Tag Archives: photography business

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.

Tips for the Perennial Wannabe Pro Photographer

Today’s post provides tips for the perennial wannabe pro photographer. Tips for that person who loves photography and has always talked about making their hobby their living but hasn’t quite got there yet. Let’s help that person make the jump with five common sense tips to help them launch.

Tip 1. Act Now. Action is contagious, it produces more action. Sometimes it is good to plan things out in great detail, and other times it is better to take one step forward right now. Today. Act. Set up a website. Print some business cards. Register your business. Find a mentor. Open a stock photography account. Whatever it is, acting and moving forward one step at a time is the only way. We all started with one small step forward. Stop procrastinating. Act now.

Melbourne tram

Being able to produce strong images in different lighting conditions is very important. Winning awards is not.

Tip 2. Creating Good Quality Images is More Important Than Winning Awards. I see photographers with the potential to run successful businesses talk themselves out of it because they have not won awards for their images. They think that because they haven’t won awards, that the quality of their work is not at pro standard. Trust me, you do not need to win a string of awards to operate a successful photography business. Being able to produce good quality images is very important – but winning awards is not. If you can consistently create good quality images in a variety of lighting conditions, then you have the potential to generate an income from your photography.

Tip 3. Start Part Time. Some people don’t seem to believe in the concept of starting a business part time. Those people should know that thousands of photographers all around the world are successfully running part time businesses. If you are struggling with the idea of quitting your job to launch a photography business, then don’t. Keep your job. Launch on your days off. Start on weekends.

Basketball

Be patient and focussed. Building a business takes time.

Tip 4. Expect Building a Business to Take Time. I don’t know any photographers who have made the decision to become a pro shooter who have had instant success. It takes time to build a business. It takes time to find clients and to build relationships with them. It takes time until they will refer others to you. Don’t expect all those things to happen in your first 3 months in business. Expect this will take time. If you are short on clients right now, know that is normal. It is a very small number of pro photographers who have a queue of clients waiting until they are ready. Expect ups and downs along this road. It is normal. Be patient. Focus on generating a large group of happy clients. When you have achieved that, the business of finding new clients or repeat clients gets much easier. Meeting your clients needs one at a time is a sure fire way to build a successful photography business.

Tip 5. Commit to Keeping Going. There will inevitably be times in your photo business when you don’t have enough clients. There will be times when some clients are ‘challenging’. Don’t be put off by these experiences. How you respond in these times will determine how your business performs in the long run. Don’t give up when times are tough. Everyone goes through this and you can too. Commit to keep going. Don’t let anything get in the way of your objective of running a successful photography business.

Thanks for reading Tips for the perennial wannabe pro photographer. I hope it has been useful to you and has encouraged you to move forward. Push on. It can be done. Make it happen. If you’d like any help, just drop a comment on the end of this post and I’ll do my best to assist. Good luck.

Photography Business Advice to My 2008 Self

This week I have been working with a photographer who has just started to consider the possibility of making photography her career. It is a very exciting time. She has so many dreams, and possibilities. It made me think about the lessons I have learned since I was in her position back in 2008. (Amazingly, it is not far from ten years since I was in her position!) So here is photography business advice to my 2008 self.

IMG_3924Creative and Financial Success are Possible. I’m not sure why it is, but people like to tell you that you will not be able to make money in photography – or if you do, you will have to sell your creative soul. Perhaps it’s because deep down they really wish they were brave enough to tackle what you are tackling? or maybe the security of their corporate pay check is just too much for them to give up, and they are projecting those values onto you? My experience since 2008 is that creative and financial success can co-exist. In fact, the more I learn about and experience the business of photography, I’m convinced that there are more ways to make money in photography now than ever before.

It’s Not Easy. Reality check! If you’ve been in your photography business for a while and are finding it hard going – you are not alone. Everyone finds it this way. The hardest part is finding which part of the business best suits your skills and personality. In that sense, everyone’s story is different. There is no single formula to follow. You have to find your own way. (If you’d like to read a great book that tackles this topic, see here).

If this was easy, would it be as attractive? If you just had to hang up a sign on your front door saying ‘Photographer Available’ and a queue of customers lined up … would that have the challenge you are looking for? Embrace the difficulty, and work out your own way to both business and creative success.

