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Photography Contract – Let’s Get Signing

Let’s say you have gained your client’s trust, it’s now time to take things a step ahead – to get a contract signed by them. Having a photography contract signed will make sure you appear professional and serious about what you do. A mere verbal agreement will not get you anywhere. It only leaves you with some grim realizations and is full of uncertain outcomes. Thus it is always better to take a few precautionary measures and save yourself from any regrets later.

Contracts are a source to provide protection for all the parties involved in a deal. It has always been recommended generally by more experienced people that no matter what work you step into, if it engages more members than yourself, sign a contract among all of you.

Especially in today’s world where everyone sure is allowed to sue someone for a wrong step they take, but with some courts offering justice while some taking on forever to do so, dishonesty just seems to be prevailing with each day.

You will encounter many clients who will actually appreciate you for being so professional and having a contract policy, but, on the other hand when it will come to your friends and relatives, they for some reasons seem to take offence by it. They feel like you do not trust them enough and will not be hesitant in stating their thoughts out loud too. What they fail to understand is that it is not just for you – the photographer – but for their own good as well and it will only improve things for everyone. If such a situation occurs, you can politely explain this to them.

Fundamental Information

It is a strong advice to build a contract which is easy to grasp, crisp and to the point! You would not want for your contract to be very long and look daunting, for this may make it too cumbersome for your client to make a decision, and leave you altogether. Just some essentials, so you have a written proof of the deal you have with them should be enough. If it is possible, get all the things that we discuss in this article to fit in a single page, as the lengthier the document, more intimidating it becomes.

The basic information may include:

Your information: Contact info, your address, e-mail address etc.

Client information: Much of the same things as your own.

Time and date of the contract as well as the shoot

Location and duration of the shoot.

Your signature.

Client’s signature.

What Does The Deal Entail

After the fundamental stuff, comes the second most important thing, what are the two of you making this deal for? What is it that the two parties will give and receive? Hence, you mention the things that will be delivered from your side first and then you can affirm what amount will you expect to receive in exchange for that.

Mention how many photographs you will hand over to them, of what size the photos will be, will you be providing them with both RAW + JPEGs or just the JPEGs, will they be printed or only digital? Will they receive it on a DVD? Do they require any framed photographs? If so, then what kind of frames do they want? Whether or not they want the photos to be preserved in a leather album or do they have some other preference, etc.

You will also have to inform them of the time they will be receiving all of this. Having it mentioned and signed upon on the contract will save you from the “little too much” inquiries the eager clients are known for.

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Look after the key for growth and success – Photo by © Kai Stachowiak

You might want to remember that you must only put those things in there that you really know you can pull off. So that when the client weighs the final product and service against the contract and all that was promised in it, they can breathe a sigh of relief that it was worth it. You want them to like you after all. Good relationship with your clients is one of the keys for successful business.

The Duration

When you do not specify the exact duration of the shoot and make it crystal clear to everyone involved that the shoot will begin at so and so, and it will end after so and so hours, people will run you down with extra load and you will not be able to avert it too.

No matter how much you say you will not let that happen to you, such a sticky situation always finds its way to you and surrounds you in a manner where you are not able to do anything about it. Happens to almost everybody at least once and stays with them forever – if they plunge into the business without prior consultations and learning from others experiences.

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Enter the world of professionalism

You have been told, so beware. Mention in bold for how long you will be working and if they want you to stay any longer, it will take extra money. For that, you can set an amount you will charge by the hour if someone does ask you to work a few additional hours.

Payment Description:

You might want to literally spell out where their money will be going. Let them know that whatever amount you are asking for is not just your fee and that it takes a lot of things and effort to end up with some brilliant shots and they will be the ones who would have to pay for it.

Although, whilst you are at it, just make sure to keep it toned down a bit. Reflect on all that you feel you should add into the cost of the agreement as you do want for your clients to know where their money is going but, you must simplify it enough, so they will not be able to ask you to leave some things out to save their money.

Also, include a due date for the payment and decide what you want to do if a payment is not made on time. If you think you should stipulate a fine for the payments that are late, then mention the late fees policy.

Act Smart

Having a signed contract was already a smart move but let’s say we want you to become one extra fine entrepreneur. You accumulate advance payment on the day they seal the agreement with their signatures. Therefore, mention how much the deposit will be, in the contract, and sign a receipt for the clients in exchange for the money they entrust you with.

