I am so excited to start this new blog series and share what I have learned over the past several years with you! Every couple of weeks I will be dissecting different areas of photography…..all based on what YOU want to know! So…please send in your questions! I would love to help 🙂
Volume #1 – Starting Your Photography Business!
Question From: Stacey R.
Hey Kellie! I see your posts on Facebook and love your photography! (She’s so sweet!) I have been researching starting my own business someday and would love any advice on what I should be thinking about right now. I know this is a question with a very long answer, so anything you want to share would be great. I’ve been doing lots of reading and research, learning new things about photography and even taking some classes on photography and Photoshop. Right now it’s just been a hobby, but I would love to be able to turn it into something bigger.
Stacey is totally right…this is a question that receives a super long answer, so I will try my best to shorten and break it down!
Everyone’s journey and experience is different, so all that I have to offer is my own. I am, by no means, an expert on how to start businesses and I definitely do not know the “right” way to do so. I’m sure if I did then I would be a millionaire by now…but that sure isn’t the case! I am probably a thousand-aire at best! So, please, take my advice with a grain of salt….apply what you find valuable to your own way of jumping in….because there is no “right” way!
There are several key steps in starting your own photography business that I would have loved to know well before I learned them!
1 – Learn how to use your equipment: This may seem obvious, but it makes a world of difference to how your images look! Learn how to take photos in full manual mode! Some photographers out there are amazing and don’t shoot in full manual mode, but I am a true believer of learning your craft and learning it right! By knowing how to set your ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, etc….it will enable you to get the results that you want, every time! Start by practicing on friends and family…or your dog…anything! Offer sessions for free…no pressure, just practice time with you and your camera!
2 – Be Yourself and DO NOT compare!: This is easier said than done. When starting to learn photography, you look at every photographer around the globe searching for inspiration and yearning to be just like them someday! I know that I did this….just like so many others do! I even feel like I just started to respect myself as a photographer and actually take myself seriously in the past year or so. It’s a long journey, but you will get there someday if you just stick to it! I can’t even count all the times that I thought “I wish my photos looked like his”, “I could be an amazing photographer if I had her resources”, “I will never be as good as them”. You get the idea…..Negative Nancy! Being yourself is the only thing that you have to differentiate yourself from other photographers. There will always be someone better, someone with better equipment, someone with better locations and more resources, but no matter what they may have….they don’t have YOU!
3 – Build a Brand! : Building a brand is something that I wish I would have put more of an importance on early in my career. I had no idea where I wanted to be and no idea of how to get there! By building a brand it helps clients trust you and recognize you. This is difficult to do when you are still in the early learning stages, but try and decide what it is that you want to photograph. I struggle with this still! I want to photograph everything! Try to pick out what makes you the most happy and what you are best at and focus your efforts there. Build your brand around what it is that you want to photograph to help draw in the right clientele. For me, I “specialize” in wedding and portrait photography with a major emphasis on weddings! It’s just what I love and what I want to focus on. Create a website, logo and design that will help strengthen your name and it’s ability to be recognized. Be consistent with your images….show on your website what you want to photograph and build from there. Create emotion, be inspired, define your target audience, know what you want…and most of all, be uniquely you!
4 – Learn as much as you can! There are so many amazing resources out there for you to learn from. One resource that I personally LOVE is workshops! Small groups interested in learning the same things….what a wonderful idea! They may be costly, but I only wish I would have went to more right from the beginning. I learned SO much at the MJ2Day that I attended in February. If I would have went earlier on in my career then I know I would have been better off. There is so much trial and error involved, but to sit through two days of learning, listening to a successful photographer talk about their mistakes and how to do things right is such a beneficial tool. This is probably my #1 piece of advice….just DO IT! Some other resources for learning are Creative Live, photography forums like Digital Wedding Forums and one on one mentoring sessions!
5 – Accept that it will take time : All of these things that I listed out take time. Have patience and don’t give up. Find a mentor that will help you along the way….and eventually, be a mentor to someone else. You CAN reach your dreams…you just need to know what they are first 🙂
I hope some of this info helped at least one person out there! It’s a long process, but a rewarding one. There is so much more to starting your own business…these are just some areas that stood out to me!
I always think posts need photos…so here are a couple from our January family session in Florida by the amazing Niesha Rose!!