Tag Archives: photography business tips

How to Drive Change in Your Photography Business

I have been working with photographers wanting to make a step change in their business. Three of them are running existing businesses and one is starting out. All four are clear that they want to change and want to see change in their business, and have struggled to make that happen. That has lead to this post – how to drive change in your photography business.

For change to occur, research says you need three elements. They are:


  1. A picture, or vision, of where you want to get to
  2. An understanding of what pain or discomfort you would feel if you didn’t achieve that
  3. Clarity about the next step
focus

Step 1, be specific about your vision. It will bring focus to your business and your actions

So, how to we use this to drive change in a photography business? We work through each step to provide direction to our business. If we haven’t been able to turn that into action and change yet, then we needed greater detail.

Let’s look at each.

Firstly, building a vision of where you want to get to. In this step it’s really easy to be vague. If you are serious about change you need to be specific. For the photographer just starting out, she wants to be a successful wedding photographer.

That is not a vision and is not specific enough to drive towards. Work through – what does that mean? How many weddings per year? What sort of weddings? How much will you be charging? Who will be doing albums and prints for you? What does your ideal couple look like? Where do they live? What sorts of venues do you want to shoot at? Will you have assistants helping you? How much money do you want to make per year? How many weeks off will you have? Get the idea? Spend time on building this vision in detail. Write it all down. Don’t be vague, be specific. If you haven’t been able to find the motivation for change yet – start by being very specific about your vision.

determination

Being clear on the pain of never achieving your vision will make defeat unacceptable

Second, consider the discomfort if you never make it to the vision. This second step really determines whether you have the fortitude to push ahead and make a change. One of the other photographers wants to move away from weddings and portraits, and ‘make it’ as a sports photographer. So how much discomfort will he have if he never makes the leap? If he says ‘oh well, I’ve got a successful business already … I’m comfortable … I’m doing well’ – then his chance of making the leap is almost nil.

However, if his answer is – ‘I will be completely unfulfilled, I will feel like my creative vision wasn’t realized, I will feel like my purpose in life hasn’t been achieved’ …. then wow (!) he has got some real motivation to get this thing done. Imagine the discomfort of saying “I will feel like my purpose in life hasn’t been achieved”. It’s not about money or status or material things … it is way bigger. This is a strong foundation for change. Give serious consideration to the discomfort you would feel if you didn’t achieve your vision. It will help clarify if you are really serious or are pretending.

my businessThird step, are you clear on the very next step. Don’t worry about all the steps ahead of you – just be clear on the next one and act on it. My budding sports photographer friend is clear he needs better equipment to shoot action sports. To date he has got by with his wedding and portrait equipment but he knows he needs a camera body that will shoot 10-12 frames per second to capture the fast moving football action. Buying new gear won’t guarantee success, but being clear on your very next step and taking action will keep getting you closer to your vision. Once you’ve acted on that very next step revisit your vision, revisit the discomfort you would have if you never made it, and decide on the very next step.

So, now you know a simple three step process for how to drive change in your photography business. (You can use this to drive any change in your life). Work through the three steps and you’ll move from procrastination to action, and from “I want to” to “I did”. Step forward with purpose. Drive change in your photography business!

Creating New Revenue Streams

The photography business is a very competitive one, with limited barriers to entry and extensive competition. This makes it challenging for both new and established businesses to generate an appropriate financial return. This week I’ve been working with a major financial services business. They are tackling the future needs of their business in a very structured way. I can see their approach to creating new revenue streams being appropriate to photographers. Let me explain.

So what is happening in this financial services business? Their CEO sees a rapidly changing environment driven by new technology, changing client needs, and heightened competition. It seems that in their business, the old model is dying – much like traditional photographer being overtaken by the new tech savvy weekend warrior.

Coins

Are you deliberately setting aside time to create new revenue streams?

This financial services business is preparing for the future. It’s how they are doing it that is really interesting. They are preparing by explicitly focusing on different parts of their business. They are very deliberately trying to build capability in creating new revenue streams.

  • 70% of their resources are dedicated to their core business
  • 20% of their resources are dedicated to emerging new growth opportunities, and
  • 10% of their resources are dedicated to long term experiments

So, how might we learn from the corporate world?

