For all the entrepreneurs out there. Need some advice.

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by imchristinak, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. imchristinak

    imchristinak TPF Noob!

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    I am wondering what steps you had to take to get where you are at now.
    Did you guys major in art or photography? Is it helpful or unnecessary? Did you jump right into opening your business? Was it just a hobby turned professional?

    I guess I am asking because I am currently at a financial disposition and since I am new to the field and don't have a professional camera (just a normal p&s), I am wondering if I should just stick with a job first to afford a decent camera first and then decide what to do next from there or if I should somehow find a way into affording photography programs or courses and using the good ol' credit card to just invest in the equipment now.

    yes, I am being quite vulnerable (well at least my standard of it) and am looking forward to some advice. Thanks all.
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Buying camera equipment on credit is not a very good idea, be it for hobby use or business use.

    If you aspire to work for someone else: get a degree in the arts (including photography) with a business minor. It should only cost you $40,000 or so at a good arts school.

    If you want to be an independent business person: get a degree in business and minor in photography.

    Be advised the photography business is changing rapidly because of the digital SLR explosion, the still ongoing consolidation of the stock photography business, photography sharing web sites, and some other factors.

    The majority of retail photographers today do not earn a living wage (below the poverty line) and are forced to suppliment their income with a second job or the income a spouse provides, if they are able to stay in business at all.

    The commercial photography field is certainly being killed by the major stock photography outlets.
    Add photo sharing web sites like Flickr/SmugMug, etc and the stock houses pay in-house people to daily cruise the images uploaded yesterday to those sites who then send a form letter to the lucky amateur shooter that they could make $3 or $4 a year if the stock house could add that image to their other offerings.

    The editorial photography field is being killed by the simple expedient of every tom, dick, and betty uploading images to the newspapers and magazines free of charge and the various newspapers that close their doors each week. I've noticed that many of our local papers reporters just use their P&S to make images for the paper.

    If you are a self starter that is very good at networking, marketing, sales, and can make some decent images, you may have a chance. ;)
     
  3. Rocky8

    Rocky8 TPF Noob!

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    Maxing out credit is what got the US where it is today: totally broke, owned by China, with a crashing dollar, and repaying the debt for the next 3 centuries. As you will if you get gear on credit.

    But it isn't possible anyway: a pro set, consisting of at least 2 pro bodies, 4 L class lenses, 3 big flash guns, 2 pro tripods, and assorted accessories would set you back around 20,000 bucks and up.
    I'm betting you don't have a credit line like that.

    And that's for on-location and event photography only. Add another 100 grand for a properly equipped studio...

    Add yet another 15 grand for a proper computer setup that's adequately capable of processing those big mothers of files...

    And then you still have to start learning making sharp photos with all that, let alone good photos, without having a clue if you will ever master it.

    It would be a wild US$ 35,000, or even a US$ 135,000 gamble.

    So keep dreaming!
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2010
  4. BCW

    BCW TPF Noob!

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    What's your degree in now? Maybe you can leverage that into some type of subfield. To get good advice, you might want to give a little more background information.
     
  5. bennielou

    bennielou TPF Noob!

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    No, don't do it like that.
    Buy a camera you can afford. The best you can afford to pay cash for.
    Work as an apprentice and learn.
    Then do some side jobs.
    TAKE ALL THE MONEY YOU MAKE FOR THE FIRST YEAR and buy better stuff.

    At least that is how it worked for me.
     
  6. jenn2

    jenn2 TPF Noob!

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    Eduacate yourself in photography in every way possible. Yes it does get expensive, therefore you have to be certain that this is what you want to do. Find professionals who are willing to let you assist them and get some hands-on experience. Also get well educated about marketing and advertizing. Some really great photographers can end up broke if they don't know the business side. Remember just because you believe you have a great product, doesn't mean that others will know that, so you MUST know how to promote yourself.
     
  7. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    In corporate photography, multiple skills are needed: writing/editing a script/purchasing proposal, administration, television and audio production, multi-media presenting, etc. In Canada, you could be asked to work in both languages: English and French as well.

    skieur
     
  8. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    There are as many ways to look at this as there are people...

    Just jumping in with your credit card is definitely not the best. STAY AWAY from credit unless you 100% know it is going to be paid when you get the next bill. I have bought gear with a credit card when there was a job requiring it that would pay for it. In this case, it was free credit for a few days. That's the only time I use credit.

    Also, to be recognized as a pro you will need to consistently shoot good usable photos. Photo may not be rocket science but few people learn it overnight. Depending on how good a learner you are it could be a year or two or more before you start making any money.

    School or not? That also depends on you. Some people learn on their own just fine, some need the classroom structure. Which are you? If you need the classroom, it doesn't mean you need to go for a degree. You can just take a few classes to get you started, or whatever. Remember that in the visual arts, and that includes the commercial arts, you will be mostly judged from your portfolio.

    A big corporation once approached me about working in their studio, they knew my work and never asked if I had a degree. The main question was whether or not I was willing to work 9 to 5 and wear a coat and tie. Others at corporate HQ couldn't deal with the photogs wearing jeans and having too much fun :lol: I turned them down because it wasn't why I had gone into photo for...


    You need to seriously think about who you are so as to decide which way to go. And be honest. Lying to yourself will not help in the long run. Good luck though. Photography can be a lot of fun and very rewarding financially. For the right person.
     
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    I set my own work hours/schedule, had $20,000 or more per year to spend on related equipment or software, went to executive affairs, etc. All perks considered, I had no problem wearing a tie and jacket.

    skieur
     
  10. Ryvax

    Ryvax TPF Noob!

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    I went the route of learning everything myself, with my current job I wasn't able to take time off to take a course. Some of my favorite books that I've read this year would have to be, Best Business Practices for photographers by John Harrington, Hot shoe diaries and The moment it clicks by Joe McNally, Digital Portraiture by Steve Zint and his wedding portraiture book too.

    Right now I'm just debating on wether to start a small business when I get home(I'm in Afghanistan for another 4 months) or if I should try to assist some photographers in my town. The thing is that my town is so small there is only 2 photographers that I like their work, and they might not be keen on helping someone gain skills that would eventually be their competition. Thoughts?
     
  11. Ryvax

    Ryvax TPF Noob!

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    I went the route of learning everything myself, with my current job I wasn't able to take time off to take a course. Some of my favorite books that I've read this year would have to be, Best Business Practices for photographers by John Harrington, Hot shoe diaries and The moment it clicks by Joe McNally, Digital Portraiture by Steve Zint and his wedding portraiture book too.

    Right now I'm just debating on wether to start a small business when I get home(I'm in Afghanistan for another 4 months) or if I should try to assist some photographers in my town. The thing is that my town is so small there is only 2 photographers that I like their work, and they might not be keen on helping someone gain skills that would eventually be their competition. Thoughts?
     
  12. bennielou

    bennielou TPF Noob!

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    Yes, STAY AWAY from credit cards. Instead turn every dime you make into cash for new gear, programs, websites, and lighting. Don't put a dime on credit.

    The first little while, you will see no cash profit. But you will grow in the gear you need. After a year or two (most photographers say that) you will start making profits. But you will also have no added debt.

    I also agree that you should study everything you can get your hands on. A seminar or two, well selected isn't bad. But remember, some of these seminars are pushing products. So be very selective in that.
    And lastly, don't be shy about doing apprentice work in your spare time. That is where I learned the most "real world" stuff.

    Wishing you all the best!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2010

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