Do you have any tips for starting a small photography business?

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Q. I am a working mum of 3 kids, and I would like to build my reputation (as a photographer) so I might one day be able to leave my job, and have a more flexible one in photography to spend more time with my boys. Any tips on how I could do this would be fab – Sarah Roberts, Cheshire UK

A. Hi Sarah, Yes, photography is a wonderful thing to do alongside looking after your children, as it fits in so well! So long as you don’t expect to make zillions out of it, then you will be fine! In reality, there are many, many people out there just like yourself, who love taking photos, and see it as a good way to make money and spend time with their kids, which means there is tons of competition. And because people are so used to shooting with their camera phones, they don’t see why they should pay a lot of money for something they perceive they can do themselves (even if they know their photos won’t be as good as yours).

However, this is not a problem provided you see it realistically, as an “add on” to your income – if you need it to pay the mortgage and work full time, then it may be very stressful trying to get enough work, and this can lead to creative block, as what was once your passion becomes your “job”, and brings with it all the pitfalls of any other job. And quite often people find they see less of their kids, because they are working from home, and trying to do everything at once.

Make sure you keep your business manageable, so it can fit around your kids, and then you’ll be doing something you really enjoy.

Keeping a part time job to bring in the main income works very well, when you are adding to your income with your photography. Otherwise the pressure can really defeat the object.

So… on a much more positive note! First of all, read this blog: Should you turn your passion into your job?

Then:

  1. Focus on your friends – as you’ve got kids, you will probably have friends with kids, and be in a good place to network with people who want photo shoots. Its often difficult charging friends, so set up a Photobox Pro Gallery and then people will accept that you should earn a little bit of money for both your skills and the admin involved, and be happy to buy your pictures through the gallery, because you are making it easy for them, and shooting pictures which they couldn’t do themselves, so they will value them. Charge them a fee to do the shoot in the first place, and then tell them that all the images will be uploaded to Progallery so they can choose whatever they want at their leisure.
  2. Print up a set of cards using www.moo.com – they are brilliant! As you can upload 50 different images and they always provide a talking point when you show a selection to people. You can also print up bigger postcard sized ones too, which people love to pin up in their kitchens. Check out this blog for more info: Get yourself out there with MOO!
  3. Find a friendly cafe where you might be able to exhibit your work – and use the postcards to give your details. Take the cards to gyms, schools, cafes, anywhere where your clients hang out.
  4. Name your business with your own name, rather than something generic like “image photography” because then when you are chatting to people at local events your name becomes known, and starts a conversation. People will start to say, “oh, the photographer?” when you introduce yourself eventually, and this creates a friendlier, more personal outlook.

Above all else, remember you are doing this because you love photography – keep it small and simple and that feeling will continue!

Anyway – that’s a few pointers for you! Hope this helps and let me know how you get on!

Kindest regards

Annabel x


Feedback

Aww Annabel… thank you so much for taking the time to reply… it’s just come at the right time… my work has just been printed in the local newspaper and I have had enquiries already (scary)… you have given me really useful information, which I’ve passed on to lots of mums I know who were juggling between family and business. You really made me think when you said that my passion might go if I needed my business to pay the mortgage… and I can now see that clearly, which is why I am building my reputation up until the time feels right to move forward with the business. My photography is my passion and I include my family in this as much as possible. So again, thank you… take care and I will let you know how I get on with things 🙂 – Sarah xx

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Images above: Sarah Roberts (www.thewhisperingwillow.co.uk)