Posts Tagged ‘how to start a photography business’

Correctional Officer Turned Photographer

From the article:

The California Department of Correction’s loss is professional photography’s gain.

After graduating from Manteca High in 1993, and inspired by the many members of her family who were in law enforcement, Dolores Baluyut went into the correctional academy for the required six-week training program at that time. As soon as she got her assignment at the maximum-security Salinas State Valley Prison (a level 4 prison compared to DVI’s level 3), it didn’t take long for the newlywed to realize that was not her life’s calling. After only a month and a half working at the state prison in Salinas, she resigned.

To read more about how Dolores started her portrait and wedding photography business, click here.

Unique Marketing Idea For Photography Business

A couple of weeks ago, I featured a video of a “Flash Mob” singing the Hallelujah Chorus in a mall.  This was organized by Alphabet Photography, and they have received tons of great PR because of it.  If you missed the video, you can see it below.  Click here for the full article on how this has helped their photo business.

From the article:

The mob was filmed by the company and released on YouTube. Since November, the video has gone viral, and has been viewed 25 million times. As a result, the small independently owned business has seen a blitz of interest, and has appeared on TV and in print across the world.

Photographer offering free reprints for Toys for Tots donations

Here is a great idea to promote your studio and make a difference in your community at the same time!  Check out what this photographer did:

Diane Hamilton Photography is offering their clients free 8×10 or smaller reprints from any 2010 portrait session in exchange for Toys for Tots toy donations. This offer is good for up to 5 reprints per client.

Read the full article here, and be sure to visit Shuttermom University for more photography business ideas, tips, and coaching.  See you there!

Ready To Break Into Boudoir Photography?

Found this great article on Black Star Rising and wanted to share.  From the article:

The popularity of boudoir photography has exploded over the past few years. It’s not only become a fashionable wedding gift for brides to present to their grooms on their Big Day (or the night before), but it also makes a great anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and “just because” gift. Along with the tremendous increase in demand, there’s also been a huge increase in the number of photographers offering boudoir as part of their services. Some are even specializing in it. If you’ve been thinking about breaking into this lucrative market, here are some things to consider.

Click here for the full article, and we’ll see you over at Shuttermom University for more photography business tips and coaching.

Levi’s Photo Workshop

Levi’s just opened up a community photography studio, where people can come and use equipment and studio space for free.

From the article:

Opening today in the former Deitch Gallery in NYC is the Levi’s Photo Workshop. Levi’s established the workshop to both celebrate photography’s rich history in New York City and to be a place where photographers of all levels can work together. The Photo Workshop will provide free photography resources including camera rentals (they have a fantastic selection of both digital and vintage film cameras available), the use of studio space and professional lighting equipment, and photo printers ranging from small and large format inkjet to an apparel printer.

Click here for the full article, and be sure to join in with over 900 photographers at Shuttermom University for more photography business tips and coaching.  See you there!

No Cost / Low Cost Marketing For Your Photo Business

Please welcome our guest author, Fred Claus.  You can read more about him at the bottom of his article.  A special thanks to Fred for being a guest author this week.

In an effort to get your photography business off the ground, you go to the book store or your local library and try to find as many books on marketing your home based business. Many of them have great ideas, but they all take a ton of money. One in particular catches your eye; it shows you how to market on a shoestring budget. What do you do if you don’t even have the “Shoestring” to market with? There are plenty of ways to market a home based photography company that will cost you little or no money to do.

DONATE: Everywhere you look there are people holding fundraisers. This time of year, your children’s schools, your church, local civic groups are just a few of the groups looking for donations to help raise funds for their cause. Try donating a gift certificate for your services. I like to donate a certificate worth a free session, and one 11×14 print from this shoot. This does cost you something in the beginning, but not much. You can make the certificate up on the computer for a few cents. Sure it costs you time, especially if you charge a session fee, and it also costs you the price of an 11×14 image. If you think about it though, how many people do you know that would use this gift certificate and only take the free image? Many clients will purchase multiple prints from this session so long as the work is good. The extra print orders will help to recoup the cost of the free print you are giving away. It’s also been suggested in the past that 11×14 is the perfect size to offer because it won’t fit on a standard home scanner so it’s less likely to be scanned than other prints would be.

