How to start a photography business

10 priceless advice for success in your new career

Choose your specialization

The specialization chosen by a professional photographer must be one that is deemed viable in generating income that will cover expenses.

Scout your competition

Visit the websites of peers and competitors to learn about their customers and how you can reach them. Some might feel this might result in a photographer falling in the snares of plagiarism, but this does not apply for those who learn and study the competition to come up with their OWN specialization. Work as an assistant with those peers and competitors to earn valuable experience that you cannot acquire anywhere else.

Come up with a work plan that can be executed

Ignore dreams, and keep your eyes focused on your goal: The success of your photography project based on your work plan. The plan is the foundation, and one that you can go back to, upgrade and modify based on accrued knowledge and experience. Learn what works and what does not work, and what is the minimum income or investment you require to get through your first year, which will be your most challenging and hardest year.

Make sure your cost is at the bare minimum

Do not strive towards the most powerful, amazing and modern tools, which some start-up photographers usually go for without ever needing them. Start with 20-24 megapixel camera. Go for basic and practical lenses, which are also light and easy to travel with, such as prime lenses. Eventually begin your transition to zoom and wide-zoom lenses, and then telephoto and macro lenses as your business develops and there is a real need for it.

Build your personal portfolio that will acquaint customers with your work

The portfolio will project your philosophy and artistic sense to people, a soft-marketing technique that will build the confidence of customers in your style. The work presented in your portfolio must be of the highest caliber. Never list these works on your portfolio or page as unpaid works, because some of these works will reflect your patience and attention to quality, allowing you to ask for the required time and price for paid assignments.

Set up your own page and create marketable products

Do not go over-the-top in designing your page, but make sure that it does look good and straightforward. Keep in mind that this page / site is the engine, the driving force from which you will receive business and projects, the source for generating income. Technically, our advice is to start-up a website using WordPress, and if you’re technical skills are modest or acceptable, use the service website Squarespace. Also, do not forget business cards and a logo that people can use to identify you, and promotional publications that you can distribute to reach a market beyond online marketing.

Allocate time on a daily basis for marketing

Intense focus on marketing might land you many assignments for a month or two, but marketing should be carried out on the long-term and intensified on a regular basis. Learn about different tools and types of marketing from online courses or delve into the marketing techniques of prominent photographers.

Establish a network of relations

Your immediate and extended family, as well as acquaintances, can maybe help you overcome some obstacles and complete numerous transactions and projects. They are best team of promoters you can ever have, and can introduce and connect you with project managers and renowned figures. You have a responsibility to let your family and acquaintances know about your business. Demonstrate to them your passion for photography and show them your work. Your biggest opportunity with this team lies in two approaches: Snapping profile pictures and taking pictures of their kids and families.

Marketing on a local level

The local business community is the true launching point for your business; a treasure trove of ideas and projects. Working on the local business community is economically and practically feasible. They are close-by, and you can personally meet with them and present your marketing materials, as well as call them at a low cost. Make sure the materials you market contains elements of the surrounding local community, because this will distinguish your work from that of competitors. Do not forget the share for online marketing, search engines and social media, but most importantly, remember that your preliminary costs will only be covered through the local business community.

Develop an online marketing plan

This plan will help you reach a new audience. It has no borders or limits, and entering it requires a mechanism of continuous learning. Build your presence by contacting journalists and people who run sites, so they can use your work on articles they upload. You can also write educational or opinion articles on these sites to attract an audience to your page. You can also create educational materials and videos that you can publish on your website. Master the art of building your presence on social media, but be wary of expanding strongly; followers do not like to be ignored.

Author: Mohammed Moustafa Aldaou , Head of Research and Development – HIPA – Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum International Photography Award  

2 comments

Thank you Mohammed for this article. The advice that you offer is very useful indeed. I look forward to reading/seeing more of your outstanding work.

تفصيل مهم و نقاط حيوية و مفيدة
مجهود تشكر عليه أستاذ محمد وإلى المزيد من الاجتهاد المثمر.

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