6 Common Mistakes for New Wedding Photography Businesses

common-mistakes-for-new-wedding-photography-studiosSeasoned photographers, who have been in the niche of shooting weddings for several years now, will come to you at various points in your career, with advice that’s more or less welcome, valid, or solicited. Now, most of them mean well and should be taken at face value, as well as with a pinch of salt. But, occasionally, you will also come across the revelation of committing common mistakes for new wedding photography businesses. There are those errors which are part of the learning process, and which you probably need to go through, in order to evolve. And while the list below does not, by any means, aim to be exhaustive, it is meant to save you at least some of the trouble these mistakes come with. So read on and try to take some of them to heart.

Common Mistake #1: You don’t use the manual mode

Don’t get us wrong – it’s not like using the Aperture and Shutter Priority modes is wrong. They do serve their purpose, when there simply isn’t enough time, or the situation is too complex to set your camera right on Manual Mode. However, if you’re serious about becoming a professional wedding photographer, this is one of the foremost common mistakes of new photography businesses you’re going to want to avoid. If you don’t use Manual Mode, there’s no way you’re ever going to learn anything about lighting, as well as about your camera in general.

Common Mistake #2: You’re only a photographer

That’s also one of the more serious common mistakes of new photography businesses. You see, when you go into this business, you should walk in assuming that you’re going to be doing so much more than just taking pictures. You’re going to become, in turn, a social media expert, a marketing expert, a treasurer and accountant, a PR person, a secretary – and just about any other business running role you can think of.

Common Mistake #3: You believe success will come quickly

Get that out of your head pronto. It’s going to take years before you start making a comfortable amount of money. That’s because, no matter how much your heart is in it, there’s still a lot you need to learn – and not just about wedding photography, but also about all those other skills and lines of work we mentioned before.

Common Mistake #4: You have no people skills

Photography in general, but wedding photography in particular, is all about knowing how to work with and relate to people. People are your clients, prime material, and everything in between. Without them, you have no business to speak of, so if you really want to turn your pipe dream into a success, then you’d better get cracking at honing those people skills – it will pay off tenfold, time and time again.

Common Mistake #5: You spend a lot of money on gear

Yes, we know – it’s hard to hold back from buying that one lens/tripod/case you’ve always dreamt of. However, if you don’t control your purchases, especially in the beginning, you risk running yourself into debt and a very sad case of business failure. And that is just about the opposite of what you want to do, especially since it’s never just that one purchase. It’s a vicious circle and you know it, so practice some restraint.

Common Mistake #6: You don’t have referrals to rely on

In entrepreneurship, getting business to come your way is all about word of mouth, references, and referrals. Yes, paid advertising can help to, but there is no publicity like the one a satisfied client can provide. So always make sure to encourage referrals, or even ask for them upfront.

6 Common Mistakes for New Wedding Photography Businesses

What Will Be Your Biggest Regret?

When people look back over their lives, no one will ever tell you they regret trying something new. Even if it doesn’t work out quite the way they anticipated, they still learned and grew from the experience.

Yet the number one thing everyone regrets are the things they didn’t do.

“I remember a time I had this experience in front of me and I chose not to move forward. That’s my biggest regret.”

Starting a business is difficult at best. In fact it can be so difficult and overwhelming it’s easy to shut down and decide not to move forward with your plans.

Yet what do you have to lose?What Will Be Your Biggest Regret

Take this opportunity to …

Take your first step. Nothing feels better than doing something concrete that moves you one step closer to your goal.

Move out of your comfort zone. People hold back because they like familiarity instead of something new. In small business, every day presents something new. Get used to feeling uncomfortable … and learn from it so you can take your next big step.

Educate yourself. The only way to keep moving forward in big ways is to learn all the time. Mistakes help you grow. New ideas help you move forward.

Never forget yourself. Your happiness is key to all others around you. You can easily control the mood of those around you – build on your own happiness and watch all others follow suit.

