Some people fear for our industry. They say it's going in the toilet. They say it's over saturated... They say it's lost its professionalism and its value.
I say eat.my.shorts.
But that's somehow counter-productive seeing as that response is a little childish... So here is a better response.
10 ways that I think will SAVE OUR INDUSTRY.
Disclaimer: I am just a Canadian who is living the majority of her life under a rock, busy making actions, snuggling newborns and trying to avoid letting my pug sneeze in my face... So please know that I am not an expert, these are opinions. Not facts. Also I am sure there are more than 10 things we can do, but this is just a starting point - we can grow from this and only get better and better!
(edited with Simply Artiste) and yes this is Vespa. I have no shame. She is the cutest ever.
1. Run a legitimate businesses. Get registered if your country/state/province etc requires it. And yes, I know it's no fun, but PAY YOUR TAXES. Get insurance, if anything happened to your baby (camera) you need a cushion to fall back onto.
I will say this a couple of times. If you want to be valued by your clients and you want them to pay you money, you need to SHOW them you mean business.... Literally.
2. Use contracts. I say this because not only does it protect you and your business, but also because it lets your client know what to expect. DO NOT write them yourselves. This goes along with being legit - invest in the cost of having a lawyer look it over.
3. Invest in your knowledge. If you are a workshop addict like moi, then you know what I am talking about. Sitting in front of the computer reading conflicting opinions from every Tom Sally and Reina (it's a popular name!!!), it can get confusing, and you constantly question yourself. If you find a photographer that you love and respect, and they throw an online or in person workshop - INVEST in it. And go and be inspired!! (If workshops aren't your thing, that is fine too!! I am just grateful for the communities and continued help and guidance I have received from the workshops I have taken).
Also invest in the time that is needed to hone your craft . Practice, practice, practice. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be a master. Be patient, it's the ride that has all the fun anyway, not the destination :)
(edited with Simply Artiste and Puppy Love from Simply Love)
4. Invest in your equipment. But do not rely on it!! We all hate it when our clients talk about how our nice cameras take the nice pictures when it's really us. Well same goes. You can take beautiful images with any type of camera. So don't think a nicer lens or a full frame is gonna solve your problem. (I am smiling as I type this because this was me last year). Invest in your equipment, just don't turn your equipment into the bandaid that is meant to fix your bigger problem which is you need to practice more. If this is you just put your credit card down and return to number three on this list.
5. Do not cut corners. Your clients are paying you. With money. Money they worked hard for. Honor that. Respect that. Give them your best. This leads me to number 6:
6. Take your emotion out of your pricing. Charge based on your desired income and the cost of doing business. If you feel you are not good enough yet do more portfolio building... Have your full pricing where your clients can see but charge them a smaller fee. That way the pressure is off you, but they still see your value :)
Do not overbook yourself. If you overbook yourself regularly, then it means it's time to increase your prices. The demand (sessions) is high but the supply (your time) is low (I mean y'all have families to be with and lives to live!) so simple economics, low supply and high demand raises the price. This allows you to spend time with your client, treat them like the gold you have always wanted them to feel but you were too busy to remember how to tie your shoes. Slow down. Overbooking will only burn you out. When I overbook myself I start to hate photographing people, and that makes me sad, because I know how much I love it, and I know that my inability to say no is killing that passion. I always try to be careful to not do that.
6.5. Charge pricing that is competitive in your local market. Don't undercut your colleagues, and yes they are your colleagues!! Not your competition! It's not fair to them, it's not right. It's actually kinda lame. So don't do it. But at the same time - if you see someone charging less than you do, this does not necessarily mean they are undercutting you - it could be that their overhead isn't as high as yours, they are consciously targeting a client with a lower budget, or they are not doing a boutique style studio. It is best that you price yourself competitively and enough to properly run your business, and keep your nose in your own pie.
7. Stop labelling local photographers as competition. They are your colleagues. You may compete in quotes for the same job, but you are completely unique. Your style of photography is just yours, and 9 times out of 10 your client is hiring you because they click with you. That's it. They love your work but the deciding factor: do they feel like they have a rapport with you? These are things that you cannot compete with other people over. So stop. Treat your colleagues as such. Go out for brunches! And when your month is fully booked pass on the referrals!
(edited with True Love from Simply Love, True from Simply Dream and Vignettes from Simply Artiste)
8. Stop... And I mean it, just stop... Stop commenting on other photographers business pages with your opinions or CC of their work. Know there is a line, it's called professionalism. Don't cross it! No matter how much you feel that photographer may ask for it. Because here is the thing. Your clients might be seeing this. Again: you want them to value you, you want them to pay you money, then show them that you are a professional! Repeat after me: "no drama for this mama" (I have a fur child, it's allowed).
9. Be aware that you are an artist, so your feelings about your work are subjective and hyper sensitive. Understand the balance of: you are providing a service, but that they are hiring you for YOUR talents. Finding that balance of knowing where to have your boundaries and when you will say no, and how much you will say yes is incredibly hard. And it takes time. It's a lot of growing pains. Deal. It sucks but deal. Never go back on your word, under promise and over deliver, and when all is said and done, drink some wine or eat chocolate, decompress and unwind, and try not to take it all so personally. Trust me, I know it's hard. But try :).
10. Be grateful. You have found your passion. Photography is your lifeblood and you have found your purpose. Not everyone gets that, not everyone gets to do what they love for a living or even part time! So remember how lucky we all are. And be nice, put positivity out there, let go of your ego, you will learn so much more when you do.
(edited with Simply Artiste)
And most of all, be happy. Enjoy.