Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Jack of All Trades

So Photography, what does it really encompass nowadays?  There is so much to being your own business owner operator, not just in photography, that it can be hard to draw the limits of what really fits into what is necessary to survive in our industry.   Consider this, as a photographer who works for themselves, still has a large variety of non-photographing related tasks that must be fulfilled in order to completed regular services and earn their wage.




Don't know what I am talking about? As a photographer, how do your clients find out how much their shoot costed? An invoice right? Theres a little bit of accounting you need to know maybe, I do mine with excel on the computer so a little high school business course coming back into play, no big deal.  But how about when you start getting several large shoots a month, with money coming in from initial deposits and final payments that need to be tracked.  Thats just money coming in, how about the stuff going out? It doesn't all go on your taxes in one group as deductions and ba-da-boom you're done. How much went to the necessary operating costs of your office alone? How much went to the delivery of product? What percentage of the business travel you are deducting on taxes was included in the clients rate?   -- Sounds more like its own accounting department after a while.  And that's the easy stuff.

How about the big corporate client you might be trying to lock down for a photoshoot, video advertisement, or a brochure design?  They probably wont even take your terms seriously unless they are in clearly defined legal jargon.  Know your iTunes contract?  Can you read it - I know you can sound the words out, but can you tell what the sentences mean?  There's a little bit of law that it would help to know, and from my experience, when it comes to the legal side, you have to learn a lot before you know a little bit.   To put it in perspective, last time I prepared a new Image Usage Agreement it took me about as long as it does to prepare a full 10hr day of photo and video coverage at a wedding.

How do people find you?  Creatively marketing your work to the appropriate demographic is as an important art form to practice for the freelance professional photographer, as it is to know how to wield their camera.  If you can't find any clients, and aren't creating new ones - you probably aren't going to be in business doing the thing you love, for very long.

Finding clients and being your own marketing manager isn't limited to just being a good salesmen, or being able to close sales, there is the technical side too.  "Don't bother showing me your portfolio, just let me know your price and come on over" said no one ever to the photographer they wanted to hire - without knowing how to display your work people will have no idea that you are worth what you charge.   For me, the most challenging aspect of this is managing and updating my website.  Entirely by my own efforts - I've created my website from scratch, three times now - one overhaul for each year that www.cgardiner.ca has been online.  Each version has been a solid 60hrs, so by no means is it a 'recreational' task, but it is necessary, so it must be done.

There are many more examples of this that I could demonstrate, like graphic design and layout and a whole other world of stuff to get into with video and audio. I feel I outlined enough to get my point across before I get (excessively) wordy with this post.  What am I trying to say here?  That if you want to 'push on' and continue deeper down a career path in photography and creative media, there is a lot of learning to do on the way, and a lot of splitting your focus, while remaining focused entirely on your task.

So if you are already deciding that you will shoot this but won't shoot that, before you even start negotiating contracts with clients, how are you going to motivate yourself to complete all the extra, necessary tasks to finishing the work,  that don't involve the pleasure of holding a camera in your hands? 

(sorry no pictures for this post)


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