Here in Melbourne, Australia we are coming out of covid lockdown number 6. Vaccination rates are increasing and it looks like the economy will re-open fully. Photography business opportunities will vary and in the short term it is important to fish where the fish are.
What Do You Mean ‘Fish Where the Fish Are’?
The economy is opening at different rates with some things bouncing back immediately and others taking time.
A good example is sports, and my business is in sports photography. Community sport is beginning with training and a shortened summer season. It will be a little while until competition and tournaments commence. In other words, there is likely to be a delay until demand for team and action photography increases. There is not likely to be too many fish in the sports photography pond in the very short term.
Where will there be opportunity?
I am seeing strong demand for kindergarten and childcare photography. The end of the calendar year is fast approaching and these facilities have permission to have photographers on site from November.
There is only a short time until Christmas. As a result, kindergarten and childcare photographers are likely to have a very busy final 2 months of the year.
This is an area where we will see very strong demand in the immediate future. If you have contacts in this space, now is an excellent time to touch base and see how you can help.
Making the Most of Short Term Opportunities
In normal times I recommend photographers stick to the area where they want to build their business. That means specialization and focus. Wedding photographers shooting weddings, sports photographers shooting sports, and family photographers shooting families. You get the idea.
My recommendation with 2 months to go in this calendar year is to be flexible and look for opportunities. Government financial support is coming to an end and cash flow is important. Fish where the fish are. All the best.
We will remember 2020 for the global pandemic and it’s impact on health and business. Photographers and other creative industries are hit hard with many relying on government support. Here are 5 business reminders from a challenging year.
Business Reminder #1 – Look for Opportunities
The first of our business reminders from a challenging year is that even in a global pandemic there are opportunities. In my sports photography business it has been a very difficult year with community sport cancellations applying for most of the year. The result? I’ve cancelled more jobs than we have actually shot. Where’s the opportunity? Although it has been a tough year, the opportunity has been to really connect with sports clients who are also going through a challenging year. I have been working on cementing relationships, providing support, and offering to help when more normal times return. I’m feeling positive and laying foundations for the year ahead.
Are you ready to accelerate when more normal times return? Business is not going to bounce back immediately and the new year will bring new challenges. Some businesses will flourish and others will die. Are you ready to accelerate into the new year? Will your business be one that flourishes?
Business Reminder #3 – Follow Those Who Have Been Before
Not many know what it’s like to go through a global pandemic, but lots of people and businesses have been through difficult times. Do you know someone who has been through a tough business environment who can help you? Are there survival lessons to learn from them? Can they assist with rebuilding your own business?
Business Reminder #4 – Refuel Ahead of Time
It is going to be tempting to work super hard in 2021 to make up for 2020. While everyone is looking forward to being busy and good times returning, it is important to manage our energy levels and workloads. Refuel ahead of time rather than waiting for burn out to hit you.
Business Reminder #5 – Good Times will Return
Let’s remember the good times will return. People will continue to want high quality photography solutions. Be positive. There is opportunity in every situation if we look hard enough for long enough.
Thanks for reading 5 business reminders from a challenging year. Best wishes for a positive year ahead. Keep smiling.
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.
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.
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.
Last month I was asked by another photographer to assist on a shoot. I like helping other photographers and appreciate the opportunity to expand my contacts in the industry, and to learn from the way they shoot. The shoot was great, but I badly misjudged the pricing. Here are my lessons from pricing this photography job all wrong.
What was the job?
The photographer was looking for assistance on a shoot for his sports wear client. The client is a large international sporting brand pushing hard in the Australian market. The photographer has worked with this client on several shoots, most of which he has done on his own. For this shoot he was looking for someone to assist on action shots.
The intention was for the main photographer to lead on both studio stills and video, and for me to be an extra pair of hands to assist and to shoot action images. Straightforward – or so I thought!
When the shoot got underway the client had very specific requirements for the video component. That meant shooting video in a different part of the stadium away from the studio area and the court we used for action images. Can you see what’s coming? Yes, instead of playing a support role, I am now leading all studio and action photography while the ‘main photographer’ is elsewhere shooting video. (Note, I’m not blaming the main photographer. He did a great job meeting the client’s needs, and is clearly talented with both photography and videography.)
