Hi Folks and a Very Happy New Year to you all. First of all I would like to thank all of you who have liked, followed and commented on my blog entries over the last twelve months. Your visits and comments are much appreciated.
I was not really sure what and when to post this entry, so after a bit of thinking I thought I would share a few thoughts of what I have learnt and where I am going with my photography business in 2013 and beyond.
2012 marked 3 years since I made the decision to pursue my love of photography as a serious business. Within these three years I have made mistakes, and learnt some very (in my opinion) important lessons.
Instead of listing the errors of my ways I shall share with you the lessons which I have learnt.
Identify your style and niche! This was my first lesson. In the business’ infancy I was not sure where I was going with the photography. Am I a wedding photographer, wedding and portrait photographer, portrait photographer, promo photographer etc, etc… So I guess dipping my toe in different styles did help me identify what I wanted to follow and specialise in. Not only that but by following other photographers and studying their styles I was able to experiment with my shooting and develop a style that is unique to me. Therefore, I consider myself as a portrait photographer specialising in actors’ headshots and promotional images. A bit of a mouthful, I know, but that is where my strengths are.
Once bitten twice shy! There can only be so many TFP (Time For Print), or free, sessions that you can offer. Naturally you will need to do a number of free sessions in order to build up a portfolio, as nobody will hire you on blind faith. However, I have found that there are those who will always expect a freebie!
A couple of years ago I was approached by someone to help put together a portfolio for both them and myself, which was great! Both of us got some very good images which were used in our portfolios. We did this on a number of occasions. However, I was approached by this same person asking me to help them with some promotional images and as I worked with them before thought it would be a great idea. In the responding e-mail I explained that this would be a charged shoot, albeit at a discounted rate (mates’ rates). I got a response from them saying ok, and how much. So I sent them a very reasonable quote and was told that it was perfect! Then silence….. No e-mails, no responses to my messages, or calls. Then one day I saw that they had new images on their social media sites. So I looked at the photographer’s details and having gooogled them found their blog and twitter. Having read through their recent posts saw that they were ‘new’ to the business of photography and were looking for TFP clients. Two weeks after that post the fresh images popped up.
Now I am offering limited TFP shoots with people I have not worked with before. This allows me to keep my models on my site/blog fresh as well as learn to work with different people, identify fresh approaches and ideas, and challenge my photographic, people and creative skills.
Work with people that you want to work with. What do I mean by this? Well, reduce your client list and concentrate on the long game. Nurture the clients you work with best and have the best rapport with. I have noticed that the best images that I have come out with (and this is not my opinion, but that of an esteemed Getty Photographer) are those of people I have a great rapport with. By having a great rapport relaxes your subject and this is conveyed onto the film/sensor – and your pictures are better for it. Potential clients will see these images and say that they want to work with you as you can bring the best out of them.
The stock market! I don’t mean the financial stock market, but stock photography. This is something that was introduced to me by friend and fellow photographer, Nick Stubbs. All I will say that this is a passive income, and despite the reasons why not to go into stock, money can and will be made. People want and need images, and they are always looking for something fresh and new… Of you would like to find out more about stock, I would highly recommend this book which I have read from cover to cover – click here.
Following on from Lesson 4 about stock photography one of the best bits of advice I have been given is to take your camera everywhere with you and practice, practice, practice. Put it this way, a body builder does not just show up to compete for Mr Universe without having been to the gym everyday.
Use a tripod for pretty much every shoot. This is something that I read about and not really done until a recent studio shoot. Not only did this ensure sharper images, but also carried the weight of the camera and allowed me to focus on interacting with my subject.
Invest in your training! There are loads of training sources out there, but the best in my opinion is to be found here. I cannot explain how much I have learnt as well as having a back catalogue of historic issues of photoshop User for reference. Another investment I would make is Practical Photoshop magazine. Get it and you will see why for yourself. In my opinion it has some of the best photoshop teachers there are with some great images to inspire you with as well as guide you through how they created them.
Think Inbound Marketing. I invested in the book Inbound Marketing and could not believe how investing a little time each day would result in a steady stream of traffic to your blog/site etc.
Never take constructive feedback personally and always take account of what is being said. Basically, it is very important to get feedback from other photographers and friends alike. There have been times where I have posted an image onto social media thinking that this was the best image on line, ever, only to be told that there were areas of development. Initially being a little gutted, I would give it about a day and look at the image again. Then I would see where I had gone wrong! (A lot of the time it was due to the monitor not being calibrated, and hence I invested in a calibrator!)
Don’t forget to follow other blogs and comment on them. If the picture is great then say so and why. If you don’t think that it is, then say so AND why! Don’t just be negative for the sake of it. Photography is an art form and it will attract the critics. By being constructive it will give you credibility as well as respect in my opinion. And don’t forget people will click to your site/blog as they want to see your work, too. More click, more visits and potential followers, too.
So in a nutshell, a good few lessons that I have identified this year. I am sure that if I practice what I preach all will be well for 2013 and beyond.
If you have any thoughts on what I have written, please use the comments section below and leave your thoughts.
I look forward to sharing more entries with you in 2013!