NETWORKING: Before you stop reading let me tell you this is not an MLM type option. Everyone in business networks. Search out local networking groups to join. These groups are small and meet for breakfast once a week or so. They are a group of business people with only representative from each profession allowed to join. These groups are formed for the sole purpose of trying to build your business. That being said, whenever another member of your group hears someone who needs services you can provide they will be more apt to hand out your card or mention your company. Some groups cost hundreds of dollars a year, but if you search, you can also find ones that are as little as $10.00 a month.

BUSINESS CARDS: Business cards are a great form of advertising for budding photographers. Make sure you have them on hand at all times and willing to hand them out. Even if you are not in a situation where they are in need of a photographer, hand them your card. Meet someone from your kids school who needs your phone number? Hand them a card, you never know if the need should arise in the future.

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Contact your local chamber office. This is another form of a networking group, but with a bit of a twist. The chamber does not limit their enrollment to just one representative of a particular profession so you will be more likely to see other photographers. They do however only refer their members if someone calls the chamber for a referral. Also unlike networking groups, the main purpose of the chamber is not to network and get leads. It’s more of a business person’s social group. The mixers and other business parties however do find a way to do some soft selling and promoting your business. As a photographer, you may also be able to work a bartering deal with your local chamber. I did such a thing this past year and was able to join for free. My local chamber has an awards dinner each year and they normally hire a local photographer to capture the memories and deliver the images on a CD to the chamber office. I approached the chamber president and offered to photograph the event for free in exchange for my membership into the chamber. Even though the amount of free services they were getting cost less than the cost of my membership the saw the long term benefits of my membership and agreed to the deal.

PARTNERSHIP WITH NON-COMPETING BUSINESS: What type of photography do you specialize in? Try to find a company to partner with. Let’s say you do children’s photography, look for children related companies. Daycare centers, pediatricians, children’s book stores, are just a few of the opportunities. You can approach the owners of such businesses and work a deal to display your work. Doctor’s offices, and daycares as well as children’s clothing stores will be very happy allow you to display your work in their waiting rooms or around the store. This helps to promote your business, while also providing the company with free décor. It’s a win win for both of you. While this works for children’s photographers, there are ways to do this with any form of photography. You just need to look at your specialty and find complimentary companies.

VENDOR FAIRS: This can be taken two ways. Some photographers would like to set up a booth at a local vendor fair and speak with people as they come to the booth. This is great, but only if people come to you. A free and often better way to do this is to attend the local vendor fairs and scout for other photographers. If there are none, then start marketing. Look for complimentary companies and ask to leave some information on their tables. Also, walk around the fair and talk with other fair goers. Comment on how cute their kids look, how adorable their dog looks, whatever it is your business services. Then hand them your business card and offer to do their pictures. While this isn’t as successful as the other forms of marketing, it is free and it does get your name out there. It also helps if you wear t-shirts, or hats with your company information on it. That way people you don’t talk to will still know about your services.

GIVE IT AWAY: Now, before I get a lot of hate mail, let me explain. Let’s say you are walking around a theme park, or your child’s Harvest party at school. You see a child doing something cute, and you happen to be standing there with your digital camera. BAM! You take the once in a lifetime shot. Now the parents would have never called you to take this shot, nor would they have thought to take it themselves. If they did, they would have and you wouldn’t be needed. Take the time to show the image to the parents right then and there. Tell them if they give you their email address you would be happy to email a copy of the image to them. Keep careful notes so that you don’t email the wrong child’s picture to the wrong email. When you get home take time to edit the pictures as if it were a paying gig and make sure they are as good as you can make them. Email the images to the family along with a note that it was nice talking to them, and your contact information. This contact information should also mention that you are a photographer. I bet the family will be posting that picture on their facebook page, maybe as their wallpaper on their computer or cell phone and also possibly many prints ordered as Wal-Mart or the local drug store. Now this may be a slow going process, but next time they need a family portrait done they may look at that picture and remember you.

PRESS RELEASE: Any chance you have to get your name in front of the press will be good for you so long as it’s good press. If you are a member of Shuttermom University you know about “Portrait Parties.” Use that format to help raise money for a worthy cause in your community such as a new playground for the local elementary school, or to help raise money for a needy family. This event would be a press worthy event, so make sure you let the newspapers know. This makes your company look good and it also gives you some free advertising for your upcoming event.

