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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Anyone Starting a Photography Business??
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10/07/2003 04:13:04 PM · #1
Just wondering if anyone is/has started a photography business of any kind. Would like to here sucess stories, problems etc etc. This that you may have learned in the process or things you wish you have known before you started. Thanks for all you input!!
10/07/2003 04:21:59 PM · #2
I'm not really starting a 'business' with it but I do plan to do a small amount of work for hire. I'm gonna let it help support the cost of the hobby. I plan to sell enough work here and there to pay for the equipment and some occasional photo excursions...

10/07/2003 05:27:50 PM · #3
Starting a Photography biz is the best way to ruin a great hobby! After awhile you can't even pick up a camera for fun. Just keep this in mind...and if your saying that it will never happen to you, think again, because I said the same thing!
10/07/2003 06:47:08 PM · #4
Expanded an unprofitable business a couple of years ago to include a photography division. Long range plans are for the photography division to be self sustaining.

The essentials of profitability are 1st, a market for your product, 2nd availability of your product when wanted, and 3rd satisfied repeat customers. These are the cornerstone. There are lots of good photographers or others offering a service/product. But if no ones wants what they are selling, then it simply doesn't matter how good they are at their craft. So 1st is to know what your market wants/needs. 2nd) have a supply process that gives them what they want when they want it. If not, then your customers will go someplace else. 3rd) you must develop a relationship with your customers that promotes referrals and repeat business.

For those that remember the commercial of the young archeologist that comes into the tent complaining that he should have been a lawyer only to be met by an old lawyer that is now an archeologist, will understand that it is all about passion. Do what you love. Just understand the rules. Photography is not a get rich profession. It can be extremely dangerous and very hard work. It can also be a dream come true, if you have the passion and a few lucky breaks. Know your customers wants and give it to them when they want it. Simple. Most can live this dream as a hobby. For some, that simply is not enough. Good luck.
10/07/2003 07:14:20 PM · #5
Flash, That seems like the business plan for any successful venture. Well said, well written...
10/07/2003 07:31:17 PM · #6
Originally posted by MeThoS:

Starting a Photography biz is the best way to ruin a great hobby! After awhile you can't even pick up a camera for fun. Just keep this in mind...and if your saying that it will never happen to you, think again, because I said the same thing!


I agree with this totally. This is one of the reasons I have been so hesitant to try to sell services. I don't want what I do to become a business. When it becomes work, the fun factor fades away for me. I do want to try to find a balance in it somewhere though. This weekend, I spent more on my photography 'hobby' in a single chunk than I have ever spent on a hobby in the past. My local print sales are helping to sustain the hobby and giving me inspiration to continue shooting. The good thing about those print sales is that I photographed what I wanted to when I wanted to. None of those photos are ones that I did for hire. Since this is my primary interest, I have been considering taking an online class that I found that could help me continue shooting what I want to and still be able to have the hobby sustain itself.

Making Money With Your Photograpy - Jim Zuckerman

Jim's Profile

Here is an online class given by a photographer who does just that. He makes money but he is not really a photographer for hire. He just knows how to make photos that people will buy.

Any thoughts on something like this?

10/07/2003 07:37:42 PM · #7
Originally posted by jmsetzler:

Here is an online class given by a photographer who does just that. He makes money but he is not really a photographer for hire. He just knows how to make photos that people will buy.

Any thoughts on something like this?

Maybe he's discovered the same secret as the real estate and financial folks. You don't (often) get rich selling real estate; the big bucks are in giving seminars or selling books/tapes telling other people how THEY can get rich selling real estate, or investing in futures, or graphic design, or photography classes ....
10/07/2003 07:40:11 PM · #8
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

Here is an online class given by a photographer who does just that. He makes money but he is not really a photographer for hire. He just knows how to make photos that people will buy.

Any thoughts on something like this?

Maybe he's discovered the same secret as the real estate and financial folks. You don't (often) get rich selling real estate; the big bucks are in giving seminars or selling books/tapes telling other people how THEY can get rich selling real estate, or investing in futures, or graphic design, or photography classes ....


That is correct. Jim has authored 9 books and I'm sure his income from that is substantial. I'm not interested in getting rich. I'm just interested in making my photography hobby become self sustaining :)

10/07/2003 07:48:47 PM · #9
I know -- just giving you both a little bit of a hard time.

I think you make plenty of images of "general interest" already. It's all about marketing, name recognition (your's is easy), and lucky breaks.
10/07/2003 08:26:05 PM · #10
Originally posted by GeneralE:

I know -- just giving you both a little bit of a hard time.

I think you make plenty of images of "general interest" already. It's all about marketing, name recognition (your's is easy), and lucky breaks.


"Mine" is, unfortunatley, not easy. A lot of people on DPC know who I am but that is the only place. Name recognition among other photographers isn't helping me sell prints either :)

10/07/2003 08:37:56 PM · #11
I have a print shop and have found that the people making money on printing are taking photos that can be sold as postcards. Most of these people are taking photos of houses for the real estate market. We get photos of just sold or just listed houses and mail them out for the real estate people. Other people making money on photography are doing marketing type photos.
10/07/2003 08:58:29 PM · #12
Originally posted by jmsetzler:



"Mine" is, unfortunatley, not easy. A lot of people on DPC know who I am but that is the only place. Name recognition among other photographers isn't helping me sell prints either :)

I didn't mean that you have achieved "name recognition" in the advertising sense, but that you have a name that will be easy to recognize and remember (eventually).

It has that cluster of tall consonants surrounding the rare letter "z" in the middle, yet is relatively short and easy to pronounce. And it will stick with people because they'll have to remember it's NOT the more familiar "seltzer," and thus it becomes its own mnemonic aid.