Good Partners are Invaluable. When I started in the business of photography I didn’t realize how important good partners would be. What type of partners? I’m talking about those people I rely on to deliver for my clients and my business – my second shooters, my accountant, the people I work with for wedding albums, the models I work with, the people who I outsource post production work to, and an expert print shop. These are just some of my go-to people, who help me deliver a great experience for my clients and help me run a strong business. If you are trying to do it all alone, or your business is struggling – have a critical look at the partners you are working with. A strong network of partners is invaluable.

Make Decisions for the Long Term. When I began in the business of photography I set up as a sole trader. It wasn’t long before I out grew that business structure and was better served by setting up a company. In hindsight it would have been easier to set up as a company first, as I always had in mind that would be the structure which best suited where I planned to go. My business advice to myself is – have a vision of where you want to be in the medium and long term, and make decision with that in mind.

baby

Happy clients are key to your long term business success

Happy Clients are the Key. Don’t over complicate this. If you build a following of happy clients your business is going to grow. Those clients are going to come back for repeat shoots, and they are going to refer their friends. Forget about how great your work is or how good you feel for a moment. Are you clients happy? How can you make them happier? Happy clients will see your business grow.

Gear Backups Bring Huge Peace of Mind. When I started my photography business I had just the one camera body and several lenses. As I headed off to each job I couldn’t help worry about what I would do if my gear failed. How would I get the job complete? Would it be fatal if I let one of my early clients down? So I started borrowing a friends camera body to take along as my ‘just in case’ solution but felt bad each time I asked. So I bit the bullet and bought a second camera body. The peace of mind has been worth it! I now have 2 camera bodies and several lenses at every shoot. In the unlikely event of gear failure, I will still be able to get the job done.

You Won’t Always Shoot the Same Thing. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to shoot different subjects or styles as your business evolves. In fact, it would be unusual to be shooting the same things at the end of your photography career as at the beginning. Things change. Be prepared to change with them. To fulfill your creative goals, shoot the subjects which interest you and expect that to change over time.

Social Media on it’s own is not the answer. This piece of business advice comes since I have started working with other photographers to help them improve their business. Several seem to have it in their heads that if they regularly share their work via social media that the clients will roll in. Social media is potentially a source of new clients, but it’s not likely when used in a very unsophisticated way. Sharing images and generating new clients are different things.

Thanks for reading Photography Business Advice to my 2008 Self. I hope it is useful to you and your photography business. If you have questions which you would like help with, please post a comment and I will do my best to respond. If you’d like a business coach to help guide you, please check out the service now available on my website.

Coach

A business coach can offer you individual business advice.

Launch in Your Popeye Moment

Last weekend I participated in a workshop where some of the content looked at the fictional cartoon character, Popeye. Popeye was a cartoon character who was very popular in the United States and around the world. He was originally created in 1929, and became an iconic cartoon figure in the 1930’s and beyond. I often get asked by photographers ‘what is the right time to launch my photography business?’. I have found that difficult to answer, but after last weekends workshop I am clearer on the answer – launch in your Popeye moment!

So what does that mean? One of the things Popeye was famous for was eating spinach and running to the rescue of his sweetheart, Olive Oil. He would exclaim ‘This is all I can stands, I can’t stands no more’! It was his point of exasperation. He could no longer just stand by, he had to act. Then he would eat a can of spinach and burst into action. This is what I call a “Popeye moment”.

you can

In your Popeye moment, you are compelled to act. Welcome it.

How is this relevant to photographers and their businesses? I see a lot of photographers who have drifted into running a photo business. Friends ask them to shoot family portraits or a wedding, or they sell a few images on a micro stock site. Suddenly they like the idea of being a paid photographer and they dream of quitting their corporate job and become a full time photographer.

It’s not long before they find out that running a photography business is not easy, and they become discouraged or lose confidence in their photographic ability. They haven’t had a Popeye moment to focus them and compel them to act.

