If you have a passion for photography, how do you know when it’s time to turn your pastime into a profession?
Photographers Chelsea Christensen, Lesli Harker, and Photography Teacher, Gayle Vehar share advice on how to cash in on your passion for photography.
Tips From Chelsea Christensen
Because there are so many people in the photography industry it is really easy to constantly compare yourself. This can be helpful but also a huge distraction from your business. If you are constantly watching what your competition is doing you are missing out on time you could be improving your own skills. You are also filling your brain with they way things “should be”. Once you find your true style your work will improve. It will be consistent, which is so important. Clients will book you because they like what YOU do. Knowing that people like and appreciate your style will build you the confidence you need in your business.
Before you jump right in you must have a plan. Decide what having a business is worth to you. How much time away from your family are you willing to spend? How much money do you need to make to compensate you for your time? How many sessions does that require you to do? Also if you have a business plan, including pricing etc., it will make charging friends and associates more comfortable. It is hard taking money from people you know, but it has to be viewed as business. If you are worried that you will always have to give deals to friends and family, mark your prices up higher so that you can still afford to discount your prices. The other thing you have to realize that if people love your product, they will be more than happy to pay you for your time and talent.
Remember to photograph your own life. Who wants to work when they get home from work? The answer is probably no one. This is one of the hardest thing being a photographer. It starts feeling like a job to photograph your own kids and order pictures to put on your wall. This especially happened to me after I had my third child. I was busy with kids and working. I rarely ever pulled out my camera when I was home or doing fun things with my family. MAKE TIME. Set a date with your kids to take them one at a time and have that experience with them. I was so sad looking back and realizing how much I missed documenting. The nice thing now is we always have our cell phones with us and the cameras are much better than ever….so if anything else, take time to capture moments with those!
To Contact Chelsea: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips From Lesli Harker
Realize shooting and editing is a lot of work and don’t charge less than what your time is worth. If you’re already busy, it should be worth your while to give your time to someone else.
No more free shoots! It will be so tempting to shoot to your sister’s family or your best friend’s new baby for free, but you will quickly regret it. If you don’t feel comfortable asking for money, trade for something else like a few home-cooked meals or help house cleaning. Still feel like you need experience before you can charge? This was my rule of thumb when I started: one free shoot per category. For example, I did one free family shoot, then I charged. One free newborn shoot, then I charged. One free maternity shoot, then I charged. (This does not apply to weddings.)
Make sure clients have seen your work before they hire you. This may sound like a no-brainer, but many people will hire you because they hear you’re a photographer, not because they’ve seen your work. Have a blog, facebook page, or portfolio ready to show off. Ask the client what pictures they like, and this will give you a sense of what look they’re going for, and you know you can already do it!
Find a contract template online, customize it for your business and have clients sign it. This will cover many potential problems, and also ensure clients see you as a professional, and not just a friend taking their pictures.
Tips From Gayle Vehar
How will it fit with my other desires and wants? When I sat down and thought about what was thinking of doing with my photography, a traditional “Photography Business” didn’t fit with some of my other wants.
Know your Strengths (and weaknesses!) My strengths are that I love teaching, helping and sharing photography with others. I am passionate about photography. Most of my weaknesses fell on the business side. Do I think that people can turn their weaknesses into strengths? Absolutely!! But knowing these things in advance helps you know in where to focus your time or how to tailor your business to play to your strengths!
Find Your Niche. Just because a traditional business didn’t fit into my family or play to my strengths didn’t mean that I couldn’t make money with my passion. I currently share photography tips on my blog and am paid to write about photography for a few other websites. I also teach classes to mom’s who want to know how to use their big nice camera better. These things fit into my family perfectly. I can write during the day when my kids are at school or at night when they are in bed. I can easily plan my classes around our family schedule. And I wrote out A LOT of the information in my classes as well as tips I have shared on my blog and self-published a photography book that I sell on my site.
For more information on Gayle’s classes, check out www.momandcamera.com.