When you are a kid and thinking about the many ways you can make a living when you grow up, what is the advice your elders always gave you? It was, “Do what you love to do and you will always be happy.” And that has to be true because if you can spend your work week doing what you love the most, it really won’t be work as much as it will be play that people pay you to do.
So if your passion is photography, it makes sense to start your own photography business. But how to go about it? You see so many small photography shops that seem to spring up from nowhere. What is the best way for you to go about starting your own business like this?
The first thing to think about when starting a photography business is how to do it in a legitimate way. You want a business that will last a lifetime so you want to start it out right. So don’t fall for the “get rich quick” internet schemes or books that claim they will spill the insider secrets of other successful photography business. There are no insider secrets to this business other than what you need to know to run any business. To succeed you have to…
- Pay your dues
- Get your education.
- Learn from the pros.
- Know your stuff.
- Value your customers.
You can accomplish the first five of these objectives by going to school and working part or full time in somebody else’s photography shop. You may despair at the idea of more school. But your photography business will be about more than just cameras, photo shoots and dark rooms. You have accounting principles to comprehend and execute, taxes to be paid, a facility to rent, employees to pay, insurance to worry about, contracts to sign and all of that other “stuff” that goes with running a business. So start early and get some basic business classes under your belt such as accounting and economics. It will benefit you dozens of ways as you march toward success.
Many trades have an apprentice system where you tutor under a master of the craft. But it might be a good thing for you to take this matter into your own hands. Plan to work for a photography shop long enough to learn the ins and outs of running a small business and of running a photography business. This gives you the chance to build your knowledge and exposure to equipment, learn technique and how to work with your subjects.
In fact, it might be a good idea to deliberately apprentice at a number of different types of photography studios before launching out on your own. So you can learn the ins and outs of wedding photography, baby photography, fashion photography and others from specialists all before you spend a dime of your own money to start your own enterprise. In this way, you build skills, you build knowledge, you build experience and you can watch and take notes of the great things others do and the mistakes to avoid.
Your employers will be thrilled to share their real world knowledge with you if you are open to them that you want to learn from the masters how to do this with the goal of becoming their competition in the future. Above all, you can build a client base from the many customers you work with before you start your own business. Buy taking care of someone else’s customers, they can become your customers when you hang out your shingle. And that is good business.