Photographers love photography. That’s rather obvious. Unfortunately, most don’t love the photography business. Of course it takes a lot of different elements to make a photography career work. Below is a list of ten things that young and old photographers alike do wrong when taking pictures, working with clients and running their business.
1) Not treating the client with respect. For some reason I see photographers who think a photography session is about them. People in front of your lens are happy to be there, pay your bills and often honored to have you take their photo. Make the event or session about them, not you.
2) Ignore the value of your copyright. I know you’ve heard it a million times, respect your copyright. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the business, managing your copyright is important. I think the best argument is that if your copyright had no value, why is everyone working so hard to get it?
3) Believe getting paid a little money for your work means you can make a career of photography. Often an entry-level or hobby photographer will earn 50-100 dollars for a few photographs they took a few moments to create. They get excited and start doing the math in their head. Wow, if I do this a few times a day – I can make a career of photography. Of course, they don’t realize how hard it is to earn that many clients at any price.
4) Photographers don’t charge enough. The cost to develop and run a business is expensive. Have you thought about how many assignments you can realistically procure over a year and how much you need to charge to meet your income goal. Not to mention your expenses.
5) Believe they have no overhead. Your camera is a computer that needs upgrading, your computer and software is expensive. Stuff breaks! Marketing for new business and the insurance to protect yourself costs money. Your accountant, lawyers and other professional services that you enlist are not cheap. Working without a studio does not mean you don’t have overhead.
6) They don’t follow-up. After you complete an assignment, how do you keep in touch with the client for future work and referrals? Do you have a system for referrals in place?
7) Photographers don’t help other photographers. I can’t tell you how many times young photographers tell me that established photographers will not talk to them. They shut the door in their face and give attitude for even suggesting they help the competition. The reality is that up and coming photographers are your competition whether you talk to them or not. Teach them the business, the value of their images and the importance of copyright. This helps to improve the health of your industry. I rather bid against someone who is charging 10% less than 50% less. Heck, I just might win on my portfolio quality.
8) Fail to create partnerships. If you wish to grow your business; working with partner companies is a powerful way to go. Look for other companies targeting the same demographic or industries and work together.
9) They don’t ask for a testimonial. After you finish photographing, flip the camera to video mode and ask for a testimonial. It only takes a few moments and the value is worth every second. Share the video of your happy customer on YouTube, Facebook and on your website.
10) Photographers stop learning. No, you don’t know it all. There is always something new to learn in photography. You must continue to seek new information and inspiration like you did when you first discovered photography.
What would you add?