Starting a business specializing in portraiture

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
Michael Fryd
Senior MemberPosts: 1,887
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Re: Starting a business specializing in portraiture
In reply to JoeWall, 11 months ago

JoeWall wrote:

Good points

Having all of these to do can lead to paralysis though. I would recommend him to get out there and do a test case, if he can actually charge someone, learn from the experience, then repeat the process until he discovers he actually knows enough about the market and also has enough revenues to announce himself as a profotog.

If the test case is negative, then it's all good because he actually saved months of potential work working on business models, marketing research etc.

In business, this is called the "lean startup" way where instead of trying to knowing all the factors, and make sure you've go everything right, just go out there with a minimum viable product and then adapt from there. The methodology also encourages you to fail fast.

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If your ultimate goal is a business, then before doing a test case, one should do a rough calculation as to whether or not the business makes sense as envisioned.

I'm not talking a completely detailed business plan, but ballpark estimates.

For instance, if the goal is a business shooting portraits of people on-location, what is the going price of this service in the area?  Perhaps it's $200?

Taking into account travel time, shooting time, and post-processing time, how many of these is it physically possible to shoot in a week?  Perhaps it's one a day?

How much time needs to be devoted to other aspects of the business?  Accounting, paying bills (insurance), maintaining equipment, marketing, collecting from clients, continuing education, etc.?  Perhaps that's one day a weeK?

With the above numbers the maximum expected income is $800/week, or $40,000 per year (assuming a 2 week vacation).

Next do rough estimates for expenses; insurance, marketing, equipment repairs, etc.  Perhaps they add up to $15,000 per year.

That leaves $25,000 per year (before taxes) for your salary.  About $12.5 per hour.  This is best case once the business is going.  Obviously, you will get less during the early years, as you will spend less time doing billable shooting, and more time marketing your business and learning the craft.

If a maximum of $12.50/hour meets your needs, then take the next step.  If $12.50 isn't enough, then step back and see if there you can structure your business in a different fashion to make more profit.

Perhaps you want to switch to a higher ticket style of photography like weddings?  Perhaps it does make sense to spend more money and get a studio, and increase volume by shooting a higher volume?

Don't forget that whatever area of photography you go into, you need to look not only at today's pricing, but also the trends.  Quality photographic gear is now available to the average consumer at affordable prices.  Most consumers don't see a difference between their photos and a pro's photos (particularly when you both have the same brand of camera).  This reduces the demand for photographers and drives down prices.  If the going price for on-location headshots drops to $150, that comes directly out of your profit (your costs stay the same).  At $150 a headshot, your maximum expected gross revenue drops from $50,000/year to $30,000/year.  That leaves $15,000 per year for you, or about $7.50/hour.

The above numbers are not based on actual research.  If you are serious about starting a business, then do the research to see what the numbers will be for your intended business.

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