Practice. The great thing about photography is there is always room for improvement. Just because you know how to use a camera, doesn’t mean you understand a new lens. Once you have a concept down, there are always other things to learn. Choose new concepts all the time and perfect them in your mind before you move on to the next idea.

Eliminate the negative. Years ago I learned a secret … eliminate the negativity in your life and you’ll automatically be happier. Talk with a person that leaves the news on all day long. Now talk with a person that doesn’t own a television. Big difference. By making simple changes – eliminating negative news sources in your life – you’ll automatically see a difference in your outlook.

Let go of what doesn’t work to make room for what does. With only 24 hours in a day, you’ll have to leave something behind in order to have the time to put a new photography business into your life. What doesn’t work any more? What could you happily eliminate and never miss it again?

It’s the only way to move forward. And think of it this way.

20 years from now, will that be your biggest regret? What can you do to change that today?

3 Reasons You’re Making Your “Naming Your Photography Business” Process Too Difficult

You’ve been dreaming about photography “forever”. You’ve bought the perfect camera, you have all the accessories, you’ve even built up your portfolio with family and friends. But one thing is holding your back:3 Reasons You’re Making Your “Naming Your Photography Business” Process Too Difficult

Your business name

Naming your photography business can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people just getting started. You want the perfect name, want it to be memorable, and be able to grow with you for years into the future. Yet that desire is what’s holding you back. Here’s why.

1. Waiting for the perfect business name stops you in your tracks.

Everything associated with your name has to be put on hold until you make your final decision. You can’t get your tax license, register your business, or order business cards. So weeks, months, even years can go by waiting for the right name to “pop” into your brain. Funny thing is it rarely does. You’ll always have doubts. You’ll always have questions. And the longer you wait, the more your dreams of owning a photography business pass you by. The more you focus on your name, the more you focus on the wrong things. Clients want you – your photography – and the name is always secondary. If this is where you are stuck, make your decision today to start simple – Your Name Photography – if nothing else comes to you. You can always change the name or do a DBA (doing business as) later.

2. Cleverness can be a holdback.

Have you ever found a company with a cute name that may have made you laugh. Then the more you thought about, the more you questioned the integrity of the business? Yep, we all have. The owner started out with good intentions, yet the name takes on hidden meanings, depending on your background and the way you interpret things. A clever name doesn’t win clients. And a clever name can come back and hurt you, especially if society changes. (For example, shooting was a popular word a couple of decades ago until “shooting” became engrained in our society as a horrible thing.)

3. Clever or double meaning names can be lost or misunderstood.

So you’ve put a few words together that have a couple of meanings. You think its clever and people will love it. The problem arises when a potential client has no idea what it means, and they are left scratching their heads, wondering what kind of person came up with a name like that. Confusion should never be a part of your marketing plan. Sell them with your style, your branding, your colors and your look. Your name will always fall to the back of the “impact” if you have a tightly pulled together look that attracts people from the beginning.

For all of these reasons and more, I suggest to keep your naming process simple.

If you’ve been stuck for a while now, yes it can be as simple as going with your name – Your Name Photography – to start moving ahead in your goals and your dreams.

Another activity to get you moving in the right direction is to find a name that specifically says what you do. Take out a piece of paper and write down words associated with your business ideas. You may end up with words like:

  • Pets
  • Dogs
  • People and their pets
  • Cats

In this case, you can start simple with Pet Portraits or Best Friends Photography. It gets straight to the point, especially when displayed with your work.

Stay focused on what really matters – getting clients and growing your business – not on something that can be easily changed and modified as you grow.

Now, if you’re just starting out and trying to build a successful business from the ground up, Six Figure Photographer is the perfect step by step system to help you get your business up and running and the clients flowing in. Six Figure Photographer gives you the most important things to do to set up a solid business plan today, followed by steps to do as you continue to grow and change in the months ahead. Easy. You can get it at SixFigurePhotographer.com

Are You Lying: Is It A Hobby Or Is It A Photography Business?

