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3 Mistakes and Lessons Learned as a Photographer

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We all make mistakes, right? I’m of the mindset that making mistakes can be a positive thing if we learn from them, but it’s also good to have someone who has already made a mistake tell you what mistakes to avoid, preventing you from having to go through the experience yourself.

I sometimes feel like I am the queen of mistake-making, so I thought I would pass on some of the things that I have learned over the past few years, and hopefully prevent you from making the same mistakes.

1. Be Realistic

If you are first starting out with a photography business, know that, most likely, things are going to start off slowly.

Very. Slowly.

With that said, you may want to hold off on spending a small fortune on new equipment. Instead, make of list of the bare necessities of what equipment you really need. In some cases, all you may need is a camera, a decent lens, and an editing program. When I first started doing photography full time, I invested a fair amount of money in studio lighting. Well, the thing that I didn’t think through is that I’m mainly a natural light photographer, so, I ended up with a bunch of studio equipment that I never use. Sure, I’ve used it some over the years, but, looking back, I wish I had held off on the studio equipment, and put my money towards something else, like marketing or branding. So, keep in mind the type of photography that you will be doing, and make a list of smart ways to invest your money, rather than making purchases on what you think you might need.

2. Be Persistent (and patient)

Patience is not one of my virtues, but, photography is teaching me that it is a trait that I need to learn more and more. So, if you are a patient person, then photography is a great endeavor for you, but, if you’re like me, well, I’m sorry – you’re just going to have to learn some patience or else you’ll drive yourself crazy. Most likely, it is going to take a lot of time and effort to build a client base, and there may even be times when you feel like things just aren’t working out. My only advice here is that, if photography is truly your passion, don’t give up! If you are putting in a lot of hard work and effort to get yourself out there, just when things seem hopeless tends to be the time when a new opportunity will come your way. This is a business where persistence really does pay. A lot of people enter the photography world thinking they can easily make a fortune. It really doesn’t work that way because the market is so saturated. So, a lot of people give up early in the game if their business doesn’t take off within the first six months. The people who stick with it, though, most often end up being the people who build a successful business and a loyal client base.

3. Remember That People Have Short Attention Spans

This is a lesson I have recently learned. Last year, I started grad school, so I wasn’t doing as much work (I use the word “work” loosely because I so love what I do, it’s hard to call it “work!”) After my first year of grad school ended, I was ready to get back into the swing of doing photography full-time. NEWS FLASH: It doesn’t always work that easily. So, if you have to leave the market for a period of time, try not to be discouraged if you have to put in some extra work to get back to where you were before you left the market. We are all so busy and have so much going on in our day-to-day lives, and sometimes, you have to remind people that you’re back. One of my photographer friends gave me some great advice for anyone in this situation: follow up with your clients. Maybe you photographed someone’s wedding, and could offer them a discount on a first anniversary shoot. Or, if you did someone’s maternity photos, offer them a discount for a shoot around their child’s first birthday. The follow-up possibilities are endless, really, and it’s a great way to reconnect with your clients.

These are just a few of the lessons I have learned. Do you have anything you have learned that you would like to suggest?

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