Heyyyy!! I am SO proud of you for getting to this blog post because I know it means you are pursuing your dream. And I want to help.
I went from not ever doing a paid photography session to having a fully booked calendar and making $10,000 in just 3 months!!! It has changed my life and has made me feel so empowered. That I, little ol’ Courtney Wilde, can make a goal and achieve it.
While I am just beginning this journey in my photography career, I feel like I have learned years worth of valuable information and I don’t want to keep it to myself!! I want to help the person out there that was me a year ago. Someone who loves taking pretty pictures but has no idea how to actually turn that passion into profit. Because YOU can do it if you believe in yourself and are willing to get out of your comfort zone.
With that being said, here are 3 things you should know about starting up a photography business.
Quality education is EVERYTHING
I had been thinking for MONTHS about getting into photography but I didn’t believe in myself enough to invest in my education. I had heard that you didn’t really need to pay for education because there are soooo many free resources out there.
While it is very true that you can spend time on YouTube and Google to learn about what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO mean, I would strongly, strongly advise against that if you are serious about becoming a photographer.
Here is why:
To be a successful photographer, you need to be consistent. Consistency builds trust. Think about this scenario:
I have a client who looks at my portfolio and really likes what they see. They book a session with me, the session goes great, but I get the pictures back to them and they look nothing like what I showcase in my portfolio.
They may think, “but wait, this isn’t what I was expecting?! I hired you because I liked the work that I saw on your website!”
I never want this to happen! While it is fun to experiment with different styles and techniques, if I want to create a thriving business, my clients need to be able to trust that they will get exactly what they see in my other work.
Now, what does this have to do with education??
When I search “how to find good lighting for photography” in a google search, there are soooo many different things that come up — many of them that consist of different styles and opinions.
How are you going to be able to establish any kind of consistency in your business if your education is completely inconsistent?
What works with one style probably won’t work for another. In order to streamline your dream of becoming a photographer, investing in quality education that is specific to exactly how you want to shoot is essential.
So how do you choose an educator you may ask?
The online education that I chose to invest in was Amy and Jordan’s Shooting & Editing Course. There are a few different reasons I decided to go with them but one of the main ones is that I watched a free 1 hour webinar on Shooting and Editing that made me fall in love not only with their teaching style, but also with their photography style. They teach all of the ins and outs of Light & Airy photography and how to stay consistent with that every. single. session.
So do some research! Discover the style that you love and want to shoot, find a photographer educator who has mastered that, and invest in their course!!
It will make the difference starting out and it will prevent you from making soooo many mistakes that you probably would have made doing it on your own.
I’ll be honest, it was scary for me to invest in a course that was several hundred dollars. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t see a return and that it would all go to waste. If you have those fears, I need to tell you one thing that made the difference for me. People will never invest in you if you don’t believe in yourself enough to invest in yourself.
I had to have a major mindset change. It was completely up to me of whether or not I was going to become a successful photographer. I could either take this course and run with it, or I could be so scared that I wouldn’t go anywhere with it. I was the only thing in the way of making my dream come true.
And I can’t tell you how easy it was to make that money back. It took me less than a month after taking the course. So believe me when I say that it will happen if you make it happen.
You don’t need top of the line gear to make a profit.
A common misconception that people have is that the camera takes amazing photos, not the photographer. If you follow step one and invest in quality education, then you will know everything you need to take great photos, no matter what DSLR you have.
I would much rather have someone with a solid understanding of lighting and a Canon Rebel take my family pictures then someone who has the best camera in the world with no understanding of lighting.
I’m going to tell you a little secret. I started out my business with three things:
a used Canon Rebel T2i body – $50
a 50mm 1.8 lens by Yongnuo – $50
an ExpoDisc (white balance & exposure tool) – $50
That’s it!! $150 of gear and I was making a business out of it. I was putting to practice all that I had learned in my Shooting & Editing course and while I definitely wanted nice gear right off the bat, I didn’t need it to take pictures that my clients loved. That is because it wasn’t my camera taking nice pictures, it was me.
Since then, I have upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark iii and my main lens that I shoot with is a Sigma Art 35mm 1.4. This is some top of the line gear that I am proud to say I have bought with the profits I have made from my business I started with a Canon Rebel.
Creating an Incredible Client Experience should be your number 1 goal from the beginning.
I’ve been asked so many times, how have you been able to book so many clients? And the thing I tell them every time is word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth. About 80% of my clients have come from word of mouth.
So how do you get people talking about you? Make it so they can’t help but rave about you by providing them with an incredible client experience!
Here are a 2 ideas for how to do this:
Help them feel their very best during their session. If you take a picture and you see on your LCD screen that they had a double chin at that angle, don’t make a frown at your camera! Your client will sense that and they will immediately feel self-conscious. The session will go down-hill from there. So no matter what the picture looks like on your LCD, tell them they are doing AMAZING and they look GORGEOUS!
BUT be genuine about it as well! Because while you don’t have to show them the picture of the double chin, you CAN show them the picture where they look incredible and you can share the excitement. I am constantly squealing over pictures and showing my clients how amazing they look on my camera. Because of that, they feel like a superstar. If you implement this, your clients will not only want to keep working with you, but they will want to tell everyone in search of a photographer that they HAVE to book you.
Under-promise, over-deliver. If you are good at this, your clients will always be happy with your service. What does this look like? It looks like telling your clients they’ll get 20 pictures but you actually give them 40. It is telling your client you’ll get your pictures back to them in 3 weeks but you deliver in 1. Your client will be consistently impressed at how much you care about them specifically. They won’t feel like they are just a number on a client list. These details will be some of the things they will share with friends and family when they are talking about why they should book you.
So there you have it! 3 important things you should know. I am cheering for you as you embark on this incredible journey! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, YOU CAN DO IT!!!! No matter how much people will say the market is saturated and making it as a photographer is almost impossible, sooo many people want their pictures taken. There are a lot of photographers out there but there is also so. much. demand.
If you play your cards right, you’ll get on the radar of those people in search of an amazing photographer and you’ll be reaching your goals in no-time.