New book

Photo Nuts and Post is the third installation in the Photo Nuts series and it just launched!
Written by professional photographer, Neil Creek, it gives you the tools you need to make processing work for you. Even if you have experience in editing, you can always learn new tricks.
To celebrate, they are offering 33% off if you buy today -Click here to read more!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Going Pro-How to succeed

The other day I talked about the cost of being a photographer. Today, I want to talk about HOW to be a successful photographer.

Everyone has their tips on how to become successful. Instructor and author Vik Orenstein suggests that it's all about constant learning, community and support.

Tom Ray, a Certified Professional Photographer, wrote that you don't need schooling to become successful.

Here's a valuable tip: It's not about the talent.

There are talented photographers making tons of money (if that's how you define success) and there are talented photographers not making very much and wondering why they are not successful.

Running any small business successfully takes a lot of hard work, smart marketing ideas, and even a bit of luck. Photography is no different. Making money from your photos can be a tough business if you don't have some kind of help.

What if there were sort of a "business in a box" for photographers to help them to "go pro" with their photography? I think I found just a thing. It's actually a kit for photographers.

It contains the following:

-Going Pro: How To Make Money From Your Photography, a 91 page ebook that entails first-hand experience from Kelly Kingman to help you sell your images the way you want.

-2 hours of Audio downloads of interviews with pro photography experts Susannah Conway, Charles Borst, Suzanne Sease, and Christina Villaflors.

-Getting Published in Photography Magazines, a 28-page practical primer on getting your photos published, by DPS pro Mitchell Kanashkevich.

My favorite is the audio! A ton of valuable information:

Susannah Conway (photography teacher and author) – shares her story about how blogging kicked off a full-time business teaching people about photography online
Charles Borst (Director of Photography, Education Week) – lets us know what he looks for in a photographer and advice on developing your style
Suzanne Sease (photography marketing consultant) – gives expert tips on creating a great portfolio and getting it in front of the right people
Christina Villaflor (art producer at TBWA ad agency) – shares her insights into how agencies work and the tips you need to meet with art directors

These audios give you advice on different marketing directions that you don't really read about on photography blogs.

I know there are a lot of photography help ebooks and print books out there these days and they all seem to cost a fortune. That's why I wanted to let you know about this kit today. They are running a special for the next two weeks.

This kit will have a regular price of just $49.99 but to celebrate its launch they are offering it for $29.99 – that’s 40% off.

So, if you are looking for help, now is the best time to get some-at an affordable cost!
Click here to view more details

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The cost of being a photographer

When I was an on location photographer, I really didn't have a lot of expenses. I used the outdoors and I do a lot of weddings, which don't require anything other then equipment as well. I really didn't do a lot of newborns because I didn't like doing them at my house, nor did I want to go to client's house.

When I decided to make the move to rent a studio, many things changed for me-and quickly! I realized that I didn't have squat when it came to props. I have started to figure out what I want to do for advertising as well. I really only have been doing word of mouth and a website. I have no trouble getting weddings booked, but now that I want to get into newborn and maternity photography, you have to get creative in getting the word out. Let's just say that I've been walking around with a headache this month.

The cost of running a photography business is more then one would think. I know there are hoards and hoards of photographers these days, so competion is stiff. You need to make yourself stand out from the crowd more then a photographer might needed to just a couple of years ago.

Let's hit the basics of what it would cost to start a photography business:

Camera equipment

Yes, you need to get this first. The most important part of this business. lol Depending on what you think you need, there are many options for camera equipment. You could jump right in and get the best camera like the big guys do, or you can either work your way up, or find something that you like and does what it needs to do. I am a firm believer that you don't need a 5D to be a professional-and don't let anyone tell you any different!

So, if you invest in a $1000 camera and get some good lenses and a flash to start out with, you are probably looking at around $3000-4000 in camera equipment. Down the line, you will pick up more lenses, another body probably too-but, that's later.


Depending on whether you will be a natural light photographer or use studio lighting, studio lighting can be found at decent prices on ebay and discount sites. I found mine on ebay for $250 I think and it was a package deal.