You can have 50% of the agreed amount as deposit, like many people do or it could be any other amount you feel would be more suitable in your case.

It is usually non refundable and you take it because you will be putting in your time, energy and efforts and this accord will also mean no other clients and business for that period of time. It makes certain that the client as well as you, the photographer, stay sincere to the contract, be present on time, think twice about rescheduling  and cancelling mid way.

You may collect the rest of your payment on the day of shoot or after you have delivered the photos or such and such days before the event. Whichever time is most agreeable for you as well as the client.

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What method do you prefer for the payment to be made? – Photo by © Michal Jarmoluk

Also, make sure to have them informed through the contract about the methods of payment you agree with. Do no leave this matter vague for now, thinking you will see to it “later” when the time comes – no, just take a professional approach and do not leave any detail out, no matter how minor, so that there is no confusion and misunderstandings “later”.

Backing Out

Clearly state the policy for when the client wants to back out of the agreement. Have them know that if they opt for such a thing, they must inform you X days before the shoot.

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Signatures, refund, paperwork, headache… better to not let them cancel at all than to deal with all this – Photo by © Steve Buissinne

Mention the amount of money that will be non refundable when they inform you within the stated time frame and what will happen if they notify you past that period. And prepare a cancellation form and receipt for these kind of situations. Have them fill the form and sign on the receipt too.

Copyright and Usage Terms

The photos you take for your clients are a great way to advertise yourself, you would want to use them in your banners, on your webpage or social media, etc. Some clients would not have any issue with this whereas some might not appreciate this move if you had not taken their permission before pasting their pictures all over the internet. And when a client takes offense, it can become a legal issue as well.

Hence, it is best to acquire proper authorization from your clients to use their photos for attracting new customers. You can add a segment in the contract where you mention this matter and have them sign there too. Clearly state all the copyright laws and conventions in this section to make sure that everybody knows and gets them, to avoid any mess.

It would also be best to consult an attorney about the copyright and licensing laws in your country and mention those on the photography contract as well, because unless you’re working for the corporate sector, many will not have any idea about them and share your images with third-parties without your consultation and permission, when they should be acquiring a usage license from you, for which they are required to pay you a fee.

*Disclaimer: This article has only been written as a guide to inform you of the key factors you should look out for, while crafting a photography contract. For any legal advice, you may consult an attorney.

Start off great with these basic elements and when you have gained some experience for yourself, you will know more as to what needs to be added or changed according to your specific genre and style of work. Good Luck!

 

How To Name Your Photography Business

We  went through the road map of setting up your own photography business, a while ago, today we will discuss something equally important, directly related with starting your business in this field, without which it is impossible for you to shine in the market, and get as many clients and work as any entrepreneur would love to. It is the NAME for your photography business.

Not JUST a Name:

You see, naming a business is not a matter that should be left for the last or given less importance, because it is actually the first thing which will make you known to people. Which will let the market acknowledge you and your work. It becomes your identity.

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Photo by © Sherman Geronimo-Tan

This is why a brand and a product are never treated as something equal. A product is what you provide for the clients – or you may call it service, in this case – but, a brand, it is what is in the mind of the clients. It is something for which they will be ready to pay extra. And this extra money, will never be for the product or the service itself, but for the perception and class they find in your product / service, which makes it a brand, and makes your identity prominent.

So, while naming your photography business, or any business for that matter, keep in mind that you need to give it a Brand Name and not just a name, if you want it to become promising, lasting and most importantly a brand. A brand name can be based on a single term, symbol or design, or it can be a combination of them all, which must signify the services you offer and differentiate you from your competitors. Should be iconic, simple and independent.

Have You Done Your Homework?

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Have you solved this yet?

What I call homework here has a lot to do with all that we went through in the photography business post. At least the basic research, fulfillment of the essentials, mandatory requirements and all that, are required for naming. Yes, I did write above that you should not leave the name game for last, but there are some things and facts you do need to get straight before you begin with finding the most suitable name for your business. Knowing these things will make the process less confusing and brainstorming will be much easier too.

Some of the things can be:

What do you offer with this business?

What is it that the clients get while working with you which they could not have gotten anywhere else?

What is your unique selling proposition? USP in other words. Anything which differentiates you from others out there in the same market as you?

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Who do you plan to serve?

Are you following any particular way of segmentation? That is, if you are a fashion photographer for example, are you focusing on aspiring models, designers or is it the fashion magazines you are interested in the most? Or did you go deeper into considering the following thoroughly?

