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Author Topic: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?  (Read 1792 times)

Rob C

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2017, 07:27:43 AM »

Perhaps unkind, but unless you are absolutely driven to be a pro snapper, which to me can't avoid the genre that makes you feel like that, you are wasting your time.

Sharon touches on wedding people; in my time, much as Joe suggests about today, wedding photographers and high street snappers as a bunch doing hatches, matches and dispatches didn't rate on the advertising agency radar. You had to hang out your shingle as an advertising photographer, which might or might not include a fashion photographer.

If you first chase the money, forget it. You have to chase the dream, and then, only then, if it's viable, the money follows. Putting money first is fatal for your soul and without soul, why try to make it in one of the arts, or at least, quasi-arts?

You have to have the mindset for this game, and asking around isn't a route: you just gotta do it; cut the umbilical and try 100%. In my own case, already an employed photographer, I had to find the wherewithal to support self, wife and two kids first, for at least six months with zero coming in. In the U.K., many advertising agencies would only pay on the third month following month of invoice. Cool.

Rob

KLaban

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2017, 09:16:16 AM »

Perhaps unkind, but unless you are absolutely driven to be a pro snapper, which to me can't avoid the genre that makes you feel like that, you are wasting your time.

Sharon touches on wedding people; in my time, much as Joe suggests about today, wedding photographers and high street snappers as a bunch doing hatches, matches and dispatches didn't rate on the advertising agency radar. You had to hang out your shingle as an advertising photographer, which might or might not include a fashion photographer.

If you first chase the money, forget it. You have to chase the dream, and then, only then, if it's viable, the money follows. Putting money first is fatal for your soul and without soul, why try to make it in one of the arts, or at least, quasi-arts?

You have to have the mindset for this game, and asking around isn't a route: you just gotta do it; cut the umbilical and try 100%. In my own case, already an employed photographer, I had to find the wherewithal to support self, wife and two kids first, for at least six months with zero coming in. In the U.K., many advertising agencies would only pay on the third month following month of invoice. Cool.

Rob

Same experience here, at least until I signed up with an agent who stipulated payment within 28 days and interest added thereafter.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2017, 09:39:14 AM »

And not only specialization, but sub-specialization matters too. At one point, while I was trying to break into architectural photography, I had a web-site focused on that, with further division into residential and commercial. A potential client called and said they visited the web site, but didn't see any examples of a commercial architectural photography they are interested in: office space. I had plenty of examples of larger commercial properties, like malls and government buildings, but no office space. That was the end of discussion.
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Rob C

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2017, 10:20:56 AM »

And not only specialization, but sub-specialization matters too. At one point, while I was trying to break into architectural photography, I had a web-site focused on that, with further division into residential and commercial. A potential client called and said they visited the web site, but didn't see any examples of a commercial architectural photography they are interested in: office space. I had plenty of examples of larger commercial properties, like malls and government buildings, but no office space. That was the end of discussion.

As a fashion photographer I wouldn't have felt very comfortable doing beauty - in the sense of make-up. That sort of lighting is pretty tricky, and I was far more at ease working outdoors on location with mainly natural light. So Slobodan's right: it gets fairly specialised out there, and if you accept a gig that may be beyond your abilities, you never recover from the fallout when it bombs, as it probably will. Be careful what you pray for in the pro life!

Rob

Sharon VL

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2017, 11:52:26 AM »

Some wedding photographers here make multiple 6 figures. It is a huge business here, but not one that I do, want to do or could do.

Rob C

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2017, 12:00:57 PM »

Some wedding photographers here make multiple 6 figures. It is a huge business here, but not one that I do, want to do or could do.


I can understand completely!

:-)

Rob

Sharon VL

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2017, 09:23:47 PM »


I can understand completely!

:-)

Rob

Yeah, I'd be drinking heavily if I had to shoot a wedding.

Rob C

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2017, 10:40:10 AM »

Yeah, I'd be drinking heavily if I had to shoot a wedding.

That's the best reason for folks even going to a wedding, a situation fraught with hidden dangers for everyone. Even the band.

God preserve young Harry next year!

;-)

Rob

Colorado David

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2017, 12:31:37 AM »

People occasionally ask if I do weddings. I say no, I don't do dangerous work. I can work with bears and moose, but the mother of the bride is another story.

Rob C

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2017, 07:20:51 AM »

People occasionally ask if I do weddings. I say no, I don't do dangerous work. I can work with bears and moose, but the mother of the bride is another story.

That's a very good line! Wish I'd thought of it in the day - better than having to be rude and wrnkle up the nose that little, identifiable bit that could never be disguised! I just couldn't help it. It was never about the money, though heaven knows I needed some.

Rob

Harold Clark

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2017, 09:45:38 AM »

A couple of things to consider, what interests you and where you are located. A large population base will provide a greater variety of possibilities than a small town. I started in photojournalism, and diversified into architecture and industry. I concentrate on mainly medium sized clients, I do their corporate portraits but also do their buildings and manufacturing processes. If the CEO wants photos of his daughter's wedding or his first grandchild, I refer them elsewhere. I would say I specialize within a narrow but related range.

One of the most important factors in your success will be your sales ability. Mediocre photographers have thrived because they were good at sales and the business end of things, and excellent photographers have failed because they lacked those skills. A good accountant is a valuable asset. Keep expenses down by resisting the urge to buy the latest gizmo, leave that to the wealthy amateurs. Buy only what you need, look for deals and used gear, rent/borrow something you only use occasionally.

Don't price yourself too cheap, otherwise you will be pigeon holed as the budget photographer, you will starve while the better assignments always go to someone else. Keep in mind that the actual making of photographs is a minor part of the business. Marketing, planning, quoting etc. will take a lot of your time. Unlike being an employee, there is no pension plan, vacation pay, sick leave, or corporate support services. Your business plan has to include funding for these things.

Now entering my 43rd year in the business, I have seen drastic changes in the industry and I am glad I am not starting out today. Like Prince Philip, I am on the Freedom 95 retirement plan, I hope to keep going as long as I am able and clients keep calling.


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Harold Clark

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Re: Do you need to specialize for your business to succeed?
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2017, 10:35:21 AM »

People occasionally ask if I do weddings. I say no, I don't do dangerous work. I can work with bears and moose, but the mother of the bride is another story.

Excellent explanation. I had an assistant a few years ago who had also assisted in the wedding business. One photographer he assisted priced himself such that he only attracted the top end of the market. He said those wedding shoots were a pleasure, the guests took care of themselves, were immaculately dressed, well behaved and respectful. Another photographer he assisted went after the budget end of the market and constantly dealt with slovenly and poorly dressed attendees, excessive drinking, brawls and family feuds.

I suspect the mother of the bride from hell could be encountered at either venue, but would be less likely to punch you in the mouth at the higher end event.
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