Whether you’re brand new to business or you’ve had your business for several months or even a year… here are 5 photography business tips for newbies – think of this as your “How To” guide to becoming a successful photographer! Despite what you may have been told, you can be quite successful financially and in life with a career as a photographer!
Hey y’all, I’m Tavia and I help photographers learn how to specialize and get fully booked with ideal clients so they can go full time. I do this with my birth photography certification and my 7 step marketing system.
Now for today’s episode, even if you’ve been in business for longer than a year, I bet you’ll be able to learn something here today. If you haven’t started your business yet or you’ve been in business UNDER 1 year – this episode is definitely for you because I’m sharing all the information that you need in order to start and run your own photography business!
We’ll cover topics such as how to start your photography business, what equipment you need (and don’t need), how to stand out when you’re just getting started and more! Let’s get into it.
Before we get started, I’m going to assume…
- You know how to take great photos consistently
- You’ve nailed your editing style
- You fully understand lighting and the exposure triangle
So those are the must-haves before we continue. Here’s the thing though: You don’t have to be perfect (spoiler alert, no one is) but you know how to deliver high-quality images to your clients consistently.
#1 Choose Your Niche
Niching down is when you focus on a specific type of photography that makes your business stand out.
For instance, if most of your work is with families and newborns then you might want to specialize in maternity shoots or birth because it captures them right when they found out they’re pregnant. And in those early stages, you can continue to work with them in their family and newborn sessions. Or if you prefer weddings over portraits, try specializing in videography.
When you choose a niche, you become known for that one thing. This will help you attract the customers who are specifically looking for your photography skills and talents!
When you choose a niche to specialize in, you are narrowing the scope of your photography and making it stand out as a true marketable skill. This helps you attract the type of customer who is looking for what we offer and creates a specific “brand” for our business.
Photography businesses that have a specialty can charge higher prices, because they’re the specialist, and it also makes it easier to get hired!
Example: If I want to get my carpets deep cleaned, I’m not going to hire a house cleaner who does it all. I’m going to hire a carpet cleaning company!
Another example: I was talking to someone who was considering investing in an AirBnB and he asked if I would take the photos of the property for the listing. Now, COULD I take the photos? Yes. Would he be better off hiring someone who specializes in real estate photography? Also yes!
How to Niche Down?
Start to think about sessions you’ve photographed in the past…
- What do you love photographing?
- What doesn’t feel like work?
- WHEN do you want to work? Weddings are almost always on the weekends. If this is a deal-breaker for you, weddings are not for you. If you don’t have the ability to be on-call, Birth Photography might not be for you. If you don’t have the patience to deal with toddlers and babies, maybe newborn and family photography may not be for you.
Answering those questions will help you start to choose a niche.
The more specific you can get with your niche, the better! And just because you photograph one specific niche doesn’t mean you can’t also photograph other types of sessions!
This is why I chose to specialize in Birth Photography, and I didn’t realize that I was doing it at the time, but it ended up working really heavily for my benefit because Birth Photography is a lot like Wedding Photography. Birth is this big event – so if I booked somebody for the birth, chances are I can also book them for their maternity sessions, newborn sessions, Baby Plan, and then continue to photograph their family as they grow. So by booking them for that core event similar to a wedding, I can also photograph sessions surrounding that event.
A wedding photographer or videographer would do the same. They would photograph the engagement session. Potentially, they would also photograph the proposal. Then they would photograph the wedding. They would do bridals, one-year anniversary shoot – there are so many things that go along with the wedding, that once they hire their wedding photographer, the wedding photographer can then upsell them on all of these other things.
When you think about niching, it doesn’t mean that you will always just photograph one thing. It means you’re photographing this one thing with the intention of growing with these families, but also being known for one specific thing.
You can also take other sessions without sharing or advertising them. When you choose to niche down, it can eliminate some of your clients. What I did when I first niched down, I still had people coming up to me asking me to photograph genres that I was photographing, but no longer wanted to advertise. But you know what? I wanted the money, I needed the money, so I still photographed them and I just didn’t share them anywhere (blog, website, or social media). You don’t have to share every single session that you photograph. You can take those sessions without advertising for them.
#2 Choose Your Gear
Now that you know your niche, it will be easier to choose the gear you need.
- If you’re planning to specialize in Birth Photography, you probably want to choose a camera that handles low light well.
- If you’re going to photograph weddings, when you’re choosing your lenses, you’re going to want a range of lenses – you would want to be able to zoom in tight and shoot really wide.
- Then start to think about artificial lighting. Are you going to need a speed light or an off-camera flash with the type of photography that you want to do?
- For newborn photography, do you need things like props, a bean bag, hats, and all the little cute things that come along with newborn photography?
Of course, when you’re first starting, there will be a whole list of gear you want to purchase. Just go ahead and write it all down with your new niche in mind. And when you start to earn money (with step 3 coming up), you can start to make these purchases.
