Sur;, yo;’r; ; creativ; geniu; with a penchant for capturing amazing images,
but becoming a superstar photographer is so much more than that. Besides
your skills behind the camera, building a fruitful company requires business
smarts. You’ll be wearing many hats as you climb the ladder to success—from
branding and marketing to business planning, financial management and beyond. Here are three ways you can take your business to the next level.
Prep for Success
The foundation for any business is being organized; this goes far beyond
an uncluttered desk or cataloging image files. It’s critical to create a strategy around your business goals, build a specific plan-of-action based on
this strategy, and then execute the plan to reach these goals. This will
help create structure around all aspects of your business, such as tracking expenses, updating marketing materials, getting new customers and
maintaining client relationships—ensuring a smooth overall workflow.
Furthermore, when you’re on a shoot, preparing your photography tool kit
is key to staying e;cient. This means knowing how to use your equipment
intuitively and how it functions in di;erent conditions (it’s not the time to try
out a new camera or other critical gear; you want to hit the ground running!).
Bill Pyne, general manager at Richard Photo Lab with over 20 years
under his belt in the photo industry, says, “Knowing every variable of the
tools you’re working with will benefit you threefold: you’ll be able to cap-
ture any moment on a job quickly (no matter the conditions), you’ll save
time correcting the image in post, and you’ll get more reliable output,
from film scans to prints, because you’ve made calculated choices and
can anticipate the appearance of the final image.”
Remember: establish a clear goal, strategically craft an executable
game plan and create structure around your activities.
For photographers, your time is your money—that part is simple. The
tricky part is that you give your client a price before you start a project.
Brian Greenberg, owner of Richard Photo Lab, has seen this caveat
trip up even the best photogs in his 20+ years in the industry. “You make
all of your profit choices before you start a job,” Greenberg says. “When
you provide a client a price, you’re providing a set amount of hours of
shooting, but what about all the hours you spend doing other things?
Pre-shoot and post-shoot work should always have a finite number of
hours, and these hours should be accounted for in the initial price you
give your client.”
That means keeping track of the time you spend in planning (such as
concept development, plotting a lighting setup and sketching storyboards)
to post-production and the final delivery of the images you’ve captured.
Learning from experience may feel organic, and as the sole proprietor you may
feel the urge to take on every single element of the business, alone. All good
intentions aside, though, taking on tasks that are not your core competencies
divert you from doing what you do best—shooting! So consider sourcing respective experts for these types of tasks, and focus the time you would’ve
spent on them toward, say, booking more jobs and generating more revenue.
Collaborating with your strategic partners as much as possible adds a
new level of e;ciency to your workflow. For instance, working with a professional lab can save you time in communicating what you want through
the entire process, from scanning film to digital post work to print, and
helps to ensure brand consistency from start to finish. Richard Photo Lab
is the godfather of the Color PAC (Personal Account Consultation), which
provides film, digital and hybrid photographers with one-on-one business
consulting on everything from finances to branding to long-term business
growth, as well as an in-depth custom color profile for all of their images.
“Two of the biggest things that a;ected our decision to invest in the
Color PAC were: 1) consistency, and 2) less time in post, more time shooting,” say Michael and Carina Bethea, of Michael and Carina Photography.
“With the Richard Color PAC, we’ve achieved exactly that. Never has our
work been so consistent… We are shooting more than ever.”
Photographer Clark Brewer says, “A lab like Richard, with so much di-
verse industry experience, can o;er so much more than just beautiful
scans. It wasn’t until I started the Color PAC process that I realized this.
Not only did it start me on the road to defining my look, but it also kicked
o; a relationship with Brian and Bill, who have already become major
assets in running a successful photography business!”
Let’s face it—you can’t do everything on your own, so identify your
non-core competencies, and partner with respective experts that com-
plement your business plan and your brand expectations.