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Your business questions answered

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Hey guys! So last week I put out a request for business questions because y’all have contacted me with your small business/photography questions in the past. I got some great questions and today I’m answering them!

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Camera + Software

What type of camera do you use? I use a Nikon D7200.

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How much retouching do you do to your photos? Very little. In fact, here’s a screenshot of a before and after.

What photo editing programs do you use and what are your favorite editing functions of that program? I mainly use Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom CC. My favorite editing functions are the fact that you can tone down specific colors, fix chromatic aberration, create your own presets, and sync everything up! In one click I can do a majority of the edits I need to do to one image.

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The Client Experience

How do you come up with poses for portrait sessions? I actually don’t have to “come up” with poses! In the photography courses I took, they taught me a three-step posing system that completely eliminates having to rack your brain for poses. I won’t divulge all their secrets, but basically, there are about five base poses. You set the feet and hips, and then add variations with the arms, and then the heads. It’s so easy!

How do you make your clients/models feel comfortable? First, I let them know that it’s totally natural to feel awkward, and that I feel the same when I get my own pictures done! I then pose them exactly, using precise language to get the exact look I’m going for. While they’re posing, I encourage the heck out of them and let them know that even though it feels weird, what they’re doing looks great on camera.

How do you send photos to clients? I upload all the finished photos to an online gallery system called Pixieset.

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Marketing

How do you find clients, make connections, and spread the word about your services? (Aka how do you advertise your photography business?) I’ve tried several different things. Marketing is one of the hardest things for me because I have a very limited amount of people I know. Also, I haven’t found word-of-mouth to be super helpful yet. It’s different for everyone, but for me, I’ve found Google Ads to be a very successful venture for me. It helps the clients to find me. If you have a large number of friends, I’d try social media marketing. If you go to a big church and your family knows a lot of people, do a couple discounted shoots for a couple families and tell them to rave to their friends.

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General

How would you describe your style of photography in three words? Chic, airy, and classic.

What is the best way to start building your business? The best way to start building your business is to get a TON of practice! Do free shoots. Get your friends together and take pictures of them. Practice until you can do everything without having to think too much about it.

Did you take any photography courses? If so, which ones? I took three photography courses! They’re Amy and Jordan’s Shooting and Editing Course, Posing Course, and Business Course. Having those courses really eliminated so much that I would have to learn on myself and pretty much put me ahead five years in learning.

What is your favorite lighting to shoot in? Golden hour full sun!

What goes into doing a photoshoot and what special equipment do you need to do that? After the client reserves the date for their shoot by signing a contract and paying a deposit, I then meet them at their location on their date. Once we meet, we head out to wherever we’re going to shoot. I start them with some basic poses, and then move onto some more difficult ones. Sometimes they have an outfit change and move to a different part of the location for more pictures. It’s basically just posing them, making small talk, and laughing – a lot. The only equipment I need for a portrait shoot is just my camera, a prime lens, and my white balance disc!

How does pricing work? Well that’s a loaded question! Pricing is VERY confusing, especially for beginners. Here’s how to eliminate some headaches:

  1. Decide what you’re going to offer. If you were the client, what would you want? For me, this means that up front, I tell the client what they’re getting, which is: A 2-hour portrait session with one lead photographer, me; their choice of locations; 2-3 outfits; 35 digital retouched images.
  2. Decide how much it’s worth. This is the hard part, I think! I started by looking at what photographers in the area charged. I found photographers who offered about the same amount of “stuff” that I did (same length session, number of images, etc) and looked at what they charged. Then I decided how much my sessions were worth based on experience and report. For instance, even if you’re offering the same amount of pictures and shooting time five years into your business, you’re worth quite a bit more than your first year! You’ve got a lot more experience and happy customers. For me, I price my family sessions at $250. It’s a good price for me because I’m about 2-3 years into my business. It’s worth it to me without being overkill, and people don’t seem to have a problem with that price. If you were just starting, I’d price your family sessions more at $150 and work up.

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How can one get into the photography business if they’ve had no previous experience before? I would first totally start with investing in education. Learn all you can. Then practice all you can! You definitely need knowledge and experience, and then a portfolio.

Do you keep clients’ photos indefinitely? Technically, I keep them for a year. (I do tend to keep them longer, just because.)

Where do you store all your images? I store all my RAW and finished JPEG images on a hard drive, a really large SD card, and back them up online in the cloud.

What are some business-related things that are really important to know when starting a photography business?

  1. Have backups. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I didn’t back up some of my early raw files. A hard drive is only like $60.
  2. Keep track of money, but don’t stress. For a while I didn’t keep track of my income and expenses. I wish I had, but it’s not really required for the first year or so. It’s just helpful to have.
  3. INVEST IN EDUCATION. I cannot stress this more! Yes, some people can be super successful self-taught. But if you invest in learning, it’s just like a shortcut to success. Does it still take a while? Yes. But the fact that I took Amy and Jordan’s courses early on is the one thing that has helped me to be successful.

And that’s it! I hope this was super helpful for you all!

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