Setting up your own photography business is easy, you don’t need office space, you can do it from your own home. However, this is not the easiest type of business to market to, especially if you are new to the business. Very often, to market this type of business, you need specialized contacts, and your newness to the business prevents you from having these contacts, unless of course your last name is Eastman.
Don’t underestimate the power of marketing, because it is the tool that can make or break your business. Trading is the business aspect of transferring property from one owner to another. Without this tool, you are lost, but don’t despair, there are effective avenues you can explore to successfully market your business.
First of all, you need to decide what form of business you are going to establish, there are only two basic types: assignment photography and stock photography.
Assignment photography covers jobs for which you have been hired to photograph. In other words, you have a specific objective to photograph. An example of this type of photography is to cover the wedding of Mr X. This type of photography is the bread and butter of photographers, however it is unlikely to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography.
The photographs will have limited appeal, in the case of Mr. X’s wedding; no matter how technically perfect those photographs are, they will have limited appeal. They just aren’t marketable outside of Mr. X’s family field.
Stock photography, is exactly what the name suggests, you have a stock of photographs and you have to market them. You have taken the photographs without having a buyer. This type of photography is much more speculative and can waste a lot of resources. You may have to invest a great deal of time or film, depending on whether you’re using an SLR or a digital camera. Non-professionals think that these photos happen when you are in the right place at the right time. In reality though, being in the right place has an element of advantage, who can forget the boy on fire from Napalm running out of a village in the Vietnam War? often they are a particular photograph taken from a series of hundreds. While these photos are often the most exciting to take, they can also be boring, and you may never get that “says it all” photo.
There are effective ways to market these stock photos, which is wonderful for the beginner because you don’t bear the cost of marketing. There are several stock image libraries online. You submit your photos to these libraries and then they sell the rights for others to reproduce them. The pricing structure for this type of photography depends on its content and also where it is being sold. It can appear on the cover of an encyclopedia with a circulation of half a million, and it can appear on someone’s private website. There will be a different fee depending on the type of photography and your market. When your photo is sold, the library will deduct a percentage of your commission for marketing and, of course, profit.
Most photographers, when they start out, will combine these types of businesses to varying degrees. There are several ways to boost your marketing profile without spending any money. Joining a local photography society is one way, another is to go to your local town hall and see if your local chamber of commerce has a pool of professional photographers. Another trickier way to market your business and give it a higher profile with the local community is to offer to teach photography for free. Yes, I know you will most likely work from home, but why not offer to do it at a local school?
The debate over SLR vs. digital cameras is still going on, and it looks like it will stay that way for some time.
It’s still fair to say that most photographers want great images, in a compact and affordable package. Improved design techniques for the digital camera now offer a viable alternative to 35mm film, but one of the drawbacks of marketing this type of film was the time it took to produce digital photographs at home. Housing development often does not give a professional finish. Now there are photo developing agencies online that will give you great images. You upload the photos to the chosen site and they will print them and send them to you. This way, you can ensure crisp printouts of your instructions. Kodak Gallery lets you share your prints online afterwards by giving you storage space, which means you don’t even have to scan your images. Don’t forget to check out our other articles for great tips and advice for every step of your business development. Make your business work for you!
Although marketing is a very important aspect of the business, it does not make up for the lack of quality. Clear, sharp prints sell, and others don’t. Make sure you invest in good quality basics like a tripod. It is not necessary to invest in products that you will use once a year, if you need them then hire them, especially when you are just starting out. Even if you use digital, it’s still a fact that the lens is more important than the camera. Make sure the equipment you buy works for you. The extra time spent asking questions before buying will pay dividends later, in terms of money saved. Everyone wastes money at some point or another, but being thoughtful and doing your research can cut it down substantially.