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any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 11:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello All.
After years of chasing bad guys I have decided to put away the metal and do what I love to do. That’s right its time to make a go at photography as a full time professional. I have been in photography for about 15 years mostly as a hobbyist and do weddings when I could find the time. I have been lurking these hallways of GG for a while and the talent here absolutely amazes me most times. GG in my opinion is a gathering of some of the most talented photographers in the business today! I thank you all for your post and inspiration.
So this brings me to my question: Would anyone of you who are making a living of this care to share some advice? I have to be honest, IM scared as hell for one of the 1st times in my life. Someone once said to me “if you do what you love to do, the money will follow� If this was only so easy.
Anyway I will not bore you any longer, my hats pulled down tight, the gates getting ready to open and it’s going to be a hell of a ride!

Jim [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
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Re: any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 12:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Jim,

The first thing you might wanna do is to attend one of the workshop conducted by some of the best photographer in their style. They are RG, JT Smith, Robert Sanders, Jim & Rick and also Johny Olsen. Going to one of the workshop will help give you a lot of inspiration and that will give you a good direction when you ready to start make living thru photography.

[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Re: any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 12:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hey Jim! Good luck. Your cajones are bigger than mine! (Did I spell cajones right?) I've been wanting to go full time for a couple years but my debt load just won't let me break away from the regular paycheck.

Anyways, one bit of advice I've always loved was "learn the rules of your craft so you'll know how to break them later". Just learn everything you can and never stop shooting.

I've had friends tell me that they think I'm an excellent photographer. Sure I might be able to make some nice pictures here and there but to me I am only a good photographer. In my mind, an excellent photographer is one who not only is able to make nice pictures but who is able to make iconic imagery, promote him(her)self like a pair of Nikes and who has the business sense of Donald Trump.

So with that, get out there and make money. I mean, make iconic imagery! Hhehe

Oh yeah, and if you're shooting women, just remember that most of the time the best looking women have the lowest self esteem!

Cheers!
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Re: any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 12:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
if you do what you love to do, the money will follow

[/ QUOTE ]

i can't say that i subscribe to that philosophy. in fact, the things that attach money to my photography, i.e., bring money my way, are often the things i hate doing the most. and those things have nothing to do with the artistic and technical process of producing images with my camera and lights. rather, they are things like marketing and other business-related activities. sure, you need to be able to deliver the goods. but that's only part of it. i love photography. i hate the business of photography. yet it's the business side of photography that allows me to do this thing i love and make money from it.
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Re: any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 01:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I totally second what Jimmy said. If you do it for a living, photography is a business just like any other small business and you have to work at the business side as hard or harder than the shooting side. Doing what you love is the motive, business is the means.

Most importantly, you have to be able to SELL. You have to define who your customers are and let them know you're open for business. Find a book called 'Getting Business to Come to You', it applies nicely to photography and shows you how to market yourself in ways you never thought of.

Never stop working on your portfolio... don't make it bigger, just keep making it better. Keep it up to date by replacing your older best shots with your newer best shots. Your book is a definition of what you're into, what you shoot best... it's an illustration of your unique photographic vision. Your portfolio will connect you with the customers who best match your style and filter out some of the ones who will make you miserable.

Tighten your belt, keep your overhead low and don't buy anything that won't immediately pay for itself... that last part's not a hard rule so much as a mantra to repeat when the catalogs are tempting you.

Be prepared for success, you need to protect your credit and establish a credit line, preferrably while you still have a job. The day will come when you have a big opportunity that requires you to lay out some cash in advance... that's when a credit line will payoff. Banks don't like to offer credit lines to self-employed people.

Be rational about your business, make your artistic decisions with your feelings and intuition... but do business with knowledge and logic. Get contracts, protect your interests, expect the same from your customers. You can be a nice, easy to get along with guy and still be a good, rational business person.

Learn about copyrights for visual artists, how they apply to selling photography and register your images... every 90 days is a good routine.

