I was at a wedding this week. The photographers for the event were a team who trade as Alfie & Trish. Very polished and highly professional. I had a long chat to Trish about the business aspect of being a pro photographer. Whilst for the established brand it would appear that the market is lucrative, those wishing to start up may find it exceedingly difficult to get get their business off the ground. Trish was telling me that she must have had hundreds of people over the last year asking her how to ‘get going in photography’ In all cases she has told them that this is not the business to be in at present. The cost of cameras in relative terms has never been more affordable, and combined with the powerful software now being sold, it means that anyone can produce above average results. So every one now wants to ‘turn pro’. Her advice was to keep it as a hobby and enjoy yourself. I have no reason to disbelieve her, but do remember that Alfie & Trish have a vested interest in keeping down any competition, so presumably even in a buoyant market their advice would possibly be the same.
So if you are thinking of running a photographic business, the emphasis needs to be squarely on the word ‘business’. It is of no use being able to take picture-perfect images that do not sell. I have seen some very profitable photographers work, where, to be blunt, the quality sucks, but they have a good turnover. Get the picture?
The local colleges have seen an influx of students wishing to study photography. In a few years time the market may well be awash with young adults with qualifications – but will they find any jobs at the end of their course? If you fall into this category – find a pro who will allow you to ‘carry their bags’ for them. Expect no reward, but grab as much knowledge as you can. It may even lead to a job offer if you bend over backwards, show total commitment and for heavens sake – never – ever ask if you can leave early as you have to meet your boyfriend/girlfriend to go to the cinema…. It happened to me with a trainee once – employers hardly offer full time positions to people who are not 100% committed to training.
A mature student who can take good images would probably be better off investing in business skills and time taken to research the market would be time well spent. Look to local government business start up advisers. They have some excellent information and courses available for free in most cases.
So, where am I at present in the scheme of things after giving all this advice? Truth is, I don't know! I think that will be another entry in this blog on another day.