  • Age factor
  • Income
  • Family Status
  • Residence Location
  • Work Location
  • Likes / Dislikes
  • Preferences
  • Values and so on.

What are your competitors doing? What approach have they taken with their names? Are they following the same pattern as most people do with their names or have they gone for something unique and catchy? If they have done this, how can you come up with something even better and totally different to stand out among them all is what you should think about.

Your target audience and the genre you have chosen for yourself are equally important to consider. For they are the ones who will be your prime concern.

Your pricing and positioning matters too. Would you like to go for an “exclusive” kind of brand personality or would you like to stay more on the average side?

All these things that I mentioned are some of those essentials I was talking about that you must know prior to your name search. If you have time then you should definitely read our post on business of photography also, to get a better idea of all this in detail.

Your Own Name

This is one of the most common ways to give your business a name. And it definitely has a few drawbacks also. When you go Google your own name, it is always very likely that you will find several other people owning businesses with that or a similar name. Unless of course if you have a unique name you do not need to pay attention to what I just said, but for people who have a very common name, you are in for some work.

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An example of a photographer’s own unique name

You sort of lose the aspect of distinctiveness and in today’s world your individuality is what gets you more recognition. I am not saying that you should completely refrain from going with your name but if you are looking for something more creative, keep reading!

Explore Other Languages

This is a pretty cool idea to try. You can think of a word that means something to you and search for the same in other languages. This can make your brand appear cultured and foreign, and they’ll definitely land you with a unique brand image.

Where You Live

This might sound really boring, but it has some benefits attached. You would want for your brand to show up easily and at the top of all search engines. And the name of towns and places are so common that it actually becomes an advantage when it comes to keywords and search engine results and more business. Although, you will have to make sure no one else in the town already owns something in the same category with the same name.

Go Random

This is more on the creative and fun side. It allows your mind to wander freely in wider boundaries and you can do so much here. There is a brainstorming trick I am sharing next that works really well with this one and which actually makes sure your random does not end up being exactly that – random – in fact no, it is so fool proof that even the random things come out polished and loaded with a meaning when it goes through all the process that trick is based on.

Now let’s head on to the tricks that will help you come up with unique names.

Brainstorming Tools:

Using Mind Maps Effectively

Once you understand how to take notes in Mind Map format, you can develop your own principles for taking them further. The subsequent suggestions can help you draw impactful Mind Maps.

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A quick guide to learn how to organize all those thoughts!

Use Single Words or Simple Phrases. Many words in normal writing are padding, as they ensure that facts are conveyed in the correct context, and in a format that is pleasant to read. In Mind Maps, single strong words and short, meaningful phrases can convey the same meaning more potently. Excess words just clutter the Mind Map.

The 40 Box Rule

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Here is a printable sheet of 40 boxes to save you the work. Go ahead, print it, fill it, pick one and live it!

This is a very valuable way to reach good decisions. It is a bit lengthy but works really well when your mind is block and you feel like you can’t come up with anything good, try this trick and you will be amazed by its ability to get a whole stock of ideas out of you.

Make a grid of 40 boxes on a sheet. Start writing / drawing one idea in one box. For this part focus only on quantity. Right now, you only have to fill up the 40 boxes with whatever name that comes to you, regardless of it being nice or making sense. Take inspiration from things you see around you, things you like, stuff that matters to you the most, things that are relevant to your photography genre, related to photography in general and so on. Just let the randomness flow without hesitation.

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A little sample to elaborate what I said about letting your randomness flow – Just get it out. You will catch the proper vibes along the way.

Once you are done with filling up all the boxes, try and merge these ideas and names with each other and see if there are any two words you wrote that sound brilliant when put together. Or they can inspire you to form another better name. Judge the ideas and shortlist them to 20, this time focusing on quality.

When you have the 20 best or favorite names separated, keep short listing them further and finally select the 1 that defeats all. Or repeat the process until you get something to your satisfaction.

Remember To Consider:

The thoughts and emotions someone feels when they see your logo. Does it actually appeal to your target audience? Is it delivering the right message?

Be sure to double check if the name is readable in terms of linguistic difficulty / technical language. Is everyone able to pronounce it easily or it causes trouble when someone tries to say it too fast? Try to make it as short and crisp as possible, for such names are easier to remember.

