Friday, February 16, 2007

The steps to a photography business - the short version!

Start by taking stock of what you have and what your goals are. What are your assets? Money, time, etc. How are your images? Fantastic, needs work, true beginner. Where do you want to be in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years?

My answers would go in this order:

1) Get what you need in the way of equipment to produce good work. This does not need to be the flashiest of gear (a 50 1.8 or 35 f2 could be a big improvement in creating a "different" look on the cheap as would a 85 1.8). A vivitar flash and some pocket wizards (or generic alternative) can create dramatic results in the right hands as Zach Arias has often shown. Also get something wide (20mm on 5d or a 12-24 f4 tokina on a crop camera) to add drama and see things a different way. With a couple of these suggestions, you can be producing a wide variety of different looks and have spent less than $1000. It also works as a backup strategy if something breaks.

2) Educate yourself in creating amazing images. One Light is a good place to start. As is the usual $100 Denis Reggie tour, or if Huy is doing a short course in your area. There are also many online resources. Second shooting for great shooters would work very well.

3) Once you know how to take amazing images, are inspired, well-equipped to take advantage of the opportunities you have or will get, and have a website capable of showing off your work in a up-scale, stylish way, then you can pour some money into advertising.

It is hard to work up a buzz as an average photographer, so educate yourself, equip yourself, produce some excellent work, THEN attack the marketplace. Spending money on advertising before you are ready is just wasting money. Getting yourself in position to attack the marketplace makes more sense.

What you have in the way of assets (namely time and money) will determine your strategy for the attack and the timetable involved. If you have more money than time (full time well-paying job and a family for example), spend the money on the best possible samples and advertise in the biggest, splashiest places. If your assets are more on the time side (part time working bachelor), then you might get a couple nice samples and try to get your name out by meeting everyone that will meet with you (florists, planners, venue coordinators, other photographers, etc.).

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