Around the world, the commercial photography industry is growing. While the not-so recent economic downturn might have hampered progress for many in the field, there is a ray of hope. A string of young people, characterized as smartphone owners, successful professionals, hobbyists, passionate travelers and essentially creative, are turning to photography. For some, it might be a simple passion - for others, they’re getting into a serious photography business. If there’s one thing in common among all of them - it’s the fact that they’re all self-taught!
Destin Sparks is one such guy. He never went to a photography school, or purchased expensive equipment. Yet - in a span of just four years, he’s managed to earn up-to $200,000 a year. So how does one exactly do a ‘Sparks’ ?
- Be at the RIGHT places: Try getting some first hands-experience on how the industry feel like. Whether that’s an internship with a well-known photographer, a sales staff at your local camera studio or photo agency - these experiences can help you gain a lot of knowledge, technical expertise, build a network and it’s great fun!
- Cameras, equipment and space: These can be steep expenses, but you can be smart around them. Begin with a basic camera - know what you want to get out of it and do plenty of experiments. See if hiring on rent is an option, or if friends can lend you stuff. DIY projects can help you make accessories for a studio - if you plan to have one. Though that can send your finances spiraling upwards, if you still feel the need for a ‘space’ as such, share a studio with similar artists, or friends who’re into similar artistic fields. It can be great to work with similar minds.
- Research: Contracts, terms and conditions, taxes, permits and other legalities can be tough to draft but not impossible. Look up lawyer friends who can be great guides on this front. Aspects such as competition and pricing should be looked up as well.
- Getting a great portfolio website: A mind-blowing portfolio of the collection of some of your greatest shots can call the shots for your business. Ensure the site is fast-loading, grants secure e-commerce and allows you to customize your site as and when required.
- Marketing your business: Initially, it’s good to explore options that are not too heavy on the pocket - such as free social networking sites to get your business noticed in your immediate circle and get the word going on it. These sites are also great places to get plenty invaluable feedback when you begin uploading or sharing your work. Sparks learnt his lesson early on with a poor SEO trick. He simply didn’t understand how it worked and fell flat.
- Networking: One aspect you can’t underestimate! If you’re venturing into wedding photography, perhaps the first one’s to hire you would be your close friends. Use the work done for them to get more work - and this means constantly building and engaging with your network. You’ve got to be very ‘sociable’ for the kind of personality this field demands.However, in contrast, a landscape photography business would comparatively demand lesser of the social obligations, and would be a ‘quieter’ job. So assess what works best for you, as a personality.
Keeping the above in mind, remember, one can learn as much from failure, as from success. The idea is to keep going - even if all the talks about over-saturation of the business bog you down!
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