When I started my business, I was lucky enough to have a lot of support in various corners. But, inevitably, there were areas where I made mistakes! Of course, there’s the old adage that we learn from our mistakes but, let’s be honest, it’s often easier to avoid those mistakes altogether.
After a lifetime of taking photos and three years of university, I thought my technical knowledge was pretty sound. But once I started working as a professional photographer, I realised there was still much to be learned. And the learning never stops either!
There are always going to be new inventions and technologies in photography and you will need to keep up to date. Don’t underestimate the speed at which photography moves and make sure you allow time to keep your knowledge current.
Have a Plan
When I decided to set up my business, I didn’t really have a clear idea of where I wanted it to go. Like a lot of artistic people, logical thinking isn’t always my strongest skill! I doubt most people enjoy making a business plan, but it really helps to have a clear picture of practical issues.
There are plenty of websites and books to help with business plans and a lot of banks will also provide assistance as part of their business section. Speaking of which…
Set Up a Business Banking Account
Actually, this is one thing that I did know when I set my business up and it’s proved very useful. Firstly, it allows you to have a dedicated account with your business name attached to it, which provides a professional outlook to customers. And it also allows you to keep your finances separate and control what goes in and out of the business more easily.
Value Your Time
You can’t buy more time, so your time is extremely important. So it’s important you value it accordingly. And most of us don’t do this when we’re starting out. We don’t charge enough and we end up doing far too much work for far too little money.
In today’s digital world, it’s even more important to take heed of this, as you aren’t just charging for a shoot, you’re also charging for all the post production work that your clients are bound to want.
Focus Your Work
At the start of my career, I tended to photography pretty much anything that people wanted to pay me to shoot. But, as time went on, I began to focus on the areas of photography that I really love and that I’m best at. For me, that’s portraiture in all its many forms. It doesn’t matter if you want to focus on just one genre, or whether you enjoy shooting a variety of things.
The key is to stick to photographing what you love, because that’s what you’ll be the best at and will be where you produce great photos.
Remember to have a Life
I used to work pretty much 7 days a week – often because of the fact that I genuinely love what I do, but also because I felt that I needed to be working all the time to get ahead! But, whilst I was often very busy and had lots of shoots coming in, I was also often extremely tired and probably not at my best. Yes, I was young enough to keep going but I lacked balance in my life.
Fortunately, the desire to have a social life soon kicked back in! And now that I’m older, with a family of my own, I realise even more how important it is to keep a balance between work and life. You’ll be a far better photographer if you keep this in mind.
I didn’t have professional photography insurance when I started, which makes me shudder when I think about it nowadays. Fortunately, I was incredibly lucky and nothing went wrong for me. But it could easily have been a different story. Recently, one of my cameras packed up and if I hadn’t had professional cover, I could easily have ended up having to find an awful lot of money to replace it.