Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Simple Advice to Help Build a Successful Photography Career

     The market is FLOODED with photographers.    Here are some simple guidelines that may help build your business to a success. GOOD LUCK!

1.  Own Your Work

Once you are out there in the market place, and displaying your work, whether it is social media, or a beautiful photo display,  you must OWN your work.  What makes your work yours?  Is there a signature style?  Maybe it is the sort of sessions your photograph.  Whatever the case may be, OWN IT.  I know my work is highly stylized.  I like to suggest what my clients wear to a session, I live and breath warm tones, while other photographers love the cooler tones.  My posing is very intimate.  I love posing clients while they are touching each other to symbolize a togetherness.  Each session, I celebrate them as family or lovers.  That is how I love to photograph people.  My work is MY WORK and I am proud of it.  Stand by your photography with confidence and only compare yourself to YOU and how you have improved in your own way.  Only good things will come your way if you embrace yourself and style.

2.  Dress For Success 

I find it very important if you consider yourself a professional photographer, to look the part.  NEVER show up for a session in yoga pants, a tee shirt and a sloppy bun.  That is very unprofessional.  The saying, "Dress For Success" is very true.  First impressions are very important in our line of work.  We meet so many new people on a weekly basis, and word of mouth is EVERYTHING in our business and if we all showed up looking sloppy, then it portrays a certain image.  We need to be comfortable in order to crouch down and be flexible so we all can shoot all of those amazing shots and angles, BUT it can be done still looking professional.  We all are different shapes and sizes and do not let that be an excuse. Set yourself a dress code and stick with it.  Find what works for you and keep it consistent.  If you consider yourself a professional, look the part.

3. Dismiss the Haters

With social media, it is so easy to find the "haters".  They seem to be everywhere. Just dismiss them.  There are many reasons why a photographer could come across these haters.   I know on my business page, I delete any photo critiques, bad language, or anything that could be considered negative.  It is MY BUSINESS, MY PAGE, if I feel I do not like certain conversations, I simply hit the delete button and I do not dwell on it.  I consider my Facebook photography page, a fan page, and a place for me to showcase my work.  That is all.  I never post anything negative, political or likewise.  If you can keep your Facebook photography page, positive and lighthearted, you will find more engagement and maybe even get more likes.  I see several photography Facebook pages where photographers will rant about people complaining about their prices, or an editing rant.  That is not for me, and that is just unprofessional.  Keep those posts for your personal page or for photography groups that are private. Haters are going to hate whether you engage in their posts or not.  Never let them know, their bad behavior is getting to you.  STAY STRONG!

4. Customer Service

Try and build a healthy clientele, that will come back again and again.  This starts with the very first session you book.  Be patient, be nice, and be assertive in your sessions.  There should be no lollygagging.  You are there for a job, so put that cell phone away and grab your camera and by all means BE PREPARED.  You will need extra gig cards and batteries for your flash, and whatever else you carry.  Show up early, and set the lighting, if you are outside, check out your location before hand.  When your client arrives, be there greeting them with a smile. Politely guide them to the area you will be photographing them and then start right away.  Start with some warm up poses, loosen them up.  This seems like second nature to us, but many people feel odd, being posed and smiling into a circular looking tube.  Not everyone is a  "ham"  but it is our job to make it look like they all are comfortable.
     I am very easy going, if you are not, find ways to make yourself more comfortable around clients, come to your location a half hour early, and get yourself "in the zone"  focus on your camera, and storyboard poses, that always helps me. If you get a "rude client"  just smile and kill them with kindness.  We all get people like that, but as a professional, suck it up and get the job done and then you can move them along.  Simple as that. Never let a client dictate the session, that is the job of the photographer. Set your prices in stone, have a contract, make them sign it and then let the session begin!

5. Join Photography Groups

This is one way to help yourself grow.  Join photography groups that offer constructive criticism.  Let fellow photographers evaluate your work, take advice and sometimes, just sit back and read other posts from photographers.  It is a great educational tool and it is free!  That is one great advantage Facebook has to offer.  I find so many good tips on backdrop shopping, posing ideas and new editing techniques.  The groups that I am involved in, I find highly satisfying.  Sometimes, you will post a photo and not get the feedback you were hoping for, but let that be a learning experience.  The only way to grow is to let down your walls, and sometimes get advice, even when it seems harsh. It has happened to me, and I know it will happen again and I say BRING IT!

5. Always Challenge Yourself

If you do not feel challenged as a photographer, then you are not working hard enough.  Find a way to challenge yourself.  There are many ways to challenge yourself and your work.  Practice a new way to edit. Book larger photo sessions.  Set larger goals.  If you use actions a lot, try and hand edit a photo to look just like the actions you use.  Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head.  Challenging yourself means inner growth, and inner growth as a photographer can set you to a new caliber of photo taking.  That new caliber, means more money your way.

6.  Set Goals

An easy way to set goals is to write a Business Plan.  My business plan is 36 pages long. Now, not every business plan has to be this long, but it can be as in depth as you want it to be.  What is your long term business plan?  After you have establish that, come up with some short term goals.  Set up yearly goals, 6 month goals,
monthly and weekly goals.  Each goal means something and achieve it.  Have a daily planner and write up little lists each week on what you want to establish and conquer each day.  It can be as simple as finishing up a photo session and getting it client ready or maybe brainstorming some fun photo sessions and posting those ideas so you can start booking clients.  One thing I have learned in the years of photographing humans is that, I CREATE MY OWN DESTINY, I BRING IN MY OWN WORK.  I NEED TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.  So I make these lists and stick to them.  This blog post was on my list for today.  I am happy that I am writing it.  I feel like even if I help one other photographer, then I did my job for the day.

7. Be True To Yourself

Many photographers have declared a specialty. I personally have not.  I find by declaring one, I limit myself.  I want to make it very clear that I am not knocking photographers who have.  I just personally cannot commit to doing so.  I do consider myself a family photographer, but I also photograph senior sessions, weddings, newborns, boudoir ETC.  You name it, I probably have photographed it at least once.  If you are in the same boat as I am, do not feel bad about it.  It actually should be something to be proud of.  I photograph each session with pride and dedication and my work shows it.  I know your work, if you are committed enough will prove worthy as well. GO YOU!

My last bit of advice is just to be true to yourself.  Have confidence in yourself and your work.  Smile!  Let the community around you know that you are "here" and a force to be reckoned with.  WORK HARD, GO BIG OR GO HOME, MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, IF YOU SNOOZE, YOU'LL LOSE.  MAKE IT HAPPEN AND BE PROUD OF YOURSELF!  Best of luck to my fellow photographers. :)

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