Want to break into "pro" market - need advice on gear change from NEX-7 and marketing

Started Nov 4, 2012 | Discussions thread
dkloi
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Re: Want to break into "pro" market - need advice on gear change from NEX-7 and marketing
In reply to arie, Nov 4, 2012

Some of my thoughts on the subject :

  • Keep your day job, at least until you have safely established your photography business. It's a tough market, flooded by anyone with a camera willing to undercut your rates. Make sure you can swim before letting go of other means of support.
  • Don't get hung up on brands or brand loyalty, it's all about getting the job done. If Sony works for you (as it does for Kirk Tuck, have a look at his blog for some tips on using Sony commercially), then fine. For some types of jobs I'd also have a good long look at other options as well. It's about having the appropriate tools for the job. If I had to do nightclub photography and could justify the expense, I'd get a D4 or D3s.
  • For portraits, practically any of the major systems would do. Practically any current Sony DSLT could be used effectively together with the right lens. AF speed isn't an issue, you could use manual focus if needed (e.g. with adapted glass or the STF 135mm).
  • You'll need a backup camera (or cameras). Factor this into your budget. Also consider getting a portable flash system. You could go strobist style or something more heavy duty like an Elinchrom Ranger. I use a Bowens Gemini/Travelpak setup which is on the marginal side of portable. Remember reflectors and light modifiers as well.
  • Have you researched your intended market in your area? How many location portrait shots do you think you can capture a year and what income do you think you can generate per client?
  • You have to sell yourself as providing a service, not simply a bunch a photos. Perhaps at the start you may have to offer a discount but you'll have to eventually price your services to make a decent profit (not just your costs, but a living wage about that, investment, insurance etc.), this may involve client education so that they appreciate what a good photographer provides over just a guy with a camera. There are some online articles on how to price your services.
  • You will likely have to consider branching out your list of services. Weddings is an obvious area to try, so are events and social photography. Studio-based photography is certainly feasible even if you don't have your own studio, hiring one when required isn't that expensive.
  • Networking helps get you known amongst the community, you might be able to catch a break with recommendations from other photographers. See whether local businesses (e.g. cafes, restaurants, hairdressers) would like to put up examples of your portraits, along with contact information.
  • Look for existing online commerce solutions for selling your work to customers (why reinvent the wheel?). For example, Photobox in the UK allows you to set up a pro gallery. Once you've uploaded your photos and set your prices, everything else is handled by Photobox. There may be something similar in your neck of the woods. You want to be out shooting, editing, and garnering clients, not using most of your time printing and sending out orders.
  • Protect your copyright but be reasonable about it. It's a fine line between taking care of your own interests and discouraging your clients. A bit of give and take helps, for instance giving small digital files suitable for social media use inclusive of the standard package (basically part of the call-out fee), and setting a flexible schedule of rate for services above and beyond that. Keep a good paper trail, prevents things devolving into "he said, she said". Give the client the rights they need, not necessarily all the rights they want (unless they are willing to pay for them).

Good luck with going pro. It's as much about marketing and determination, with a big dose of luck, than it is about photographic ability.

Cheers,
Daniel.

 dkloi's gear list:dkloi's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony SLT-A77 Sony DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 +17 more
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