In a world where even amateurs are accepted in most situations, what chance does a professional have in making a success of their business? I’m referring to the field of photography where anyone who owns a digital camera thinks they’re in business because they have the equipment and the enthusiasm. The reality, however, is far from easy – if you want to make a success of your photography business, here’s what you need to know:
Talent alone is not enough
Tasting commercial success as a photographer means you must know how to sell the pictures you take. You may have the best technique in the business and know how to produce stunning photographs, but if you’re stuck with your entire collection at the end of the day without having sold even one, there’s really no use in trying to use your talent to go into business in photography. You need to be a salesman and a good businessman as well as a photographer, and if you lack the skills needed for the former profession, you’re going to need someone to help sell your photographs for you.
You need persistence and patience
It’s not easy to break into the business of photography because the well-paying jobs are few and far between and the ones that are available are already taken. So you need to wait for your opportunity before you’re able to cash in; very often, photographers choose to freelance until they’re able to get regular business. On the bright side however, it takes just one good assignment to turn your fortunes around; once people start talking about your work, you’re going to be in great demand. But until then, you need to be patient and persistent.
You must customize your craft
Not every photograph you take is the same, even if they are of the same subject. To make it as a successful photographer, you have to know what your clients want and deliver accordingly. And for this, you need to know your clients and what they want out of this assignment. Very often, you have to be able to communicate well and understand their needs without them being explicitly communicated to you.
In general, besides an exceptional amount of talent, you need a good business sense and great people skills if you want to make a success of your photography business.
Simon was one of the first people I followed on Twitter. When I learned that he was producing a book about his photographic safari in Kenya, I was fascinated, partly because I was fortunate to spend two days on Safari in Kenya myself a couple of years ago.
I asked Simon if he would share a little of the experience with us and he has kindly agreed.
The idea for the book was spawned from wishing to record what is, for many, a once in a lifetime experience – a safari holiday in Kenya. I’m a semi-pro photographer, so I would be taking huge numbers of photographs and I was sure I’d have enough to make a reasonable photobook for myself. I’d invested in a netbook so that I had a low-cost way of copying images from memory cards and it proved to be ideal for note-taking too, so each day I would sit by the lodge pool and write up a few notes. I soon had enough notes to make a small book without photographs and so the idea evolved.
John Henshall, the internationally acclaimed, and often outspoken, digital imaging guru, has been awarded a Master of Arts Honorary degree by the University for the Creative Arts, for his ‘profound influence,’ in the development of digital photography technologies over the past twenty years.
Oxfordshire-based Henshall, a former British Institute of Professional Photography President, who has Fellowships with five key photo-bodies, was the first photographer consultant in the UK to predict that the use of the ‘pixel’ would ultimately lead to the decline of the photo-chemical industry.
Wedding photography is something I have a great deal of interest in and a huge amount of respect for those who practice it well.
Part of the reason for this is that the very idea of it scares me. I see some of the results some photographers achieve and I wish I could do the same.
So I have been working on some ideas for a series of articles all centred around this time of year, with it being wedding season and, therefore, wedding photography season. Perhaps I can learn enough to finally overcome my demons and give it a go.
So far I have begun conversations with a couple of local photographers with a view to learning about their different approaches and styles, and I have also been trying to find a wedding photographer making use of the video capabilities of recent DSLRs (I’m hearing them called “VSLR” now).
This article is really a request to anyone out there who could make a contribution to this series. I really need to find someone using a video DSLR (as already mentioned). I would also be interested in any wedding photographers doing anything really unusual – that sounds all wrong, but I can’t think of a better way to put it. If you have anything you feel would be helpful, please add a comment to this article, email me via the contact form (sorry, had to remove my address as it was getting harvested!) or you can send a direct message through Twitter, if that is your thing.
I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes us.
So, I made this new friend, Jack. Only I haven’t known him long enough to have learned enough to really tell you much about him. He’s obsessed with photography, he’s into harnessing the Internet to drive business and he’s into photography for stock.
Oh, and he has arranged this amazing trip from Rome to Venice aboard a magnificent clipper, where the only things to do are take photographs or talk photography and he has kindly invited me along. When I say “invited me” I mean he has a number of places to fill and I could go if I could only get the PIN number to our savings account away from my wife.
Words such as “awesome” and “genius” are, in my opinion, used a little too freely. So I have given much careful consideration before using the word “genius” to describe Philip Townsend. For the moment you are going to have to trust me on this, but I intend to back it up – the man is pure genius!
As a child of the Sixties and the youngest of four siblings, I recognize many of Philip’s images and recall the excitement they brought about; my sister going all dizzy over The Beatles; my elder brothers getting all rebellious and growing their hair like the Rolling Stones. Having been fortunate enough to be invited to the launch party of Philip’s new book “Sorry You Missed the Sixties” at the Photographers Lounge in Swanage, I relished the opportunity to study some of these original prints up close. I spent a lot of time (and money!) honing my own darkroom skills, but it still gives me the shivers to see the product of a true master.