Blog #132 The Business of Photography
So you're thinking of starting a photography company?
First you need to realise that there is a more to owning and operating a photography company than taking great photos. Most of it is pretty boring and requires zero artistic creativity. There is the whole “professionalism” piece that probably takes up 80% of your time. Actual time behind the lens amounts to one of the least time consuming tasks involved.
Although I have only just formally set off on my professional photography company path, the truth is that I’ve been involved in image making on a [part time] professional level for a few years.
I’ll be sharing my journey with you and planning these blog posts from time to time to reflect on that journey.
There is paperwork to be filed, sorted, events to be documented, e-mails to be responded to [promptly], contracts, invoices, receipts saved, and more.
Step #1 is deciding if you really want to go down this road. Is being a business owner really something that you want to spend your time doing? Will the investment be worth it for you? Will you make enough income to be comfortable and to support yourself and your family [or future family]? Have a plan. You will need to decide if this is something that you want to do and why. Maybe just shooting here and there as an amateur or hobbyist is enough?
How does one make these decisions? You might want to have a fall back gig for the steady income while you grapple with trying to find the answers to the questions above.
Here are a few techniques that might aid your decision making below.
Schedule a one-hour headshot or portrait session with a friend or family member to experience the “feeling” of dedicating yourself to a proper portrait shoot.
Do a Project 365 and shoot everyday for year. This will help you to eliminate the genres within the medium that you don’t want to shoot. This will be equally as important as decided what you do want to shoot. I've blogged on this topic and shared my own Project 365 experience. Hint: It's INTENSE!
Agree to shoot a friend’s wedding or birthday party event. Treat the event as a professional “gig” that means you’ve replaced that cocktail for a camera. See how that feels. Can you hack it?
Volunteer to shoot an event such as a sporting event or dinner party. Edit the photos and return them to the host with one week [I usually return images within 24-48 hours]. Can you get that done?
If these activities are scaring the living daylights out of you then you’re not ready to go pro. Professional photographers are always "ON" and the hustle is part of gig. Only the strong survive. It’s no joke, there is zero room for error. Forgot to charge your battery? SD card fails? Brought the wrong lens? You're fucked and will never be hired by that client again. It's a dog eat world in the professional photography arena. Welcome to THUNDERDOME!
You’ve got to be one time, all of the time, on point, make perfect pictures, edit them, and turn them around all within a narrow window of time.
Perhaps you’re intrigued? Perhaps you LOVE to spend time behind the lens and you love it so much that you’re not sweating the sweaty parts [if you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right]. Maybe the rush of all of this sounds like you're cup of tea? Better have latte, friend, or three!
I hope that this has provided you with some food for thought.
Are you ready to rumble? Well, regardless of whether this is your year to quit your neurosurgery job or walk away from that eight-figure hedge fund gig to shoot Junior's1st birthday party, keep shooting, share your work, print it, and get it out there. The worst thing that could happen is that you will improve your image making. When the Universe calls for your professional skills behind the camera, will you answer?
The light is always right.
*Images: © Limelight Limited
Where: Streets of Hong Kong
Subject: Dogs of Hong Kong (2018 is the Year of the Dog)
Gear: Various gear, probably Fujifilm X-Series mirrorless cameras and 24mm-50mm lenses.