When it comes to photography, the best marketing is “word of mouth” marketing. No matter if its words coming from your mouth, or other people talking about your company, it’s still word of mouth. If you take the time to implement the ideas mentioned in this article you will be creating opportunities for people to talk about your company. The more people are talking about you, the more potential clients you have.

Fred J Claus is a professional photographer and writer living with his wife and 3 children on Grand Island, NY. Fred has been a photographer since the age of 5, and took over his father’s studio in 1996. You can see Fred’s work or contact him through his website at

Making A Career Switch To Photography

Here’s the story of how Glenn Mire made a successful career switch from the technology field into photography - right in the middle of the economic downturn.

While he admits that it wasn’t easy, he says that networking and providing quality photography has allowed his business to grow.

For the full article, click here.  For more photography business tips and coaching, be sure to join us over at Shuttermom University.  See you there!

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Fun Family Portrait Session

I loved this video of a fun family portrait session from Matt Mason Photography. Looked like they had lots of fun, and Matt captured some really excellent and unique family portraits in an urban setting. These “fusion” videos that combine still images with video footage are all the rage, and can help your photography business stand out in a crowded market. Enjoy the video below, and be sure to come join in the fun over at Shuttermom University for more photo tips and photography business coaching. See you there!

A Home Based Photography Business - You Can Do It!

So you take great images. Everyone tells you that you should quit your day job and start your own photography business. You agree. You dream every night about quitting your “day job.” You want to fire your boss. You want to make your dream a reality…but where to start? Obviously, to make a living out of your passion you are going to need more than technical skill. You are going to have to learn a little something (okay, maybe a lot) about business!

The first thing to consider is the type of photography you are going to pursue. Maybe you see yourself as a portrait artist. Perhaps you enjoy doing event photography such as weddings. It could be that you are only interested in shooting “stock” photography and selling it to publications. I would recommend focusing on one main area to start. Strive to become the best you can be in one area and then branch out if you so desire.

Once you are certain of the area of photography you will focus on, you will need to sit down and write a business plan. If the task seems too daunting, there are numerous software programs that can help you, or you may even want to hire someone to write it for you. Your business plan will serve as blueprint for your business, help you set goals, test the waters, create marketing plans, assess financial requirements and even get funding.

Your next step is to establish your business legally. Your state and county will have specific laws, rules, and regulations regarding your particular business. The best thing to do is to contact your county clerk’s office and ask them what steps you need to take for establishing a home-based photography business. You should also check into the zoning laws and restrictions in your region.

Next on the list? Open a business account at your bank. For tax purposes you should definitely keep your personal and business finances separate. Same goes for credit cards. Remember to keep a record of all your expenses!

Now for the fun part! Time to shop! My advice would be to just start with the basics. What you need depends on the type of photography you will be doing. Be sure to purchase some back up equipment as well, because if something breaks you don’t want to be without any options. As you make more money with your business, you can upgrade and add to your equipment, so don’t feel like you need to “have it all” to start out. Don’t forget about office supplies, a good computer, printer, business cards and other marketing materials, etc.

Now for the not-so-fun-but-necessary part. Insurance. Get some. You’ll be glad you did! You’ll need liability (in case somebody gets hurt) as well as protection on all that fabulous equipment you just bought! Oh yes - and if you DID quit that old day-job, you should look into health insurance, too (unless you are lucky and are covered by your spouse who still has to drag him/herself to work every day!).

Next you will want to research and start relationships with the vendors you will need. Labs, album suppliers, frame supplies, etc. If you aren’t sure where to start, pick up a photography magazine from the local newsstand. You will find MANY advertisements for vendors. Try them out - many will even send you free samples.

Finally, get a good portfolio and samples together. Oh - and don’t forget a website! People just expect it these days.

Whatever you do, don’t become discouraged. This sounds like a lot of work - and it is, but won’t it be worth it when you turn in that letter of resignation at your day job?

Ready to get going?  Come by and join in with over 800 photographers at Shuttermom University for tons of photo business advice, tips and coaching.  See you there!

10 year old photographer

Elias Rodriguez is your typical 10-year-old boy, except for the fact that he recently started his own photography business.

From the article:

“My mom bought this camera for herself and said I could use it any time I liked. That’s how it started off, to tell you the truth,” he said, rattling off the Nikon P100 specs like a pro. “I just thought I’d take photos for fun but I ended up with a business.”

For the full article, click here.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to stop by Shuttermom University for more photography tips and photo business coaching!  See you there.

June 2011
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