TIPS:

  • Keep it simple stupid

When you are selecting the name, keep in mind that you will be making a logo out of it – a memorable one at that. So stick to the one which will be most legible when you incorporate it into the logo design and simple enough so that it has a good recall value – easy to decipher and easy to remember.

  • Know what it means

Do YOU know what your brand name means? Or what your whole logo means for that matter? Even your random should have a logic going behind it. If there is a dot in your logo, you must have a concrete reason behind that mere dot, which will not exactly be “mere” anymore and that is the point. Show people how serious you are that you even took time to put so much thought behind just your brand identity / logo – “think of how serious and good this person might be with his work!”

Do not over do it though. Your name and the collective logo should have a meaning but that does not mean you overdose it with a handful of concepts that it loses the essence and whatever that you really wanted to represent, just diminishes underneath all that weight of other things on top. Remember, keep it simple stupid!

  • Get the tone right

Okay, this is important fellas. Many a times It happens that even when you have tried your hardest to give your logo a meaning and a proper logical explanation to go with it, it still does not convey the same thing to the audience as you had thought. For example, you meant for it to sound sweet but instead it got rather too cutesy for most of the audience’s taste and they made an image of you – the owner – being an immature or say unprofessional in their heads.

So, focus on getting the tone right as well. If it is supposed to be sweet then that is exactly how it should sound to me. If it is supposed to sound posh then not in anyway should your audience feel like you got a bit too arrogant there.

  • Make it future-proof

You want your business to flourish and prosper and all that, but just think for a second, how would – let’s say – Cutie Pie Photography sound a few years from now, when you have grown in your line of services, you have become the BOSS and have people running under you and all the works that come with fame? Er… yeah, not so classy!

This is why you must pick out a name that is FUTURE PROOF, note the emphasis people, it is just so important to keep in mind while you are at it, because although no one can stop you from changing the name later, but that comes with a lot of things kept at stake, identity recognition from scratch for instance. The previous name had made its place in people’s minds all over who-knows-till-where-you-had-reached! Therefore it is always better to keep a check on such things during the first time rather than getting disturbed by them at a later stage.

  • Plan your logo redesign

It means to have your logo designed in a few different ways, like planning what shape, size, look or feel it can be transformed into somewhere in the future, if need be, while still remaining close to the origin it was born with, embracing the same meaning it held the first time. It is like planning the evolution of your brand identity and checking if it does have that potential to be changed without having to change the soul beneath it, something like what Coca Cola and Pepsi did. Have you seen the evolution of their logos from the beginning till now? If not then be sure to get a look at that!

  • Double meaning

Try giving your name a double meaning. Have you come across such brand names and taglines that when you read them at first, they tell you one thing, but a while later you realize… oh wait, did they mean, this other thing that I think they meant? And the answer is yes! They did mean that other thing as well as the first plain meaning. But this time, this was deliberate and a well thought calculated approach.

It is a bit tricky but if you think you can pull it off nicely, go ahead and give it a shot. Before finalizing though, run it through a test of asking as many people as you can to make sure they do get it.

  • Domain available?

The name you are choosing should be something that is easy to find a website domain for. Think of the horror when you find out that the name you went through so much for is not available to you as a domain. But, fear not friends, this was exactly the reason I have suggested to you these brainstorming tools, which will make sure you end up with something totally unique, that which no one already owns anything with!

 

So, these were some tips I could offer to help you with creating and choosing a cool name for your photography  business. But, all of this does not in any way mean it is mandatory that only people who go through these steps will get loads of clients and work. Nope, this is just a way to set yourself off on the right track for future prosperity.

It is always possible that people who never did anything like this and started off just like that will be earning bags full of money and fame because they were great at personal skills and networking. These two things can get you to more places than a name. Hence, as you choose that one perfect name for your business, do not forget that it works best when you combine it with great P.R skills – get them polished too!

Photography Portfolio by Joey Lawrence

Building a Great Photography Portfolio

Are you all set to build your very own photography portfolio? But, let me guess, you are confused as to what you should put in there, which piece of art should you choose to display and which ones would be better kept unseen? Need some help? We have got you covered!

Building a photography portfolio is not an easy task – I hear you, people. If you are anything like me, you end up liking a load of photographs, when you only have the option of choosing a few. Being able to take great photographs is one thing, while choosing between them is considered an entirely different but equally important matter. Everything depends on what we show.  I have come to terms with the fact that learning photography is not as hard as selecting the best shots out of the many photos you take.

