How to get paid as a Photographer

Finding a job in the photography industry can be challenging. Even more challenging is finding steady work. That being the case, I`d like to give you some basic tips to benefit you in your search. Ready? Here we go!
Assuming that you`re a professional photographer (you know your gear, you already built your portfolio and know your area of expertise, have a business license and some business goals on the line), here are some fundamental tips:
• Do not quit your day job to do professional photography, unless you have enough money saved away to pay for at least one entire year’s worth of expenses and already own all the photography equipment. This way, if your business fall through or struggles, you have enough money to live on until you get another job.
• Have some extra money set aside only for your business in case of emergency. You need to have money for broken gear or a last-minute second shooter that you might have to hire for a big photo shoot.

Be a business (wo) man! Make it real!

Contact small business attorneys for a better idea of the specific things you need for your business. • Make sure you have insurance covering your business. This may include equipment and health insurance for you and stuff.
You need to get money-savvy quick: • Make sure you set up a separate bank account, create a ledger to balance your finances, and get yourself a calculator. Every week, you should update your ledger with all monetary exchanges you made throughout the last five to seven days.

Plan and make your goals:
• You know you want to make a career out of your love of photography, but you need to know the limits first. Have a plan! Stick with the plan! Consider a time frame in which you would like to have earned a certain amount of money, sold a certain number or prints or had a total number of important photo-shoots. This will keep you on track and give you a calculable goal to reach.
• Have a calendar and set dates with your goals. Do not just have a general time frame! Mark the dates on your calendar. Instead of stating “my goal is to have 30 shoots in three months,” state “my goal is to have 30 shoots scheduled by October 31st.”
• An important goal is also to set a date that you must have earned a total amount from your business by. It is important to stay focused and dedicate your energy toward achieving this goal! Then, if you reach this date without having reached this particular goal, you can reconsider the course of your business. Don`t make an unrealistic goal.
Don`t make a very long-term goal either. For example, instead of stating that you must make $100,000 by the end of three years in order for you to continue photographing for business; state that you must make less money in a less time-frame. This will keep your focus and excitement going.

Know the tasks of a professional photographer:

• Know that one photo-shoot includes preparation time, drive time, photography time, editing time, meeting time, et cetera. It is more than just a “3-4 hours shoot.”
Answer these questions:
• Do you have a lot of free time on your hands? Are you a very creative artist? Do you plan to only work weekends and weeknights? Do you have a friendly personality? Do you have any other support/ers? Do you have any other talents (like make-up, artistry, styling, editing images) related to this industry? Most photographers do! Are you a competitive person? Do you have any times that are off limits? What would your schedule be if this was your only job?
The client is always right: Know that the customer service is very important in this industry! Also, you are expected to meet your client`s desires for the photographs. It is not about you and your artistic preferences. If the client asks for your opinion, it is great to offer one, but they he/she doesn`t, you don`t have a say!
Gotta be active: Be an information junkie and try to be in the know. Have a personal agenda and write all the important industry names down, such as creative directors, designers, models, stylists, casting directors, agents, companies, clients, make-up artists, etc. Collect all the trade magazines, newspapers and info on the important photography contests. Visit galleries and create connections with the gallery owners and the staff. Create your own network. Contact the people in your list on a regular basis. Since most jobs in the industry are secured through referrals, try to stay in touch with them A LOT AND/ OR OFTEN.

Where to start?

Non-profit organizations : Charities and non-profit organizations are notorious for trying to source free photography. They are also a great way to connect and meet potential clients! Non-profit doesn’t necessarily mean non-budget or nothing in return. Many clients, celebrities and companies are closely connected with these modern charities and non-profit organizations. GREAT PLACE TO CONNECT WITH POTENTIAL CLIENTS!
Schools: Kids always win their parents` hearts and many people still want professional photos taken in schools.
Internet: Have an online retail outlet, a stock portfolio or your own personal internet retail store. For example:

Media professionals, large organizations with deep pockets, celebrities and famous designers are your ultimate goal? Remember that you`ll have to crawl before you`ll walk.