Most of the photographers I speak to are focusing one hundred percent of their time and energy on their traditional core business. Most are also seeing eroding margins for this work, or increased competition, or both. They don’t dedicate any of their time to creating new revenue streams. They are hoping that what they have always done will be relevant for their future clients and enable them to make a living. Can you see a flaw in this logic? Without change, the best they can hope for is a slow decline in their business and some seriously long hours.

How could we implement a strategy similar to the financial services business? If you are working 5 days per week, dedicating 20% of your time to emerging new growth opportunities is the equivalent of one day per week. What might this look like? Well, this will be different for every different business, but a traditional wedding photographer might spend that time investing and learning about implementing drone technology into their wedding photography business. This would give them a unique point of difference, and stop their business being overtaken by competitors. Exactly what you do in that one day per week is up to you, the point I want to make is that you could be spending one day per week creating new revenue streams for your current business.

Jigsaw puzzleAnd what about long term experiments? The financial services business was dedicating ten percent of it’s resources to long term experiments. How could we do this? Ten percent of our time is one day every two weeks. Could you set that aside to focus on a completely new income stream for your business? Could you build onto your current business something that you have an interest in? Maybe a new line of photography, new products, a blog, photography seminars, photography tours? Again the activity is up to you, but I want to encourage you to deliberately set aside time for creating new revenue streams.

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope it has given you insight into how another business is tackling the challenge of creating new revenue streams that can be translated into something meaningful for your business.

More Photography Business Tips from the Under 12’s

I recently wrote a post for Beyond Here called 6 Photography Business Tips from the Under 12’s. It traced the season of an under 12 basketball team, the lessons they were learning, and how that might apply to photography businesses. The season has progressed and last week was the final round robin game of the season. The team has been making steady progress and has won five games and lost four in the final nine home and away games. They have now qualified for the finals series which commence this weekend. As I reflect on the season so far, here are more photography business tips from the under twelves.

basketballerBusiness Tip 1 – Weaknesses Can Be Turned Around. Every sports team has strengths and weaknesses. In this basketball team we have two very tall kids who are invaluable for their rebounding. They regularly grab the defensive rebound and provide the outlet pass to a running guard. On the other hand, both of them have not been strong on scoring. And if you know basketball, you will know that it is difficult to win games if your centers are not scoring.

As the season has gone on, these two kids have gradually built their scoring to the point where they are now regular contributors. So what’s the business tip? Your weaknesses don’t have to remain weaknesses! Work at them. Practice. Bring them up to a level where they are making a positive contribution to your business. Weaknesses can be turned around with focus and time. Don’t accept them as weaknesses which hold you business back. Identify yours and focus. They can be turned around.

focusBusiness Tip 2 – Success is Not Defined in a Few Weeks. When I wrote the previous post we were just three games into a long season. The team went through a tough stretch where wins were hard to come by, but in the second round of the competition they have managed more wins than losses. That’s progress. Now they head into the finals on the back of two successive wins feeling optimistic about what the final weeks of the season might hold. If we assessed the season after three games we might have viewed it as a failure. But success is not measured in a few weeks. Business progress, like a basketball team’s progress, can be massive over a few months. Keep moving forward. Don’t define your business based on current results. Keep pushing on. (For another post about business success please see Fail Fail Fail Succeed, Irony)

Business Tip 3 – There Will be Setbacks. Setbacks in business and setbacks in sport are a normal part of life. Don’t panic when they happen. Keep focused, your difficult days will pass. Right at the moment one of the under 12 players is out of action with a broken finger. She is a strong player and will miss four games. In basketball, that’s one of the reasons you have ten players on the team. And it is why you practice with different combinations on the court. Whether it’s a player in foul trouble, or a player out with injury, a basketball team practices with these challenges in mind. While she is out injured there is the opportunity for someone else to shine. Similarly we need to prepare our businesses for tough times. When they arrive, our businesses are ready.

Business Tip 4 – Good Practice Produces Good Performance. One of the most enjoyable aspects of following this young basketball team is the effort they are putting in. There are ten kids and two coaches giving one hundred percent effort at each training and game. And the good work going into practice is starting to produce good performances on game day.

So what can we learn from this? Did your last big shoot meet your expectations? Was there any room for improvement in either your photographic output or the way you conducted your business? I bet there was. So have you practiced since then so that your performance is better next time?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can turn up on game day and just produce the goods. Be like the basketball team and put in quality practice. Then you can expect a quality result on game day.

possibilityBusiness Tip 5 – Persistence is Powerful. There is an element to this basketball team that keeps on keeping on. They don’t give up. Sometimes after a heavy loss they look worn out and dejected but, by the time the next practice session comes around, they are focused on having fun, working hard, and improving. While some teams are limping towards the end of the season, this team is still working as hard as ever. And guess what? They are starting to close the gap on the stronger teams.