And then comes the designing and  the presenting part. Nowadays, with technology rising to greater heights, your option is not just limited to a printed, hard copy, booklet form of portfolio anymore. There is the option of personalized websites and blogs, social media, forums designed particularly for showcasing people’s work and so on. But, as you must have noticed, most of the places are digital.

This has kind of evoked a silent war in the minds of the people in the photography industry. For, some believe that Print is still a better choice, whereas the others are in favor of opting for Digital. Honestly, as is the case in marketing and business, so, in photography, I personally feel, it all depends on who your target audience is.

And here we have our first and the main point to begin this short lesson with.

  1. Identify the Audience:

It can make a world of difference when you identify and focus on the people you really need to connect with, whom you want to provoke with your work or who you want to advertise your art to. If your targeted spectators demand print, you give them print, if they prefer digital, you go with what they want. Simple as that.

Only, you will have to do some prior research for it of course, you might need to look up on the set of audience you will be presenting your work to in the near future – God bless you – gain a bit of information about them and you will need to be aware of their preferences and everything. Not really a big deal, it only sounds daunting – think positive!

Then the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that you only show your clients the images which are relevant to their demand. For example, let’s say you handle weddings as well as food photography quite nicely. Both are different genres with different set of people with their own unique wants and demands. If some clients come to you for wedding, you will only focus on getting them to admire your wedding photography portfolio first.

Later, when they are about to leave after sealing the deal with you, you can probably mention that you do food photography as well and if they are interested, you can then have them look at your food photography also, for any future appointments if they ever need a food photographer or anything like that. But, this is only for when things go smoothly with respect to the actual, real matter they are there for.

  1. Weigh The Worth

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Every photo will have its own story

And here we are again! The selection. I am sorry, we cannot do anything about this annoying matter, one just needs to go through this step. You need to tell a viewer  in the first few photos only that you are worth it! No one has so much time now to go through a ton of pictures to finally land on a decision of whether they want to hire you or not. Besides, it is impossible to include all your favorites, which who knows, might be a thousand if you take photographs religiously.

If this really is the case, then you can make two portfolios and let one of them hold 15 – 20 best of the best-est photographs you have ever taken! And let the other one have  100 best of the best photos. This second one will be for when your clients want to see more of your work. Plus, it will give you that satisfaction also, of being able to include more of your work in there.

In order to make this step less painful, have someone who’s opinions and suggestions you trust, have a look at your photos and let them help you decide. It can be one person or a group of people also. But, it is a good idea to follow, as us photographers, we tend to get bias sometimes with some photos because we know how much work and effort went into such and such photo. And, this way we sometimes ignore an image that did not take as much work, but has something really amazing going on in it that we are unable to see after going through so many of our hard work of photographs.

  1. In Case of Printing

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Photo by © SplitShire

If you decide to go with print, you will need to think upon how big or small you want your photos to be. It is necessary that you do it before buying yourself a portfolio folder, so that when you begin your hunt for it you will know exactly what to look for.

Secondly, for print, the quality of paper you choose to display your work on, should be excellent, because this will matter a lot. It can literally change the appearance of your image. Not too much, but still to some extent. Like for instance, Matt finish paper comes with tiny grains on it, and it looks great with a certain type of photos such as a rugged scene, a shot from an old dirty alley, etc. whereas glossy paper is a super smooth sheet and it also goes best with many images which would not look better on any other paper than this one

So, a good way to find out which paper suits your photography the best, is to have a single image from your collection printed out on the short listed papers you like a lot and are of great quality too. It will make it easier for you to decide the finest of them all.

You can also decide to go with a photo book. These are a great way of displaying your work. There are services like Blurb that make the job really easy, and you get a great looking photo book to show off your work. The bonus here is that you can even sell your portfolio book on Blurb or Amazon through their service, which would mean more recognition and an extra income on the side for you.

  1. When Going Digital

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Photo by © Sarah Zucca

Your requirement is digital? You got it. Knowing your target audience and your genre solves everything! A children photographer’s website will have to go with the look that the field calls for and similarly, a wildlife photographer’s web page will be telling a different story. The wildlife one can simply not have a bow and candy background. Thus, just go with what your genre and clients will agree with.

Make sure that your images are set to enlarge when clicked upon, as anyone who visits sites that have images, like to see them as big as their screens would allow.

