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Forums » Advice, Smarts and Warnings


    • 12 posts
    April 5, 2006 10:26 PM EDT

    I thought I would throw my comments in here as photography is both a passion of mine and something that I from time to time get to charge people for.  Neil is right on.  Photography classes are great and they can help you grow as a photographer but at the same time they don`t teach you how to make money (for the most part, although I have taken a couple that did).  Being a photographer is all about selling yourself and your style.  While I have not done any commercial work, I have done portraits and a ton of sports photography and I have to say that the hardest part of the photography business is selling.  When I did it full time I was constantly selling.  Every minute I wasn`t shooting I was selling.  For me my website was crucial.  It brought me quite a bit of business and allowed me to proof and sell photos quickly without setting up a gallery.  Don`t go overboard, but don`t skimp on the size or quality of work you show online.  Watermark and copyright your online images or people will steal them.

    Business classes are fine and good but don`t go overboard.  So much of being successful in business you simply cannot learn in a classroom.  You learn it by doing it.  By asking for help.  By finding the right people to guide you along the way.  You found Startup Nation and it is a great resource, use it.  You sound like your time is already stretched thin.  Your family has to take the prime spot they are the most important.  School is also important so finish the degree you`re working on, but also remember that what really counts in the end is that you get your business up and running smoothly.  Personally I feel that time is better spent doing and learning the ropes at the school of hard knocks than sitting in a classroom and listening to theories and procedures that might not ever apply to you.

    Lastly you need to build a team of people to help you.  I am a control freak and I like to understand how everything works down to the last detail.  It is a complete waste of time, but my OCD doesn`t let me stop.  You don`t have to be that way.  Find an accountant to handle your tax issues.  Find a lawyer to handle your legal issues.  Find people who have been in your shoes to give you a nudge in the right direction and give you a summary of what they have learned the hard way.  Once you become the success that I know you are going to be, help others.  Keep the spirit alive.  If you would like help with any aspect of your business I will do my best to offer you whatever assistance you need.  My best advice is don`t spend a bunch of money that you don`t need to up front, use your brain before your wallet.

    Good Luck

    • 17 posts
    April 5, 2006 8:23 PM EDT
    Hi Joy,

    Well, advice on most photography forums is concentrait on the business courses first, and shoot a lot on your own. While the photography classes can teach you a lot, you still have a lot to learn when you get out - so you may as well get going on that.

    I looked at your profile where you mention an interest in commercial photography and it looks like you`re already in the photography course. If at all possible, start shooting some people (I mean as a photographer, not your police involvement {sorry, bad joke but couldn`t resist. You probably don`t even get a gun as a dispatcher.}. )

    As well as business courses, one of the most valuable skills a photographer can develop is learning how to sell. It`s part of the job, you may as well be good at it.

    Aside from business skills, you would do well to develope a style/philosophy of photography that you can sell as "you." Make it your passion. You may not get to always shoot that style, but that`s what you market. Of course, that doesn`t mean you shouldn`t try other styles on non-paying shoots, you will want to grow and develop over the years. But, if you market one look, it makes it easier for art directors to figure out how to use your photography - which means more jobs.

    Best of luck with your venture,

    NeilSpeers. com - Acoutstic blues / electric folk - independent music. - Commercial, industrial, corporate, & editorial photography based in Calgary, Alberta. Neil Speers 403 230 4042

  • April 5, 2006 7:56 PM EDT

    Hi Joy,

    I too am a mom/wife and solo entrepenuer.  I began my business by refilling ink jet cartridges in Oct. 2000.  By Oct 2001 we carried a full line of technology items.  By Oct 2002 we were able to offer a complete line of office supplies and furniture.  Pretty much if Office Max/Staples/Viking/Quill/Office Depot carries it, we can get it for you, also.  Hence, we compete with the big guys.

    We began by grosses $50 in 2000.  I spent a lot more than that for refilling supplies, but that`s ok.  For last year we brought in over $70,000.  I run my business very part time around the family and family commitments and all, and end up keeping us in state of the art office supplies.    I`m sure if I were to put in full time hours, I would earn full time wages.

