Your first year of business can be a little daunting! There is SO much to do, and you have all these wonderful hopes and dreams for your business. But how do you achieve them? First of all, there is no ‘3 step plan’ to success, but I do believe there are a few things you can do in your first year of business that can help the process go smoothly!
This is mainly aimed towards wedding photographers, since that was my experience! However I think that these tips can be helpful to anyone who wants to further their photography business :)
- Photograph EVERYTHING I’m starting out with what I think is the most important! I always tell people that weddings are like every kind of photoshoot all rolled into one. You’ve got couples, animals, newborns, families, teenagers… The list goes on! I also always say that you should never practice on someone’s wedding, so I think the best way to prepare yourself is just to shoot absolutely everything. My first year of business, did I want to photograph children? Nope. Not at all. I knew from the very beginning that it was not going to be my thing! But you know what? I did it anyway! It helped me in learning the technical aspect of photography – ratios, composition, nailing focus, etc.
- Learn Manual This is SO important. I cannot stress enough how important learning to shoot in Manual mode is!! At the beginning, it may seem easier to just throw your camera on Auto or Aperture Priority Mode, but TRUST ME. That is how your camera controls you. When you shoot Manual, you control the camera. This definitely takes some time, but commit to it and I promise you’ll see great results!!
- Work on your people skills and begin to network! I don’t know about you, but when I started I was SO shy. I was also 14, but it still counts ;) I had such a hard time posing people and telling them what to do! So I started practicing on my sisters, building up that courage, and gaining people skills. It sounds like a weird thing, but having an extraverted personality (or at least pretending that you do!) is something that I feel is essential to a successful business. Use those new people skills to chat it up with other entrepreneurs! Learn about their craft, and also begin to network with vendors in your area. If they like you, they’ll refer you to their brides… win win!
- Consider getting a part time job This doesn’t sound like much fun when all you want to do is take photos! But this is exactly what I did. I knew I wanted to eventually be a full time wedding photographer, but I was in a vicious cycle of “I need new equipment, but I can’t afford it! And I can’t charge more for my sessions without better equipment!!” If that sounds like your story, consider the benefits of getting a side job. I started working at Chick-fil-A, bought all the new things I wanted for my business, and then quit! Sometimes that extra cash flow can make all the difference.
- Sort out the legalities NOW This can be a tough one. When you’re first starting out, all the licenses, insurance, and other legalities can be super intimidating. I would encourage you to find another photographer in your area and ask them what all is needed to become an official business. Every state is different! If you are charging money for your sessions, you need to get a business license. They are usually pretty cheap, and just a necessary business expense for everyone! Figure out what you need right now, and put the rest on a back burner. Liability insurance can probably wait until you’re a bit more established, but licenses need to be figured out now. Don’t wait until you’re too busy to think about it!!
- Create mood boards for your brand Consider taking a year to really think about what you want your brand to be. A simple logo off of Etsy.com can hold you over until you feel like you really know what you want your branding to be! In my first year of business, I thought I wanted red and blue damask patterns on everything. Oh my. Your style will change, maybe even after a year! But if you take your time, and really think about why you like certain things, you’re more likely to stick with it.
- Second Shooooooooooot There’s a bunch of O’s in that because it’s just that important. If you want to be a wedding photographer, you need to second shoot in order to learn about the wedding day process. Weddings are stressful, and I would encourage you to take a year or two to learn ALL the ins and outs. This will change your life. It’s impossible to understand everything that goes into being a wedding photographer without just doing it, but at the same time you have to protect the bride & groom’s memories, so never practice on your own. It is a thousand times different than any other kind of photography. You cannot recreate a wedding!! Take your time second shooting, until you are confident in your abilities.
I hope this was helpful for all you new photographers! If you have any questions just shoot me an email, and I’d be happy to try and help!