Welcome to my blog! This is where I'll share a little about my recent sessions, my family, thoughts on life and some ideas about portrait photography. Feel free to check back often or make comments. I love to hear from people! For more information e-mail me at info@maggiemalsonphotography.com.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Are you ready? | Photography Business

During the last few years, I've had several people ask me about photography and business. Some just want to take better images; others want to turn their hobby into a business. I am humbled they would ask me for advice. I'm the first to admit I'm no expert, and am constantly trying to learn and improve as an artist and a businesswoman. But, I felt with so many inquiries, I would take some time to share my thoughts on the business side of photography. I've always been an artist and photography has always been a part of my creative nature. Turning what was a hobby into a business was a natural progression for me. I enjoy seeing other people find their niche and succeeding, whatever that niche may be.

First of all, running a profitable photography business is not easy. (And I say profitable because a business is established to make a profit. If that is not the goal, then it is not a business, but a hobby, which is okay too. Photography is a great hobby!) At least in my opinion it is not easy because I have a pretty high level of expectation of myself, the images I produce and the way I want to conduct a business. It's not to say I haven't made mistakes either, but how you handle, learn from and move on from them, makes a huge difference. It's not only about taking pictures for me. In fact, my photography business has nothing to do with "taking pictures." But, that's a whole other post for another day.

One place to start is by asking yourself some questions, and be honest.
• Are you comfortable with your camera, using manual settings and not shooting on Auto?
• Do you understand aperture (f-stop), ISO, and shutter speed, and how they work together to create the exposure of an image?
• Do you understand white balance and how it affects the color in your images?
• Do you know how lighting affects photographs, and how the presence or absence of light is what creates images?
• Are you consistently producing SOOC images that are well composed and correctly exposed images?
• Do you understand how to use editing software to enhance the great SOOC images you've already taken?
• Have you written down a business plan, explaining who your target market it, what kind of products you will offer, how you will model your business, your priorities, pricing, goals, etc.?
• Are you prepared to create an original business name and logo, not similar to anyone in your local, state or regional area?
• Are you prepared to file and obtain proper licenses with the state you do business in? (i.e. Tax ID number, sales permit, etc)?
• Do you know the costs of running your business (i.e. equipment, COGS, insurance, etc.)?
• Are you prepared to price yourself for profit?
• Are you willing to receive both solicited and unsolicited constructive critique of your work?
• Are you willing and able to work well with other people, whether they are clients, employees or other business professionals?

I believe one should always be willing to learn and grow as a photographer. Asking respected professionals for help is a great way to learn. I love receiving honest critique from photographers I respect. While it may sting at first, I've gained helpful knowledge in improving my images, and am challenged to always strive to do my best.

Now, it's not to say this is an exclusive list and it's not to say some successful photographers are not technically great or that excellent photographers are always successful at business. But, by being honest with yourself, you will be better prepared if and when you do decide to start a photography business.

Honestly, everyone is doing it. It's such a cliche' to buy a SLR camera and decide to be a photographer. Yes, taking pictures is fun. It can be addicting. But, there truly is much more to it then that. I was actually using my third SLR camera (I started with film, which I still love) and was on my second DSLR body before I launched my business.

But, if it's really your goal, then by all means make a plan, and work hard to accomplish your goals. You CAN succeed, but being prepared and not rushing into the business side of things before you're ready, will definitely help.

It's also okay if you decide the responsibility of running a profitable photography business is not right for you. Enjoy using your camera. Enjoy learning more about photography and what it takes to capture more than just a picture. Some very talented photographers never start businesses. And some mediocre photographers jump right in, realizing soon after that they just weren't ready.

There are times when I look back and think I wish I would have done things differently. I did some things right, but I also have learned hard lessons along the way. I am more focused as a professional now, and continue to keep raising my standards and expectations of myself. Photography as an art and a business is a constant journey. Good luck on yours!

Here's a great site and resource for all levels of photographers.

15 Tips About Turning Pro

And here's a little Before and After...


Cathy Lewis said...

Great post :-) In my case I always loved photography and always wanted to start a business utilizing it, so when I finally got a DSLR (and at my age..lol) I decided it was now or never! It is NOT as easy as I thought it would be, and I am learning a lot as I go along, mostly on the business/marketing side of things...you know..the "boring stuff". Hopefully folks that read this will take time to get everything in order before venturing into this business!

Sylvia Cook Photography said...

So many of these helpful posts out there. I hope the right people are reading them, to avoid all the mistakes themselves.
People do think it's just s fun easy way to make money, little do they know, lol!

Huong Forrest said...

GREAT post!!! I'm glad you wrote this, thanks!

Kimberly Smith Photography said...

Great post and great tips.

Joncee May said...

Great tips! I think people often start a photography business with out thinking of the BUSINESS part of it! ;)

Danyel Rogers said...

Great advice. Thanks for sharing the business side of the art of photography.

Monica Grimes said...

Great advice - so many people don't understand all that is involved in runing a sucessful business.

ShannonB said...

Great post I hope that many read it before they hang the sign open for business. So much more than a camera and pushing the shutter button.

steve lewis said...

Awesome advice. So many people rush into photography and have no idea about how to make it succeed. It's so much more than taking nice photos. Thanks for posting this.



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