This is the second edition of Sleeklens’ podcast and this particular piece will be addressing how you can start a photography business. This is a really important thing that many people who actually go to photography want to do. They want to start their own photography business and grow it into something that allows them to quit their full-time jobs. There is nothing wrong if you go into photography and you do not want to start your own business. However, a lot of people start out wanting to know the best way to start a photography business.
I will go through a lot of different tips and things to think about as well as the tools you can use. However, make sure to visit Sleeklens website which has a lot of material on how you can start your own photography business. The page has videos and free downloads.
How to start a photography business
The first thing you need to learn or do is to understand photography. You will need to understand the ins and outs of basic photography and exposure. Just because you have a camera that does auto exposure and has green box mode does not mean that we are able to take photos. We actually need to understand how the camera works and how to take photos. There are a lot of beginner photographers out there who think they have the ability to take great portraits or any type of photography for pay just because their friends admire their photos.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed or nervous and therefore it is really to first understand your craft. You need to understand the exposure triangle, understand how gear works and which gear to use for different situations. There is a lot that goes into photography than just pressing a button. This is a no-brainer but really important to understand the very basics when it comes to settings and exposure before you get started.
Getting a photography mentor
The other thing which is very important but many people do not consider it to be important is to get a mentor. If you are a portrait photographer, for example, you will need to contact a few portrait photographers in your field of photography. You can contact a few photographers near your area. It is advisable not to contact those within your area as you will become a competition to each other and this is not a good environment to be in. You can go to the next city or village and find a photographer who is doing exactly what you are doing and ask them whether you can become a second shooter for free. This is to help you go along and see how the process works, how the posing work and what kind of gear they use for different situations. You can also watch to see how they do their edits and how they get certain effects to their photos. This is something that many people do not think about but is especially prominent in wedding photography. Although most of the second shooters on such occasions could be getting paid, you will understand that most of them are just looking for a mentor to follow along and understand how the process works.
Choosing your fun photography niche
The next step goes hand in hand when it comes to finding a mentor. When looking for a mentor, it is important to look for someone within your specific niche of interest. If you want to be a wedding photographer, you will need to find wedding photographers within your area and go along with and see whether that is something you would want to go into. You may find that wedding photography is too stressful and not your thing and decide to switch to something else such as portrait photography or landscapes. Always go along with those within the niche that is fun for you than you think as a business.
Creating a photography business plan
Once you figure out your mentorship and niche, then next step is to create a business plan for yourself. This plan doesn’t have to be extensive but one that gives you the kind of goals you should set. This simple business plan should outline things such as how to re-shoot something like three weddings the whole year. This helps you to fill out things and knowing whether you want to do it and also how your pricing should be. Being the beginning, you aren’t sure what you should be doing exactly but this plan will help you to learn. You can come up with a 5-year plan and maybe decide that you’ll want to be shooting a wedding every month, making it twelve weddings per year. You can also come up with a secondary goal and decide you don’t just want to shoot in weddings along but venture into engagement portraits.
You can also put other small goals you want to include in the plan including things such as the number of social media likes and follows you want to get for your photography. Other things within the plan could be how you intend to stick to your plan all the way until your goals are fully achieved as you go fulltime with your photography.
The right type of photography gear
Next, we have a question which every beginning photographer or even photographers, in general, want to know. This has to do with the right kind of gear to use when shooting a specific type of photography. We will go quickly through a list of options available but you can learn more by checking the full-length article on Sleeklens’ blog page. But mainly what we are talking about has to do with knowing the specific type of gear that you need for your particular niche of photography. If you a portrait photographer and you want to make sure that you have the right camera lens and other accessories. With that, if you are a portrait photographer, you should be thinking of a nice entry level DSLR but if you do not have this already, you can try and see whether you have the right camera combination because you don’t need a wide angle lens as a portrait photographer but you’ll need some sort of nice portrait lens or many be telephoto lens or prime lens. You may also need to think about lighting and if you are doing wedding photography, you might need just what a portrait photographer needs but then add an external flash, a nice replacement for your pop-up flash and stuff like that.
If you are a real estate or landscape photographer most likely you will need a Tripod and a really nice camera which doesn’t have to be super expensive but should at least capture decent quality images. You probably do need a wide-angle lens for these different styles of photography. If you are a sports photographer and want to capture great sporting events, you need a long telephoto to capture good action in your shots and fill the frame a little bit. You can see an example of all the gear we recommend in our full-length article on blog section on Sleeklens’ website.
Starting an online portfolio
Next, we will talk about gathering up your photos and starting your online portfolio. This is a huge step when you want to become a professional photographer. You definitely need an online source for your portfolio. By this, we’re not talking about choosing a social media platform such as Facebook where you put your album therein since this is not really professional. Instead, you should consider your own website which becomes your personal space where people can get all the information about you and understand that you’re somebody they can hire. The website becomes some kind of store where people can go and shop and know you are someone they can hire. If you are going into a field where you don’t already have photos for, it can become a little bit difficult but there are ways to get around it.
