with each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.- mark victor hansen
so you love taking pictures, you take great pictures and you're thinking about starting a photography business? well i have some things to share with you. :-)
i've been talking to my friends for a long time about doing a post like this, as i feel that it's one thing that's not readily available in our industry. there's a ton of workshops on editing, inspiration, etc. but i don't feel that a lot is discussed regarding what is necessary in getting prepared for and taking the steps of starting a photography business.
in starting a photography business, or any small business for that matter, it's so easy to get in over your head, especially when not doing things right. what do i mean? well, loving to take pictures and taking great pictures does not make a successful photography business. and starting a business takes lots of preparation, dedication, knowledge and hard work.
by no means am i saying i've done everything right or that i have all the answers. i'm also not saying my way is the exact way you should do things; however, i am saying there are certain things you should at least investigate and think about, when considering starting a photography business. trust me...i've made plenty of mistakes along the way. and i don't want you to make the same mistakes i did.
so if you take great pictures and you're contemplating starting a photography business, here's some things to think about and get prepared for with the launch of your business.
after getting started writing this, i realized i had much more to share than i originally thought so...i will be breaking this up into a series of posts. today, i'll be talking a bit about personal skill assessment and later move on to such things as equipment, small business preparation, packaging, etc. if, after reading, you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask. in the end, i hope this will get to and help some aspiring photographers out there.
PERSONAL SKILL ASSESSMENT do you fully understand your camera? do you understand and can you shoot in various lighting conditions? do you understand what the varying lighting conditions can do to and for your subject? do you completely understand individually and the relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO? do you consistently get things right in camera versus trying to fix things later, while editing, e.g. exposure, highlights, focus (are you technically proficient)? do you understand about composition and what makes a well composed photograph? have you invested in the appropriate editing software? do you understand editing basics (and not just actions!!) and what they can do for your image, i.e. levels, curves, etc? have you had someone else (i.e. a professional photographer) evaluate your photographs and potential portfolio images? do you have a mentor? have you considered going on a shoot with a professional photographer (can't hurt to ask)? have you begun networking with other photographers in your area? have you ever printed your own photographs? are you using a professional print lab? is your monitor calibrated? have you thought about who and what inspires you, in life...and photography? have you thought about your style (do you even have a style)?
photography skills are only the beginning. please, please, please...don't feel like you need run out and start your photography business right away. take the time to really learn your equipment and master taking great photographs right out of camera. and when you are ready to take that next step of starting a photography business, make sure you do it right and in it's entirety. remember that once you start your business, that's exactly what it is--a small business. it's no longer just the love of taking great photographs; it's also appropriately managing a small business, in order to make that business a successful one.
personally, looking back, i jumped into the business too fast. even though i thought i was ready, i wasn't nearly as knowledgeable or prepared as i should have been. there were so many things that i didn't know and had to end up learning the hard way, along the way (some lessons tougher than others)...and i don't want you to make the same mistake(s) i did.
i share this photo with you because it was one of my first clients, back in summer 2006. light was low and i ended up using artificial lighting. what? not that artificial light is bad at all, but...i really had no clue what i was doing with that alien bee at the time. i basically got lucky. really lucky...that's all. i should never have gotten that light out in the first place because a) i didn't really know how to use it correctly and b) i should have known how to make the existing light work.
and as the quote above says, remember... you will grow stronger you will get more skilled and you will get more confident. it just all takes time a ton of practice and lots of patience.