One thing I’d like to do more of this year (I can’t believe it’s almost April!) is blog more often, even if it’s not just sharing pictures. I’d love to help those photographers just starting out! It’s taken me a while because I’ve only been a photographer for a little over 2 years, but there was so much I learned (and often learned the hard way) that I want to share with other photographers who have started recently! Here’s some helpful tips!
1. Build connections. I hate using that word, but don’t know how else to say it! Finding clients and clients finding you is really a lot of connections! When I started, I was handing out free shoots right and left. My dad had to stop me and would say “Christa, stop doing free sessions!” Not because it’s bad to help others, but because he knew I would spend a lot of time on photos and that I wanted this to be my job, and time is money, and you can’t make money if you’re doing everything free. However, let’s be honest. Families and couples aren’t going to hire you right and left if you don’t have a portfolio for them to see. So find a family who knows a lot of other families, and do them for free (if you’re just starting and don’t have any portfolio). Post and tag them on Facebook, and their friends will see! You can also use it as a ministry. Maybe photograph the pastor’s family, or just a good friend’s family.
2. Be careful what you promise. Back to free shoots, I’d only recommend doing that when just starting out, or during an extremely slow period and only if you think it will bring in more clients. I was thrilled about photography that I was thinking of who I could give free shoots to. The only problem is if people want to wait 6 months, you might not need to be doing any free shoots and may not have time. That is why I recommend if you do a “session giveaway” to get clients and followers or just give someone shoot, put a deadline on it. Say that it would need to be before this month for it to be free since I’ll be starting school and will get busy, or that’s when my busy time starts. That way, 8 months later they can’t stop you and say “remember that free shoot you promised?”
3. Learn to set boundaries (and sometimes say no). I’m ALL for working with the needs of families and couples, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Unfortunately I’m sometimes a bit of a people-pleaser, and I’d feel HORRIBLE if I couldn’t make someone 100% happy. But sometimes that lets others push you around… even if they aren’t doing it intentionally. If someone makes you feel bad about money being tight, that doesn’t mean you lower your prices for that person (that’s not fair to your other clients). If you did your best and someone isn’t satisfied with their images, work with them as much as you can, but don’t offer to fix all the images, AND give them another free session, AND all their money back for the last session. When this happened to me I offered to go back and work on their images more, OR gave the option of doing a mini session later for free. Not both. But it really matters to me that clients love their images, so I wanted to do something to make them happy. But I now have a policy where if additional edits are wanted, it costs money because of the time it takes me to open back up a gallery, re-edit an images, export it, and upload it to the client gallery. Another example is time. If you’re sessions are 2 hours, and 2 hours is almost up, it’s ok to say “we only have 10 more minutes. Is there any last poses you had been wanting?” Then wrapping it up at the end of time is a lot easier.
4. The common misconception: Photography is easy and should be free. I could write a whole post on just this, but maybe another time. DON’T let people guild you into doing their photos for free. If you want to that’s great, but if you get the “hey I’m having a birthday party maybe you could come and take pictures of me and my friends” or “my sister is graduating maybe you could take her senior pictures” don’t feel obligated to do if for free. Photography is a lot of work, and people aren’t able to watch the long hours you spend editing and organizing photos. So don’t be too nervous to say “That would be so fun! Here’s my business card and you can email me and I’ll send a link to my rates!” Feel free to explain all that’s involved to a good photo-shoot that’s not seen. This goes back to number 3. If you feel bad about charging those expecting it to be free, think of it this way. Would you ask your plumber friend to fix your sink for free? Of course not! But somehow people view it differently with photography. Photography isn’t just someone with a nice camera. It’s a skill, expensive, and time consuming!
I hope this is helpful if you’re starting out! Email me at any time for any questions! Good luck! I’m missing Charleston and it’s colors about now 😉