  1. Presentation Counts

A general tip for both print and digital. Try to keep high contrast between the background and your photographs, so it makes your images pop out and they are able to hold their own aura and leave a firm impression. Your presentation will count too. Consider giving the photos a border, or try arranging the order of the pictures in a way so as to indicate a particular emotion, feel or to make a point that instantly catches the attention of anyone seeing them. Have the most impactful photos appear first.

  1. A Trick to Engage Them

Consider giving your photos a caption or a short description. They help engage the people looking at photos because humans have this natural inclination to know more about something they like. If you have made sure that they like what they see in your portfolio, then they will definitely want to know the story behind all that you have displayed.

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For instance, I would love to know the story behind this image.
  1. Up to Date

Keep updating your portfolio. It will be easy with the web but might end up being a bit costly in print – but who would care when you will be getting a great deal of clients and opportunities? Also, do not make the mistake of replacing all the old ones with newer ones (this goes especially for the print people out there), just add and replace with the ones that have broken records in your history of preserving time in photos.

And that is about it! You have successfully created your own portfolio! Thumbs up for you! Oh but, always remember, the more personalized your stuff is, the more it will have YOU in it. Be as original as you can, while of course staying within the essential boundaries. Originality is always appreciated, at least now it is a common observation that people have began showing respect and give value to anything and anyone who stands out because of their uniqueness.

Like always, best wishes for all our readers and hope this post will help you in creating a stunning portfolio and bagging more clients with your photography work.

Business of Photography

Guide to Starting a Photography Business

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, you only need an opportunity and willingness to work hard. But that is the best part in photography – you don’t have to sit and wait for the right opportunity to arise, you can totally MAKE your future prospects come rushing to you, if you take the right steps in the beginning.

And to guide you through that, we have formulated a road map for you to get your business shining!

Find Your Niche & Be Bold:

Before you even begin your business, you need to first identify which field of photography would you serve. Being a jack of all and a master of none doesn’t work anymore, because the clients have a lot of other photographers who specialize in a particular niche. So, if you’re looking to make your mark in the photography business, then it would be best if you master a niche and strive to become the best in that field. A simple way to figure out what your niche would be, is to create a simple mind-map like the one below and figure out which one interests you the most. Usually, the niches in the world of photography can be put into three main categories: People, Spaces & Still Life. This is for you to figure out which one interests you the most, and then you start developing a portfolio in that.

Niches of Photography
Which niche of photography do you want to serve by your business?

So, after you’ve figured out which niche you would like to work in, you need to find a unique business idea related to your domain. For instance, if you want to pursue Wedding Photography, you might know that a number of photographers are already out there serving in this field, but you need to be able to come up with a unique way to serve the same niche if you want to stand out.

Now you must be thinking that there are many businesses running on “me-too approach” that is, copying the work style of someone else or having nothing exceptional about them. However tempting it might be to jump on the bandwagon, DON’T. You don’t just want to start a business, you want to make it shine. So introducing something unique whilst staying within your preferred niche will give you a competitive edge or advantage!

Another great thing about uniqueness – even if someone copies your idea later on, you will always be the “first” to have initiated it, and that ranks quite high in the business world!

Understanding Business Principles:

  1. Now that you know what niche you want to step into, it’s best to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve in the long run. Dreaming big comes here. But as it is, only dreaming won’t do, your dedication and passion must be evident to anyone who gets to know you and your work, as that helps build a bond of trust unknowingly in the hearts of people which ultimately results in – clients!
  2. Education or excellent working knowledge of the domain is absolutely essential when you want to ace.
  3. Then there is the matter of Capital aka Money! Now, this is something where you can show how clever you are, as it doesn’t have to mean spending too much on equipment when you are still not as good as you need to be, whereas you can think “creatively” and figure out ways to spend less and be stupendous as well!
  4. Avoid impatience and over confidence. Don’t think too much about luck! As I said earlier, MAKE the doors to open for you. With some, it takes time, with many it doesn’t, But the worst thing you can do is stop trying.

Know Your Market:

Once you’ve figured out which niche you would work in, identify your potential customers and connect with them in a way as to build customer value and to achieve profitable customer relationships.

Within a market, there are too many customers with too many different kinds of needs, wants and demands. All customers cannot be served. Hence, to know your specific target market, an effective way is to make segments, that is, to categorize them and see which one suits well with your aims and ideas and ultimately with your vision.

