Plunging into Professionalism

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by Aedai, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Aedai

    Aedai No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Montana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    As in - professional photography, of course!

    I started a thread a while back and the feedback I received was great - encouraging, actually, the start working in the photography field that I've always wanted to. If you remember me, I posted about my auto photography and a few of you asked WHY would I work in auto photography if I want to be a people photographer? (The short answer was / still is, to an extent, because I want to learn more about my camera before taking "the plunge.")

    But now I think it's time, because someone said, there is only so much I can learn about photography when I'm working in an entirely different field that what I really want.

    SO, I'm looking for help. Where do I start? This is where I am at so far...

    My plan:
    Personal Photos - as in, free shoots for close family (my daughter, boyfriend, my sister and myself for portfolio building)
    And then 3-5 Model Calls - discounted 45-60 minute sessions (portfolio building) advertised on my local classifieds

    I've collected research about 1) What Photographers in my area are charging and have priced accordingly and 2) What I can offer that the others Photographers cannot - which I will use as a marketing strategy

    I want to be a strictly on sight / outdoor Photographer (Seniors, Family, Maternity, and someday very far into the future Weddings).

    Am I on the right track? Research can only get me so far, I'm hoping someone can lend me first hand experience!


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    40,663
    Likes Received:
    12,307
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    You have a plan, that's more than many start with. You don't mention whether or not you've addressed the business aspects; taxes, licenses, insurance, etc. IMO, that's step one. Step two is making sure that all of your agreements, releases, contracts, etc have been reviewed by an appropriate attorney and are valid and appropriate for your state.

    Limiting yourself to location & out-of-doors work, IMO, is handicapping yourself needlessly. Working in a dedicated studio space is MUCH, MUCH easier, especially for learning, even if it's not a full-time studio, and chances are, you can find a place to sublet for a reasonable price.

    What do you feel that you can offer that others can't?
     
  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2012
    Messages:
    16,086
    Likes Received:
    4,028
    Location:
    Iowa
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    It's "site", btw. Is this the thing that will be your primary selling point? Honestly, I don't get it. Would people come to you with the desire to be photographed "on site" someplace, and they could get that service from no other photographer?

    I think many, if not most photographers would be willing to go on location if the customer demanded it.

    To base your price on the current trend from other photographers might be a valid strategy, but it doesn't guarantee that you will be profitable. Another approach is "cost plus", meaning your cost of doing business (includes everything) and a profit. If you are good at photography, and good at running a business, then you will be good to go.
     
  4. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    40,350
    Likes Received:
    5,508
    Location:
    Iowa
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Yep.
    From a photography perspective you have ZERO control over the intensity or location of the Sun in the sky.
    Of course you can know in advance where the Sun will be at any given time during the day but predicting the sky conditions is another matter.
    In other words the Sun dictates when you can and can't shoot.

    Does it get cold and snowy where you are in Montana in the winter, rain a fair amount in the Spring, get hot, muggy, and mosquito infested in the Summer?

    The light direction and quality during the mid-day hours aren't very good for making nice photos.
    You can use scrims, reflectors, and flash to gain a little control of the light but that quickly becomes problematic if it's windy out and it takes gear or assistants to manage the aids so you can concentrate on directing your clients and making quality photos.
    Wind also complicates keeping clothes, hats, and hair in place.

    From a business perspective maintaining a booking schedule when you only shoot outside is difficult because the weather often doesn't cooperate.
    Customers don't much like it when you're the one that needs to reschedule at the last minute because the weather isn't cooperating and you can't make quality photos because of the weather conditions.
    Sometimes weather causes a session to be re-scheduled more than one time, and customers don't much appreciate that either.
    Indeed, a bad weather day can ripple through a shooting schedule forcing the photographer to reschedule several customers.
    If your schedule is so open that that doesn't happen you probably don't have enough sessions scheduled to have a viable business.

