As is the case in any industry photographers and videographers need to make money, and profits, to make their businesses work. Steve Fairclough spoke to some of three very different imaging creatives to get their top tips for setting up in business and making money.
What you’ll learn
• How to start and build an imaging business
• How to get work and clients
• How to make money from your work
• Best advice for young photographers and videographers
What you’ll need
• Online and marketing skills
• People skills to attract clients
• Financial know-how for pricing your work
• A pro-spec camera kit with a back-up body
• A high-quality hard drive to back up your work
• A computer with enough memory to handle video editing
If you want to make your photography or video business a success you’ll need to make money, but what are the best ways to go about this? To get top tips and expert advice Camera Jabber spoke to photographer, videographer and tutor David Newton, video marketer Victoria Grech and fine art and commercial photographer Reka Nyari.
Initial business building
Photographer and expert Canon tutor David Newton has steadily built up a reputation over the past decade or so, not only for his imagery and videography, but also in education. He now ‘wears many hats’ depending on the day of the week – you can find out more about him at: www.photopositive.co.uk
David reveals: “I began training people who contacted me through one of the publications I wrote for and through a large forum I set up online for a magazine. That gradually caused work to grow by word-of-mouth. I built a website where people could get more information and contact me to book [training] sessions. Since then it has been a very organic.”
Victoria Grech made a big career transition when she went from being an investment banker to a wedding photographer, then an increasing love of filmmaking took her in the direction of video marketing. You can discover more about her at www.video-marketer.com
Victoria explains: “I never intended to be a wedding photographer but after taking some additional images at a friend’s wedding, who hated her professional photographer’s work, my business was born. I shot over 50 weddings with as many photographers as I could to fully understand their style and how they interacted with their clients.
“I took the things I wanted my brand to embody and implemented those in my own business. Always putting the client first became my secret to success. I shot 52 weddings in my first year in business but ended up £16,000 in the red because I never learnt to price and run a business.”
Reka Nyari is a fine art, fashion and commercial photographer who is based out of New York City. Formerly a painter and model she developed an interest in being creative behind the camera and initially leveraged contacts she had made through working as a waitress in nightclubs. Her main website can be found at: www.rekanyari.com
In terms of how she first approached making money from photography Reka says: “I contacted all the contacts I had that could hire me as a photographer through my network of friends and acquaintances. These included jewellery, clothing and accessory brands, producers, musicians, actors, models, artists, design agencies, etc etc.
“I either made a friendly appointment to show and talk to them about my work over coffee or a glass of wine, or sent in my work with an email that demonstrated how I could be of service, and how well I understood their brand/mission.”
Differentiate & be visible online
As a tutor who specialises in Canon gear David Newton has a single-minded approach to his the educational side of his business. He explains: “The training seminars and workshops I give for Canon at various dealers helps as this gets me in front of more people regularly. I also make my training different from most other people, as I don’t try to teach creativity, but instead concentrate on the camera kit.
“In my experience most people don’t make the best use of what [camera equipment] they’ve got. After a session with me, people go away having learnt something concrete about their camera that they can use in any situation.”
For Reka Nyari being online was key to her business in its early days. She says: “I made sure my work was visible online and that it was easy for interested parties to find my information. When I first started shooting I was constantly on Flickr, and got a big following soon after. Lots of brands found my work there, and some of my first commercial jobs were through that platform.
“Post your work on professional photo communities, as well as on social media. I would also do research on brands and companies that fit your photography style and level in your area, and approach them with your portfolio. Make sure that your work suits the brand [you want to work for].”
When quizzed on the absolute best advice they would give to younger photographers and filmmakers who are just starting out in their careers the answers from Reka, Victoria and David are quite different but very useful…
Reka Nyari advises: “Don’t be afraid to initially take jobs that are not your dream jobs, and aim to excel in everything that you do. When I first started I was shooting product shots, food, events, headshots, kids, weddings… anything that would pay the bills.
“Not only did I make some great contacts for other better gigs, but I also learned so much technically as well as how to handle different types of clients and teams. You don’t need to put these jobs in your portfolio but you will gain experience and skills, and make money. Also, handle every job like your most important job. Treat people kindly and with respect. Don’t be a diva. You will stand out in the crowd, and people will want to hire you again, as well as work with you.”
Victoria Grech reveals the secret to her success when she says: “The clear difference in successful people in our industry is to become a business owner in the photography or video industries rather than a ‘photographer’ or ‘videographer’. Building a brand is what enabled me to branch out across industries and charge much higher fees. Finally, mindset is what will set you apart from the rest.”
As for his best advice David Newton says, “Find your own niche, but be willing to diversify too. Depending on who you talk to, they may know me for my photography, my filmmaking, my training, the whale-watching and safari trips I host, or for public speaking as a brand ambassador. It means that the work is varied and there’s always something going on. If you’re self-employed, that’s one of the keys to keeping busy.”
Whilst the likes of David Newton, Victoria Grech and Reka Nyari are already well established in their differing fields there are several key messages coming through from them that are very similar.
Key ‘takeaways’ from their experiences include having a good online presence, getting your work in front of people, networking, building a solid client base, differentiating yourself from the competition, making sure your work fits your potential clients, the need to price well and the need to consider yourself as a brand and not just ‘A.N. Other’ photographer or filmmaker.
A combination of all of the above seems a very solid starting point if you want your imaging business to make money.