Starting a Photography Business? My 5 tips of advice as you're getting started...

If you are thinking about starting a photography business, here are my top 5 pieces of advice:

aliyah_dastour_starting a photo business

1). Figure out (quickly) what you want to specialize in.  Don’t be a generalist photographer.  It’s the fastest way to dissapear into the crowd and not stand out in your marketing. It’s much easier to grow and charge top rates because you are a specialist when you focus on a specific photography niche (babies, weddings, families, products, commercial, headshots, pets, etc).

2). Start at a price point you feel comfortable with and every 3 to 6 months raise your prices as you book more clients. Remember, if everyone is able to afford you, you’re probably not charging rates that can support your lifestyle/family. Of course this is a general rule of thumb.

3). Don’t be too scared to hire help.  For me, the first person that was the best fit to hire was an assistant to help with ordering sessions and helping with marketing tasks and studio help.  Eventually I hired associate photographers so I can increase my prices without having to say no to the current clientele I have built - the associates would photograph those clients and I would only photograph the clients that wanted to work with only me. This also allowed me to transition into being more higher level running the business versus only doing the photography.

4). Don’t be afraid to say no.  You will quickly find that as soon as you being gaining traction you will have a lot of people asking you for donations, free sessions, negotiated rates, free event coverage, etc.  I am not suggesting you say no to everything, but be selective in what you’re saying yes to.  As soon as I realized for every “Yes” I was saying to someone, it meant I was saying “No” to other things, I slowed down to think through what was important in my life at that time.  For example, when I first started my business I was so focused on getting to meet everyone in my community.  That resulted in me saying yes to everything.  As a couple years went by, I realized I never saw my kids or my family because I was out helping everyone else.  Every nonprofit, every kind request, every opportunity was now coming before my own kids that were at home begging for my attention.  When I finally saw what I was doing, I knew I had to set new boundaries and change the way I was deciding what I say “Yes” to.

5). Don’t waste your money on top of the line gear/equipment. This is something I see other photographers do all the time.  Until you have the work coming in, there is no need in trying to justify that new $3K camera or lens.  You should consider either renting the gear or you can simply use what you currently have and focus on bringing paying clients in.  You can set your schedule so that you photograph your clients within a week timespan and rent the gear you want for that week so you’re only out $250 from the rental but the income you’re generating is $2500.

6). This is a bonus.  STOP allowing other creatives in your area/region make you feel less than.  If you find yourself constantly feeling negative when you’re looking at others and you’re comparing yourself to them, then stop looking at them.  It’s as simple as that. If you find yourself motivated to do better, that’s something else.  Remember, we all started somewhere and you are simply at the beginning of your journey.  Know that it’ll take time, but it WILL happen if you’re committed to this amazing industry of photography.

Photo, BizAliyah Dastour