Business Advice for Photographers: Surviving Trying Times
This live show was recorded at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when businesses large and small faced enormous pressure – photographers included.
Here, Karl draws on his 25-plus years of experience as a professional photographer as he answers members’ business questions.
He discusses marketing, supply and demand, pricing your work, building a portfolio and more, offering examples from his own career with the goal of helping you to keep your business going – and come out stronger on the other side.
In this show:
- Business advice for photographers
- Marketing your work
- Pricing your work
- Understanding supply and demand
- Building a photography portfolio
- Networking and building relationships
For more tips and advice, make sure to watch our second ‘Business Advice For Photographers’ live show and take a look at our ‘8 Tips to Help You Make a Success of Your Photography Business‘ blog post. We also have an entire course on ‘The Business of Photography‘ that includes eight detailed classes covering everything from working to a brief to marketing your work
Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.
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Question about spec work ie: targeting a company/sector, such as whiskey, wine or beer. I noticed in some of your videos, you will say something like.. this is face cream or makeup but you’re not exactly sure.. as an example.. where, obviously you are not an expert on the product but that doesn’t preclude your ability to shoot the product effectively.
Now with spec work, you go to a trade show, meet with sales or marketing… do you need to present yourself as a content expert? ie: do you need to know as much as you can about whiskey and the industry? Or just know how they market, who their competitors are and how they compete?.. such as focussing on their brand and just present an understanding of how they market their brand. How deep do you need to go? For example, I want to do liquor product photography but I try not to drink very much for health reasons.
Hi Gary, I’d say that the marketing team are only interested in how good you’re going to make the product look. For example when top drinks photographers such as those who’ve been guests on our shows work on a project I don’t think they know every detail of production of the product, the focus on showing the client how good they can make their product look and how many great examples they’ve got in their portfolio showing similar work. Obviously from a chit chat with a potential client it doesn’t hurt to show that you’ve got some extra knowledge but it wouldn’t be expected.
Yeeeaäaaah, like to have the calendar update
Really like the gallery idea and award scheme
really great show and very helpful!
I am struggling to find out about supply & demand because I live in a relatively big city (Barcelona) and although I’ve been trying to do my research, I find it quite hard. As probably in every big city, there are uncountable photographers offering their services, many of them offering many different niches at the same time (wedding, product, architecture etc.). Some of them are quite good as well. I am doing food photography and specialising in beverage and already working with smaller, local brands and restaurants/bars and was thinking, that there is probably a demand (because I am already able to work for clients) but now unsecure how to proceed because I wasn’t able to do a proper research. Do you have a tip for me? Any advise how to do a better research in bigger cities? Can’t imagine how to do that when living in bigger cities just like London or New York.
Thanks in advance,
Hi Sarah, surely google searches for Barcelona food photography, Barcelona advertising photographers, Barcelona Product photographers etc etc is going to give you plenty of listings of websites to check? From their look at their sites, the quality of their work, the type of clients they are shooting for, how active they are on their blogs, social media etc. This will build a picture of how busy they are. From there try to discover their pricing. If that doesn’t reveal much then move your search to the next biggest Spanish city such as Madrid as a comparison. I hope this helps.
Great content as always.
Would there be a way for us to see your brochures and newsletter? I have a general brochure, and used to do a newsletter but it would great to be able to compare to yours for ideas.
Hi Karl, absolutely loving all of your content so much! I’m about 10 hours into the site, and I can’t get enough! Thank you so much for an incredible, (not to mention incredibly and generously affordable) course. I have an equipment question. I know you don’t tend to give brand equipment advice, and I know you are a broncolor user yourself and that you used Elinchrom for 15 or so years before. I am upgrading from Bowens (the old bowens) after using them for 10 years. The next brand I choose will no doubt be with me for many many years. I can’t quite afford Profoto or Broncolor yet, I’m thinking of Elinchrom as my next brand. Would you say they are a good brand in 2020? I am a professional and work almost all of the time inside my studio, hardly any location work really. Thanks so much in advance. Lucy
Hi Lucy, very happy to hear you are enjoying the content! Yes Elinchrom is a good brand with a good range of modifiers, especially if you’re not going to bash them around on location. I think they also have some faster flash duration options too now but if not and you don’t have the budget for a couple of broncolor Siros then you could always supplement the Elinchrom with one or two faster Godox ones with an Elinchrom fitting. All the best Karl.