So what is a Popeye moment? It’s when enough is enough. Popeye says ‘I can’t stands no more’! It is a line in the sand. It is a tipping point. It’s a decision. A photographer who has a Popeye moment, can no longer stand shooting only on weekends, working a job they don’t like just to pay the bills, and not having an outlet for their creativity. They can’t stands it no more! They are compelled to act. This is the time to launch your business. Your Popeye moment propels you. It drives you. It means going back to how things were is not possible. You must move forward. It gives you the strength to overcome setbacks.

Cherish your Popeye moment. It is what makes you take this path. Remember this feeling. You are compelled to act. It will give you the strength to keep going when times are tough. It will drive you – success is the only option. I can’t stands it no more!

Your Popeye moment will set you apart. It will change you. It will set you on a path to success. It will redefine you. Launch in your Popeye moment!

Sunrise

The sun won’t always shine on your business but your Popeye moment will drive you forward

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.

How to Build a Portfolio When You Have Limited Experience

Getting started in paid photography work is not easy. That’s the case whether you are just starting out, or if you are looking to make a transition from one style of photography work to another. A large part of being able to attract paid work is being able to show potential clients a strong portfolio which demonstrates your photographic style. Today we look at ‘how to build a portfolio when you have limited experience’.

Pilot

Working with different models and different light conditions will help build a diverse portfolio quickly.

If you are expecting clients to hire you because you are a photographer and have done a good job on a handful of jobs, you are working on hope rather than a plan. To be able to effectively market yourself beyond your immediate circle of family and friends, you need to have a body of work which shows your photographic style. That allows a potential client to look at your work and say ‘yes, I like this. I am going to hire this photographer’.

So, how do we overcome the ‘chicken and egg’ situation of wanting to attract paying work, but needing a strong portfolio to show your style and to attract those clients?

The short answer is to build a portfolio that reflects the type of work you want to attract. If it’s weddings you want to get into, you need to build a wedding portfolio. If it’s family portraits, you need to build a family portrait portfolio. If you want to have clients buying your landscape images, you’ll need to have a portfolio of strong landscapes. I’m sure you get the idea. So, lets look at how to build a portfolio when you have limited experience.

Here are four ways to build a target portfolio:

1. Shoot TFP. There are facebook groups of models and photographers in nearly every city. Join one of those groups and post a brief for what you are looking for. You will have models and HMUA’s (hair and make up artists) volunteering their services to assist. Why? Because models and HMUA’s need portfolio’s too. It is a win-win situation which works for nearly every type of photography involving people. (Working cooperatively like this is known as ‘TFP’. This originally stood for Time for Prints, but now means Time for Portfolio. Each person contributes their time and skill to build their portfolio.)

2. Pay models to work with you. If you are serious about building a high quality portfolio, you may prefer to work with experienced models. Experienced models don’t have a need to build their portfolio and so you will need to pay the model for their time and skill. You can use facebook groups or dedicated sites like Model Mayhem to post your photographic briefs. Working with experienced models you are likely to get a higher percentage of quality images than you would if you are working with someone starting in the industry. One additional advantage – paid work results in fewer cases of people arriving late or not arriving at all. This the single best way I know to build a high quality portfolio quickly.

Child

Working with friends and family is one way to build skills and your portfolio

3. Work with friends and family. This is my least preferred option, but I have seen photographers do this successfully. It works well for photographers who are mastering the style of shot they want, who don’t want the additional challenge of working with models they don’t know. This works well if you want to shoot and re-shoot until you get it right. If you’ve never shot a wedding before and want to get into wedding photography, ask friends to be your bride and groom. It is even better if they are actually married and own a wedding dress and suit. If you want to get into family portrait work, ask friends to help you and offer them edited images in return. You get the idea.

Bride

Working in different light will build your skills and add diversity to you portfolio

4. Work in different types of light. Whether you choose all or none of the options above, it is important to shoot in different lighting conditions. Light is the basis of good photography and it is important to build your experience and expertise working in different lighting conditions. That means shooting in bright daylight, cloudy conditions, low light, indoor, outdoor, in the studio, and with lights on location. A weak portfolio is likely to have one or two shoots in similar lighting conditions. A strong portfolio is made from a diverse range of shoots in all types of different lighting. Challenge yourself by shooting in different types of light.

If you follow these tips you can quickly build a strong and diverse portfolio which will be the foundation of attracting paying clients. Thanks for reading ‘How to build a portfolio when you have limited experience’.