Advertise yourself/ your business

Decide on your rates : Look around you! Look up other local photographers and see what they charge for their own businesses. Look what clients they have and how they make business. Base your prices based off your skills and abilities in comparison to theirs. Don`t make your rates too high or too low. When you advertise yourself as an extremely expensive photographer, you will scare most clients away!
When you advertise yourself as an extremely cheap photographer, you will seem desperate and clients will view you as an unattractive photographer.
Create a website, make business cards, create a Facebook page, network with locals, go to workshops, and talk about your photography business with everyone you meet. Have a friendly and easy-going personality! People will hire a photographer that has been recommended to them, that they have heard of before, and that has a great personality.
Be friendly and always look outside of the box!
For example, if you do a photo-shoot for a wedding, take photos of the food and give them to the caterers too. Don`t only focus on the bride and broom. Yes, they are your main clients that day, but try to find new future clients as well. The caterers (or even the restaurant owners) will likely use these photos as advertisements themselves, and will recommend you as the photographer who took them.
Make sure that you SEO is high: Have a website for your business and make sure that your search engine optimization (SEO) is high so that your business rises to search engine queries matching your tags.
Protect your photos with a watermar k and allow your clients to use your watermarked photos online (on their social media sites);
Spread your business cards: Show off and spread your business cards to anyone you may encounter. Be enthusiastic when talking about your business and handing your cards. If you find yourself on the train, in line at the grocery store or in a restaurant, don`t be shy to leave a great first impression and a business card.

Invest in a good photo editing program

Perfect your images: Although you already are an expert of your camera, of lighting and know that the main «editing» should be done in the manual mode on your camera before you take the pictures; it is essential that you have the ability / option to make quick touch-ups and alterations/ corrections to your photos afterwards.
Do your research on which programs you`d like to invest into prior to purchase them! See if you can learn, work and manage them before buying them!

Create a contract!

Before you agree to do any photo-shoots with someone, make sure that you have a business contract that they must sign. The contract should include everything that their money is paying for and the things you are and are not accountable for.
• Take the safest path and have an attorney write a contract for you. The attorney that we recommend is: Barry Chase from the Chase Lawyers.

• A contract :
-will make things easier in the long run.
-helps lighten your job.
-keeps everything professional and clear.
• Make sure the contract contains:
-what it is that your photography package includes;
-what you are not responsible for.
Make clear that:
-you won`t be held accountable for photos that are accidentally and irrevocably deleted;
-that if the model injures herself during the photo-shoot, you are not responsible for her health issues.
-that if they break any of the photography gear, they are responsible for the repairs.
-if the model has an allergic reaction to a make-up product, it is not your responsibility.
Your contact includes your rates !
Make sure you consider the amount of time required for the shoot, the cost of your gear and its insurance, the cost of your gas and the cost of the prints/CD you make with your images as the end product. These should all help determine the hourly or per-session rates that you need to charge and write in your contract.

Don`t lose your patience and excitement!

Try out different techniques! Start your business slowly and don`t have high expectations incredibly fast! Like I mentioned earlier, be easy…and patient! The secret to being a successful photographer is to constantly work on different projects and to keep being excited about the next thing. Make the time to shoot what you love for yourself and your passion will grow by trying various digital photography techniques. When you get into a bored mood, get out and try out new, different things! This will also help your confidence as a professional to grow. Make your hobby be your business and vice-versa.
Two cameras: Ideally is to have 2 cameras, one for planned photography and one to carry around for that inevitable moment when you think «That`s great, I wanna shoot it’. This camera doesn`t need to be as heavy or as expensive. Its purpose is to keep you active, excited and to make your life easier.
For more tips on photography, please purchase our Summer Issue 2014- Volume 3.

Viorel Iliescu

Web Developer & Marketing Manager at Trend Prive Magazine. Very kind and humanitarian.