What is a good range of number of photos to have in a portfolio to begin pursuing clients with?
Hi think you’d need at least 12-15 of a particular genre to demonstrate your abilities.
That was a great liveshow! Loads of information to process from it. I must say, whilst books, blogs, YouTube and LinkedIn videos have been great for me, nothing can compare to the amount I have learnt from this platform. I have made significant improvements to my photography ever since subscribing to Karl Taylor Education.
One suggestion for your website, would it be possible if you could implement a history library or at least feature the last video a user previously watched. Some of your videos are quite long (which is a great thing) but it’s not very often I watch them in one sitting. It’d be a nice handy feature.
Hi Jayden, thank you for your comments. I’m not sure what the developer guys can do but I will pass your comments on.
Hi Karl. I really like the idea of members gallery and the calendar. If you are still taking business questions…I have one. E-commerce photography….to find those kinds of jobs, are those through an agency? Thank you for your time.
Hi, E-commerce jobs would most likely come directly to the photographer through a search, they are not high budget enough for most agencies.
Great live show Karl!! I think it’s a good idea on the photo gallery as well. I had a client whom I did video and photo work for and they paid the upfront fees and the fees before I started the work. But after the work was done the bride was satisfied with the work but her husband and friends made her think otherwise. Her name is the one in the contract but they are refusing to pay the final balance. What approach should I take? To be up front I don’t have finances to hire a lawyer at the time. It has been over 4 months or more. Just looking for some advice if you have the time, if not I understand. Cheers!!
Hi J, if you have a contract then you can hold them to it and let them know in writing that you intend to hold them too it. Whilst you might not have the finances to hire a lawyer they don’t know that and they also know you have a water tight contract. I’d also stipulate that given there is a contract they will most likely loose (unless there is other reasons) and that they could also be liable to pay your legal fees too. That might shake them up a bit.
great presentation. great idea for the members gallery and calendar, I unfortunately missed it live so unable to put my questions to you at the time.
Im about to retire from the fire service in the next few months and looking at starting my own studio, mainly for my own commercial/product photography work but also as a studio to hire for other photographers. Im looking at a space around 1000sqft, firstly would this be a good size to look at and secondly how much would you say I should consider investing into studio lighting/equipment (obviously not looking at the level of equipment in your studio, although that would be nice) and do you have any recommendations on a lighting system/manufacturer
Hi Lee, glad you enjoyed the show. As with many of the points I made in this show and in the video on this page – https://visualeducation.com/8-tips-to-help-make-a-success-of-your-photography-business/ please think carefully based on your research on supply and demand. You may be able create an effective business and a good rental studio but I’d research the market demand and other suppliers carefully first. 1000sq ft is a good space in meters I’m guessing that’s about 10m x 10m my last studio was about 11m x 8m in the studio area which was plenty for most shoots especially product work and previous to that I’ve worked in much smaller spaces. Keep in mind that you will need a run of cupboards to keep all the nicks and nacks tidy and out of the way. If you can build a simple one or two sided cove it will make it more rentable – https://visualeducation.com/class/building-a-studio-cove/ and you’ll need a set of roller paper backgrounds too – https://visualeducation.com/class/colorama-background-rolls/ – Most studio rentals come with the option of renting lighting too and you may want to consider that as you might not get many rental inquiries if there is no option for lighting? In regards to your own lighting 4 lights is a minimum for a working studio in my opinion, it gives you flexibility for most product, beauty, portrait work. There are of course many brands to choose from but I’m afraid I’m not in a position to advise on which. As you know I’m an ambassador for broncolor and their gear is top notch but it is of course more expensive than some others. You also have Profoto at the higher end and then companies like Elinchrom in the middle and Godox at the cheaper end. Best of luck with it but make sure you do your research.
Great presentation … thanks Karl. Lots of great information and perspective that was very helpful!
Thanks Mark glad it was useful
Despite the global situation I have been requested some jobs mostly of my line of work but still fun and results were as aspected. Question during this down” time shall we focus more on the businesses or our skills?
Not an easy one to answer but I guess you’d have to decide which will be most effective for the long term strategy of your business? It may be both!