Are you letting your business get on top of you? Are you letting short term failures define you and hold you back? Believe you can get to your goals, and persevere. Keep going. Persistence is powerful.

Business Tip 6 – Teamwork is Everything. In basketball and business, teamwork is vitally important. There’s an old sports adage that a champion team can beat a team of champions. That means a well coordinated group can beat a more talented team, and it is the same in business.

Are you building a champion team? Do you have partners and suppliers who you trust and make your business stronger? Who are we talking about? A print supplier, album supplier, second shooters, accountant, business adviser, equipment supplier. The list goes on and on. Focus on building a champion team who will support you when you need them.

Thanks for reading more photography business tips from the under 12’s. Best wishes.

 

 

What is the Summer Slowdown in Stock Photography

Are you wondering what the summer slowdown in stock photography is? Have you heard this terminology but don’t really understand it?

Like many types of photography, stock photography goes through seasons or cycles. There are peaks of demand around major events. Think of large events like the US presidential election, the Olympics, or Valentines Day, or major upheavals and social unrest. And there are also peaks and troughs at certain times of the year.

Couple

July and August are typically slow months for stock photography sales

The bulk of the world’s population lives in the northern hemisphere – the United States, North America, Europe, and major parts of Asia. Because of the population base these countries or continents represent the majority of the buyers of stock photography. So when those economies slow for a summer holiday, stock photography sales also slow down.

The summer slowdown in stock photography refers to the time of the year when northern hemisphere clients are having a summer holiday, and so stock photographers are experiencing fewer downloads of their images. That happens in July and August each year.

What should you expect in the summer slowdown in stock photography? My own experience as a stock photographer is that the total number of downloads of my files reduces each July and August and then picks up again in September and October. I am writing this post in the first week of August, so if you are experiencing a reduced number of downloads of your files, this is normal for this time of year. Don’t panic. You should see it pick up again in September.

So, it is one thing understand what the summer slowdown in stock photography is, but what do we do about it?

baby

Consider doing more client work in July and August while stock photo sales are down

Exactly what you will want to do about it depends on your own business and circumstances, but here are three options to think about.

Option one. Do nothing. This option recognizes that sales will slow at this time of year, and so your stock photography income will decline during these months. If you have cash flow from other sources, the summer slowdown in stock photography is nothing to worry about and no particular action is required.

Option two. Develop more client work at this time of year. If you are wanting to develop a consistent flow of income you’ll need to build up income from other sources during the northern hemisphere summer months. I do this by shooting more family portraits at this time of year. Family portraits might not be the solution for you depending on what you like to shoot and what your typical client looks like. With planning and preparation its possible to adjust your client work to increase at this time of year. Keep in mind your stock photography income is likely to drop in July and August, and you will need to increase income from other sources.

Girl with Australian flag

Not all stock photography sales slow down in July and August. Consider shooting content which will sell well during this period

Option three. Develop stock content which isn’t impacted by the summer slowdown in stock photography. Not all stock photography markets experience a slowdown in these months. Where I live in Melbourne, Australia it is the middle of winter in July and August. It is also a time where there are very few public holidays. This is generally a good time for stock photography sales and I see steady downloading of my Australian themed images in July and August. Perhaps there are geographic markets or specific content you could shoot for which don’t slow down in the northern hemisphere summer months?

Thanks for reading what is the summer slowdown in stock photography. I hope it has helped explain the seasonality which occurs in stock photography and given you some options to consider. Happy shooting.

5 Opportunities When You Are Asked to Shoot for Free

Have you been asked to shoot for free? Are you outraged that potential clients ask you to help them in return for exposure? I regularly read social media ‘rants’ from photographers who are livid that a potential client doesn’t want to pay them. Being asked to shoot for free does happen, and I challenge you to find a positive in this experience. Having any client approach you is an opportunity. Here are 5 opportunities when you are asked to shoot for free.

