At the beginning of February, I decided I was driven on the idea of starting a photography business, I’ve been working on the website, a limited advertising campaign (free of charge, I’ll share more on that later on in the post), to try and get an idea on how hard or easy this was going to be.
Just so you are aware, I have no previous experience as a professional photographer, I have never made income from photography and I have never photographed strangers, so this is a trial and error quest for me. I do work full time as a Commercial Demolition operator and photography for me is at best, an amateur venture in life, and has been for many years.
I don’t believe I could make it as a full-time photographer over night, experience alone is the main reason for my doubts. Sure we can all create some good shots, but so can anyone, especially with a little advice and guidance (Youtube?). The reality is, we need practice more often than once a week or month to get the skills and confidence required to be a great photographer that always produces stunning work.
Developing a Photography Business Foundation
Here is a game plan I laid out for myself, it’s not a full game plan, but it is the basic foundation of my own photography business:
- Own a camera and equipment
- Establish a portfolio to share my work
- Incorporate a way for people to contact and schedule work with me
- Find ways to contact potential leads
- Generate Customers from previous clients
OK So this seems pretty straight forward, for anyone who is working full time in a regular job and doesn’t have access to a computer on a daily basis could easily get this foundation completed in under a week, minus the camera and equipment, but I’m going to just assume you already own a camera for now, and if you don’t, you can easily find yourself an inexpensive camera online and still produce amazing work. Just know that it’s not the more you spend on a camera the better your pictures will be, that’s the biggest lie in photography, period.
Having a camera is essential, you don’t need a bag full of goodies and gadgets, although I have some other equipment, I will be focusing my photography business start up with just my D810 with one lens, a 28mm – 300mm along with an off-camera flash and an umbrella (not required to begin), and in some cases, a grey muslin backdrop, these things I already own so it will be part of my initial setup.
Establish a portfolio to share my work
This is essential, think about buying a car, do you buy one from a dealer without ever looking the vehicle? I set one up through 500px for the time being. 500px already has website templates, all I had to do was add my own photos and select which go into the portfolio, that way people can see other work I have done.
Here is my portfolio: http://www.leecravenphotography.com
Incorporate a way for people to contact and schedule work with me
Trying to get my business launched with very little financial support (the goal is to make money, not spend it) I decided to start off with a Facebook page, the reason being is that I already have friends and family on Facebook who can join my page. They can help share my work and in return, it helps people to have a sense of trust from the start. People actually know me and know of the work I have produced in the past. So I went ahead and setup a page to share my portfolio and some of my work.
The other nice thing is I can advertise on Facebook for free in reality. I have a few ideas to get free photos for my portfolio a few different ways, one being that I could post date ranges where I offer ‘Free family photos this upcoming weekend’ – This would be TFP work (Time for print) which basically allows the client to get photo’s for free and in return I get to share that work in my portfolio under a contract they sign (basically a release form saying I get to share their photos online within my business website(s).
My Facebook business page: https://www.facebook.com/leecravenphotography
Find ways to contact potential leads
This is very much a work in progress still – Currently I have used www.modelmayhem.com to contact local models for TFP work. Eventually I can offer paid work, which has a much better chance of financial gain. Just make sure you do your research and be safe and cautious when you’re contacting people and meeting up etc.
The most important thing about chasing work is you gain experience. If you shoot any models with the experience they will already know what they need to do, just absorb things like a sponge, and over time you will understand the routine and be able to plan your shoots accordingly.
Generate Customers from previous clients
The main focus here is to try to get more clients from previous clients, have them share their photos online, Facebook, Google + and Twitter etc, Ask if they wouldn’t mind putting a link to your Facebook page and/or portfolio. This is a great way to jumpstart your business, maybe offer a small discount, or a couple of free photos, something to bring clients to your business over others.
One more thing, don’t be afraid to explain to people that you are new to the business, this will actually work in your favor, they aren’t expecting you to be cracking a whip to stand in a certain way. Be relaxed and more than anything, have fun doing the shoot. Always take many shots of the same composition, that way you will have a couple of shots from each composition everyone will be happy with.
Good luck with your photography business, and if you have any other tips and pointers, please share them in the comments, even a link to your own photography business/website etc.