The photography business is a very lucrative venture with novice photographers being able to charge at least US$50 an hour and expert photographers being worth as high as at least US$500 per hour. The photography industry is huge with the USA alone boasting of US$10 billion in annual revenues. As much as photography can be fun and all do not let that fool you. Most photographers have ultimately realized that photography accounts for just 1 tenth of the whole photography business. The other 9 tenths is the business side so that tells you that the photography is a much lesser component when it comes to running a lucrative photography business. This means that you must be well-versed with the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.
Photography is a very broad field so you have got to define the type of photographer you want to be. Some people love to photograph people, some like landscapes whilst other focus on animals – the list is endless. So an honest look at yourself with respect to the types of things you love to photograph must be your first stop. Then you must also assess yourself and establish which working conditions you prefer i.e. working around people or working in solitary. This will help inform the ultimate approaches you will adopt in your photography business.
The other thing you must look at is your schedule so as to ascertain how available you are. You intended income stream(s) will also determine how you will approach your business. For instance, conducting photography courses can be an income stream whereas charging people for photo-shoots can also be an income stream. The most common approach is to take photos as per customer needs. It can be for individuals or for specific events such as weddings, corporate events and so on.
This approach is common and also serves as a pedestal for further exploration into other areas. This means someone can start off that way but along the way they can realize that photo journalism, for example, is being more profitable for them and they specialize in that. So it is recommended that as a photographer you start off by taking photos as per clients’ needs then you find out your profitable niche along the way.
Depending on your approach you might need to have a photo studio. This will be important if you offer indoor photo-shoot services. If not, then any other types of photography can be done from home. There is a practical piece of advice usually offered to photographers who are starting out. Build a collection of samples that showcase your handiwork that you will use to market yourself. You can easily do this by first taking photos for free – friends and family can be a good place start. Those photos can end up constituting your online marketing campaigns, things like physical fliers or posters and even photos for your website.
Marketing research is always important and must be done thoroughly. The good thing is that there are already many existing players in the photography business. Take time to study their businesses with respect to the services they offer, their pricing regimes, their marketing strategies and other related details that can help you take off. It’s a good thing to have a detailed photography business plan.
Make Sure You Have A Comprehensive Photography Business Plan
The failure to plan is the beginning of business failure. The photography business plan must be clear and succinct enough to give your potential partners, clients and investors an overview of what your objectives are. At the same time, it must be detailed enough to explain the operations of the business that you propose. At the very minimum you need to have the following included in your photography business plan:
- The mission, vision and operational strategy
- Market Analysis And Customer Segmentation
- A business case showing that the business is financial viable and sustainable
- A marketing and customer care plan
- An organizational chart and human resource policy
- A three-year expansion outlook
- A risk and rewards Analysis
Location And Premises
The issue of location and premises might not apply to every photographer. This is so because most photographers operate from home because they shoot on location. Location and premises might matter if one has decided to set up a photo studio. The location of such is most convenient in an area characterised by high human and vehicle traffic for easy visibility. The premises must be spacious, have sufficient privacy and be air-conditioned.
Some of the equipment necessary for a photography business is cameras, camera bags, tripods, lighting equipment, backdrops, props, flashes, lenses and drones. Processing and storage equipment such as photo printers, scanners, external hard drives, memory sticks, laptops or desktops will be necessary. Editing software is also an essential tool required in a photography business. Advanced photography gear tends to be expensive so you must not stress yourself from the onset. The best thing to do is to start small and slowly acquire the high-end gear as the business grows. This is because it will be pointless to purchase extremely expensive lenses whose cost will not be easily recouped from revenue realized from your business. While it is good to have advanced equipment, do not rush into it if the funds are not there yet.
Staff And Management
This really just depends on the scale of operations and the type and range of services offered. In the majority of cases photographers operate solo and actually cover all the business needs from operational to administrative and management themselves. Wherever possible, outsourcing can be done when riding solo and all that entails much lower overhead costs.
The photography business thrives on referrals borne out of satisfied clients amongst other things. So you must invest into excellent work and exceptional customer service. Some experienced photographers even say that they focus more (even solely) on cultivating a culture of referrals because they really pay off. So it is quite expedient to do that and it can be achieved without any cost by simply developing symbiotic relationships with customers. The piece of advice professional photographers give out there is that it is important for photographers to collaborate. As much as competition is there it is important to work together as at one point you might need help from a fellow photographer.