Opportunity #1 – Expand your photography business. The opportunity to shoot without payment is potentially an opportunity to expand your business into a new field. For example, if you’ve built your business on shooting family portraits and weddings, doing a product shoot for a local business is an opportunity to showcase your skills to a new market. An unpaid job comes with less pressure than a highly paid one, and gives you the chance to explore whether you like a different type of work and to see if you are good at it. Opportunity #1 – consider whether an unpaid job has the potential to help you expand your business.

beach huts

Unpaid jobs can expand your business. A wedding shooter might be able to expand into lifestyle or real estate work

Opportunity #2 – Build great contacts. Any client represents one immediate job and a potential pipeline of future work. Before you feel your blood pressure rise and unleash a tantrum on social media, consider whether an unpaid job will benefit your business through the contacts you can make. I have found this can be beneficial when shooting for charities. Charities have people who support them. Often the key supporters are influential business people who have future photography needs. Opportunity #2 – consider whether an unpaid job has the potential to build valuable contacts.

Wallaby

Can payment be in kind? An annual pass to a wildlife park would be valuable to me.

Opportunity #3 – Get paid in kind. The reality is some clients really need and want professional images but just don’t have the immediate cash flow to pay the photographer’s normal day rates. If you are inundated with work, you might let this job pass. But if you’re not, have you considered other ways to get paid? Does the client have goods or services that you would be happy to accept instead of cash payment? Does a new accommodation provider want you to shoot for them? Would you accept free accommodation instead of cash payment? Opportunity #3 – consider whether payment could be made in goods or services instead of cash.

Opportunity #4 – Use the images in your stock photography portfolio. Clients that are not in a position to pay cash may be prepared to sign a model release or property release to let you use the images in your stock portfolio. While the job itself would be unpaid, you have the potential to generate an income years into the future by making the images available through a stock photo library. I have written extensively about stock photography for Beyond Here (see Why I Shoot Stock and other posts) and always consider this option with cash strapped clients. Opportunity #4 – shoot the job unpaid, and use the images in your stock photography portfolio.

dead line

If you are going to say no, give your client plenty of time to find an alternative

Opportunity #5 – Say no, and still help the client. After you have explored all options, sometimes there will be jobs you don’t want to do on an unpaid basis. In this case, there is an opportunity to still be helpful to the client. Firstly, say no promptly. Don’t drag it out. Give the client time to make alternative arrangements. And secondly, suggest a way to meet the clients needs. Do you know an emerging photographer who would happily shoot the job unpaid? Is there an opportunity to help the client and the emerging photographer? Opportunity #5 – say no, and still be helpful to the client.

Thanks for reading 5 opportunities when you are asked to shoot for free. I hope this has encouraged you to think differently and find a positive out of this experience.

Fail Fail Fail Succeed, Irony

Today I was watching a corporate video which examined the difference between invention and innovation. (Please keep reading – I know that was a boring first sentence but it does get better). Invention is about making something for the very first time, while innovation is about building on something that already exists. (Trust me it does get better, just keep going). Innovation is the buzzword of the corporate world. Everyone wants more innovation. So why fail fail fail succeed, irony? The video pointed out that to have an innovative business, you needed to be prepared to fail and accept failure as a stepping stone on the path way to success. At this point the corporate world started to explain what I often try to explain to photographers. Their photography is good, but their business is lousy. And it’s not about simply stepping back onto the right path.

Success

Success and failure aren’t different paths like here. Failure is a stepping stone to success.

I work with photographers to help improve their businesses. Unfortunately many come with the mindset that “I’m on the wrong track, can you just get me back on the path to success?”. It is not that easy, and doesn’t work that way. What works for one photographer, may not work for another. So you can’t copy what someone else is doing and expect it to succeed for you. Just because a successful photographer is advertising on facebook, if you advertise on facebook it doesn’t guarantee business success for you.

This is also what makes it exciting. There are lots of different ways to business success – you have to find the one that works for you and your business. There is no set formula – you have to find your own path.

So if success and failure are not different paths, how does it work? Explaining this is easy – living it is difficult!

Failure and success are on the same path. Failures are stepping stones to success. If you want to improve your business, challenge yourself to make more mistakes. Try things, learn from them. Have more failures, have more learnings. Trust that each failure is getting you closer to business success.

Take steps forward towards success. And once you get there, redefine success. That’s how it works. Failures are stepping stones toward success. If you give up, you may have stopped moving forward when you were just one step from business success! I’m grateful for the corporate video explaining it so well. Lots and lots of photographers could benefit from this insight.