    It's often hard for customers to be available during daylight hours during the week.
    So for maintaining a profitable business it's better to have business & shooting hours that overlap day and night hours and that is only closed on weekdays.
    My photography business (studio) was open from 10 am to 8 pm, and only closed on Tuesday because lots of people have Sunday/Monday off.
    I did on location shoots but I tried to schedule those in the morning hours when the wind, temperature, humidity, light direction and quality were usually amenable to doing photography outside. Having my business in southern Arizona helped a great deal too - little rain, no snow, etc.
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  5. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,093
    Likes Received:
    369
    Location:
    Crystal River, Florida
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Knowing your cost to do business plus a reasonable profit is only one half of the equation. The other half is what is the customer willing to pay. If there is no profit then you can either decrease your costs, increase your services so they will pay more or revamp the business.
    A Business Plan will help you to do this.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    40,028
    Likes Received:
    15,012
    Location:
    USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    And a business plan is not, "Let's start a business takin' pitchers, and make a lotta' money by selling them!"
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  7. Aedai

    Aedai No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Montana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    This is why I always come here first before plunging - you all always question everything. And it makes me think and it helps me more than any of you could know! My plan above was to state where I'm starting at to start building - however I didn't mention a lot of what I already have. I have literally been studying the business side of photography for a year (not seriously just retaining information here and there) so I'm probably more prepared than most people starting out. I didn't want to be "that" Photographer that assumes taking photos is a "shoot and print" situation. It's art, it's work, and it's not all snap snap snap. (I learned my mistake years ago when I had an amateur take my senior pictures - nearly got killed on some train tracks and the end results were not worth it at all) which is where my interest in Photography began. BUT it's all new to me and I need people to question me so I can prove to myself (and maybe you all) that I have what it takes.

    1) Taxes, License, and Insurance - Licence and Insurance - yes, taxes I hadn't even thought about but that will be what I focus on next, although this is not something I'm familiar with so
    2) Contracts and releases are up and going but no, I had not had them looked over, and I didn't realize that was important to do but I can definitely see why.
    3) Outdoors only - in my clients home - because, point blank, I can't afford to rent a studio at this point in time and my home is not suitable for a studio. I'm actually doing a lot in my life right now - I'm days away from leaving my retail job and starting to work at a bank. Photography will be part-time for me. Late afternoon, evening, nights, and all weekend. A studio is what I want to work up to, as well as full time Photography and Design, but it's not possible at this time and maybe not possible for a few years when I expect to move.
    4) After looking at my competition, which for my area I really don't have much, there is a Photographer that specializes in weddings, one that specializes in newborns, and the rest are just not great at all and not one of them does composites (besides the newborn but she does composites for safety reasons obviously). I've been using (and abusing probably) Photoshop since I was 12. I posted once a photo of my daughter in an outfit that I had photoshopped to look like she was Elsa (and this was a couple years ago so it was good but not as good as what I can do now) and had people offering to pay me to do the same thing with their kids. I think I can use this to my advantage. I also design logos, flyers, business cards, etc. and have at a local copy and print studio but it's not the line of work I enjoy. Obviously it won't be my only selling point but I do think it'll help drive sales.

    So, am I just absolutely crazy? Is the plunge still too far off for me? I want honest opinions - and advice. My long term goal is to be a full time Photographer in about 4 years time. In that 4 years I want to have a studio in 2 years or less. Would it be more reasonable for me to pay off my unrelated debt first and then take the plunge?

    I'm confident in my photography skills but I have never ran or managed a business. I've run a corporate owned store (retail) but this is different on so many levels.
     
  8. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2012
    Messages:
    16,086
    Likes Received:
    4,028
    Location:
    Iowa
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Yes.

    If you have any income at all, pay off debt, and start saving up to cover expenses while you're getting your business up and running.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
    6,279
    Likes Received:
    1,826
    Location:
    US
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit


    I'd be getting debt paid off first, but that's me. If someone's already in a hole I don't see them getting out of it easily by going into business for themselves. (Have you ever seen any of those bar/restaurant rescue shows? oh boy, those people are hundreds of thousands in debt...).

    Get on American Society of Media Photographers - Homepage or PPA for info. from pro photographers organizations on licensing usage, contracts, etc. etc. etc. ASMP has webinars too. From what you've described you still have a lot to learn and work on.

    I'd be looking into insurance too. If you are taking responsibility for setting up shoots 'out there somewhere' it's going to be on you if anything happens. Maybe family/kids could be your potential market. But full time in 2 years? or even 4?? I don't know... it seems to take time to build up a reputation. You also have to consider providing your own benefits, your own retirement and workers' comp and insurance, etc. etc. You never think you'll need it but I experienced the unexpected and thank goodness I had decent benefits and coverage (and from my full time career, not photography - that's been dabbling on the side, doing my own thing I can do what I want and enjoy it).

    The only photographers I know locally have done it as a sideline. Jobs in media in general in my area started dwindling years ago. Maybe things will be on the upswing one day for creative work but these days it doesn't seem lucrative as full time work.
     

Share This Page