The business of photography is something that you really need to approach based on a honest assessment of your abilities, strengths and interests. From there you can then see if there’s any kind of market for your planned products or services, and do some proof of concept research to ensure those markets will indeed pay you for your offerings.
Unfortunately most photographers come materinty at it from the opposite direction. They have a desire to make money selling their photos but no real understanding or interest in the business processes involved in converting photography to income. They mistakenly believe great photography is all it takes to build a successful business.
1. Start with an honest assessment of your current situation.
Photography is extremely competitive simply because it seems like such a dream-job to so many people. Modern digital technology means anyone with basic camera skills can create a good image, so everything thinks they’re a great photographer with real prospects, you need to work out what makes you different?
What specialised skills do you have that will set you apart from the crowd?
- What interests and knowledge do you have that you can use to in your work?
- What subjects & fields do you do your best work with?
- Do you have a distinct personal style of work that sets you apart?
- Is you equipment suitable for creating high-res, high quality images?
- Do you have the skills and software to take an image from your camera and create a commercial quality print-ready file?
- What business experience do you have?
- What sales & marketing experience do you have?
The idea here is to first of all identify the kinds of products and services you’re able to offer, and then assess whether those skills are at a level where people will pay you for them?
2. Is there a market for those products and/or services?
It’s one thing to know you can produce some amazing work, but it’s another to know there are people out there who want to use it. So you really need to put in some time to determine whether or not there is a market for what you do?
It doesn’t matter how good your work is if you can’t find anyone to buy it, and yet many photographers go into business with little more ‘market research’ than the encouragement of friends and family. “Wow, those photos are good, you should sell them!”