So where does the irony part come in? Ironically, as photographers and creatives we understand that mistakes are ok.

Who takes only one landscape shot, knowing it is the best shot they could possibly take? In short, nobody does – especially in the digital age where it doesn’t cost more to shoot more. We take multiple images. We compose and recompose. We shoot, then review, then shoot again.

Sunrise

I can’t remember how many shots I took of this sunrise, but I certainly didn’t view the others as failures

We find new and different ways to view a scene. We might take 50 shots of a sunrise to get the image that really speaks to us. Do we view 49 of those images as failures? Heck, no! We know they were stepping stones and experiments that got us to the image we love. They gave us a point of reference to then shoot the best image of the day.

See the irony? As creatives we get it, and as business people we don’t. This insight can change your business today. Those 49 shots aren’t failures, they were helping you build up to the success.

See failures as the stepping stones to success. Fail fail fail succeed, irony. Pick up your camera and go and fail some more! Your business success depends on it.

5 Actions to Take Before EOFY

I live in Melbourne, Australia where our tax year finishes at the end of June. That’s  just three weeks from now and lots of people are busy making sure they have their business affairs in order before the end of the financial year (EOFY). So, what should you be thinking about as the tax year wraps up? Here are 5 actions to take before EOFY.

Action 1 – Understand the profitability of your business. It helps to be across the profitability at all times of the year, but especially just before the end of the financial year. To understand profit, the main drivers are sales minus costs. Work out your total sales income, and subtract your total costs to get a simple understanding of your business profitability. The amount of tax you will pay will depend on the tax rate and how much profit you’ve made.

tax

An understanding of profit will help you understand your likely tax bill with time to do something about it

Action 2 – Consider purchasing new assets. Once you understand the level of profitability your business has achieved, you will have an idea of how much tax you will have to pay. To reduce the amount of tax you can increase your expenses by buying new assets. For example, you could purchase a new camera body or lens or computer which would increase your costs. (There are rules around what things can be expensed versus what needs to be capitalized and depreciated, so have a chat to your accountant before you go shopping). Here in Australia the retailers understand that there is an increase in business spending just before the end of financial year, and that’s why you will see a lot of ‘sale’ activity in June.

Action 3 – Review your sales and marketing activity. The primary difference I see between financially successful photography businesses and unsuccessful businesses is the effectiveness of their sales and marketing activity. The end of the financial year is a great time to assess whether your activity is working or not. Be honest. Most have significant room for improvement. The good news is that with improvement it will generate more business for the same amount of effort. Take the time at the end of the tax year to pause and reassess.

fit

Financial year end is the time to assess the fitness of your business

Action 4 – Build a plan for the new year. Big business doesn’t get away with drifting from one year to the next without have budgets and a plan to achieve them. And they shouldn’t – they have shareholders who will hold them accountable. Budgets and plans bring structure and purpose to their activity – and those should be used in small business too. Take the time to put together a budget and a plan before the new financial year starts.

plan

End of financial year is a great time to make a plan for the new year

Action 5 – Resolve to act differently. I have never come across a photographer who is serious about their business who says ‘I just want things to continue the same as they are today’. Everyone wants to make more, or work less, or both! To get a change in outcome you have to change what you are currently doing. You need to resolve to act differently if you expect a different outcome. Make that decision today and be ready to act in the new financial year.

Thanks for reading 5 actions to take before EOFY. May you have a prosperous year ahead!

Things Your Photography Clients Don’t Care About

I feel fortunate to be able to help other photographers run their photography businesses. That usually means I have very little input to the style of images they are shooting, but a lot of input to how they manage clients, how to sell and market, and how to establish efficient processes for running their businesses. Often we do a review of their website as a key tool for communicating with potential clients. During the course of many reviews, I have put together a list of things your photography clients don’t care about. Avoid featuring these heavily in the promotion of your photography business.

