This post is in response to one of the many great questions posed on Facebook the other day by Pretty Presets users. The question pertained to “getting started” in the photography business and going from being the person who always takes photos of family and friends, to transitioning into being a working photographer.
Let me start by saying that I am not a twenty-year veteran of the photography world, so there is no perfect answer that I can offer you. However, I went from working full-time in retail, to working as a photographer full-time, over the course of about 3 years. This transition and leap of faith are still fresh in my mind, and while I am still figuring out the photography business (although I don’t think anyone ever fully figures it out!) I can tell you what worked for me, as well as many of my photographer friends, and how we made the transition.
- The first, and possibly the most important, thing to keep in mind is this: breaking into the photography business does not happen overnight. I really mean that! For some people, things may fall into place quickly, while others may work for years to build a solid client base.
- If you are already photographing your friends and family, that’s a great place to start. At this point, getting some unique business cards would be extremely helpful, because you can give them to your friends and family, and have them hand out the cards to THEIR friends and family. Word of mouth will go a really long way!
- Now is also the perfect time to solidify your brand – figure out what type of photography you’re interested in, and how you can reach potential clients. Having an idea of what you want to specialize in (portraits, weddings, newborns, fine art, etc.) will help you focus your energy on developing your style, brand, and marketing to the right audience. Also, consider creating a Facebook business page for your photography, as social networking is a wonderful way to connect with future clients.
Building a rapport with other photographers, especially full-time photographers, will also help you get ideas and support on how to grow your business. Pretty Presets and Rock the Shot are wonderful forums to meet other photographers, and the knowledge that you will gain from talking to other people in the business is invaluable, especially when you are first starting.
Finally, and this is keeping in mind the idea that this may not occur overnight for you, take small steps every day that will help you work towards this transition. Having a list of things that you can do, right now, to help grow your business will help you focus your energy on the present, rather than worrying about or trying to tackle things that, at this point, are out of your control. I have two lists – my daily to-do list, which includes things like keeping up with my social networking sites, websites, printing business cards, emailing clients, and anything that can be taken care of that day. Then, I have my “on the horizon” list – this list includes goals for the year, like how many shoots I would like to have.
The truth is, there are a lot of different things to consider that will help you transition into being a full-time photographer, but the best thing you can do, at this point, is start setting goals for yourself. Rather than saying, “I want to be a full-time photographer” ask yourself what sort of photography do you want to specialize in, and start brainstorming on small steps that will make that happen for you. It is a constant journey, but if you are in the early stages of making the transition, you have a real advantage, because you have the opportunity to find ways to make your work unique, and really stand out among the rest of the business.
Anna Gay is a portrait photographer based in Athens, GA and the author of the dPS ebook The Art of Self-Portraiture. She also designs actions and textures for Photoshop. When she is not shooting or writing, she enjoys spending time with her fiancee, and their two cats, Elphie and Fat Cat.