At what stage are you in with your business? Are you a start up or have you been at it for years?

Would you classify yourself as a hobby or as a business?

While many photographers like to think of themselves as business owners, in fact they are nothing more than hobbyists. What’s the difference between a hobby and a business?

In reality only one thing separates the two: money.Are You Lying Is It A Hobby Or Is It A Photography Business

Hobbyists don’t care about how much they make. Businesses track for profits.

Hobbies are something we do on the side after work.

Businesses are something we do to bring in full time income and we work hard to bring in as much profit as possible.

So if you have been working on the side for years now, calling yourself a business owner, in reality you may be missing the one thing that could change your entire approach.

It’s a trap we get into when we can’t take our business to the next level.

You do enough to feel good about what you’re doing, but you’re not getting results.

You’re not doing the right things to do truly big things.

And because its always holding you back, you’re not able to take things to the next level.

Passion does not equal success. [Read more…]

How To Become A Successful Freelance Photographer

To me, there are two types of photographers who enter the photography field.

The first has some idea of the direction they want to take. So they begin developing a photography business, and start by choosing a few specialties as they move into a new direction. They may start a business as a portrait and wedding photographer. Or develop a business as a commercial photographer. They have a general idea of whom they want to work for.

How To Become A Successful Freelance PhotographerThen there is the other side of the business. These are the freelance photographers. These people haven’t completely decided to start up a business and advertise for any one thing. Instead they want to maintain their independence and photograph many things for many clients.

As a freelance photographer, you can do many things for many people. You have to have a general understanding of photography, be quick on your feet, and be able to work at a moments notice on many different types of projects. It can be a lot of fun. It has its stressful moments when you’re not quite sure what you’ll be doing tomorrow. But above all, it can help you develop into a refined and talented photographer – and get paid throughout the process.

If your goal is to freelance on the side as you discover your inner talents, what should you do? Give these suggestions a try.

Start with your own website/blog

No matter what type of photographer you are or what types of jobs you are trying for, you have to have a portfolio to win over your potential clients. And one of the easiest ways to do that is by building and controlling your own portfolio. It doesn’t have to be fancy – start up a WordPress blog and go from there. Above all make sure it is easy to use, easy to operate as a potential client (NO FLASH SITES), and easy to find. If you don’t have any work you’ve done for clients, use some of the best images you’ve created over the past few months. Put yourself on assignment and head out to photograph in a variety of ways. If your goal is commercial work, find a friend that is willing to trade time for a few photographs. If you want to try your hand at food photography, set up a few great looking images and showcase them. It doesn’t matter if you were paid for the image or not – its your ability as a photograph at this point.

Don’t be afraid of pricing

I’ve worked with many photographers over the years, and the one thing that puts the breaks on a business like nothing else is pricing. If you’re afraid to look for work because you don’t know what to charge, just do it. Go out and find a job. Quote a price that feels natural to you. Learn from it and move on to the next one.

Remember, you don’t have to quote a price the moment you connect with someone. Instead, ask a few questions to find out what they are looking for in their photography. Ask if they have a budget they are trying to maintain. Then tell them you’ll call them back in a little while. Think about it, do a little research, set your price and call them back.

Respond to emails and phone calls as fast as you can

When someone contacts you for business, chances are they are connecting with more than one photographer. The more responsive you are, the better your chance of moving in front of your competition.

Set up your work hours

Now that you know the importance of returning calls and emails as fast as possible, let me flip it around and tell you to establish your work hours up front. If you answer an email at midnight, if they turn into a customer, they will assume they can connect with you at midnight. We all should have a life. Its okay to set your working hours up front and stick with them.