Wedding

Clients are interested in your images, not the process to get there

  1. Clients don’t care what equipment you use. From time to time, I see photographers detailing a long list of the equipment they use – camera bodies, lenses, flash units, light modifiers. Trust me, your client doesn’t care. They generally don’t know the 70-200mm L series MkII and listing that detail positions you as a ‘gear nerd’. Clients want to know you can shoot good images and they do expect you to have professional grade equipment, but they don’t care about the details of your equipment.
  2. Clients don’t care that this is your passion. Clients don’t care, because they expect you to be passionate about your profession. They expect you to produce good results. They really don’t care that you got your first camera at the age of 7, and felt called to be a photographer. Don’t clog up the content of your website talking endlessly about your passion and how from the age of whatever, you knew you were going to be a photographer.
  3. Clients don’t care about the hours you put in. It’s about the outputs, not the inputs for a client. Don’t get fooled into thinking you have to tell your clients about how hard you are going to work for them. Working hard is a good virtue, but in photography the client is interested in the outputs of your work.
  4. Clients don’t care where you studied. Unless you went to an extremely prestigious university that is known to all of your clients, don’t be tempted to tell your clients about where you have studied. Clients are interested in whether you can produce high quality images for them. You either can or you can’t. Where you studied is not of interest to your clients.
  5. Clients don’t care about the post production process. Most clients do know that their images will be enhanced in post production, but clients don’t want to know the intimate details of your workflow. There is no need to list the process you take of importing RAW files into Lightroom, making minor adjustments, then working in Photoshop and saving as a TIFF file. Even writing that was starting to bore me! Clients are interested in the outputs of your workflow. Show them strong images, don’t bore them with your post production process.
Sydney Opera House

Clients don’t care about the post production process. They care about the outputs.

Give clients what they are looking for in your promotional materials. Show them good work. Make it clear you are a real person. Show them you have experience. Don’t get caught up in providing lots of information they are not interested in. Keep it relevant to the client to book more jobs.

Thanks for reading ‘things your photography clients don’t care about’. Happy shooting.

Five Photography Business Reminders

I like to read blogs about photography, and I particularly like 2 blogs about the business side of photography. They help to give me a different perspective on the things I like to write about, and to discuss with other photographers. This week, reading the two blogs prompted me about five photography business reminders. They are five key points that are easy to talk about, but hard to do when you are starting out. So if you have recently got underway, see if you can adopt these five photography business reminders into your own business. And if you’ve been operating for some time, will challenging yourself on these five points make your business stronger?

Reminder #1 – Put the client first. Building a successful photography business is about creating a long list of happy clients. It doesn’t matter what you are shooting, the key to business success is having happy clients. Put the client first. This business is not about you feeling important, it’s not about your fancy equipment, it’s not about how many likes you get on Facebook – it’s about the client. Keep creating happy clients.

Jumping

Give your clients reasons to be jumping for joy. Happy clients makes successful photo businesses.

Reminder #2 – When it goes wrong, do whatever it takes to make it right. No business goes so smoothly that every client is completely happy. No matter how good you are, you are inevitably going to upset or disappoint someone. When this happens, your response will define your business. Do whatever it takes to put things right – even if it means losing money on the job. If a client isn’t happy with a print – get it redone at your expense. Making clients happy is what makes successful businesses. Show them that you care. When it goes wrong, do whatever it takes to make it right.

Reminder #3 – Being successful will take hard work. If you’ve got the idea that successful photographers live a glamorous life and cruise from one high profile job to another – be assured that’s not the truth. Running a successful photography business is hard work. There are times when you have so much work that you struggle to give each client the attention you know they deserve. And there are other times when you just wish you could find your next client. Running a successful photography business will take hard work. You’ll work long hours and most of it will not be at all glamorous.

Money

Photo businesses are about clients, not money. Get the client piece right, and the money will be fine.

Reminder #4 – Be clear on your point of difference. There are a lot of photographers out there. Most have gear better or equal to your own. They are prepared to work as hard or harder than you. You’re not the only photographer who can do the job. To run a successful business you need to understand what is your point of difference. Is it the client experience you give on shoot day? Is it your post production techniques? Is it the products you offer? There are many possible points of difference. You need to be clear on yours, and be able to explain it to a potential client.

Reminder #5 – Everything is better with a sense of humor. I follow the Facebook page of a photographer who goes by the name Missy Mwac. Check her out. She posts regularly. She has a lot of good, common sense ideas. She dislikes photographers who aren’t making it as photographers who are trying to make it selling photography workshops. And she mentions vodka in a lot of her posts. She is witty. She makes me laugh. I like that in people. People who laugh are fun to be with. Remember, your client doesn’t want the world’s most serious photographer. Everything is better with a sense of humor.

Thanks for reading Five Photography Business Reminders. Have a great week.

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.