En fotograf giver gode råd om at drive forretning. Langt, langt hen ad vejen kan jeg nikke i enighed:
The Client is Always Right
Always do what the client wants, even if he is an idiot. He may be stupid, but that’s too bad. I’ve heard stories about photographers who thought they were right and the customer was wrong. They lost the jobs. Duh. This isn’t about art. It’s about commerce. Do the art on your own time.
I warn people obsessing about cameras that photography depends on imagination, not equipment. Success in photography for money depends on your business savvy, not the quality of your photos. Worse, very little depends on your ability to make a photo that you think looks good. It’s your ability to get the client what he thinks he wants.
Only after you’ve earned a clients’ respect might he start paying attention to your suggestions. Be careful.
Your Own Small Business
Sorry folks, but here’s the important reality: to make it as a photographer you must become your own small business. You don’t have the luxury of working for someone else: there are almost no jobs in photography. As a small business you’re in charge, which is great, but you have almost no one to whom you can go for advice or direction. You’re on your own in the jungle.
You will have no employer and no job. You, at best, are an independent contractor. You have to provide your own health insurance, fund your own retirement and have no paid vacation or sick leave. I don’t even know what a weekend is! You have to find every one of your own photo gigs. Most critically, you need to market and sell yourself. No one is looking for you. Your skills at self-promotion are critical.
Your success depends almost entirely on your ability to run a successful small business. Almost nothing depends on the quality of your photography.
It’s sad to see people get laid off from an office job and think that they can just wander into creating a small business. Some can, but only if they develop competitive survival and differentiation skills. If they had those instincts they’d be the ones still working, not the ones let go.
Eat or be eaten, although actually it’s more like promote effectively or be forgotten. Effective promotion is more different than simple promotion. Real estate people are in a tough field, but at least they need licenses which photographers don’t. All of us laugh at the ridiculous attempts at self-promotion thrown on our lawns and in our mailboxes. Many of those attempts make those people look stupid. Don’t let it happen to you. Promotion is a difficult skill. Real estate is a sales job, so those people already have the sales background that photographers don’t. Every photographer mails out promotional cards and emails every month. How can you stand out as the go-to-guy for serious photography?
Haven’t we all seen photos in magazines, posters and advertisements we could have done better? Of course! Some other guy won the job because he had the promotional skill you lacked. Photography skills are a very, very small part of the business. Anyone can do it. If you think photo skills are more important than marketing, you’ll fail.
Most small businesses spend only 15% of their time on the core of why they got into business, and the other 85% of their time on critical side issues like marketing and bookkeeping. You’ll be too busy to spend much time on photography. You have to crank out the results, not spend time experimenting.
You need to be able to keep books, figure out how to provide for your own retirement and medical benefits, calculate taxes, and most importantly, be able to promote, market and sell yourself.
You and I appreciate fine photography. That’s why we photograph. The people who pay us don’t. That’s why they are out buying photography. As a business you need to put your efforts into things appreciated by the people paying you. Learn to create great work, but not on client’s time.
You must be skilled at dealing with people and selling and promoting yourself. You need to be able to differentiate yourself from the millions of other photographers also trying to make a buck.