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The Three Things

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:35 pm
by JenniferR
Hi, I'm a visitor, but plan on joining as soon as I can.

I have a question.

Knowing now what you know about your photography business, or the photography genre currently as is, what would be the three things you would have done when you first started out? Whether it be marketing, equipment, hiring a professional for website, etc.?

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:30 pm
by Andrea Kaus
A business course oriented toward equine photography - in fact, I could still use that. :scratch: My best advice is to go slow at first. More than equipment, marketing, etc., take time. Take time to figure out your strengths and weaknesses, your workflow on site and post processing, your stamina on site, your turnaround time for posting or printing, pricing as related to the job or customer pool, and your network of customers, colleagues, associations and causes.

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:30 pm
by Kim Beer

As a photographer, I think the three things I'd have done (with the knowledge I have now) when I first started out would be:

1. CHARGE MORE for my work ... and definitely NOT trade for "exposure" or barter for services I don't need just to get a job. That's a common pitfall, and I'm not the only photographer who has fallen in it. It simply doesn't do much for you in the long run and sets a pattern of lack versus prosperity.

2. Be more professional with my contracts, licensing and paperwork. It is important that there be a contract (even for the small jobs) with agreed upon pricing, stipulations, usage privileges, restrictions, and policies especially around copyright.

3. Build my email database from the get-go and keep in good contact with them regularly. (Although dually noting that there was no email when I first became a pro, lol!)

As a marketing coach, the three things I wished photographers would do when it comes to their businesses are:

1. Write a business plan. You are moving from a hobby to a business and it needs a business plan. An official one. Get help from your SBTDC (Small Business Technical Development Center) for free. Just Google it.

2. Make peace with the long haul of being an entrepreneur. It takes years to become successful, and lots of hard work. Don't get frustrated when you don't immediately have clients lined up around the block.

3. Know that in-person, face-to-face marketing and self-promotion are necessary — even in a digital age — and that follow-up is the key to making customers.

One final comment: As a newbie photographer, I would hesitate to ask advice of veteran photographers. Probably because the first few I approached were prickly about sharing. I wish that I would have been more tenacious. There are so many pros who are willing to lend a hand up and, had I found them, I'd have gotten much further, much faster. As a pro now, I always try to lend friendly advice or answer questions.

Good luck on your journey!


One more thing: shameless self-promotion, join me for an upcoming webinar I'm doing on visual content marketing for photographers. Register here: ... 7410022146

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:00 pm
by Carien Schippers
A great question Jennifer, thank you for posting it.
I could write pages on this but I will keep it short and sweet. I have seen a lot of photographers come and go and it is not getting any easier.

These would be my top three tips.
1. Have a complete and exhaustive knowledge of your gear. Understand all the manual settings and how to manipulate your ISO/aperture/shutter speed for the conditions you will be shooting in. Be able to adjust your modes and settings with your eyes closed. Understand focal lengths and how they will affect your images. Having a great camera and lens does not make you a great photographer. The camera is a tool and you need to learn how to use it to make great images.

2. Develop your client network customer base at the local level. Start small and build from there. Don't expect to be shooting an international event your first year out. Build a reputation for good quality work, good customer service and your clientele will grow from word of mouth from satisfied and repeat customers. Be honest, responsive, flexible and at all times professional. Never ever bad mouth anyone for any reason. The horse world is small and word gets around, both good and bad. Make contact with local businesses and publications, and also develop relationships with other area photographers to share work and contacts. Be versatile in your offerings, expanding beyond horses to things such as portraits, pets, events will help keep income flowing.

3. Don't rush into going pro. Do your research. Cost of doing business, business forms, tax and accounting legalities, take some business courses. This is the number one place where people slip up. They are not ready to go pro and wind up going out of business because they didn't do their homework. There is a lot more to being in business than taking photos, that is the easy part, it's all the rest that takes a significant amount of time and is no fun at all :)

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:59 pm
by Joanne Collins
As a marketing contractor, I already had experience in running a business. BUT, what I didn't have was a clear focus on the things that help in transitioning from marketing to photography. Things I would do better earlier (and still need to do) include:

1. Identifying my target market and staying focused on serving that market with photography. Because I have a successful business that uses photographic elements some of the time, I tend to be lazy about doing the work of identifying concepts and sales opportunities that are exclusive to photography.
2. Getting my website up and running and making it easy for people to find me and makes purchases.
3. Getting involved in local photography opportunities. I've joined a couple organizations this year and now have a pool of folks to go out and shoot with, which gets me out shooting more often and in places I might not go to alone.
4. Being more unashamedly self-promoting.

Just answering this question is a good exercise in deciding what to do more of in the new year. Thanks, Jennifer, for bringing this up.

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:31 am
by Alise Lamoreaux
1. You can't be all things to all people. Decide what you want your niche to be and focus developing your eyes and skills for that niche. I work with several trainers/clinicians in different aspects of the sport and have learned that what a novice eye sees in a photo/moment in time can be very different from what the experienced eye sees. For example, trainers want to see something very specific/technical in the shots I take for them. Artistically, the first stride of the canter is not what we usually select, but some trainers like that stride because it shows how smooth a horse moves. Before I understood that, I bypassed many shots I now would show them. I am not a graphic artist. My strength is not photoshop, but I have developed a technical eye and strive to perfect that. I try to put myself in as many learning opportunities as I can to strengthen my skills.

2. Know the limits of the equipment you have. Unless you have a big budget, some types of locations may not be something you can shoot in. For example, indoor arenas. I am the official photographer for the Horse Expo in Oregon, and the facility has multiple barns. I have learned the ones I can get good photos in, and the ones I can't. My time is limited, so I focus on where I can get good shots.

3. Clarify the expectations of your clients. For example, when I am working for the Expo, I have a list of types of photos the management wants to see from me at the end of the show, as well as event participants. The management wants to see crowds and people in the backdrop of the clinicians or performers. The breed shows want to see their horses looking good and maybe the crowd. In that setting, the expectation is that I can produce photos within a couple of days, have a way for people to preview the photos, and an easy way for participants to purchase photos if they want to.

4. Don't always be a working photographer! Play with your camera and enjoy it, even if it's just your phone. Personal enjoyment is fundamental to improvement.

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:13 pm
by Roberta McGowan
I would just add one thing. Please get a deposit in advance of any shoot. Just love you posting the link on fb for the particular subject!!!!

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:53 pm
by Carol Pedersen
Thank you, Jennifer, for the question. And, thank you to everyone for the detailed responses! Something that I should of asked a long time ago!

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:11 pm
by Sherron Sheppard
All of the above suggestions are great. Wish I'd know about them when I first started.

One thing I’d definitely do different is I would have settled on a photographic style that I really liked and then worked towards mastering the process to create something similar but different to make it my own. When I first started I tried many different styles and didn’t really master any of them. It was fun and exciting to be exposed to many different looks but it was somewhat a waste of my time and education funds because I didn’t master any of them. My business would have moved forward quicker if I had decided on one look and stayed with that style until I mastered the process before trying something different.

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:00 pm
by Cynthia Pixley
I don’t have three things, but the one thing that I continually remind myself: Be yourself. Worry less about what the other local photographers are doing and concentrate on your own journey. We all have a tendency to become competitive and while healthy to a point, it can sure become an unhealthy obsession very quickly. Good luck! This group is an awesome resource!

Re: The Three Things

PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:14 pm
by Tafra Donberger
I am thankful to all of you who posted, because I'm here, wanting to go pro with my photography but feeling intimidated by what it entails. All of these things are such great advice.