It was a terrific, enjoyable shoot and the images are currently being used by the client in a national campaign. Great. The drawback – I hadn’t priced this job in a way which reflected doing the majority of the photography on a major national campaign. So here they come! The lessons from pricing this photography job all wrong.
Lesson 1 – Be Clear on the Brief
I should have been clearer on making sure I understood the brief and based my pricing on delivering those services. That would have given me room to renegotiate the price given I delivered a very different set of services.
Lesson 2 – Put the Quote in Writing
I had assumed this would be a straightforward shoot and didn’t provide a written quote. The business side was simply a discussion and a verbal agreement. Again, that makes it very difficult to renegotiate should the brief change. While I could have tried renegotiating, that didn’t seem like ‘good form’ after the shoot was completed.
Lesson 3 – Industry Contacts are Valuable
Despite getting the pricing for this job badly wrong, I got on well with the other photographer and know that, should our paths cross again, we have the foundations for a strong working relationship. He has already been in touch with me to see if I could help on another shoot, which unfortunately clashed with one of my own. Such is life! When the opportunity comes, you can be sure I’ll price it more appropriately.
Lesson 4 – Working with Others is a Learning Opportunity
Many photographers, myself included, often work alone or with the same people. In this case, we had never met before and it was a great opportunity to see this experienced commercial photographer in action. Most impressive was the way he was able to move effortlessly between video and photography, while also managing the needs of his client who had 4 people on set. Nice work, and valuable lessons.
Lesson 5 – Don’t Undervalue Your Services
This job was at a quiet time of year and I was keen to take on the role. Combined with being interested in this type of shoot, I may have undervalued the skills I could bring to the role (despite the brief changing). I feel like I’m too old and too experienced to make this mistake, but don’t undervalue your services!
Thanks for reading Lessons from Pricing this Photography Job All Wrong. I’m determined to take the lessons and make them into a positive – much like in this post Turning Negative Experiences to Positive. Happy Shooting!
Thanks for being a reader of Beyond Here. I’ve just taken an unannounced 6 month break from writing this blog. A visit to the bookshop and the library this week have been enough to kick me back into action! Why the sudden return? At both the book shop and the library there are no resources for people wanting to learn the business side of photography. Literally I couldn’t find a single book. I’m not planning to write a book anytime soon, but I can add to Beyond Here regularly. So today I’m back, and here is common sense, real world experience, and practice.
Why the 6 Month Break?
I started Beyond Here 5 years ago, thinking it would be relatively straightforward to write at least one post a month about the business side of photography. Most months it was, even though I am not a natural writer and the words don’t always flow. But mid last year I finally missed one month, and soon realized that became 2 and 3 and 4 months. I enjoyed the break, and spent a lot of time shooting and working in my sports photography business.
Writing a blog, it’s not always easy to know how well (or not) received it is. Readers don’t tend to comment on blog posts anymore. They are more inclined to add comments on Facebook than to bother commenting on the blog. Even though Google Analytics makes it easy to see how many people are visiting and what they are reading, that doesn’t always equate to knowing the information is valuable. So in one of those months where I felt like I might be the only person reading what I was writing (!) I took a break, and here we are 6 months later.
Common Sense, Real World Experience
One of the reasons I sometimes doubt the value of the content here is that it is not rocket science. It is not brilliant insight which no-one else in the world could possibly have. Common sense and real world experience make up most of the content. It is trying things in my own business, and sharing what works and what doesn’t. If you are expecting amazing insight, I’m going to let you down! But if you are looking to speed up your learning, and apply that to your own creative business then I might be able to help.
I do like the saying – common sense is not so common – so maybe I can add some value there. I can certainly add my real world experience from the ups and downs of my own business.
And now for today’s dose of common sense! We are very lucky today that it is easy to start a photography business. It is literally a matter of some basic equipment, a few clients, and you are away.
