Rules to succeeding the photography business

This is a discussion on Rules to succeeding the photography business within the Making Money From Photography forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; Let me clear up some internet myths. Now this is for those who are in the photography business or want to be. It is not ...


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  1. #1
    Proud Nikon Shooter
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    Let me clear up some internet myths. Now this is for those who are in the photography business or want to be. It is not for those who play photographer on the internet.

    Your book/portfolio will get you your clients.

    Even price shoppers want quality images that meet their needs. Potential clients will choose to ask your price based on your work. If you are simply seeking price shoppers, the odds of you succeeding are slim and none. Build the right book for the client base that you are seeking.

    Business is business.

    As a photographer, you are selling a product (images) and a service. Whether you have been offering these for a day or thirty years, does not change this fact.

    You are the only person that can determine what your time is worth. Just because someone else can live on $10 an hour doesn't mean that you can. The same is true of those who need $500 an hour.

    Pricing to meet your competition Just who is your competition? Is it the guy down the street or someone across the world? Today you can market your skills and products to anyone on the planet. It doesn't matter if you live in San Francisco, New York or Nowhereville. You are the only one who can limit your client base.

    Your gear Despite the internet photographers rules of what you need to succeed, the client doesn't care. They only need an image to meet their needs. Now that doesn't mean you can always get by with the lowest and cheapest. It does mean that you will have to have the tools necessary to meet those needs. No client will ask you if shoot Nikon, Canon or a disposable Kodak.

    Your price This also falls into what your time is worth. The internet myth is that new people cannot charge what a seasoned person can charge. Ask yourself why. Is your product inferior? Is your service inferior? If not, why the lower price?

    Never give away your product or service for free The myth goes that if you shoot for free, you will always shoot for free. This is by far and away the dumbest myth that I have ever heard. 99% of the businesses out there at some point will use a free product or service in their marketing. The key is to know when, and more importantly why to give away a product or service. When done properly, this is a very valuable tool.
    Pick up the Sunday paper and see the teaser ads of free products or services. Do you believe that any of these businesses will be giving away their products and services away for free forever?

    The photography business is different from all other businesses This has to be the 2nd dumbest myth that I have read on the internet. (See business is business). You are selling a product and a service. There is nothing magical about this. A print is no different than any other product in the world. It is simply an item that someone can hold in their hands. If you believe that the rules of business 101 will not/does not apply to photography, you will fail. Simple as that.

    Being the lowest price will get you more work Another myth that is very often told on all the internet forums. If you understand the difference between the real business world and the internet mindset, take a ride to your local Dollar store. Then go to another store. Which is busier? Now go home and go back to what you need to earn. Factor in your hourly, weekly and yearly rate and see how much harder you will have to work if you are the cheapest in town.

    Never be the highest priced photographer in town Again, this myth is told all over the internet. During economic down times it is told more often, but is there any truth to it? Bugatti released a 1.8 million dollar car in 2008 and there is more than a year waiting list to even purchase this car. Someone still has money somewhere. Your business will rely on you going out and finding them. Know your client.

    You cannot earn more than 6 figures per year This myth is pretty big also. Too many people have this mythical glass ceiling in their mind that tells them that earning more than 6 figures is impossible. They simply cannot wrap their mind around it. The easiest way to rethink this is to break it down. If you can do a wedding for $3,000 you only have to do 34 per year. Granted that is a ton of work, but certainly not impossible. Most people work 5 or 6 days a week now, so why should 34 days of shooting and 120 days of editing be impossible?
    Another way (and I find this easier) is to create a team. Partner with others to make all of your lives easier and more profitable. Groups succeed easier and faster than any individual. Bill Gates did not change the world on his own.

    Believe what you read on the internet There are plenty of good honest people willing to share on the internet, but do your own research. Learn to spot the truth. Learn to question "Why". When someone tells you what works and what doesn't work, look to see if they are doing it. A lot of people will claim to know what works and what doesn't even though they themselves have never tried it.

