So, you take great photos, especially of people and events. Friends keep asking you if you’ve thought of shooting weddings. Perhaps you’re closer and closer to jumping into the waters of professional wedding photography. Well, then this may surprise you. A recent survey from Your Perfect Wedding Photographer shows that professional wedding photographers actually spend most of their time not taking photos.
I get emails every week from people asking how I manage to bring in so many new clients all the time, as well as keeping the ones I have to build my business. Each year, I give a business masterclass in Zurich talking all day about this very subject.
However, one thing that I wanted to share very quickly here is the basics of how you might view winning a client and the actual reality of things from the clients perspective.
A few weeks ago, I was in town and I heard a lady say to her friend “That photo you posted of Sebastian was soooooo beautiful. While you’re on maternity leave, you should totally start doing photography as a business…”. Before I write anything else, I just want to say that this is exactly the kind of thing that my friends would tell me a few years back. And it’s lovely when your friends encourage you to pursue your passion and turn it into a business. But in my experience, starting any kind of business isn’t something that you should decide to do on a whim!
When it comes to negotiations, as a photographer (or any freelance artist, for that matter) you’ve got to master the art of not being emotionally invested in the outcome – something that is nearly impossible to do. But without it, you’ll never be able to break free of difficult clients and underpaid gigs.
“It was constant hustle for me the first three years (in business) full time.”
I read this quote from a photographer-turned-business coach. It was advice in a Facebook group. I’m not certain the question that elicited this reply, but it doesn’t really matter. The statement stands alone.
Why artists need to market themselves? So that, you the artist, wouldn’t starve to death.
No, but seriously. Otherwise, you risk ending up like Vincent Van Gogh who (in the words of Steven Pressfield) “produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life.”
A lot of artists have this notion that they’re the creative person, and marketing belongs to the business world. Some even think it’s evil or dirty to promote themselves, and they don’t want to have anything to do with this” filthy” world.
The truth is, it’s your job to market yourself. You are the artist, and you know how to spread the word about your work. After all, you created it. You can’t rest after creating your art; you need to start marketing it.
I came across a screenshot of your “I have started a photography business” post in a “Classifieds” Facebook group:
I don’t think there’s a photographer anywhere in the world who hasn’t been asked to work for a miserable sum, or even for free, ‘for the exposure’. According to recent research, there’s a reason why photographers and other artists are often exploited. The answer lies in your passion for photography. In other words: if you love your job, you are more likely to get lowballed.
A photographer is someone who has a camera and takes pictures.
A toddler could do it.
Heck, a monkey could do it.
If you have decided to start a photography business, it can come as a shock to your friends and family. Especially if you give up a steady day job to become a freelancer. It can be hard to convince them that this is your calling and something you want to do probably for the rest of your life. If you’re struggling with this right now, this video from Chris Hau will help you go through it and convince your parents, family, and friends that photography is a real career you want and should pursue.