While it is easy to start that in no way means your skills are at a professional standard. In fact, they are likely not to be when you are starting out and your portfolio consists only of family portraits taken of friends. It takes time and practice to build skills so that you can meet different photographic briefs, and produce high quality images in a variety of lighting conditions.
So what’s the answer? The answer is really a question – are you practicing and building photography skills? For much of this blog I assume your photography skills are strong and we focus on sales and marketing and other topics. But I see too many photographers who have not built their skills and are not practicing. I’m a sports lover, and to draw a sports comparison, can you imagine a pro sports person who doesn’t practice? They are not likely to last too long. Are you practicing enough?
I wrote a post called Photographing Different Commercial Jobs. Sometimes we get in a rut shooting the same types of jobs in the same way. Doing those commercial jobs was challenging, and helped me build new skills. Sometimes it’s best not to take on paying jobs to learn new skills, the key questions is are you taking on different challenges?
Thanks for reading common sense, real world experience, and practice. I hope it has given you food for thought. Invest in practice, and go ahead and comment on the blog. Happy shooting.
One year ago I revamped my website and refocused my photography business with an emphasis on photographing junior sport in Melbourne. I have been shooting juniors to elite level across a variety of sports with a specialty in action images. In many cases it has been a thrill to see the look on kids faces when they see themselves as the subject of high quality action images. When I started shooting junior sports I expected the strongest demand would be for digital images. A year on I am in a better position to answer the question do photo prints still sell?
We photographed more than 100 junior teams over 2 days. I expected the majority of demand from players and families would be for digital images. Social media is driving communication and shared experiences, and I imagined a large number of the digital images would appear on social media. I wondered whether it was worth even offering prints as it is straightforward to purchase the digital images and make your own prints.
Since then we have been shooting many sports including more basketball, netball, dance, cheer leading, volleyball, and football.
What Has Been the Reality?
Interestingly, across a wide variety of sports, the trends have been similar.
Action images of junior sport have been very popular
Two thirds of all sales have been digital images
One third of all sales have been prints
Almost no-one orders both prints and digital images
When starting out selling action images of junior sports I expected most sales to be digital images. That has been the case, though I have been surprised that one third of all sales have been prints.
Offering prints does come with some challenges. I fulfill my print orders through an external supplier, and ship direct to my customer. Every now and then I have an issue with quality where I may end up having to organize a reprint for my customer.
Despite those occasional challenges there is still a very strong market for photo prints. Do photo prints still sell? Yes definitely.
Thanks for reading Do Photo Prints Still Sell. I hope you can use my experience to benefit your own photography business. Happy shooting.
I recently wrote a post for Beyond Here called Choose Your Photography Jobs Carefully. It outlines my experience doing some interesting sports photography work but having issues with payment. In this post I have an update, it’s called turning negative experiences to positive.
I was dealing with a reasonably well known business, but having issues getting paid. I remained polite through all communications and provided details of which invoices were outstanding, when they were due, how long they were now overdue, and copies if requested. There were a series of reasons provided about why payment had not yet been made, and then steadily, one by one, each was paid over a period of weeks. So there’s the good news – payment came through ok.
A Choice to Make
I’d committed to shooting another job for them, but hadn’t received payment for the earlier jobs. What to do? I considered what was my best course of action, and perhaps they anticipated this as payment was made a few days before the job.
Turning Negative Experiences to Positive
So with a degree of uncertainty I shot the additional job – a 5 hour sports photography assignment shooting a cross country event. I was shooting alongside the owner of the business. How did I go about turning negative experiences to positive? It turns out I had many things in common with the owner of the business. Perhaps the biggest and most important was a common enjoyment of photography and sport. We got along reasonably well, and were able to put aside the slow payment issue and focus on doing a good job photographing the cross country event.
What Is the Positive?
There were three clear positives which came from this experience.
First was that I enjoyed the cross country photography assignment and made stronger industry contact in the process.
Second, while on the job I was asked if I could help with an additional job. This is the sign of a good relationship.
And third, payment from the cross country assignment came through 4 days after the invoice had been sent through. I am expecting that prompt payment will be the norm in the future.
