This post is Day 2 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

Throughout this series, I’ll use a variety of questions, stories and comments that were presented by my readers. Let me start out today’s post with a story.

“Luci” wants to start a specialized portrait photography business. I won’t get into all of the details here, but because of issues within her own family life, she hopes to build a portrait studio catering to families with unique family dynamics. She’s been thinking about this for a long time, and has done quite a bit of planning. She has designed a logo, has business cards, created a website and has worked on marketing ideas. She has no studio space in her home, but she’s decided it would be best to work on location and in her clients’ homes, so she has that worked out in her mind. She’s well on her way to starting her business.

But she faces some real challenges as well.

1. She has no reliable means of transportation.

2. A very low income, which means she doesn’t have disposable income to buy a ton of camera and studio equipment.

3. A limited timeframe to photograph. She has family obligations that require her attention, so she only has the opportunity to meet clients around 4 hours per day.

4. She has no portfolio, no client list, and no true idea of how to approach gaining her first client. How can she entice folks to use her services?

She finished her story by asking:

Is this pretty much an impossible goal I am setting for myself or do you think there is hope?

Can A Goal Be Impossible?

It is my belief that no goal is impossible. We’ve only conditioned our minds to believe we can’t achieve something. So we stop trying, or put things on hold, because we’ve conditioned our mind to believe it.

Think about the Olympic games. Have you ever sat and watched in awe as men and women sprint for the finish time, sometimes beating the old world record by seconds? If you compared the world records from 100 years ago to today’s records, you would laugh. Are we that much faster? Or have we conditioned ourselves to believe we can be faster?

While its obvious within the sports world – you can easily see how someone is faster by looking at the stopwatch – its less obvious in the business world. Yet examples are everywhere. In the throes of recessions and depressions, some of the best companies have started and risen to fame. Hyatt Corp started during the recession of 1957, and today has more than 365 hotels in 25 countries. The Jim Henson Company started in 1958, and continues to put smiles on children’s faces around the world with their magical puppetry. Hewlett Packard started at the end of the Great Depression out of a garage, and today earns billions of dollars and operates in nearly every country in the world.

Yes, these are very large companies. Yet they all started in the minds of one person, with a dream to make it big. If they didn’t believe in their dreams, and take actions to make it a reality, they wouldn’t be in existence today.

The same holds true for photographers. If you have a passion about something, know something inside and out, believe in what you have to offer the world, and know there is a market for it, you can succeed. Notice I said CAN succeed, and not WILL succeed. There’s a long way to go from CAN to WILL. And most of it comes from action.

Turn The Impossible In To The Reachable

Let’s get back to Luci’s story. Luci states that she has 4 real challenges. And to her, they are definite, real challenges. Even reading them today, you can quickly see how they can present problems. But how can you take those problems, and turn them into something doable? By turning the impossible in to the reachable. Let’s look at the challenges one at a time.

1. She has no reliable means of transportation.
Luci has a double problem here. She has no room for a studio in her home, and no reliable means of transportation to a client’s home. She has chosen to build an on-location studio, which means she must head out and on-location to fulfill her business obligations.

But being an on-location photographer doesn’t mean you have to be at the beck and call of your clientele. It simply means you don’t work out of your own home or commercial studio. You travel and meet clients at a place you don’t own and don’t control. Yet you still have 100 percent flexibility in where that location is. So find 3 to 5 locations that are comfortable for your clientele, and easy for you to get to with the transportation methods available to you.

How about a local park? We have several botanical gardens around town that allow photographers to work with clients. You do have to pay a small fee for a photo license or pass, but the fee is minimal and gives you access throughout the season. What about the local zoo? Or playground? While you do need permission in a variety of places, its sometimes fairly easy to get. You just have to ask. And again, you don’t need dozens of locations. Just start out with one, and build to 3 to 5. Make it convenient for you, not for your client. If this is your normal studio location, your clients will accept it unconditionally.

2. A very low income, which means she doesn’t have disposable income to buy a ton of camera and studio equipment.

Part of being a professional photographer is having professional equipment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start with the basics. Start with what you have, and use a portion of each sale you bring in to update. Concentrate on getting great lenses for portraits, then build into lighting setups. If you are using on-location settings, you don’t need to invest in props or backgrounds.

3. A limited time frame to photograph. She has family obligations that require her attention, so she only has the opportunity to meet clients around 4 hours per day.
One of the top reasons to start up your own business is flexibility. A photography business means you control when you want to work, and whom you want to work with.

Because you have special knowledge that makes you a greater asset to families living with the same conditions, you have a special way to market what you do. Which means you are more specialized, and ultimately can charge a lot more for your expertise.

Yes, you have to start somewhere. You have to gain your first client, then your second, and so on. But after a few months, your expertise can spread through the community, and you can quickly be up and running solely through referrals. That’s what is so great about specializing.

If you can only work 4 hours per day, your goal may be to photograph one family on any given day. That allows you to focus 100 percent of your creativity on that one family, and give them the time they need to feel comfortable with you. You marketability comes from customer service, and knowing exactly how to get your clients to feel comfortable throughout the portrait experience. And that’s customer service many people are willing to pay VERY WELL for.

4. She has no portfolio, no client list, and no true idea of how to approach gaining her first client. How can she entice folks to use her services?
Within every niche or specialty, there exists a community and resource pool of people you can connect with. Sit down and look at what you do every month. What doctors do you visit? What groups do you belong to? What agencies do you visit or connect with regularly? What stores do you frequent? Chances are if you use something regularly, people just like you and in the same situation do too.

That’s where you start looking for clients. Ask if you can put a brochure on the table of your doctor’s office. If you’ve gone to and trusted him for years, he may think your photography is perfect for other clients, and would be happy to put your brochures in his waiting room. Or try pinning a brochure and a few business cards to a local community board. I’ve seen community boards in libraries, coffee shops, delis and recreation centers. Concentrate on finding just one client from each place you frequent. Again, one will quickly turn into two and more when they realize your specialty.

So is there such a thing as an impossible goal? I believe the answer is no. You just have to find solutions to whatever your roadblocks are.

What are your roadblocks? How can you change them from impossible to reachable?

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