Be reliable, return every call, always be on time, finish projects on-time, on-budget. Give the customer what they ask and pay for.

Do what you love. That's the reward for all that other stuff.

Good luck,

Chip
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What do you mean by \'this\'?
Old 02-20-2006, 02:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Would anyone of you who are making a living of this care to share some advice?

I couldn't tell from your posting - and I can see by the other responses that different people read you differently - what you mean when you say "this". Are you referring to glamour photography or just photography in general?

There's another thread about this farther below - very few photographers can make a good living doing just glamour photography. Most of the pro's here do other stuff - weddings, commercial, etc.

And some of them, especially the ones who do things like weddings and senior protraits for a living, don't even mention this aspect of their photographic interest on their professional website. I don't know if that's because they think it would scare off some of the clientele, or some other reason.

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Re: any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 02:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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"... “if you do what you love to do, the money will follow� If only that were true! And it may true be on occasion, but only when backed up by good business sense and a lot of long hours and hard work.

OK, you are going to be a self employed photographer. Forget about days off, forget about regular business hours. Before I closed my studio and retired my typical day ranged between 10 and 16 hours. When you are shooting, that's the fun part, but most of your time will be taken up by business matters. That will include accounting, bookkeeping, salesmanship, marketing, and so on. Pick up any of the several books on sales by Zig Zeigler, no pick up several and devour them. Pick up another titled Guerilla Marketing, I forget who wrote it and memorize it. Become a master at marketing yourself. Learn that a client who calls your for info is not a client, they are not a client until you do the shoot or sign the contract, before that they are just a voice on the phone. Learn how to use their phone call to get them into your studio! Become drinking buddies with a CPA and a lawyer, you'll need them both.

Pick a photographic specialty and master it, but don't stick to it exclusively. Have a specialty, but become a photographic generalist. I ran a commercial studio specializing in product work and magazine illustrations, but I also shot custom and boudoir portraiture, shot slides of the work of artists for their use and did fine art figure. Build several portfolios of 10 to 15 prints each, one for each area of photography you do and show the right one to the right client. In other words don't show a commercial portfolio of product shots to a wedding client. Yeah, people do that!

Someone once defined a professional photographer as a photographer who has a wife with a good job. As a start up business, don't plan to see a profit for a very long time. If you cover your costs during the first 6 to 12 months you'll be doing well. Don't bey any equipment for a single job if you can rent it. Remember, much can be deductable at tax time!

Depressed yet? I don't mean to come across as too negative; the risks are great but the rewards can also be great.
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Re: any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 05:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Retired,ex,or former?
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Re: any advise?
Old 02-20-2006, 11:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank each and every one of you for taking the time out of your day to share me your advice! I cut and pasted most of it for future reference. I sincerely appreciate you.
My business plan is pretty simple; shoot anything that will pay a bill. Weddings, seniors, children, portraits, stock, ECT ECT ECT. In a perfect world we all could go into our studios in the morning and have a line of gorgeous models ready to shell out their hard earned cash to have us create or update their portfolios. (Note to self, stop dreaming and get back to work) There are a few Photogs here that grace the pages of GG that we all know and love that do just that, but I would be willing to bet that they PAID THEIR DUES! In fact I feel that to make it in this business you have to be willing to do just that! One thing I can say is that IM a realist. If I have done my homework correctly then I will be lucky to utilize 25% of my day standing behind the camera. The other 75% will be spent on business management and marketing. Drumming up new clients is by no means an easy task at least not at 1st. It’s those necessary evils that we must all endure.
Again I want to thank you and I look forward to meeting you in future workshops and seminars.


Jim [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
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one more thing
Old 02-21-2006, 09:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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great advice all the way down the column...one more thing to be very aware of in this day and age, your website is how people find you and how they rate you -your look, your style, your skill- long before they ever pick up the phone to check your prices or availability.

Update your site more often than your book, at the beginning especially.

Get someone who designs web sites for a living to build it - doesn't need to be hip or flashy it REALLY needs to show the world what kind of work you do.

best of luck
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