For example, if you choose Fashion Photography as your domain, you may have such segments/categories to look into, as given below:

Aspiring models Fashion shoots for young guys and girls seeking a breakthrough in the fashion industry and looking for a photographer to make their portfolio in reasonable price.
Designers Fashion shoots for designers who needs all their latest designs and outfits photographed to promote.
Fashion Magazines Fashion shoots for magazines, as they also hire a freelance photographer for their photo shoots.

 

Doing this will make it easier for you to distinguish between who you can serve to more effectively depending on your style and circumstances. This particular way of segmentation requires for you to look into the Age factor involved, Income, Family Status of the potential clients. The Residential Location, Work Location, Likes and Dislikes, Preferences and Values also.

Understanding Competition:

Photo by © fancycrave1

This step deals with identifying your competitors. To see who else is already doing what you plan to do in that particular area and place, how are they going about it and what are they not getting right or is there something they are doing wrong? Critically analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors and deciding what opportunities are available to you by looking for loop holes in their work and also taking into consideration all the threats that might be coming our way from their side, if they are good at what they do.

Knowing as much as you can about your competition, gives you an upper hand and comes in handy. You’ll see!

Make Your Work Visible to People:

  1. Brand Yourself: As important as it is, branding yourself with something nice, neat and consistent will be good and enough. No need to go overboard with this, as what matters in the end will always be your work. A good logo, business cards, a website and a social media presence, with a consistent look, should be more than enough to get your brand established.
  2. Market yourself: You need to ask yourself some very crucial questions at this point. Such as, where are your potential clients looking today to find help in photography? What are the different and distinctive channels and methods you can use to trace and win clients?

Do an earnest research on it and promote yourself at all the places where you will be in front of them first and leading.

Make sure to even advertise in a different manner than others in that space. You have got to catch their interest, and not just the eye!

Pricing Your Work:

There are lots of pricing techniques available that you can up inspiration from. Here are a few general methods that apply to almost all sorts of businesses effectively.

  1. Customer value based pricing: It requires for you to evaluate the value your client places on the benefits they attain from your service and then using their perception of value as the key to pricing.
  2. Market Penetration Pricing: It only comes in handy when you haven’t prepared well enough in other ways like the ones we have discussed above. It’s about setting low initial price to penetrate the market, as low price will usually attracts a lot of new clients, but this is not the preferable way to start, because you don’t want to be known as the cheap photographer.
  3. Cost based pricing: The most commonly used method. Setting prices based on fixed cost and variable cost. Total cost would be the sum of fixed and variable, plus a fair rate for the efforts and risk involved.
    An example would be:
    Fixed Cost:
    Following may fall under the fixed cost category:

    • Time
    • Electricity used in editing the images
    • Health
    • Security + risk + money spent on equipment being used
    • “Only Jpeg images” might contain its own fixed price where as “RAW + Jpeg images” option may have its separate fixed rate.

    Variable Cost:
    Following may fall under the variable cost category:

    • Props (in case of extra and/or unique props needed, rather than using the background or already available props, as per the consultation of the client)
    • Location (in case of “renting” a location, its cost will be added)

    A very good tool in this regard called the “Cost of Doing Business Calculator” is available on the National Press Photographers Association website to help you through figuring out your costs. Just add in the numbers and at the end, it would tell you what your day rate should be.

I have mentioned it here for the reason that many of the folks plunge into this method without thinking, but soon they discover that they have nothing properly going for them. They also don’t have the right kind of positioning in the potential client’s mind.

If you take one step at a time and progress gradually but through the proper channel, you are bound to make tons of money eventually! So no need to make this mistake. Realize your true value and position yourself accordingly – then stick to it!

Utilize Public Relations:

Build a network of professionals. Associate with people related directly or indirectly to your domain and keep expanding the web. Maintain healthy relations with all your clients, as happy clients lead to more referrals. Keep all your connections alive!

If you are not the social type then practice becoming one because this is one area of work where PR skills matter A LOT! Word of mouth plays a huge role too. So prepare yourself for sweet smiles, small talks, “just stopped by to say hello” and all sorts of professional mingling.

Create a Killer Portfolio!

Photo by © Michal Jarmoluk
Photo by © Michal Jarmoluk

The emphasis on having a great portfolio can never be enough. But what is additional is, the “uniqueness” I told you about earlier in the post. Your portfolio should scream of your exceptional skills and your unique style. Make certain that you take good care of this specific ingredient.

Don’t Give Up!

Someone has said, “Nothing can beat you until you give in and give up yourself”. They are right. Success is directly proportional to the efforts you put in. It may take time so practice fortitude.