If for example, you are planning on becoming a portrait photographer, the best way to get portfolio photos is to use your family and friends. You can ask them to gather somewhere in a park and have them pose for you. You can take photos that mimic engagement photography where two of those present can act as though they are engaged. While this might look like cheating the system, the truth is that it doesn’t matter who the models are but the quality of photos which you are able to capture. Another example will be, let’s say, sports photography. You can go to local high school games or sporting events for a friend and start shooting the action there just to show that you can get these kinds of photos. If you are going to a basketball game or any other event, you can go early and request to be allowed to take some shots so as to build a portfolio. The organizers might allow you or deny you the opportunity. Whichever the case, you should try and get some simple images on different types of styles of photography and there are a lot of ways to do that and you just need to be creative.
When it comes to the website, it is really important to have a very high-quality host. The days of building a website from scratch are almost over and you can get a lot of hosting options out there. WordPress hosting is highly recommended, very popular and free option it comes to photography websites. You will need to pay for hosting and domain name but the actual software that runs the back-end of your website is free. You can learn more about this option from the article as well. There are also other options if you are not familiar with WordPress including SquareSpace, SmugMug, Zenfolio among others and these are worth looking at depending on the style that you want to get into. For example, if you are a wedding or portrait photographer and you don’t want to worry about printing your own images, you can choose SmugMug or Zenfolio as your website service and couples or people who buy your wedding photos or portraits may be able to order them directly off your website. You don’t have to worry about printing them as they are completely ordered off your website, printed and shipped directly to your customers. This is kind of a passive business that would be really good to have so you can worry about shooting and not printing.
When optimizing your website, it is very important to do a number of key things. First of all, you need to choose the best domain name. Most people go for their name plus the word “photography’ and while there is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to be a little bit creative, you can actually generate a lot of SEO traffic (Search Engine Optimization) from your URL. If you are a photographer in New York, you can choose something like .newyorkphotography.com or something that is closely related to that. You can actually go to photographyinnewyork.com. Of course, you can still stick with your name plus the word “photography.com” as part of it but you can get a little bit creative in this just to help generate traffic to your site based on the domain name.
You can also keyword your images before uploading them to your website. Most of the images come off the camera with a generic name but you can rename them to something with keywords. You can use something with the keyword such as -wedding-New-York or something closely related to that just to help generate traffic as well. Simple things like these can help people who are looking for images in Google to find your site and see your work which can help grow your business.
Spreading a word about your business
Spreading the word about your business is very important since marketing is 95% of the battle when it comes to growing your photography business. When seeking to spread the word about your photography business, there are different methods such as printing flyers, postcards, business cards but the main thing you can do to promote your business is to use word of mouth. This is the answer but many people don’t like it when it comes to spreading the word about photography business. Just think of a friend who says, “I want to go and see a movie or something like that…” The way that movie is spread around is when people say, ‘I have seen that movie and it’s very good” and all who hear about it want to go and see it for themselves. The opposite also brings about negative effects. A word of mouth brings great impact on any business and people who use your services can help spread the word about you and bring customers your way.
The social media
Social media is huge when it comes to promoting and keeping up to date with customers. You need all the popular platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and make sure they are updated regularly or at least once a week. This will help you keep up to date with your customers and get a lot of eyes on your business. If you are running something special such as half the price portrait photography sessions, just post it on Facebook and other social media platforms so that most people will come across it without join some different mailing lists. If you are a photographer, Instagram is one of the most powerful platforms especially because it is more image-based and people will, therefore, see your images and that’s what entices them to click on it. Make sure you post a lot on Instagram and do a lot of keywording and hashtagging and this will, in turn, generate a lot of business for you.
This is just a short preview of the big article on Sleeklens blog and there is a lot more not covered here. Make sure to check this article as well as the videos that will guide you on a lot more including how you can build a WordPress website from scratch. There are also many other free downloads for you and you can take advantage of all these.
Featured item of the week
The featured item of the week is very simple. This is actually an iOS and Android app for your Smartphone known as Trover. This is an app that is basically labelled as a discovering and saving ideas for your next trip. This is one important step if you are travelling photographers who maybe want to travel and get some new places that you would want to photograph and get a couple of memorable pictures from. You just open it up after downloading and you’ll be able to see your location and different photos from around your location. This could be anywhere from monuments, foods, sceneries, or overlooks but just anything that people have seen from that area and photographed to just tell others that there are some great spots. The app helps you know these great spots and the distance from where you are located. It also helps you get the direction to the specific monuments or sceneries just in case you are in a new place. You can also find more about this little app by visiting trevor.com and you can see it is available for both iOS and Android.