For some reason, backdrops are crazy priced. I'm not an expert on material cost, but this has been the biggest expense other then camera equipment. I don't know if merchants are taking advantage of this hot trend to be a photographer, but I'm thinking that I might need a business loan to get all the backdrops I want to get. I would say to start out, you'll need a large white backdrop, a large black backdrop, and three to five fancy ones. I use paper backdrops from BHPhoto (they are great!) and very fair priced starting at $24. I still need my fancy backdrops, but they seem to run at least 150-200 a drop. Ouch! (tip: try looking at fabric stores and price the size you want. I found a cool vinyal material thats only 7.99 a yard!)


Props. Props. Props. All photographers need them. The cooler, the better. I can't give you a price on props because I don't know what you need and there are so many merchants out there selling them. I would have to say that if you want to do newborns, you'll need a bean bag, blankets, hats, bowl and baskets, flooring, etc. I think it's a costly start, but if you can get good at it and specialize in it, it will pay off.

So, maybe to put a rough estimate, maybe $500-700?

Children props can cost a pretty penny as well. Get creative. Look at thrift stores and garage sales!


I do a pretty simple packaging. I give the cd in it's own case with covering, my referral cards, thank-you card, my business card, a treat like candy and it all goes in a bag, tied with a black and a pink ribbon. I have it figured to around 5.50 per bag. Not too bad. I know some photographers get really elaborate. My clients love my packaging the way it is and I keep more profit-woo hoo!
You need to decide what you want to do with your packaging. Just make sure you adjust your prices to include the cost. I would only start out with a small supply of material until you get more steady customers.

Record keeping material

I use a folder per client with a copy of their receipt, expenses for that order and profit. I also make a cd of their session and keep it with the file. All except the cd was purchased at my local dollar store. I don't use a lot of dollar store stuff, but their paper products are awesome and cheap! Don't feel you need to start out with a file cabinet and fancy desk. Start small!


Duh, I almost forgot. You'll need a computer and a good photo editing program. Now, you don't have to jump right into Photoshop-exxxxxxxxxxpensiiive!!!! Try one of the cheaper programs if you can't afford it.


This is a personal decision. So far, I only have had to use free ones, or I just do it manually. I want to get into textures for a romantic look for engagements, or cool senior photos. I'm not sure what the average cost per action or texture or whatever else is out there. Do I think it's a necessity if you are just starting out? No. In fact, if you look at photographers like Jasmine Star or Scarlett Lillian (my favorite photographers, BTW) I don't think they dazzle up their photos with anything-I could be wrong though!

Advertisement cost

I hate this subject. Some like marketing. I hate it. Not because I don't want to go talk to anyone, but because I have a hard time finding out the best way of marketing. I still have that fantasy that I some day I won't have to market and I will be flooded with clients without having to lift a finger. Maybe some day!

For right now though, it's tough and can be costly. I would suggest taking an ad in the phone book, making brochures or post cards, lots and lots of business cards, and of course a website that is optimized with keywords. Price? You can use Vista Print for most of your materials and they are pretty inexpensive. I know they make their money off of shipping -watch out, they'll tell you one date for delivery and then tell you a different date after you hit "pay". That's the one thing I hate about them. So, to put a price on advertising, it probably could vary between $200-400 and a lot of your time. Look on photography help blogs for marketing ideas. Some even selling marketing plans.

Am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah. Studio, or no studio? If you have money to burn, then by all means, get a studio. Otherwise, if you can get away with going to client's houses and doing outdoor photos, I would strongly recommend starting that way. You can always do it in your home to if you have space.

Am I trying to discourage anyone from starting a photography business? No way. I love to see artists fulfilling their artistic need. I also know that us artists are always trying to live the romantic life and sometimes reality has to bite us in the butt once in awhile to bring us out of the clouds. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

MIA-new studio

I took a blogging break, but I'm back now. Thanks for hanging around while I was gone. I've been busy promoting the new studio and it's been one crazy ride. If you remember or missed this post, I rented a studio and we had to do some painting and decorating. I haven't post the "after" studio photos yet, so I wanted to share them with you today. Here they are!

Here is the view of the waiting/viewing room from the front door.
This side is where I take the photos. I love the bright natural light coming through.

The windows will make neat backgrounds.

A cute little bathroom!

This is the ugly prop room. I will be working more with this and hang more photos later.

My hubby bought me this cute bistro set for clients to sit at to look at albums.

My favorite wall. I love canvas!

A couple of my albums.

Emily and the hunky hubby.

We had an open house with mini cupcakes and other yummy food.

Another view in waiting room.

Come back tomorrow when I discuss the cost of being a photographer!