That’s all folks! Congratulations and all the very best to you for this exciting venture of yours. Hope this post was helpful!

How to Create a Photography Invoice

How to Create a Photography Invoice & Get your Client to Pay More

Ever went through the situation where you are done with the shoot, your client is happy, you know you have worked hard and now you would just LOVE for every ounce of your efforts to be worth it! You got me right. I am talking about – wait for it – good old money!

Working sure sucks if

(1) You are not being appreciated well enough and

(2) You are not being paid well enough – and for ALL that you put in!

If you want to get the true worth of your work out of your client’s bulging pockets, you need to show them to what extent your professionalism extends to. This is very important! Building a well organized and professional image in the sight of your clients can not only lead to satisfying pay, but also leaves you with a good chance of frequent future rendezvous.

So today, I am going to share some quick tips with you all on how to create a nicely managed and easy to grasp Invoice that can give your client some peace that every penny they pay is well accounted for and thus everyone wins at the end.

So let’s begin, shall we?

  1. PONDER AND COLLECT

Yep! This is your first step. Please, tell me you haven’t misplaced any of those receipts you got to collect during this last gig of yours? You better have them all. Anything you rented, anyone you hired, the trips to the coffee shop or the diner, which ever, just always save them and then spread them all on your desk like a proud stamp collector before you begin your invoice, because you are going to need it in step 6.

Also, contemplate on every other thing that pertains to the job done!

  1. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR OWN LOGO

Well, you are running a business; of course you have a logo. It would be a good idea to also get a personalized letterhead that you can use for all your documents, contracts and invoices. Remember what I said about being organized and professional in the beginning? Sending the invoice on your letterhead with your logo sitting there with confidence is going to make sure you leave a lasting impression on the people doing business with you.

  1. FROM: YOU!

All your information goes in now. Your name, Company’s name if you have it, your address and contact information etc. Now, obviously you are very excited to get your hands on that money, your money for that matter – we all are – but, in all the excitement, you do not want to mess up with the numbers or spellings on your address or contact information. So take a breath, pause, and now recheck.

  1. FOR: THE CLIENT!

Include your client’s contact and mailing information as well. It is only because you should know full well who you are working with. No wait, there is another great reason. When you keep a record of all the invoices, as you should, you will know exactly which one was sent to whom. No fuss remembering what this one was all about. It will come in particularly handy at the end of the financial year when you’re doing your taxes.

  1. INVOICE NUMBER

You need to number these things! These little details are going to make your life A LOT easier in the future. If you don’t have a system to organize your documents, you are going to end up in a lot of trouble when you need to calculate your income and expenses at the end of the year. Moreover, in case of any dispute at a later stage, it will be easier to track down the invoice to find out the terms of the job. Invoice number, job number, issue date, due date and the subject of the invoice, all this should be mentioned. Maintaining this record will not only save you from tons of stress and clutter, but, will also help you win the confidence of your clients.

  1. THE DESCRIPTION

Now this is where you add in all the information about those receipts, services and expenses, things like, how many days the job went on for and all the other costs we deliberated about in the first step.

But beware while doing this though! While you do want to make sure your client knows where their money is going, you must simplify it enough, so they will not be able to ask you to leave some things out to save their money.

  1. THE BEST PART: SUMMATION!

You have successfully reached the part where you cannot wipe that goofy grin off your face, what so ever, because the amount you totaled, could not have made you feel more content!

Well then, Congratulations! You deserved this. Now let’s quickly move on to the last part, so you can finish off this invoice and send it to your client A-SAP.

  1. PAYMENT DETAILS

Before you sign off that invoice, make sure that at the bottom, you include how you would like to receive your payments and who should it be addressed to. If you would like to receive the payments directly into your bank account, add the account information for that. Moreover, it would be a good idea to add your tax number in this section as well so as to comply with your countries corporate tax laws.

  1. SIGNING OFF

Before you sign this thing, you must thank your client. No matter what kind of experience it was with them, never forget to be polite and say thank you. At the end of every job, your objective should be to develop a business relationship with the client that might allow them to contact you again for any of their photography needs.

Before you go, have a look at the sample invoice to help you out with your next photography payment.

Sample Photography Invoice
Here’s a Sample Photography Invoice That you can follow for your next photography job.

That’s it! Phew, you’ve done it! Go conquer the enormous world of photography, mate. All the best to you!