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Photography Question 
Emily M. Rosson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2008

Getting started in the photography business

Hi my name is Emily. I have been doing photography for a while now but only for myself and family and friends. I have resently desided to start my own at home business doing weddings, seniors, family and children photos. I am not sure what the best way is to get my name out there does anyone have any advice. my website is if anyone wants to take a look at my work the only thing I have on there right now is what I have done since getting my digital. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

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12/4/2008 8:17:36 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Some people start with a home business and succeed. The pitfalls are deep and wide. When you hang out your sign you enter into the realm of professional. Now you are at risk if anything goes wrong. An old professor taught me that no matter how long the odds, given sufficient time it will occur. What I am saying is, better to work for an established business and first learn the ropes. A year with a successful photographer and mentor might just be the most valuable time you ever spent.

Alan Marcus

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12/5/2008 7:59:21 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Emily. The pros and cons of this subject have been discussed a lot here. Initially you should do a search using the box at the top of the page under something like "turning pro", "starting my own photo business", and so forth.

You need to understand that having a digital camera does NOT a pro make. Nor does having the ability to use it to make pretty pictures. Nor is it as easy as having a web site or hanging out a sign and getting your name out there as you put it. Becoming a successful pro is a state of mind that requires a broad base of knowledge AND opening a business is a huge responsibility, especially during these days of pre-depression/recession.

This is perhaps one of the most uncertain times in history to be opening a business. At least this month. Photographers are going out of business all over both here and overseas and if you think this "business" looks like fun, you're wrong. It's very very hard work. 85 per cent of your time is spent promoting, marketing, bidding jobs, meeting with clients and scouring the world for work, traveling perhaps, and collecting your money.

You need a thorough, flexible business plan with a reasonable flexible budget that includes money set aside for an advertising / marketing program, equipment, insurance, licenses, permits, printing, ad infintim. You should know the rules and laws that apply to what you're doing. A course in business law at a local JC would probably be useful to you covering torts, contracts and other matters.
A course in basic accounting is useful. Read up on release laws and join professional associations.

You should also have liability, property and if it's available to you, reshoot insurance. ESPECIALLY if there are kids involved. And your home, if you're having prospective business invitees over, meeds to be zoned commercial/residential, not just residential. Check with your local city government and find out what you need to do to conduct a business out of your home. Chances are you're in for a big surprise.

You need the right equipment to do the work under a myriad of circumstances. Pros get paid to solve problems, our equipment helps us do that. Remember, you can't practice your skills over the bodies of your clients. In other words, you need to be able to shoot on the fly and solve all sorts of dilemmas, both technically and psychologically with your clients.

As far as additional tools, you should have skills to fall back on, different types of work, in lean times like now, to help keep food on your table and your mortgage or rent paid.

After spending the past 30+ years as a working photojournalist, I can safely say that "It's never easy" is it? Alan knows what he's talking about too, and anyone who says it is either delusional or doesn't know what they're talking about. If you start small with adequate plans and basic knowledge beforehand, it can be done, but requires a lot of prep work. Take it light ;>) and good luck.

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12/5/2008 9:33:05 AM

Emily M. Rosson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2008
  Thanks for your advise Mark I do know it will be slow getting a clientel built. I am only doing this part time I have done numerous photo shoots and know there is alot of work that goes into it. I also have an acounting degree and am a full time nurse. For know this is just part time weekend and evening type thing. I have also taken some photography classes and have put alot of research into this I have been researching it for about a year. I am doing this because I enjoy it and don't mind the hard work it's capturing those special moments that mean the most. I love photographing children as I have 3 girls I have been photographing since birth. I also know that just having a digital camera don't make you a photographer you have to know how to make a snapshot into a portrait which I beleive I have an eye for. I am not diong this to get rich I am doing it because I love it. I have been told my best business will come from word of mouth. I am just not sure how to go about getting that started should I offer free sessions to so many people to get started. I am just wondering if anyone has any ideas on this. I know it will take a while for me to start getting the business. I am just wanting some ideas. Thanks for your time I appreciate all your advise. Emily

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12/5/2008 3:58:34 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005

You will no doubt receive a ton of advice. Some good, some not so good.

Luckily, someone has already written a lot of good advice; almost a A to Z concerning photography as a business.

I refer many people to this web site as it cuts down on threads on this subject becoming longer than our national debt. LOL

Seriously, Dan Heller has a proven track record in good times and bad.

It will take you a few days to read all he has to offer.

all the best,


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12/6/2008 4:35:49 AM

Ross Throndson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/13/2005
  Thanks for reminding me.....i had forgotten about Dan's Blog.

Good Luck, Emily....And I think you're right.....Do a couple for Free....then charge more as you Go.....Have Fun! :-)

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12/6/2008 5:46:44 AM

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