What You Need To Do To Succeed In Photography

When growing up, everyone tells you to follow your dreams and find a career that you are passionate about.  Then you get to the real world and find that “following your dreams” is more difficult than you thought.  Fortunately, for those with a passion in photography, the rise of the digital camera has made it easier than ever to become a successful professional photographer.  No longer do photographers need to pay an arm and a leg to get their photos developed while they anxiously hope their camera’s setting correct produced good photographs.  Now, this can be done on the fly with the digital camera. 

Make no mistake.  Photography is a difficult and cutthroat business.  But with the proper blend of talent, technical knowledge, and especially business knowledge, you can become a successful portrait photographer or even just someone who makes a side income from the photography hobby.

So how do you get there?  Where do you even start with equipment, marketing, and managing?  Let me help you out.   

Get Your Equipment

Obviously every photographer needs a good camera to shoot with.  Before purchasing your camera, compare brands and features that will best suit your photography style.  Other accessories such as extra memory cards, batteries, and a flash are also needed when you first start your business.  As you become a more advanced photographer, other equipment such as additional lenses and flash triggers are must-haves. 

An Essential Gear


Wedding Photography

Build A Portfolio

Before you land any clients try to build a photography portfolio by taking pictures of your friends and family.  Ask your newly engaged couples or friends with new babies if you can take their portraits.  Consider giving your services away for free just to help build your portfolio.  That way, if you mess up the pictures, your friends or family will have lost nothing.  In addition to expanding your portfolio, these “practice” sessions will help you feel comfortable interacting with your subjects while you are behind the camera. 

Build A Website

Any photography business without a website should not even be a business at all.  The truth is, most people find photographers online.  When potential clients visit your website, they should see examples of your photography, should be able to get information about your pricing, and they should get to know a little about you.  Why would they “waste” their time trying to find this information out by other means? 

Your website should prominently display your photos, and it should also be informative.  Make sure that viewers do not need to click more than one or two times to obtain vital information.  This is perhaps your one and only time to wow potential customers so you must put some time and effort into creating a good website.

Build A Photography Blog

Today, blogs are more popular than ever with photographers.  These simple little websites are great ways to quickly show off your photographs without going through the pains of adding pictures to your main website.  Photography blogs act as very good tools to keep your current client base interested in your business.  For this reason and for simplicity, you should consider creating a “blogsite” where both your blog and main static website are integrated into the same webpage.

Create A Facebook Business Page

Like it or not, it seems like everyone is on Facebook. On a Facebook photography business page, you can update your status, share links, and upload photos very similarly to personal pages.  Fans (now just called “likes”) of your business page will be automatically updated when you add new content to your page.  Facebook is a great way to expand your online portfolio on a very popular and very much free platform. 

Post-Processing Your Photos

Post-processing digital files is  a must in today's photography world.  It can help you fix the flaws in your photographs and it will help set you apart from your competition.  To ease the pain of digital editing, you should always shoot in RAW mode.  The files take up more memory space than JPGs, but RAW can be edited must more easily and cannot be overwritten. 

Many photographers use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom to edit their photos.  Both of these programs make it easy to edit a large number of photos at the same time, thus saving you a lot of pain and hassle.  Use the image tools in Photoshop when you are first starting out, and then you can explore the filters to add a little artistic touch.  More advanced users should learn how to use the clone stamp and healing brush tools to remove everything from the stray hair to the unwanted person in the background.  Beware though, using these tools can take a lot of time. 

Publishing and Profit From Photos Online

You should already be uploading your photos to a blog and/or a website, but you need to have a way to profit from these photos that are just sitting idly by on the world wide web.  There are a number of websites such as ACI, Collages.net, Pictage, Smugmug, and Zenfolio that allow photographers to publish their photos and mark up print pricing for profit.  These online photo sharing sites take you out as the middleman when your clients order prints of their photographs. 

Marketing Yourself

Your online presence discussed above is a key component of marketing your photography business.  As a professional photographer, you should have a main website, a blog, Facebook business page, as well as a subscription to an online photo sharing a printing site.  In addition to these online means of marketing, much of your future business will come by the word of mouth and referrals.  Try asking for referrals in emails or offer incentives to old customers if they refer you a new client. 

Also look to expand your marketing network to other wedding vendors and other wedding photographers.  DJs, bakers, and caterers refer their brides and grooms to each other all the time.  Try to get inside their circle when you photograph weddings, as it could mean a large influx of new business.