There it is! Thanks for reading Turning Negative Experiences to Positive.
When you are starting out in a photography business it is exciting to pick up new clients and new jobs. In time, you learn that it is important to choose your photography jobs carefully. Some jobs are definitely better than others, and some clients are better than others. I’ve had a reminder of this in the last 4 weeks.
What’s Prompted the Reminder?
I’ve had a busy start to this year. I like being busy and shooting a lot, so this is the best ‘problem’ my photography business can have.
In the last 4 weeks I have shot a series of sports events (not related to the images in this post) and a wedding. The wedding was at short notice as the photographer was unwell. I took a risk by taking on a client I didn’t know very well. As it happens they are a lovely couple and had a beautiful outdoor wedding in a local park. The entire experience was enjoyable.
My sports photography work was shooting for another photographer to cover several events in different locations. The work is varied, challenging and enjoyable. The problem is that payment has been slow. I have done a series of jobs over February, March and April. Payment has been made on one invoice, but remains outstanding on the others.
What is the Lesson?
This experience has been a good reminder to choose your photography jobs carefully. A job which does not pay is not really a job at all. And a job which pays slowly can mean I spend more time following up payment than I did creating images! That’s a scary thought.
How to Choose Your Photography Jobs Carefully
This depends on exactly the type of work you do but I suggest:
Be sure the client’s expectations are aligned with your photography skills and experience
Agree and confirm the time commitments to create and deliver the images
Make clear the price which will apply and the time frame expected for payment
Be prompt in your invoicing and reconfirm the expected payment date
Where possible, collect payment in advance
Follow up to ensure payment is made
What’s Going to Happen with My Payment?
The business and people I am dealing with are reasonably well known. I am confident that I will get payment, but am not sure exactly when. It’s certainly not going to be in the time frames I expected. This has been a healthy reminder to choose your photography jobs carefully. I’ll be continuing to follow up until payments are made.
Every photography business has periods when things are quiet, and most have times when they are crazy busy. This month is a quiet time for my business. Most sports are having a break over the Christmas / New Year period, and it will be another few weeks until I am really busy again. Here are 9 suggestions for what to do in quiet times for your photography business.
Suggestion 1 – Get Away for a Break
Everyone needs a break from their business from time to time. Physically getting away is a great way to refresh mentally and physically. I’ve just spent a week away near Geelong in Victoria, Australia and have come back refreshed and ready to tackle the new year.
Suggestion 2 – Learn a New Skill
When your business is quiet is the ideal time to invest in yourself. Photography is a big field, and no-one knows it all. I’ve been working on simple editing skills while my business is quiet. Last month one of my client’s wanted a collage print. I’ve been working on adding borders to images in Lightroom so that they look great as part of collages. It’s very simple stuff, but often it is hard to spend the time when you are busy. Take advantage of quiet times to learn a new skill.
Suggestion 3 – Shoot Personal Projects
I don’t know about you, but when I am busy I have very little time (or inclination!) to shoot personal projects. What to do in quiet times for your photography business? Obviously, tackle some personal projects. I enjoy wildlife photography, and have set aside time to shoot wildlife images in the next 3 weeks.
Suggestion 4 – Make Your Quiet Time a Health Break
When I’m really busy I struggle to make time to exercise and eat well. It makes complete sense to use that extra time while business is quiet to get some exercise. This month I’ve been playing tennis with my son and walking the dog a lot more!
Suggestion 5 – Review Your Business
Quiet times are the ideal time to review how your business is going and to set goals for the year ahead. Last year was a very good one for my business. I’ve shot fewer weddings, and a lot more sports which was the plan. While I’m pleased with the year that’s gone, I’m focusing on making sure I’m producing more printed products for my clients next year. They are really the thing that keeps the memories alive – and I’ll be aiming to produce a lot more albums, canvas prints, and standard prints.
Suggestion 6 – Get Your Gear Serviced
When times are really busy I’m reluctant to get my camera bodies and lenses serviced as I don’t want to be without them. Quiet times are the ideal opportunity to have this done when you are not likely to need them for a short notice job.
