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working as a photographerTips for Building a Photography Business
by Ann Springer

Anyone with a camera and a love of photography can claim to be a professional photographer, but these tips will help you stand out from the competition, build your business, and improve the quality of the images you shoot.

Be an Expert Shutter Bug

Read up on everything you can about photography; utilize the Internet, your local library, and any other information you can get your hands on to become an expert on the craft. Study every word of the instruction manual that came with your camera. Understanding how to properly use all of your camera's bells and whistles can save you time and frustration when you’re trying to capture that perfect shot and it’s not turning out the way you want.

Examine good photography; try to dissect what makes it incredible and how the photographer captured the image. Then grab your camera and practice replicating these techniques. You can find examples of good photography on websites such as www.nationalgeographic.com, www.gettyimages.com, and www.masters-of-photography.com.

Take your camera everywhere you go and shoot as many photos as you can. Build your portfolio with shots of points of interest in your area and with pictures from trips and vacations. Try volunteering as the official photographer in any organizations you belong to. Not only does this give you great practice and exposure, it also helps to build your portfolio.

Ask fellow photographers whose work you admire to give you feedback on your photos. Others who have encountered the same issues may be able to offer suggestions based on their own experiences. You can also take classes at your local photography or art school -- or at a community college -- to take your knowledge of composition, exposure, and lighting to the next level. It's also beneficial to learn how to navigate your way around software such as Adobe Photoshop.

photography books
- photo by Ann Springer
Invest In Your Business

To launch a photography business, you’ll need a few basic items. These include a high-quality digital camera (a minimum of 8 megapixels is recommended), a reliable computer, and photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, to sharpen and crop your photos.

You’ll want to shoot on location until you can afford a studio and the materials required for indoor or studio shoots. Look for locations with rustic backgrounds, such as barns, and landscapes with depth. Parks, waterways, and other natural areas make great backdrops without overshadowing your focal point.

Celebrate your first paying jobs by investing your profits back into your business. These are the items that will take your photography business from small potatoes to steak and potatoes.

The first way to invest in your business is to purchase additional camera equipment. Additional lenses, filters, and lighting equipment can give your photos that extra professional edge that a do-it-yourselfer can’t otherwise obtain. This will also help you to justify the prices you charge.

Your second priority is to create a business name and logo. Plaster your name on the CDs you produce and on glossy business cards. Post business cards in scrapbook stores and other local businesses that might attract families and other potential customers. This will help you present your business with confidence and presence. The return on investment from these small details can be immeasurable.

Build a blog or a website that showcases your best work. You can use your online portfolio to categorize the work you’ve done. Make sure you include your web address and blog on your business card.

Building Clientele

The most essential part of a business' success is making a profit. Any new business must dedicate a certain amount of time, energy, and money to building and retaining clientele.

The easiest and cheapest way to publicize your new business is to tell everyone you know that you’ve launched a photography business. Dole out business cards like candy and let your enthusiasm lead you to referrals. Send out emails to regular and prospective clients to advertise your business. This is a great way to build your clientele and receive repeat business from existing clients.

Offer your services to charity auctions and fundraisers to get your name in the community. Setting business cards out near displays of your best work at an event like this allows you to advertise to everyone in attendance while still supporting a great cause.
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Turning a Hobby into a Home Based Business

A final tip: sell your top quality work to stock photography websites such as Google or Getty Images. Search the web for other businesses and organizations that are seeking photographers and set your rates at an entry-level price until you’re established.