now are photographers. This weekend I ran across a great example of a business principle that applies to any personal service business. Investing in relationships, can be much more valuable than any revenue generated by a single job.

The incident happened with my hairdresser.

I have been getting my haircut by the same hairdresser since 2008. I had her recommended to me (by my wife!). I first visited her when she was running her hairdressing business from the basement of her house. Not too long after that, she opened a retail outlet on a suburban main road in Melbourne, Australia. Despite occasional frustrations with car parking, I continue to visit regularly. Now she has a second retail outlet with staff running both shops. She continues to cut hair, and shares her time between the 2 salons.

Choices

Choices. This weekend my hairdresser chose to invest in the client relationship and forgo the money from one hair cut.

On this occasion I visited the newer salon. I hadn’t been to that outlet before, as it is quite a bit further from where I live. To fit in with my hairdressers schedule, I agreed to go to her new salon. So far, so good.

Now, I am a stickler for being on time – and she is too. I regularly arrive early, and nearly every time she is ready early or on time, and occasionally just a little late. This weekend, I arrived 30 minutes before my appointment time. I didn’t mean to arrive that early, I had allowed too much time, there was little traffic, and I got a car park 25m from the salon front door.

When I arrived we said hello. The salon was busy. She asked me to wait to my appointment time (which I expected to). I set about reading a magazine, and surfing on my iphone. My appointment time came and went. Twenty minutes after my appointment time I was still waiting and starting to get frustrated. I had been reading a trashy magazine for 50 minutes now – 30 minutes being my fault for being so early, and 20 minutes more as my hairdresser was running late on her appointments.

When the haircut began, she asked where my car was parked. I explained it was outside. She explained that unfortunately it is only a 60 minute parking zone. She was genuinely concerned that I would be there for over an hour. I appreciated her concern, but wasn’t very excited about the idea of running late and getting a parking ticket. (I was even less excited when I realized how much grey hair was showing through!) At this point, I was getting slightly cranky, but doing my best not to show it. My hairdresser is a great person, and has been cutting my hair for years. I wasn’t about to let being a few minutes late and a parking ticket ruin that history.

Now, cutting my hair isn’t a very lengthy experience. I was all done in less than 20 minutes. As we finished she apologized for running late, but the next thing she did took me by surprise and reminded me of a great lesson. As I walked to the cashiers desk, I reached for my wallet. I wanted to pay and get moving so I wouldn’t have a parking ticket and wouldn’t be late for my next appointment. It was then she said – ‘Craig, this time its on me. See you next time’. I was genuinely shocked. I understand that sometimes things run late, and wasn’t expecting a free haircut.

Instead of having a loyal customer leaving feeling frustrated and cranky, I left feeling great that I was appreciated as a customer – she knew we had been unusually late and she wanted me to get moving so that I wouldn’t get a parking ticket. It was a great reminder that investing in relationships is worth much more than the money that would have been generated from that job. I will continue to be a loyal customer as long as my greying hair keeps growing.

As photographers or personal service business owners, investing in relationships is key to our long term success. Today I shot a 30 minute portrait shoot for a friend. I charged nothing. I decided this was my opportunity for investing in relationships. Have you got an ‘investing in relationships’ story to share?

Just in case you were wondering, I was parked in the 60 minute zone for about 75 minutes. I was pleased there wasn’t a parking ticket on my windscreen. All good, and a great reminder about investing in relationships.