    There is a huge difference between those who are true professionals and those who are only playing one on the internet.
    Steve

    Never complain, Never explain. Learn it, live it


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  • #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cygnus Studios View Post
    Let me clear up some internet myths. Now this is for those who are in the photography business or want to be. It is not for those who play photographer on the internet.

    [b]Your book/portfolio will get you your clients.

    Even price shoppers want quality images that meet their needs. Potential clients will choose to ask your price based on your work. If you are simply seeking price shoppers, the odds of you succeeding are slim and none. Build the right book for the client base that you are seeking.

    [b]Business is business.

    As a photographer, you are selling a product (images) and a service. Whether you have been offering these for a day or thirty years, does not change this fact.

    [b]You are the only person that can determine what your time is worth. Just because someone else can live on an hour doesn't mean that you can. The same is true of those who need 0 an hour.

    [b]Pricing to meet your competition Just who is your competition? Is it the guy down the street or someone across the world? Today you can market your skills and products to anyone on the planet. It doesn't matter if you live in San Francisco, New York or Nowhereville. You are the only one who can limit your client base.

    [b]Your gear Despite the internet photographers rules of what you need to succeed, the client doesn't care. They only need an image to meet their needs. Now that doesn't mean you can always get by with the lowest and cheapest. It does mean that you will have to have the tools necessary to meet those needs. No client will ask you if shoot Nikon, Canon or a disposable Kodak.

    [b]Your price This also falls into what your time is worth. The internet myth is that new people cannot charge what a seasoned person can charge. Ask yourself why. Is your product inferior? Is your service inferior? If not, why the lower price?

    [b]Never give away your product or service for free The myth goes that if you shoot for free, you will always shoot for free. This is by far and away the dumbest myth that I have ever heard. 99% of the businesses out there at some point will use a free product or service in their marketing. The key is to know [b]when, and more importantly [b]why to give away a product or service. When done properly, this is a very valuable tool.
    Pick up the Sunday paper and see the teaser ads of free products or services. Do you believe that any of these businesses will be giving away their products and services away for free forever?

    [b]The photography business is different from all other businesses This has to be the 2nd dumbest myth that I have read on the internet. (See business is business). You are selling a product and a service. There is nothing magical about this. A print is no different than any other product in the world. It is simply an item that someone can hold in their hands. If you believe that the rules of business 101 will not/does not apply to photography, you will fail. Simple as that.

    [b]Being the lowest price will get you more work Another myth that is very often told on all the internet forums. If you understand the difference between the real business world and the internet mindset, take a ride to your local Dollar store. Then go to another store. Which is busier? Now go home and go back to what you need to earn. Factor in your hourly, weekly and yearly rate and see how much harder you will have to work if you are the cheapest in town.

    [b]Never be the highest priced photographer in town Again, this myth is told all over the internet. During economic down times it is told more often, but is there any truth to it? Bugatti released a 1.8 million dollar car in 2008 and there is more than a year waiting list to even purchase this car. Someone still has money somewhere. Your business will rely on you going out and finding them. Know your client.

    [b]You cannot earn more than 6 figures per year This myth is pretty big also. Too many people have this mythical glass ceiling in their mind that tells them that earning more than 6 figures is impossible. They simply cannot wrap their mind around it. The easiest way to rethink this is to break it down. If you can do a wedding for ,000 you only have to do 34 per year. Granted that is a ton of work, but certainly not impossible. Most people work 5 or 6 days a week now, so why should 34 days of shooting and 120 days of editing be impossible?
    Another way (and I find this easier) is to create a team. Partner with others to make all of your lives easier and more profitable. Groups succeed easier and faster than any individual. Bill Gates did not change the world on his own.

    [b]Believe what you read on the internet There are plenty of good honest people willing to share on the internet, but do your own research. Learn to spot the truth. Learn to question "Why". When someone tells you what works and what doesn't work, look to see if they are doing it. A lot of people will claim to know what works and what doesn't even though they themselves have never tried it.