PS: You should start thinking about a logo and font for your business documents.

Message edited by author 2003-10-07 20:59:36.
10/07/2003 09:03:04 PM · #13
I guess on DPC the biggest problem i have is people calling me jim :)
10/07/2003 09:08:09 PM · #14
Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I guess on DPC the biggest problem i have is people calling me jim :)

And you brought that on yourself by using your middle initial and all lower-case letters with no spaces.

I think

JMSetzler
jsetzler

are less easily mis-read.

What's your favorite geometric shape?
10/07/2003 09:09:50 PM · #15
Originally posted by GeneralE:



What's your favorite geometric shape?


You are the first person who has ever asked me that question... lol...

And I don't know the answer... but just to see what you are thinking, i will say triangle :)

10/07/2003 09:19:47 PM · #16
I'm thinking about "quick 'n' dirty" logo production and, to a lesser extent, how the rest of the documents could be designed.
10/07/2003 09:24:24 PM · #17
Originally posted by GeneralE:

I'm thinking about "quick 'n' dirty" logo production and, to a lesser extent, how the rest of the documents could be designed.


I have a quick and dirty one on the top of my webpage listed below...
10/07/2003 09:25:26 PM · #18
I want to be able to have my photography be self sustaining as well. National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb came to our local library for a presentation last night and said some great stuff. It was funny when she had said that most photographers can't wait to get back to nature and shoot some more. She just wants to get back to the hotel. I would like to start a business or something that will pay for me to travel the world and take photos. I'd like to be able to travel and see the world and places that I would never get to go to. I just have to come up with how I can do that and I'd be happy.
10/07/2003 10:29:49 PM · #19
I used to work at a pro film lab in Hollywood and there was one photographer who would take trips all over the world and just shoot film. He sold his images as stock. He would bring in 300-400 rolls of 36 exposure Kodachrome and have it all processed, then he'd sit over a light table and edit, edit, edit, until he had the best of the best. Then he'd send them to his stock agency. The guy was able to travel the world doing what he loved and made good money too. I remember talking to him about shooting stock, and I remeber him saying that to get in with a top stock agency, you should have at least 500 top quality images.
10/07/2003 11:33:53 PM · #20
I would also like to make some money from photography, but not as a photographer for hire...I think that would be way too many headaches...so I have been toying with the idea of doing art and photography shows in the future when I become good enough...I think you could travel and do that all over the country, and even the world...and I don't think it would be a big investment financially...but I could be wrong about that...Plus, you'd get to meet other interesting people of similar ilk with whom you could exchange ideas and network... This was one of the ways that Clyde Butcher got started, and got better at his art...In addition, it helped him define his art. I think it's a great way to go.
10/07/2003 11:44:19 PM · #21
Thank you all for posting responces. That alone is encouraging!

John, for some reason I hadn't made it to your site before now. I'm very impressed!!

Lets all keep those great ideas flowing! Good luck and happy shooting.
10/08/2003 03:02:16 AM · #22
Most ad agencys, magazines, and stock houses will not take anything from a digital camera as they prefer to recive slides and negs.

But if you can concentrate on the small buisiness then good luck!

Ps: If anyone wants a logo cheap look at //www.fuci.co.uk

lol

Good luck to you all starting this venture! At least with digital there aren't many overheads.
10/08/2003 10:50:30 AM · #23
I started selling blank photo cards because it was an outlet for my photography and gave a little money to help defray the costs of the processing of the film. Then I moved up to small prints (bathroom prints I call them) and sort of did okay with them. Digital came along and I moved up to bigger prints and my business grew. I thought I was doing this to help defray costs but instead I found that I have been incurring more costs. Keeping up with technology --better computer, better printer, better photo editing program, photo paper, buying frames and matts (I do my own framing and matting) and a host of other things that I never thought about. I am now finally at the point where I am making a few dollars, but you will never get rich doing this unless you get lucky. Photographers are a dime a dozen these days with the advent of digital cameras.
I also found that I now take pictures that I think I will sell instead of the things that really turn me on. I will go through my photos when I upload them and look at them and think "this won't sell" and delete, delete, delete. I have promised myself that for the next few months I will only take photos that I like and not worry about what I might sell. I think my photography has suffered from the constant worry of what might be a good seller.
Good luck to you though.
10/08/2003 11:48:19 AM · #24
Hmmm. I went ahead and got a business license so I could count several costs off my taxes and I've been toying with what do I want to do with photography (besides get better). The one thing I know I enjoy doing right now is taking portraits for models who are attempting to start their careers and can't afford or don't want to pay hundreds of dollars to get someone with a large studio to shoot their headshots. Once a model signs with an agency they often pay the costs of his/her headshots (and hold that price out of the first contract or two) so I think I would like to get a good working relationship with some local agencies. So far I've made no money and the only thing I want to do is keep on shooting, get technically better, develop my eye for artistic shots and work with more models. A mentor of mine told me that if I ever wanted to truly pay for my hobby and develop a business quickly I should get into wedding photography (something he and his wife do together and have been successful at for 15-20 years). They get less than 10 gigs a year and it pays for all new equipment and new lenses and etc. That's just not my cup o'tea. I can easily see that it'd be an uphill struggle to compete with other photographers in artistic compositions as so many of you seem to just see things more artistically than do I. The one place that I seem to enjoy shooting the most and have some ability to create an image is with models.

I'm saving up and finagling things to get some better "L" lenses and a studio with lighting and backdrops.
10/08/2003 11:59:22 AM · #25
I think 'digital' will be more prosperous in the stock photo market in the near future. I believe that it is a bit weak at the moment, but it is coming along. I have read several places recently that accept digital work.
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