When I first attempted to launch in to the photography profession, I thought I had everything I needed: business cards, a P.O. box, and an ad in our local magazine, a camera. I really had no clue what it was like to be in business, which it turns out requires much more than a set of pretty pictures and somewhere for people to mail the payments I wasn’t receiving. Needless to say, I learned a lot in my first (and second, and eighth) years in business, and continue to learn and grow as time passes. But the three things I would recommend every budding photographer get a handle on before venturing out in to the world of professional photography are below.
Every photographer needs a solid contract
There are lots of resources online for contract creation, (The Law Tog is one of our favourites.) Having a solid contract in place is absolutely crucial and could have saved a lot of head (and heart)ache in those early days. I did shoots for friends who expected things I couldn’t provide, delivered files to brides expecting to see RAW images and, to be honest, I can’t blame them: we never had an agreement in place to refer to when issues arose. Truthfully, in those first few years of business, after every single shoot I added something new to our contract. Every time a question came up from a client, I’d address that question in the agreement so that after a few months an years, it evolved in to a document that is constantly growing and changing. If you don’t have a contract in place, now is the time to start. Have a lawyer review it if you can – protect yourself, and protect your clients.
Every photographer needs a great brand and website
If you’re in the business of selling your visual art, you need to be displaying it in the best manner possible – that goes without saying, right? Make sure your website covers all the bases – fast loading, mobile friendly, all that good stuff. Your website will be your biggest selling point so be sure it wows your visitors. Update it frequently with new imagery, tap away on your blog, share on your blog every shoot that represents what you want to shoot in the months ahead. There are plenty of great templates available, if you can swing it we recommend hiring a professional designer who can build your brand from the ground up, and create a website to match. If you’re like me, you’re indecisive as hell. I loved pretty websites but was never happy with the templates I modified. When we first started out I was literally spending hours a day playing around with our site! This time could have been used to network and shoot. Finally, a few years in to our business we hired Braizen to revamp our website and brand, and since then we haven’t touched the way it looks (although we have complete control to continually add content and new imagery.) Mental game is now strong – they created a template for us so I don’t have to mess with the design but can still add to it as we wish. Find a designer that will work with you and your investment will pay off tenfold (remember, your time is valuable!)
Every photographer needs a target market
Take some time to think about who it is you want to reach. At the start, Adam was photographing surf, and I was photographing everything from pets to real estate to portraits to… so exhausting. What do you really want to shoot? Who is your ideal client? Be honest with yourself in order to learn about the business you want to create, put a pen to paper, do some experimental shoots to find what really makes you happy to keep shooting. I promise – the stuff you photograph and share is the stuff you’ll continue to book, so if you’re sharing work that doesn’t spark joy (you know, KonMari style), you’re filling your time shooting mehhh when you could be slotting in some inspiring work instead.