Tag Archives: business

Timeless Business Reminders for Surviving Tough Times

Around the world photographers, and many other industries, are feeling the business impact of the coronavirus. Where I live in Melbourne, Australia we are currently living with a curfew between 8pm and 5am, a limit of one hour out of home per day to exercise, and restrictions on the distance you may travel from home. Difficult times. It’s been a time to reflect on these business reminders for surviving tough times.

Many photographers are feeling the financial squeeze due to the coronavirus pandemic

Reminder #1 – Keep Overheads Low

It is now 6+ months since the coronavirus meant social gatherings and sporting events are cancelled to protect the health of the community. This has been impacting all types of events and photographers. While we hope the coronavirus is not with us for long, it’s a great business reminder to keep overhead costs low. We never know when business revenues will turn down, and I’m grateful to not be struggling with an expensive studio or office space when revenues have dropped.

Reminder #2 – Be Careful with Debt

Right now is a difficult time to have debt. Revenues have dried up, but debts still need to be repaid. Given the widespread impact of the coronavirus, many lenders are currently being flexible with loan repayments, but this will not last. Eventually, those with debts will need to repay them. Be careful with debt. In tough times, it is better to be operating with reliable old equipment than to have just borrowed money to buy the latest camera body or lens.

Many piggy banks are empty as the economic impact of the pandemic continues

Reminder #3 – Cash Reserves Provide a Buffer

Having some cash in reserve provides greater ability to survive tough times. Remember this when times are good, and tuck some cash away to help survive when times are not so good. While these business reminders for surviving tough times are not rocket science, it’s only in the tough times we find out how well our businesses are really running.

Reminder #4 – Be Flexible

In good times, it is wise to focus on the work you are best at. In tough times it’s smart to be flexible. My business mainly shoots sports. In Melbourne, there have not been community sports events for 6 months now. We are surviving be being flexible – selling prints, doing baby photo shoots (when restrictions allow), redesigning client’s websites, shooting stock images, and generating income outside photography. While it’s not easy, we will survive and sport will return. Can you be flexible and find new income sources?

Reminder #5 – Stay Connected to Your Customers

It is difficult times for everybody. Now is a terrific time to show you care about your customers, and connect with them. Can you generate reasons to be in contact with your customers? Are there ways you can assist them right now? In my own business we continue speak with sports clubs and update via our blog even though there is not a lot to say at the moment! Check out our blog over on Melbourne Sports Photography.

Thanks for reading these timeless business reminders for surviving tough times. These times will pass. Keep going.

Part Time Paradigm

Better backgrounds

There are a growing number of photographers choosing to operate on a part time basis

There was a time when the difference between a professional photographer and an amateur was that a professional got paid and an amateur did not. Times have changed and the lines between the two have blurred.┬áProfessional now refers to a quality of work, not whether you get paid. There are many people who generate professional quality photography work, but have a main income from another source. When I was growing up, if you wanted to be considered a professional photographer, then photography had to be your main vocation. Again, times have changed. Today there are many photographers whose main source of income is from non-photography work but their work is of professional standard – I call this the Part Time Paradigm.

I have recently read David Du Chemin’s book – VisionMongers – which addresses the issue of ‘making a life and a living in photography’. It is an excellent book. In the early chapters it considers the issues around whether or not to make photography your primary vocation. He explains that it is not easy to make a living in photography, and gives some great examples of people who are succeeding. This week, I’ve also read a post on The Digital Photography School which considers the benefits of part time photography. Both of these have lead me to today’s post on Beyond Here.

Is the Part Time Paradigm real?

Often people consider how well a photography business is doing by whether the photographer is conducting their photography business full time, or how much work the photographer has, or how many staff the photographer has. I come across this thinking nearly every week, and only in the last year have I realized the power and the benefits of part time business. The Part Time Paradigm is real, and lots of photographers are living it. Maybe you should consider it too.

What does it look like?

Money laundering

The benefits of the part time paradigm are more than financial

Firstly, the photographer has another source of income, normally from a job. This provides them with a steady income and lets them operate their photography business outside of their job commitments. Secondly, there is a range of photography work they can be doing – stock, wedding, family portrait, landscape … the list goes on. Thirdly, whether they are ‘professional’ or not now has a mixed meaning. It could refer to how they conduct their business, or the quality of work they are producing. Importantly, it doesn’t refer to whether they get paid or not, or whether that is the only way they spend their working week.

Why operate like this?

The main reason for operating in the part time paradigm is often overlooked. It is possible to be passionate about photography and have an interest in something else. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Think about it for a moment, a doctor might love photography, and it doesn’t mean they hate being a doctor. Equally a bus driver can love driving buses and love photography. When I boil it down, professions used to define us. This made it hard to change. Today, your profession doesn’t have to define you. You can change. You can be a doctor today and a photographer tomorrow. Or you can be both at the same time.

Interestingly there is still a line of thinking that you can’t be taken seriously unless you are operating as a full time photographer. To me, this is a notion of the past and thousands of photographers are living the part time paradigm. Perhaps a lot more should?

What are the benefits of the part time paradigm?

The benefits of the part time paradigm include:

  • financial stability by having multiple sources of income.
  • you can invest in equipment not promotional material. For full time photographers, it is very hard to justify investing in equipment compared with investing in promotional material to generate more business. In the part time paradigm you don’t have this conflict, you can buy the gear you want.
  • effort can vary. A full time photographer needs work year round and generally won’t go for very long without camera in hand. The part time photographer can vary their work with the season or with their mood. They can dip in and out. Work lots this month, take next month off.
  • you can stay true to your creative vision. Under the part time paradigm you do not have to shoot family portraits on the weekend to keep money coming in. If landscapes at sunrise are your one true love, that’s all you have to shoot in the part time paradigm
  • being able to live a life of variety. It is possible and legitimate to love photography and love something else. It is possible to do both. Shoot weddings all summer, focus on your other interests all winter.

Do you believe you have to operate full time to be a successful photographer? What’s your take on the Part Time Paradigm?

Three Tips for Getting Started in Small Business


Having a clear plan and commitment is key

Since 2008 I have been running a photography business as well as working a full time corporate role. This post covers three tips for getting started in small business.

There are a myriad of issues to consider when you are getting started in small business. Here are three tips which have been useful for me.

Tip #1 – Decide the operating and income model

This step is all about defining what you are going to do and how you are going to generate income. You need to be clear on exactly how the business will operate and where the revenue will come from.

For me, back in 2008 I decided that I would start my photography business by focusing on stock photography. I could shoot images on weekends, and edit and upload during the week around my other commitments.

Being clear on this step is very important. How will you generate income?

Tip #2 – Give it Time

A lot of new businesses are born with what we perceive to be a great idea and start with an explosion of energy. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t take long until the reality doesn’t match the dream.

I recommend taking time when you have the brilliant idea. Rather than beginning with enormous energy, take time to think through the plan. Reflect for a moment – even at this early stage. After some thought, if it still looks as good a week later and you feel passionate about the business, then it is time to start.

Tip #3 – Plan Your Time

This was the key for me! I set aside 2 hours each week night to work on my photography business. I stuck to the same 2 hour period for the first 2 years.

It is remarkable how much you can achieve in 10 hours per week when you are focused and it is part of your daily routine. That time was spent researching and planning stock photography concepts, editing, uploading and keywording images. The photo shoots happened on the weekends.

The habit of setting aside time and working the plan was key! Without a plan and commitment your business may fall over.

Are you running a small business? What have been the keys to your success? What lessons have you learned that others may learn from?