This year I’ve bought no new gear – so it is very important that my existing equipment is serviced and ready to produce high quality images. Get that equipment serviced while things are quiet.
Suggestion 7 – Organise then Clear Out Digital Files
I pride myself on being well organised and having digital files well organised and easy to access. Quiet times are ideal for making sure those files are well organised. It is also the time that I check my back ups are all in place, and then I move the images to external drives.
While I do this activity all year round, quiet times are ideal to make sure my digital files are organised and backed up, and my main working computer has capacity for the year ahead.
Suggestion 8 – Explore Your City or Town
How often do you get to explore your home town when things are busy? For me, it’s almost never as I seem to be finding my way through traffic and looking for a parking space! Quiet times are ideal for exploring your home town. Find an interesting subject to photograph. Find a new area. Shoot like only a local can shoot. Explore your home town when things are quiet.
Suggestion 9 – Write Your Blog!
Blog post ideas don’t always flow easily for me! Do they for you? Either way quiet times are great times to write or to put together a content plan for the year ahead. When things are quiet, dedicate some time to your blog.
Thanks for taking the time to read What to Do in Quiet Times for Your Photography Business. Wishing you a successful year ahead.
Running a photography business I find myself planning for all sorts of contingencies. What will I do if a camera body fails? If there is a problem with a lens? What if my second shooter doesn’t turn up? What would I do if my computer hard drive fails? Or if my customer doesn’t pay? This week I’ve found one more photography business contingency to plan for.
I wouldn’t be able to do an outdoor lifestyle shoot today given the state of my back
Yesterday afternoon I went for a run. It was a nice sunny day and I enjoyed the break in the middle of the day getting some exercise. When I got home I do what I normally do after a run – absolutely no stretching, a glass of water, and resting on the couch. When I went to get up suddenly, my back didn’t like it at all.
Where I’m At?
So today I’m immobile, but feeling grateful that I haven’t got any jobs in the next few days which can’t be rescheduled. I am pleased that I don’t have a wedding to photograph this weekend. If I did I would be in trouble. So I’ve been lying around the house today, doing whatever jobs don’t take much physical effort and thinking about one more photography business contingency to plan for.
Have you planned for this type of contingency? I generally enjoy good health and so haven’t done much planning for a scenario when I might be out of action. If I have a big shoot when I have the flu, I generally fill myself with cold and flu medicine and carry on with the shoot. Perhaps through good fortune I haven’t yet had a scenario where I physically couldn’t do a shoot I had committed to.
I’m going to do a lot more stretching in the future, but nothing quite like this
Today has been helpful in prompting me to think about what I will do if I have a shoot which wouldn’t be possible to move. It may be a Friday night basketball game? It might be a weekend wedding? Or it may be like the shoot I did last weekend, where we shot family portraits as the grand parents were visiting from overseas. In these scenarios I would need to find another person to tackle the job at the agreed time, as there is no way to reschedule.
So what am I thinking about? First, I am fortunate that I have several second shooters and other photographers I know who could step in for me at very short notice. That would be my first choice.
My second choice would be photographers I’ve worked with before but don’t know so well, or haven’t been in touch with for some time. This is less than ideal, however, I will try all options so my client gets looked after.
If I Am Struggling to Find Someone
My third choice would be to call on my professional membership colleagues. I am an Accredited Professional Photographer through the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. It has a very active (and very helpful!) Facebook group of AIPP members. If I am really stuck I will ask for help in that group. I will outline details of the job to find someone willing to help at short notice.
Sports will not be possible for me for at least the next few days while my sore back recovers
Can My Experience Help You?
Have you planned for contingencies in your business? Considered what you would do if you were physically unable to do a job? Has this scenario happen to you? I hope my back gets better soon because I’ve got a commitment I can’t break in the middle of next week. In the meantime I’m trying to strengthen my business by considering one more photography business contingency to plan for. Thanks for reading. Happy shooting, and good health to you! I might do some stretching exercises more regularly in the future!