Photography is a tricky business that often seems to fall in one’s lap, but takes a lot of work to keep growing. Most professional photographers struggle with where to start. With equipment expensive and people looking for better work at lower prices, you have to stay competitive. One of the most important things to do is work up a solid portfolio and get it in front of your target audience.
Define Your Niche
First, don’t try to tackle every aspect of photography. Photographers often throw themselves into a specific part of photography, and one or two related job lines might be natural fits. As you grow in your photography education, you will probably notice you have a specific gift towards a certain type of photography.
A wedding photographer, for example, might shoot engagement photos and boudoir shots or naturally shift to family photography to cover the couples after their weddings. A family photographer will likely shoot baby pictures and senior pictures. A photographer who loves shooting babies, might also move towards shooting the birth experience. Sports photographers might also be good at shooting events, even if they are grand openings or Galas. The idea isn’t to limit oneself, but to really focus on your favorite part of the photography business and just let the rest come naturally.
Buddy With a Second Camera
If you are looking to expand your portfolio, you might want to pair with another photographer to help them shoot major events, like weddings. As the second camera, you might have to take a pay cut to present a tempting option to another photographer, working as his or her intern in a way, but this experience will help grow your portfolio and learn technique. Getting a small sum of money for something with guaranteed success is a win-win for you and your business efforts.
Invest in Equipment
As soon as you start getting paid for your work, set aside a specific percentage of your earnings to put towards new equipment. Beginning photographers often don’t have the lenses, lighting equipment, high-quality printers, websites, backdrops or business cards, as well as other important tools they will need to succeed as an established professional. Expect equipment to be a regular investment for the first several years.
Offer Free or Reduced Sessions
When you’ve finished your education, you may already have a killer portfolio, but you need to get your feet wet on a professional level. You can offer free sessions to friends or family before offering reduced-price packages to strangers who will help you grow your audience reach. If possible, look for photography options with bigger influencers who have more social media followers and will boost your online presence if they acknowledge the photographer who recently shot their pictures. A ringing endorsement looks really good, plus you retain rights to the photographs to use them in your portfolio or on your website to lure in other clients.
Finally, you may be tempted to simply hand over a CD of raw images, but this may hurt you more than help you. With a small investment in software, like Lightroom, you can complete basic edits in a batch process that makes it very fast. Images should always be narrowed down, with bad images removed, and then edited enough to look professional with good white balance, coloring, and lighting. If images get out that you shot that do not look professional, your business could be hurt. The price for post-event image editing should always be included in your full price as quoted to the client.
Earning trust and respect is one of the hardest jobs of beginning photography. Keep pushing onwards and network with your fellow photographers to build a partnership with local artistic minds who are in the same spot as you are.