An Open Letter to New Photographers
Hey new business owner,
Congrats. You’re turning your passion for photography into something more. That is amazing, and I want to wish you all the encouragement in the world. You can do this, you can. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.
As a young photographer myself, here’s a few things I want to tell everyone just starting out.
You don’t have to advertise how low your prices are to book clients. Trust me, I did this, and see MANY others doing this, but you don’t have to. There’s no reason to drag other photographer’s higher prices into your incentives to book either. You don’t need to say “You can have amazing pictures for under $XXX”. You don’t need to defend your pricing. If you’re portfolio building and you are cheaper during that process, that is completely normal, but you don’t need to use that against others or in your marketing.
You don’t have to work for free, ever. Even if you’re still building your portfolio, you have expenses, even ones you may not realize. Your camera was expensive, you have to pay for gas, you may even pay for editing software and a website. Everything costs money. You don’t get things in life for free, so don’t expect others to get things for free from you. Your time is worth money, so don’t undervalue yourself or your time.
This takes me into another important point, which is make sure you are aware of just how much you actually spend to run your business. You don’t want to do $20 photoshoots if you can’t pay all your expenses AND give yourself a livable wage. Be aware of just what goes into running a true business and compensate yourself fairly beyond that.
You have to spend money to make money. You’ll need new equipment from time to time. You may need to spend money on branding your business, attracting new clients and more.
You shouldn’t compare yourself to others. It’s easy to say that, but in reality its hard to do. We’re all human, we constantly compare ourselves to others. If you do less comparing yourself to other photographers, and more comparing yourself to your past self, you’ll see more personal growth. This is oh-so important.
Okay, this one may be common sense, but it’s happened to me and it’s just plain silly. DON’T ever use another photographers words or images as your own. Don’t copy & paste and change one word just because it sounds good, those aren’t your thoughts, that is plagiarism. Don’t take an image from online and use it to help your business. The creator of that message or image took their time and talent to create these and it’s not your right to steal them and use them as your own. Even if you change one word or say photo not mine - its.. still. wrong. Just don’t do it.
Be patient. It takes time to build a business. This might sound super cliché, but success doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not gonna get rich the moment you start your photography business. If that’s what you’re expecting, a career in photography just might not be for you. You have to be driven, a self-starter, and motivated, even on the hardest days.
Above all, best of luck to you in your new adventure. It truly is an adventure, and has been the greatest one of my life so far. Keep on keeping on.