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10 Things I Wish I Knew When Starting My Photography Business

I just celebrated 5 years of being in business (yay me!!).  I remember when I first started my business, thinking it can’t be too hard.  After all, I just need to take great pictures, edit them, and give them back to people.  I could not have been more wrong.  How was I to know that taking pictures was what I would spend the least amount doing?  I spent the first month giving people the cd of images but quickly changed that and began offering prints and products.  I wanted to see in print what I had created!  As I’ve looked back over the last 5 years, I’ve learned a lot and I want to share it with you. 

1. You will never stop learning. 

There may come a time when you get bored and think you know it all, but you’ll be wrong.  If you ever feel like you don’t have any more to learn, join an online photography group, sign up for a class, go to a convention, or pick up a book.  Between photographing, editing, marketing, communicating with clients or packaging, there will always be something to learn.


2. Not every photographer wants to be your friend. 

It’s sad, but it’s true.  When you have 40 other photographers in your city, most of them will not want to get together for coffee.  There tends to be this attitude of jealousy in our industry.  And it should stop.  Like yesterday.  How do you make it stop?  You.  You make it stop by reaching out.  You might be told no by several photographers, but I guarantee there is at least one other photographer that yearns for friendship the same way you do.


3. You will spend way too much time in your pajamas.

My clock says 10:24 a.m. and yes, I’m still in my pajamas.  This is a very regular thing.  I’m home by myself until I pick up kids from school.  If I don’t have to go anywhere, pajamas are way more comfy than jeans when I have to spend the day editing.  This could be considered a negative or a positive, it all depends on your perspective.


4. You will be allowed to photograph some of the most personal moments of someone’s life. 

A family session where the mother was just told she has 2 weeks to live.  A woman just diagnosed with breast cancer.  Twins born thanks to infertility treatment and 13 months later one is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  A mother celebrating the recent adoption of her son.  The birth of a child. 


5. Not only are you going to be a photographer, you will be a family therapist, wardrobe consultant, meteorologist, make-up and hair artist, gardener,  financial advisor, interior decorator, graphic designer, wedding planner and communications specialist.

6. You will work for people that will become amazing friends and your biggest cheerleaders. 

They will have your back if someone tries to hurt you and they will tell everyone they know about you so that you don’t ever have to spend money on marketing.


7. You will take way too many pictures of your children when you first start and it will back fire on you. 

If you want pictures of you children later, they run.  They hide.  They give you the hand.  Don’t always make them model for you.  Just trust me on this one.


8. Only compare yourself to yourself. 

Nothing good comes from comparing yourself to another photographer.  Instead, go back and look at those photos you took when you first started.  Every year do a blog post on the images you took.  It’s amazing to see the difference.  Your own growth is all that matters.

9. A minute equals an hour

Somehow, when I say I’ll just be another minute on the computer, my husband asks if it’s going to be a real minute or an Amy minute.  I lose track of time and feel like everything needs to be done that day.  Guess what?  It doesn’t.  What I don’t get done that day will be there the next day.  Take care of your home, play with your children, bake, shop, read a book.  Do other things besides just work.  Don’t always reply with “just a minute”.


10. It’s okay to say no.

Just because you are a photographer, don’t feel like you have to take the team pictures, your neighbor’s headshots, your best friend’s uncle’s cousin’s picture.  Being a photographer is a full time job.  Just because you know how to use your camera, that does not mean you are obligated to work for everyone for free.  You have to know where to draw your line and then stick to it. 


   Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California.  Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children.  When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops.

Visit her website.

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