Keep your to-do list well organized

As a freelance photographer, you’ll be doing many different things throughout your busy days. Its easy to think “I’ll remember that”. Yet reality shows that’s not always the case. Learn to carry a journal around to jot notes into as you move from client to client. Or use one of the many apps that help you stay organized and create lists. You can use a to-do app like TeuxDeux or even just a note taking app like Evernote.

Look for work everywhere you go

Where do you spend your time? Where do you like to hang out? Don’t be afraid to promote what you do in those areas. If you spend time every morning in a coffee shop working on images and meeting clients, put your business card up on their community bulletin board. Make sure you check online freelance job sites as well.

Never over promise

As you are building up your name and reputation, make sure you commit to things your can truly deliver. If you can’t have an order ready by Friday, don’t tell the customer Friday. Your goal is to keep people happy, and have the opportunity of potentially working for them again.

Always learn

Photography is an ever growing, every changing industry. As you grow and change with each assignment, reach out and discover ways in which you can become better at what you do. Sign up for your favorite photography sites’ newsletters (have you signed up for ours?) or make sure their RSS feeds are fed into your reader. Attend classes and follow people that truly motivate you.

Move forward with confidence

One of the reasons many photographers never get their business off the ground is they let concepts overwhelm them. They live in a “what if” state instead of actually doing things. It’s okay to make mistakes – you’ll learn as you go. And every time you make a mistake, its one more thing you can add into your business knowledge.

How To Start Your Photography Business Today

How long have you been talking about starting up your photography business. Months? Years?

What are you waiting for?

If you are like a lot of would-be entrepreneurs out there just dreaming of the day you can start up your own photo studio, I bet the one thing that is holding you back is the fear of “stuff”.

The “stuff” being – all the “stuff” you have to go through to make it official, especially if you aren’t 100 percent positive you really want to go through with this.

Chances are that “stuff” is the things you are afraid of. It’s the things you simply don’t know and aren’t sure how to put into place. You are intimidated by what you may not know, so it’s easier to say “someday” and keep putting it all aside. Its easy to stall when you think things are complex, and the administrative and legal tasks seem to be way over your head. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Today’s your day. Quit saying “someday” and make it today. The basic startup  tasks can be accomplished … today! Use this list and work your way through.

Get over the “perfect name” thing

So many photographers agonize over what to name their business. But the longer you put your business on hold trying to come up with the perfect name, the longer you are going without making money at your business.

Start with your first instinct – your name perhaps. File your paperwork, get everything completed and move on. Remember, its easy to operate a business under a different name than your company name. A simple “doing business as” form takes minutes to complete, and will allow you to migrate into different names and different branding as you become more secure in your direction.

Get your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Your EIN is the federal tax number used to identify your business – think of it as your business’s social security number. While an EIN isn’t mandatory unless you have employees or are planning on running your business as a partnership, LLC or corporation, get one anyway. They are free to get, take minutes to apply for, and can protect you from identity theft by allowing you to use separate numbers for your business and personal dealings.

Take the few minutes necessary to head over to the IRS website, fill out the form and submit.

Now that that’s taken care of, lets move to local tasks. [Read more…]

The 3 Secrets To Staying Motivated In Your Job While You Build Your Photography Business

I know many of my readers are working at photography as a second job – an income source – while they pursue their passion in photography.

That’s how we started too.

When we first decided to become professional photographers, we were working in corporate America, handling the 9 to 5 during the week, and working at our photography nights and weekends.

We did that for several years as we learned more about photography, more about being an entrepreneur, and discovering that we wanted to move beyond part time into the full time status.

When we first started out, photography was our “fun”; it was something we did together on the side. We didn’t think it would become a business. We just enjoyed doing it and wanted to be the best we could be.

Then Andrew lost 3 jobs in three years.

I watched my Dad die – constantly living with the stress of worrying about whether his 30 year career would be there the next day.

And I started listening to the people around me. I remember working with people my age saying things like “3 years down, 30 to go”. And even then I knew deep inside that was wrong.

