Questions about turning photography in full-time career

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by JH100, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. JH100

    JH100 TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    I really enjoy photography and while I know I have ways to go before I could start a business, I think that it might be something I'd enjoy doing professionally. I have some questions about it, though:

    Is it extremely difficult to break into this field? There seem to be a lot more photographers now since DSLRs are really accessible. How difficult is it to maintain a steady income?

    About how much equipment is necessary to be well-equipped? Are there any other considerations that I am missing?

    Thanks in advance.


     
  2. cmra8407

    cmra8407 TPF Noob!

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  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Apparently it's not difficult at all. Many people have the price of a DSLR, and have proclaimed themselves "professional" photographers. They're all over the place.

    That's the hard part, and the part at which many newbies fail. They fail for a variety of reasons, some of which can be corrected.

    The equipment that is required will range in scope and cost, depending on what type of photography you specialize in.

    What you (and many others) are missing is that you have to be able to run a small business.

    Besides that, being a good photographer always helps.
     
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  4. JH100

    JH100 TPF Noob!

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    That's the hard part, and the part at which many newbies fail. They fail for a variety of reasons, some of which can be corrected.


    I guess that is what I was looking for...what are the common pitfalls made? To answer the first quoted question, I just need to educate myself on small business ownership?
     
  5. cmra8407

    cmra8407 TPF Noob!

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  6. FotosbyMike

    FotosbyMike No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not thinking of all the costs involved, camera bodies, lenses, strobes(min. of 2-3), stands, backdrops, rentals, insurance, marketing(not Facebook), travel, rentals, taxes, software, PCs, storage/backups...etc.

    One of the biggest failing points is thinking a full time pro shots all day, this is a small business first not photography. Must successful photographers shot photos 5-10%, 10-20% editing, and other 60ish% is marketing, answering emails, cold calls, finding clients, reaching, paying bills, cleaning, maintaining equipment(not having a camera body/lens unless you have an extra one), updating website/portfolio.

    Good luck.
     
  7. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    People never seem to totally understand how a business makes money.
    but if you simply ask yourself what you currently do to make money? If you work for someone think of how they make money.

    Do they own/rent a building? Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    Do they pay utilities? Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    Do they pay any medical insurance stuff? Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    Do they pay for new equipment? Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    Do they pay your a salary? Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    They pay state and federal taxes ... Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    The pay unemployment taxes .. Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    Do they have a website .. Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.
    Do they want any profit? Then they need to have that cost built into their billables.

    All those costs (and profit) are built into how much they charge someone.
    If you don't cover all of your expenses, such as doing the Craigslist $99 wedding photographers, then they are normally missing a large part of their expenditures and only charging a "work fee".

    After a while they want a better lens so they start charging more as most of their expenses are compensated by some other job income.

    This is the same whether you work for McDonalds, an engineering company, a school, trash hauling business, landscaping, mowing lawns, or any other job you can think of.

    But new businesses have to compete against existing businesses.
    Photography is one where many people get their first "real" camera for Christmas. Are supported by family and friends of how "good" their pictures are on social media and then are urging on to go into business, where they find out people actually critique their work based on quality and consistency and comparatively to other photographers.

    One key is knowing what skills you lack and having the resources to improve your abilities.
    The better you are, the more you can have a steady income.
    The better you are generally the better equipment you have either in the original image or post processing, or both.

    Without really specific information about the demographics of your area, your current skill level and equipment, the local competition, etc it's hard to say how hard it is to break into "photography".
    Weddings?
    Sports?
    Business Portraiture?
    Family Portraiture?
    Fashion?
    Do you live near a large cosmopolitan city? Or the middle of nowhere? This would help identify how far you have to travel to get into, possibly, high paying jobs.

    Then how are you are selling yourself and your skills?
    Do you show up in a clunker car and wearing a T-Shirt and talk badly? Or show up ready to work?

    But then most people just jump into it and charge some low flat fee to get their "foot in the door"
     
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  8. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Simply put, you have to make a profit. You need to get a handle on your cost of doing business, including overhead and profit, keep the customers coming in, and the cash flow positive.

    Even if you were a prodigy at photography, you would still need to turn a profit or go out of business.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  9. theshortwhiteguy

    theshortwhiteguy TPF Noob!

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    When I started shooting for pay 30+ years ago, I was taught by an old curmudgeon photog that 90% of what we do is business, 10% might be photography. Was he right! Of course, he followed it with photography is the #2 most failed business in the world. I'm not sure if that last one is correct, but photography has a lot of bad business people, and digital has made it worse.

    You can rely on all the Facebook marketing, website traffic stats, tweets, social media interactions, but at the end of the day, if you are not willing to network or even pick up a phone to make a sales pitch, I would consider sticking with your current line of work. It took me a decade or so of part-time shooting for pay after coming out of the one of the top schools in photography - I slogged it out in several different industry's, learning sales and being a business owner. If it weren't for that previous experience, I might not have been able to last these 15+ years as a full time professional photographer.
     
  10. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Being a great businessman is more important for your success than being a great photographer.
     
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  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Yep. Gary A. hit the nail on the head.
    The #1 reason they fail is that they lack business skills (marketing, salesmanship, accounting, cash flow management, etc) and the business never makes enough money for them to live on, let alone to keep the business open.

    Step #1 is to produce a well researched, written business plan. That's how one determines if there is a sufficient market to warrant starting up a new business.
    Step #2 is to make sure you have sufficient capital ($$$$$$) to live on the 2 to 5 years it takes before the business makes enough money you can afford to pay yourself a salary or wage.

    Historically only 15% (15 out of 100) of all new businesses survive beyond their 2nd year of being in business. Then only 15% of those 15 that do survive - 2.25 out of 15 - survive through their 5th year.
    In other words - only 2 out of 100 (2%) are still around at the beginning of year 6.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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  12. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    "A BUSINESS PLAN!!!!!!!!"
    So many folks think a Business Plan is unnecessary and a waste of time BUT, the Plan answers all the questions if done correctly. Some successful people will say they "didn't need no stinkin plan" BUT they did.
    If asked, it soon becomes apparent that they knew the questions and the answers to complete the plan - just didn't put it in a formal plan.
     
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