My Two Cents

i am often contacted by student and amateur portrait photographers, seeking my advice to help take their passion for photography to the next level and start a business. unfortunately, i don’t have time to reply to everyone in great detail, so i thought i would share my thoughts here for those interested in what i have learned (so far) during my journey as a freelance photographer and entrepreneur.

first off, i must admit that i’m a huge believer in taking a risk and just ‘going for’ what you are passionate about, in every aspect of life.

i believe, “only when we are true to who we are, are good to ourselves and those around us, work hard (and smart) to find that perfect balance, we have the ability to create the happiest and most satisfying life for ourselves.” put the good stuff out there and it will come back to you, ten fold.

that being said, starting your own business can be a bigger struggle than it looks. but if you’re willing to put in the time to make it grow, it is absolutely worth it!

do you know how lucky i feel that i can list ‘playing with puppies’ and ‘hang out at awesome concerts’ as some of my job descriptions? it’s indescribable the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction to know that i am living my dream. i am doing something i am extremely passionate about. to know that it didn’t just happen overnight, gives me even a greater sense of pride.

in regards to starting a business, there are so many things to consider. but here is a list of my top advice (in no particular order) for those considering jumping into the business of (portrait) photography:

 

1. LEARN YOUR CRAFT. with the digital age exploding, the industry is flooded with people who buy a professional camera, slap a website together and start a businesses when they simply aren’t ready. unless you can produce technically perfect images (master lighting, focus, composition, post production, etc…) please do not charge for your services. build up a portfolio first. practice, practice, practice…and then practice some more. even when you become a professional…keep practising. the number of things we can learn in this world is infinite…be open to it.

2. BE AUTHENTIC. instead of looking at what all of your peers and competition are doing all of the time, do your own thing and your unique style will emerge on it’s own over time. always photograph what you love instead of what the trending niche is.

3. FIND INSPIRATION EVERYWHERE. you will be surprised how many places you can find inspiration that sparks your creativity. surround yourself with all of the things that you love. don’t force it…it will come.

4. CONNECT WITH YOUR SUBJECT. whether it’s a rockstar or a slobbery dog, spend time getting to know who you are photographing. our ability to form relationships as humans is what sets us apart. i admit that i fall in love (platonically of coarse) with every single subject that i see in front of my lens.

5. GET IN FRONT OF THE LENS. i think every portrait photographer should know what it is like to be photographed, in order to further connect with our subjects. you don’t have to go to the extreme as i have done, but try your hand at self-portraits or practice with your fellow photographers.

6. PUT A BUSINESS PLAN TOGETHER. the shooting is the fun part and unfortunately really only makes up for about 10% of how we spend our time. the rest is all business, from marketing to accounting and everything else in-between. there are many resources out there for small businesses, so use them. you are not alone.

7. MAKE FRIENDS. surround yourself with like-minded people…fellow artists and small business owners. working for and by yourself can be challenging, so having a support group of people who understand what you go through is key to your sanity.

8. LOSE YOUR FEAR. this one might take time, but when it happens you will be amazed at the positive shift. have confidence in yourself and your abilities and put yourself out there. don’t be afraid to make a mistake. my philosophy is that “it never hurts to ask.” let the “NO”s slide off. concentrate on the “YES”es and witness the laws of attraction working for you (yes, i’m an eternal optimist).

9. ONE TASK AT A TIME. unless you can afford to take on help, when you start a photography business you are the entrepreneur, the manager as well as the technician (check out this ‘must read’). that is simply too many jobs for one person to handle and it can be over-whelming at times. concentrate on the most important tasks first. take it one task at a time…you’ll get there.

10. DON’T GIVE UP. nobody rolls out of bed and becomes an overnight success. many of us work for several years before we start to see any results at all. the ones that persevere are the ones that will eventually succeed.

to sum up, no matter what my advice is, take it for what it’s worth to you. believe me when i tell you, you’re going to figure it out on your own eventually…and that’s when it will be the most satisfying. i still look forward to every new “A-HA!” moment that i experience.

best of luck to you!

marcia

One comment on “My Two Cents”

  1. As someone who once tried to sell her photography, I can say that this is excellent advice, Marcia! You certainly know what you’re talking about!

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