So I started thinking about me. Actually, Andrew and I started thinking about we.

And we decided we didn’t want life in the normal way.

When you look at it, you have around 80 years on this planet. That’s 960 months. Or 4,160 weeks. If you take away your childhood years, school years, and retirement years, its more like 2,080 weeks. That’s it.

It  doesn’t sound like much when you say “I have to work 2,080 weeks in my lifetime.”

And watching other people hate what they did, or actually counting down their lives as quickly as possible wasn’t doing it for me. So I looked at it differently. Even while I had to work at the corporate job while we built up our photography business, I decided to do things a bit differently.

Motivation Secret #1: Stop Caring So Much

Many people today work 50, 60 hours a week because they are worried they might not have a job tomorrow. They commit to overtime, weekend work, and even forgo vacations, all because they are worried “the boss” may lay them off due to budget cuts and financial problems. They want to “look good” in the company’s eyes.

Guess what? I know many, many people that had that attitude and ended up with a pink slip anyway. [Read more…]

How To Start A Photography Business Without Wasting Money

What made you decide to take your love of photography to the next level and start a business with it?

Perhaps you aren’t sure if your 9 to 5 job is secure; will it really be there for you in the near future to pay your bills?

Or maybe you’ve seen a program on television that inspired you to the lifestyle some photographers have. I’m always inspired when I watch Art Wolfe’s Travels To The Edge.

In any case, your new business venture can very quickly take on a life of it own. As you begin to learn more about the business side of things, you’ll find things that are hard to live without. Training programs. New equipment. And so much more.

If you’re not careful, you may end up working longer hours or taking on a second job – all to finance your new business venture. Photography can be expensive if you let it. Yet there are ways of moving into this new career without wasting money and going in debt.

Start With Basic Equipment

As a new studio, you can start out with basic equipment. Start by thinking about who your client is and what they expect. Do you need equipment to travel to weddings and events? Or will you remain stationary at your home studio?

Take a look at what you’ll need to get started. Then focus in on getting the basics. For example, if you’re photographing weddings, you’ll need a minimum of two camera bodies to take to every wedding. Don’t buy top of the line; start with something smaller and move up. You may even look to used equipment – we’ve had great luck on both eBay and Craigslist. Especially in a down economy, many people sell basically brand new equipment for the simple reason they need money. [Read more…]

How To Keep Your Part Time Photographer Business Moving Forward While You Still Have A Day Job

Do you have a day job to pay the rent – and spend your evenings and weekends doing what you love, hoping one day to turn it into something more? Yep, that describes probably the majority of photographers out there at some point in their careers.

That’s where we started. It can be really tough though to keep up your stamina and your spirits when you’re working long hours at the office, only to come home and start it all over again with more work piled up in front of you. Especially when the tiny details seem to get the better of you. Its easy to ask “is this all there is?” as you begin to look for the day when you can enjoy your life too – not just work seven days of the week.

Yep, we have been there. And I’m so grateful we stuck out the odds and made it into the business we have today. Here are a few things that helped us. Make sure you have them in your own life too.

Write Down Your Goals – With Dates

Writing down your goals is probably on every small business website and information guide you’ve ever written. And while the advice may get old, the concept shouldn’t. Its there because it works. Yet if you have a goal list in front of you, have you added dates to it as well?

Rather than having a vague idea of what the future holds, put it to the test. A goal of “I’ll quit my full time job by December 31st of this year” is a lot more motivational than “I’ll quit my job someday”.

Putting a date to things creates a sense of urgency. It allows you to think beyond the basics and find ways to get things done. [Read more…]

How To Master The Basics Of Success

Success is like a ladder and no one has ever climbed a ladder with their hands in their pockets. ~Zig Ziglar

If you are planning on climbing up to the roof of your home, the steps are easy to understand. Find a ladder, place it against your home, and start climbing. One step at a time you move your feet until you reach the last one and step off to your destination. It doesn’t take much time – and probably not much thought. You just do it because you have a goal in mind.

