I’ve been a part-time photographer for 7 years now, and in the full-time biz for a year. In that short time, I’ve already made more mistakes than I care to count. In sharing a few of them with you, I hope that you can avoid them!
1. Not having a system.
I am a typical artist. Un-organized, scatterbrained, and a little bit forgetful. (where are my keys?) So often, my editing process would double and sometimes triple in time because I couldn’t remember which photos had been culled, or what I had promised to one client in our discussions. Charge the same amount for everyone, have a set rule for what each client receives, and for the love of your poor soul- get someone to help you figure out a system. Ex. Import photos AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME, have a backup system (I have an external harddrive, as well as online backup. https://www.backblaze.com/).
2. Not Knowing My Value
Do you believe your work holds value? Do you believe that you have something to offer that no one else does? You should. Because you do. You are the only version of you in existence. Only you can see the world as you do. Only you can inspire people’s souls as you do. I have often allowed others to devalue me. Not necessarily always by word, but also in deed. When someone has tried to discredit my value by telling me that I am “too expensive” in the past, I have often tried to meet them by offering a discount. DO NOT DO THAT. Am I saying that you should never cut someone a deal? Absolutely not. But I am saying that if someone devalues you from the start, they are not the person you want to work with. No $$ value is going to make them see your worth. In agreeing with them and lowering your cost, you are telling them that they are correct: “You aren’t worth what you are asking. ” Please, Please, PLEASE! Remember that this costs you more than money. Your life holds significant value, what time is spent on these clients is time never gotten back. It IS NEVER WORTH investing your time and heart and soul and sacrificing them for people who don’t love what you do.
(Need to hear more about your worth? Read a previous post about “Knowing Your Worth“)
3. Viewing Everyone as Competition
This ties into #2. Technically, where I live is an incredibly oversaturated photography market. We all do. With the growing accessibility to nice cameras, everyone and their dog has opened photography “businesses.” While it has been incredibly tempting to judge and hold resentment on those who drive the industry pricing downwards without offering much to the industry itself, I have learnt that this is a harmful mindset. All of us begin somewhere. Remember that every person has intrinsic value. All of us have been touched by art in some form or another to have picked up a camera. To view them as competition is to view them as an object, an obstacle: Something to crush or jump over. Instead, view your fellow photographers as companions: together you are inspiring the world with beauty. Someone inspired us to pursue our passions. We are all People first. Artists second. Businesses last.
I hope that you have found something in this list to guide you away from a few of the mistakes I’ve made. Any thing to add, or do you have any questions? I’d love to hear from you!