If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time now, you’ve seen the world of photography change drastically. From film to digital. From paper proofs to digital files. From traditional marketing to social marketing. With so much change is so little time, how do you know what to do to make sure you are successful years into the future?

1. Accept new channels.
The world changes at an incredible pace these days. What worked today won’t work tomorrow. How you photographed 5 years ago is not how you photograph today.

I once heard a quote that said, “A person starting out on a 4 year technology degree today will begin working today with tools that will be obsolete by the time they graduate and try for their first job.”

Embracing change as a photographer

I speak with photographers all the time that complain about today’s situation. They’ve lost their clients, and don’t know how to continue building a successful business that can support them and their families. In many cases they are out finding and returning to a 9 to 5 corporate job. It really doesn’t have to be that way. You just have to adjust to a new way of doing business.

You can’t be afraid of turning your images over to the online world. Try Flickr and Facebook. Just because people can see your images doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to sell what you do – you may be getting paid in an entirely different way. If you don’t understand it, sign up for a class. I teach classes several times a year at my local community college on social networking and Twitter. Or sign up for a class online – there are dozens of ways of finding a way to learn more about new tools.

2. Focus on where you are going, not where you are now.
Where do you want to be in five years? If you still want to have a full time photography studio, you need to change now. If you prefer to retire and do something else, create goals to get you into position for the change.

If you love photography, find a way to reenergize yourself. Take a class. Learn a new technique with Photoshop. Attend a conference or tradeshow. Just getting out and connecting with the top of the photo industry can do wonders for your motivation.

Then sit down and really plan for your future. Be honest with yourself on what you truly want to do. And if it’s continuing in photography, take on a mentor that will motivate you to do better and move towards a profitable future.

3. Add value to your products and services.
Have you been cutting your rates trying to keep up with the bottom-end photographers? The problem with cutting your rates is you end up cutting your clientele as well.

A $1,000 wedding client is a lot different than a $10,000 wedding client. A $1,000 wedding client will use the cheapest products, very little detail, and will cut corners every chance she gets. By photographing a $1,000 client, you are setting yourself up for more $1,000 wedding clients. Because you’ll only have samples from simple events, your chances of taking exceptional photographs will be low. The décor will be minimal, the location may not offer a lot of options, and scenery will be sparce. And without exceptional photographs showcasing the details, the $10,000 clients will never book with you.

People want to see what they get. They want to put themselves into your photographs, and expect something similar. If they don’t see it, they won’t purchase it. If your goal is to get into bigger and better images, make a point in creating more for every client you have, even if you are starting with a $1,000 client. Spend 30 minutes meeting them in a park near the reception site. Pick out a beautiful location ahead of time, and shoot for your sample images. Build your portfolio by shooting for where you want to be, not where you are coming from. Yes, you’re current clients will be ecstatic – they’ll get so much more than they truly expected. But you’ll also be growing towards your own successful future.

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