But what if the ladder you are trying to climb has hidden steps? What if you don’t know what its leaning against, nor how many steps it will take to reach the top? Things can get a bit more challenging.

Everything in life has a final destination and the ever-important steps to get there. If you want to learn to play chess, you have to find a chessboard and playing pieces, learn the basic rules, and practice. If you want to play golf, you have to find some clubs and a ball, find a course to play on, learn the basic rules, and practice.

Running a photography business is no different. You have to have camera equipment on hand, learn the basic rules of running a business, and practice. Again and again. Things will go wrong sometimes and right others. But overall, building a solid foundation will set you up correctly and help you accomplish what you’ve set out to do – run a successful business.

If you ask an expert in the photography field what the crucial steps are to his or her success, you’ll likely hear a laundry list of items. And if you ask more than one, you’ll likely hear a few different items. Don’t get lost in the details. The real difference between a pro and an amateur is simply that the expert has built a solid foundation and is much more effective at determining what steps to take to continue building up from that successful foundation. He or she is constantly adding to the fundamental skills he or she already has in place.

You can do it too. There are three simple ideas on finding the basic skills needed to create a solid foundation.

Expect Mastery

Think back to everything you’ve achieved in life so far. Before you accomplished it, did you believe you could?

That’s kind of a trick question because the first step to any action is belief. If you think you can, you will. If your goal is to have a college degree, you take as many classes as necessary to graduate. You see the goal and word to get it.

The same applies to your business. Do you see it? Can you see yourself working full time as a photographer? Or can you only see it as a side business – your real money comes from your day job?

If you want to be a world famous photographer, you have to lay the foundation. You have to have the proper skills with the camera. You have to understand lighting, posing and production. You have to understand marketing, planning and sales. And you have to want to do it every single day, without stop, until you find success.

Think About The Long Term

Many people try to rush into success, only to give up because they simply can’t do it as well as they can see themselves doing it in their mind.

For example, lets say you’ve never had ice skates on before. But you watch the Olympics and think ice dancing looks like fun. So you head to the rink and put on your first pair of ice skates. Your first step on the ice is probably going to be filled with disaster. Your legs will wobble, your ankles will weaken, and you’ll probably find yourself sitting on the ice more than standing. But if you don’t learn to stand, you’ll never glide across the ice. If you’re not comfortable moving forward, you’ll never be able to move backward. And so on.

When you see how easy other professional photographers have it, its easy to get caught up in the excitement and expect it yourself. If they shoot 30 weddings a year making $250,000, you should be able to do it too. And you can – but keep in mind its going to take time. One foot in front of the other, learning as you go, adding on to what you’ve learned in the past, until you find the success you are looking for.

Avoid Getting Fancy

Putting the basics into action are the only important steps you need to take along the way. When you find yourself running into a complication or a problem, question yourself as to why it really seems difficult. Is it due to a shortcoming in one or more basic skills? Rarely will you find a fancy or complicated technique to be the answer.

If you can’t ice skate, the most expensive ice skates in the world won’t help you do it any better.

Thoroughly mastering the basics takes time. But its well worth the time spent. Remember, there are no “secrets” or shortcuts to success. Build your foundation. And add the basics as you go along. You’ll soon find yourself at the top of the ladder, stepping off into the lifestyle you’ve dreamed of.

Are you still struggling with understanding the basics of your DSLR? Then you have to check out the new guide DSLR: The Basics. It’s a camera and exposure book in friendly ebook format. I’ve just finished going through it myself, and love the detail and knowledge that Ed goes over. In addition to simple language for every situation, you’ll also find a wealth of information in his graphs, charts and photographs. Many of them help you understand difficult techniques in a user-friendly way. If you’ve ever struggled with the basics, or are still questioning different components of your camera, you can’t afford not to add this book to your collection.