    Anyway, that`s my story and I`ve seen a bit of yours.  If I can do this, I`m sure you can.  I would recommend one very important thing.  Make sure you set up official office hours when your work from the house.  Even if you don`t have an office, just make sure you can get a set of hours when you can devote to your business and nothing else.

    Feel free to contact me if you`d be interested in some one on one chit chat.  Maybe we can learn priorites together.  I quit my 10 hr a week job last week.  Just wasn`t worth the hassle.  I could use the time to work on my business.

    Well, it was nice typing to you.  Have a great day!!



    But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrew 11:6

    • 355 posts
    November 5, 2006 4:01 AM EST

    Hi Joy,

    A gentleman I use to work with started his own photography business six years ago. He started part time. He now owns and runs a successful photo studio and business in Pahrump Nevada. One of the ways he grew his business was by self promoting himself to the numerous wedding chapels and planners in the Vegas area. To be successful though, as others have said, you will need to study the business end of photography. Issue you will need to address are your per hour fee. Its not just your time, but the cost of equipment, chemicals for processing, will you do digital vs. film, how long will you guarantee film images. Will you charge per hour to do the shoot and then so much per image purchased. What type of insurance will you need? You can find some of the answers on fees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics web page. Who pays for you mileage or will that be included in your service fees? You will also need a portfolio and business cards. There are many more issues involved in the business end of photography, but you get the idea. But don’t let these things discourage you. My friend had very little when he started his business and now lives the life he’s always wanted.

    The older we get, the more excuses we make for not chasing after our dreams. But truth is, goals are attainable at any age.

    • 29 posts
    April 6, 2006 10:38 AM EDT



    I am a mom of two working as an Admin Assistant to get bills paid. I have been looking for someone to assist virtually whether it be research, spreadsheets, letters, whatever.

    BobbyHume is right...find some people...I am an island myself. I have wanted to start my own business for about 8 years....I do alot of planning and things but I never have anyone to talk to about it and my ideas tend to become stillborn.

    --- Ellay West Concepts (Freelance Commercial Writer)

    • 20 posts
    September 29, 2006 4:15 AM EDT

    Taking photography classes is good...

    My best advice to you as a photographer is to know what your customers want in their photos. My wedding photographer was only ok... but if she had taken some great pictures, I would have recommended her to others. Word of mouth gets around very fast!

  • April 5, 2006 3:27 PM EDT

    Anybody out there interested in being part of a success story ?   I need some serious advice.

    Long story short, I`m a wife/mother/police dispatcher & owner of Joy of Photography in Las Vegas waaaaay earlier than what I ever planned.   It`s sort of a long story but I`m not ready to run a business and I have no clue what I`m doing. 

    I`d love it if there are any successful business owners interested in hearing my case but it`s way to long of a story/situation to post on a forum. 

    I know that I will one day have a very successful business, but I guess I`m just looking for some encouragement and sound advice. 

    My plans are to #1continue with startup nation & take a business class specific to photographers next semester at my school, #2 graduate with my Associates Degree in commercial photography this December 2006, #3 take more business classes (I don`t know what aspect I should concentrate on), and #4 get a serious plan together for eventually quitting my job as a dispatcher and running my business full time.

    I`d love to hear from you if you have a successful business and have any helpful advice.

    Thanks !! 
  • November 15, 2006 5:59 AM EST
    I wanted to stop in to thank all of you for your great advice and encouragement.  It`s been awhile since I`ve logged in - just busy of course.  bmwsmity - thanks so much for the heads up on - I did check it out and I`m excited to get in contact with them.  I agree that the school of hard knocks is a great way to learn what I need to know, but I just feel completely uncomfortable with hard knocks right now beause I seriously don`t have a clue WHATSOEVER about the business end of this.  It`s very frustrating because I feel so ready to spread my wings when it comes to my photography, but I am smart enough to recognize being good at photography is not enough to be a successful business owner....and I know that`s my weakness right now. 

    Again, thank you all for your advice and helping me to keep my spirits lifted in this endeavor.  You all have been truly kind!
    • 6 posts
    November 13, 2006 3:06 AM EST
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