Making money from photography is easy
I didn’t publish a ‘best of 2013’ blog post simply because I wanted to look forward this year. I also wanted to take some long overdue time out with my family before things got crazy again in 2014…
Working ‘On the Hop’ (or working from home as many describe it) is the most amazing thing, and something that I always knew would be the only way I would live. I’ve honestly felt like I’ve been on tour for most of my adult life – the master of destinies, absorbing and relishing amazing people that I’ve met. In some ways I have a romantic notion that life is a beach party with the most cosy camp fire at the centre.
Of course the reality can skew the view somewhat and there have been some tough lessons along the way. You know the clichés: slobbing around at home doing everything but work, pretending that actually running a business is beneath you as you flit from one glamorous fashion shoot to the next.
Thankfully those days are long gone for me, and running the business side of things is something that I do well, and respect. I know too many good photographers, artists, or musicians who have failed because they’ve not know how to consistently turn their creativity into profit. If the boring stuff bores you, then you better find a way of dealing with it because more often than not it’s those things that are going to make all the difference when it comes to being successful or being broke.
It’s hard work. It’s hard work and a dedication to your art or whatever your output is that makes it possible to not only continue doing it, but to grow into something bigger. If you want to stop treading water, then start swimming.
I do regularly have photographers approach me asking to be my assistant, anything, they’ll ‘not mind working for free’. I have worked with assistants before, and I will again, but if you work for me I will pay you.
The flip side is this: If you work with little or no payment what message are you sending out? How can you expect your clients to value you if you can’t be bothered to value yourself? It’s complete nonsense that you’re ‘doing a favour’ (for who?), or you’re gaining valuable experience (being exploited). I would say go for it, but when the person who runs that business drives it into the ground until it’s unrecoverable they haven’t just ruined any potential they may have had to be a sustainable business or brand, they’ve also demonstrated to [now non-]paying clients that photography and photographers don’t need to be valued – there’s always someone who will do the work for free if you promise exposure.
Even worse, with wedding photography it’s not only other photographers that lose out to the half price bidder, it’s the couple themselves. Simply put, if your work isn’t good enough, if your photography sucks, then the easiest way to get the booking is to compete on price – undercut everyone and secure the deal. It’s in the bag. But if it’s not enough to run a business, or god forbid – make a profit, Who is getting the best deal? What’s actually in the bag?!
If your business goes down, nobody cares about you, but you can bet that your bride and groom are going to be pretty upset. You can’t get that stuff back.
All of this has been said before, I’m sure, and I’m not really trying to make a huge point here. It doesn’t really effect me in the same way that it used to, or maybe I just don’t think about theses things any more.
I’m lucky in the fact that when couples come to me they value photography first. It’s their first thought and at the top of their agenda. I find that we rarely discuss money straight away – obviously it’s there and I’m very upfront about prices, but I love having meetings with new couples and talking through their plans, enthusiastic, creatively motivated and genuinely excited to hear their story, only to come away and realise that we haven’t spent any time negotiating figures. No awkward transactions…
I’ve worked hard – we’ve worked hard to make our photography sustainable as a business, offering a premium service that’s not just there to make us money, but is great value for our clients too. We’ve dug deep to find completely exclusive products like our Fusion range of albums which are hand made and bound to such a high standard that they are truly a labour of love, and because they are not off the shelf standard wedding albums we can ensure that they are exclusive and unique to each and every client. It’s one of my favourite things!
This year we’re growing again. We have some exciting new products coming up in the next few weeks and we’re getting stuck into the new wedding season with shoots coming up starting this weekend. We’ve taken bookings now for 2015 and 2016 and looking forward to doing it all over again.
Maybe see you there…