#3 Build Your Portfolio with the Model Call Process
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is a collection of your images that showcases your skills and photography personality. It’s so important to express YOURSELF artistically and NOT someone else or what you THINK you need to be in your portfolio. I promise you, there are people out there who want to hire YOU for your unique style!
For example: For birth, you’ll want to show a variety of different birth types. For newborns, you’ll want to show your potential clients a portfolio with family shots, siblings, twins, etc. to show them your abilities and skills to do a variety of things within your niche.
Showing people your work builds trust and reassures them that they will get quality images in their session!
Ok, so you have your niche and your gear but how do you find those portfolio building sessions? The Model Call Process is a way to quickly get paid to build your portfolio and experience. The process includes setting your portfolio pricing, gathering a list of people who are interested, and choosing the right clients to work with.
The Model Call Process is a way to quickly get paid to build your portfolio and experience. The process includes setting your portfolio pricing, gathering a list of people who are interested, and choosing the right clients to work with.
The mistake I see a lot of photographers make in this process is taking these portfolio building sessions for free. I know it’s exciting to find people who want to work with you and you want the experience – so it seems like a win/win, right? But there is a different dynamic when someone is paying you, even if it’s a small amount of money. They’re taking it more seriously now, and honestly so are you!
I always recommend charging something for your model call sessions! I’ve heard too many stories of clients changing their mind at the last minute and the photographer has no repercussions – nothing they can do about it!
This actually happened to me early in my business. I was a new-ish newborn photographer and I had never photographed twins. At the time I had a newborn studio in my home and clients would come here for their sessions. So I had done a model call for free for these newborn clients. I had to clean my whole house, the studio was ready and warming up, and I got a call 10-15 minutes before the session was about to take place and the mom said, “I’m so overwhelmed. I just can’t do this. I can’t.”
And I said, “What do you mean?”
And she said, “We’re not coming. It’s just too much.” She clearly had an overwhelming morning, which is totally understandable especially as a mom of twins, but I was devastated. I had spent all day, all morning cleaning my home, preparing for them. I had purchased a new little outfit set and things for their session, and she just decided that it’s too overwhelming for her and she couldn’t come.
I get that. But most families are still that way, but if they are invested in the experience and the process and they paid money for this, that is not going to happen like it will if it’s free. So there’s just a different level of investment when somebody is paying for something.
If you want a step-by-step system for how to run your Model Call, check out my mini-course about how to book up to 5 clients in 30 days using this process on thebeautyinbirth.net/shop.
Ok now you’ve got your niche, you’ve got your gear and you’re getting paid to build your portfolio with the model call process – the final step is to …
#4 Set Up Your Business Bank Accounts
Separate business bank accounts are important because they keep the transactions on your personal account separate from those associated with your photography business. This is for your own protection and to avoid any issues that may arise from the IRS. Whew – sorry for saying IRS. Ick. I know this process can seem daunting and scary, but it is so very important to do it right.
CPA’s and tax advisors are great – I know many photographers that have used them to make sure that they are doing everything the IRS (and state) requires.
My biggest piece of advice for keeping your business legit is to take it seriously at the beginning, don’t just jump into this halfway because you just can’t wait to take photos. You want your business to be successful and long lasting – right? Then don’t rush the process! One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t do this sooner.
One my favorite, easy to read books on this topic is Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. It shows you how to start making sure your business is profitable, right from the beginning.
Starting and growing your photography business CAN feel overwhelming if you let it, but it’s also very exciting! Big things ahead for you friend! If you’re ready for the next steps in your marketing system so you can fill your calendar and go full time, make sure you’re signed up for my training experience: The Baby Photographer’s Marketing System – My 7 step process for getting fully booked, yes even in these times. Head over to www.getbirthphotographyclients.com to sign up for free!
If you’re enjoying this podcast, please hit SUBSCRIBE wherever you’re listening and thank you so much for leaving the show a review on iTunes! I read each and every one and it helps this podcast reach more people so Thank you!
My friend, if you have a passion – it’s not an accident. Not everyone loves photography, or event planning, or real estate… whatever your passion is, it’s there for a REASON. What are you going to do with that passion? Get out there and make it happen! Have a great week y’all!
If you’re a baby or birth photographer looking for more clients, listen up!
I’ve been photographing babies and families for over 10 years. My goal is to help other photographers get their business off the ground so they can go full time, too. That’s why I created The Baby Photographer’s Marketing System – my 7-step process for getting fully booked, yes even in these times. You’ll learn how to find your niche, create an amazing website that converts leads into sales and bookings, build your brand with social media marketing and much more!
Did I mention this is live, totally free and we’re doing a bunch of giveaways? Yesss girl, the training experience has limited spots available (150 for those who come live, actually) so don’t miss out on this opportunity to grow your photography business today! Get started by clicking here or head over to www.getbirthphotographyclients.com to sign up now!