    There is a huge difference between those who are true professionals and those who are only playing one on the internet.
    As always - Great information!!
    Nikon user

    Please visit my smugmug site!
    http://chadslaterphotography.smugmug.com/[/url]



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  • #3

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    Good post. Now that I'm getting rolling on my photography, I'm trying to figure out that when to give the product away for free. I did a couple of free gigs at first, just to get rolling, I just had a baby and am going to need a jumpstart to get up and going again, I'm considering if I need to do some free work again. It is very difficult to know when to work for free.

  • #4

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    Excellent and thought provoking post. On the subject of freebies, I was recently contacted by an Australian Government sponsored television network asking if they can use an image of mine for their staff development website. I responded by giving a fair and reasonable price for the image on a non-exclusive basis. The response was "we don't have a budget for photography". My response was "your producers get paid, you get paid and I am sure the website will get paid so why is it that photographers are expected to donate their work? Surprise, surprise, I didn't get a response. In the past, I have donated my work to certain charities and will continue to do so but one has to draw the line somewhere.

    Cheers
    Sheila
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    Canon 5DII plus various Ls

  • #5

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    Excellent post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cygnus Studios View Post
    Despite the internet photographers rules of what you need to succeed, the client doesn't care. They only need an image to meet their needs. Now that doesn't mean you can always get by with the lowest and cheapest. It does mean that you will have to have the tools necessary to meet those needs. No client will ask you if shoot Nikon, Canon...
    Absolutely. Photogeeks worry about the difference between a Rebel or D40 and a fancier DSLR; for most folks all DSLRs are fancy. In dealing with over 1000 clients I've only had one serious inquiry as to what equipment I'd be using. By "serious" I mean the client was concerned that I had the gear to do the job. There are more photogeeks than ever these days though. I get a lot of people asking my advice on what they should buy and ogling my L lenses.

    Another reason not to worry about what the client thinks of your gear is because much of the time they don't know enough to make any sort of accurate assessment. Back in the film days I was approached by a wedding guest as I was packing up after the formal portraits. "Is that a Canon?" he asked. I replied "Nope. It's a Hassleblad." His eyes got wide, and he snorted "Hmmph! I thought PROS used Canon!", and turned around and walked off. He was not impressed with my lousy Swedish camera.

    On the subject of working for free: I started out and still do photography for enjoyment. Along the way I have somehow turned it into my full time job, but I still like to go out photographing for fun. I never work for free, because when I'm not charging that means I'm not working. I'm just having fun.

    One of my favorite quotes on professionals and amateurs...

    "Let me here call attention to one of the most universally popular mistakes that have to do with photography - that of classing supposedly excellent work as professional, and using the term amateur to convey the idea of immature productions and to excuse atrociously poor photographs. As a matter of fact nearly all the greatest work is being, and has always been done, by those who are following photography for the love of it, and not merely for financial reasons. As the name implies, an amateur is one who works for love; and viewed in this light the incorrectness of the popular classification is readily apparent." -Alfred Stieglitz
    "I donít use an exposure meter. My personal advice is: Spend the money you would put into such an instrument for film. Buy yards of film, miles of it. Buy all the film you can get your hands on. And then experiment with it. That is the only way to be successful in photography. Test, try, experiment, feel your way along. It is the experience, not technique, which counts in camera work first of all. If you get the feel of photography, you can take fifteen pictures while one of your opponents is trying out his exposure meter." -Alfred Eisenstaedt

  • #6

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    Thanks for the Great advice!
    Nikon D5000, 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6

  • #7

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    great post. realy helped
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  • #8
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    Smile Thank you for the great, straightforward information.

    Name:  Trailer Park Christmas 01 web.jpg
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    "Trailer Park Christmas" by Kay L. Brown

    Excellent post and exactly the information I was looking for. I also love your quote "Never complain, never explain. Learn it, live it." I'm a middle-aged, part time college student majoring in Photography. I'll be graduating next year and terrified of the business side of photography and have been complaining a lot about it lately. Your information was clear, to the point, no B.S., and that's exactly what I need right now.

