Just as you make mistakes and learn from your experiences as a budding photographer, those who have been in business a few years are just as susceptible to errors in business.
There are different stages of a photography business, and while you may think a steady client stream and getting by on taking photos is going to be all you need, don't you want more? I photographed my first wedding in 2010.
A lot has happened in five years, and I feel like I've experienced every ride on the business owner rollercoaster possible up until this point. Sadness (why isn't anyone booking us?) Elation (we just booked our top package and the clients are amazing!) Frustration (why isn't that clone stamp working?
Oh - seems it was speck of dust on the monitor) Depression (this is never going to work) Envy (that photographer is getting so much work, what are we doing wrong?) Inspiration (let's try this - I don't think it's been done before) Burnout (if I have to edit one more image I'm going to cry) As business ebbs and flows, as we take steps backward and inch forward, we make mistakes. Here are three mistakes some full time photographers make.
1. We Blame The Beginners
Maybe you've heard it, maybe you've said it: the photographer in my area is charging $70 for a session with all digital files! What?! How DARE they undercut us!? How DARE they bring shame to a dying industry? We have to work hard to put food on the table so how DARE they take it away from us? If you've ever found yourself muttering those phrases (or agreed with someone else who has muttered them), I got three words for you: get over it. In 2008 I charged $35 for a portrait session with all the digital files included.
My heart swelled with pride when a woman from our area messaged me on Facebook saying, "Finally! A photographer here who doesn't charge an arm and a leg!" In this portfolio-building stage, I photographed anything that moved. Dogs, humans, dogs and humans, real estate, and I charged close to nothing. I remember thinking, should I be raising this to $50?! No, I couldn't possibly. Was I a threat to my competition? Doubtful.
The photos I took were definitely $35 quality. I had no concept of how to use my camera, no insurance, no contracts, just pretty flyers I posted around the local university. The clients booking me for $35 would likely never consider a family portrait for $650. Stop blaming those beginners for destroying the industry, and think of them more as a filter. Did you start out charging what you do? I bet not! There's a market for everyone. Move on and improve your work instead. Stop moaning to other photographers on social media and SHOW people the difference between the $35 tog and your high end product.
2. We Get Comfortable and Limit Ourselves
When clients are constantly inquiring and your calendar is full, it's easy to settle in to a comfort zone. You shoot amazing family portraits and that's what you're known for; however, you find yourself looking through each image with an empty heart, not wanting to edit, feeling tired and run down. You feel comfortable offering family portraits but have always wanted to try something else.
Maybe you want to start baking cookies instead and have dreams of opening a bakery one day. My biggest advice would be to work on what you do best, but also have a little side project. Make time, even if it's 15 minutes each day, to write down in a journal what you envision for your next big project. Maybe you realize creating artisan treats is your second calling, or maybe you find a new found respect for the work you currently do.
Maybe you'll look back on the journal entry in two years and say seriously, I thought I'd have time to bake cookies? Whatever it is, take time out each day to put pen to paper and jump out of your comfort zone, and never allow yourself to settle for something that doesn't regularly inject inspiration in to your life.
3. We Don't Devote Enough Time to Social Media and Blogging
With all the Facebook algorithm changes that have taken place, it's easy to lose heart and think all is lost with social media. Maybe you only have 100 Instagram followers so you stop posting because you think no one is listening. WRONG. ATTITUDE. TO HAVE. You may be thinking, I don't need social media because I have enough word-of-mouth referrals. For every referral you get, you may be missing out on two more because they see you don't post regularly on social media or your blog. I know that when I see a blog that hasn't been updated in two or three weeks I don't think too highly of the business.
Even if you talk about the toast you made for breakfast, keep blogging and posting so there is constantly something for your fans to look at. Learn how to utilize hash tags or create competitions and giveaways to gain more followers. Social media is largely a free resource for advertising and even if you don't see bookings as a direct result of your hashtaggin' efforts, you will look current and busy and that is really, really important. So - journal, business planner, new ideas - don't fall in to a rut, get out there and create something wonderful! I recommend a cup of coffee first. Post by: Shawn Ravazzano - Love & Water Photography