    Kay

  • #9
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    Thanks for sharing.
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  • #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cygnus Studios View Post
    Let me clear up some internet myths. Now this is for those who are in the photography business or want to be. It is not for those who play photographer on the internet.

    Your book/portfolio will get you your clients.

    Even price shoppers want quality images that meet their needs. Potential clients will choose to ask your price based on your work. If you are simply seeking price shoppers, the odds of you succeeding are slim and none. Build the right book for the client base that you are seeking.

    Business is business.

    As a photographer, you are selling a product (images) and a service. Whether you have been offering these for a day or thirty years, does not change this fact.

    You are the only person that can determine what your time is worth. Just because someone else can live on $10 an hour doesn't mean that you can. The same is true of those who need $500 an hour.

    Pricing to meet your competition Just who is your competition? Is it the guy down the street or someone across the world? Today you can market your skills and products to anyone on the planet. It doesn't matter if you live in San Francisco, New York or Nowhereville. You are the only one who can limit your client base.

    Your gear Despite the internet photographers rules of what you need to succeed, the client doesn't care. They only need an image to meet their needs. Now that doesn't mean you can always get by with the lowest and cheapest. It does mean that you will have to have the tools necessary to meet those needs. No client will ask you if shoot Nikon, Canon or a disposable Kodak.

    Your price This also falls into what your time is worth. The internet myth is that new people cannot charge what a seasoned person can charge. Ask yourself why. Is your product inferior? Is your service inferior? If not, why the lower price?

    Never give away your product or service for free The myth goes that if you shoot for free, you will always shoot for free. This is by far and away the dumbest myth that I have ever heard. 99% of the businesses out there at some point will use a free product or service in their marketing. The key is to know when, and more importantly why to give away a product or service. When done properly, this is a very valuable tool.
    Pick up the Sunday paper and see the teaser ads of free products or services. Do you believe that any of these businesses will be giving away their products and services away for free forever?

    The photography business is different from all other businesses This has to be the 2nd dumbest myth that I have read on the internet. (See business is business). You are selling a product and a service. There is nothing magical about this. A print is no different than any other product in the world. It is simply an item that someone can hold in their hands. If you believe that the rules of business 101 will not/does not apply to photography, you will fail. Simple as that.

    Being the lowest price will get you more work Another myth that is very often told on all the internet forums. If you understand the difference between the real business world and the internet mindset, take a ride to your local Dollar store. Then go to another store. Which is busier? Now go home and go back to what you need to earn. Factor in your hourly, weekly and yearly rate and see how much harder you will have to work if you are the cheapest in town.

    Never be the highest priced photographer in town Again, this myth is told all over the internet. During economic down times it is told more often, but is there any truth to it? Bugatti released a 1.8 million dollar car in 2008 and there is more than a year waiting list to even purchase this car. Someone still has money somewhere. Your business will rely on you going out and finding them. Know your client.

    You cannot earn more than 6 figures per year This myth is pretty big also. Too many people have this mythical glass ceiling in their mind that tells them that earning more than 6 figures is impossible. They simply cannot wrap their mind around it. The easiest way to rethink this is to break it down. If you can do a wedding for $3,000 you only have to do 34 per year. Granted that is a ton of work, but certainly not impossible. Most people work 5 or 6 days a week now, so why should 34 days of shooting and 120 days of editing be impossible?
    Another way (and I find this easier) is to create a team. Partner with others to make all of your lives easier and more profitable. Groups succeed easier and faster than any individual. Bill Gates did not change the world on his own.

    Believe what you read on the internet There are plenty of good honest people willing to share on the internet, but do your own research. Learn to spot the truth. Learn to question "Why". When someone tells you what works and what doesn't work, look to see if they are doing it. A lot of people will claim to know what works and what doesn't even though they themselves have never tried it.

    There is a huge difference between those who are true professionals and those who are only playing one on the internet.
    Thanks! This post really spells everything out, from one who knows. It drives home that photography is serious business.


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