Starting a business specializing in portraiture

Started Jan 24, 2014 | Discussions thread
PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
Re: Let's create a Semi-Pro Forum

Joe Pa wrote:

You are a "Pro" when someone is willing to "Pay" you for services.

Yes. and many here don't get that being a 'pro' comes with responsibilities and liabilities.

You somehow took DJ'ing from a hobby to "Pro", did a bright light shine down on you the moment you switched from being a "Amateur" to "Pro"?

Again, people are not READING. I was NEVER an 'amateur' DJ.

I bought out a retiring DJ. Like buying ANY OTHER BUSINESS would be. I've booked 4 weddings this year for the DJ biz - and for 3 of them will hire a DJ to do the actual gig. Just like ANY OTHER BUSINESS does it.

Is a band that playing in a local pub for money professional? Or are there levels of being professional, that takes them from bar pro, to small venue pro, to large venue pro to stadium pro? Pro's get paid, that's the definition.

Professional has several aspects to it. There is the 'being paid' part but there is a lot more. That's the easy part. Delivering 'professional' results is another. With art what is 'good' is up for opinion to a large degree. Acting 'professional' is another aspect and making a profit is, as a business enterprise, also something that needs to be at the forefront.

I'm sure lots of people would love to be paid to do their hobby. But that doesn't mean they are professionals, does it?

I trade products and discounts and at times cash to HS seniors to be 'ambassadors'...are they professional models now that they've received 'something of value' in exchange for posing in front of the camera? Same thing a supermodel does, right?

Wiki (see hobby below) says

Anyone who does an activity solely for fun is called an 'amateur' (from French for "lover of") or 'hobbyist'; whereas anyone who does an activity for a reward is a 'professional'.

If he wants to see his 'baby' grow up he's gonna have to step and be a 'parent' and do the hard, unpleasant, unrewarding parts of the job too. To tell him otherwise is doing him, and any other 'dreamer' a big disservice.

Says who, you, you're not his wife or parent, it's not you job. Why do you believe it's your job, you're not qualified to advise anyone just because you seem miserable trying to eek some pittance at a living and spend the majority of your time here bashing people who love photography and aren't as cynical and miserable towards the industry as you come off here on these threads?

Show me where I"ve bashed ANYONE. Again, you people can't seem to read what is written. DId I ANYWHERE tell him not to do it? That he can't do it? That nobody can do it these days? Nope, not once.
I DID tell him to do some research on what to sell, what to charge and how much business is out there.

YOU (and others) apparently read that to mean I'm talking him out of it because I fear him. Wow. How you guys get that I don't know.

If you don't beleive what I'm saying go here -

Are they saying ANYTHING different than me?

He WANTS to open a photography business. (he said so). He asked for some help (he said so). I offered help BASED ON YEARS OF EXPERIENCE of starting and running a successful photography studio.
there is more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. But if you don't charge more than your costs (and time is a cost that needs to be valued) then you will not, can not, have a successful business.

I'm not making that up - its a fact and has been for thousands of years. You MUST bring in more money than you put out or you will not stay in business. You may call it margin, markup or profit if you like, but each of those words have SPECIFIC DEFINITIONS. We often use profit for convenience sake. However, making up definitions or trying to redefine words is what many here seem to do. Or they call profit 'evil' for some reason.

A business requires an investment - gear, time, etc. Just like an IRA, 401K or mutual fund you should make a return on your investment. Your time can be considered an investment or 'sweat equity' but it too should have a 'return' on it.

It's BUSINESS. The 'rules' and definitions of it go back a long long way.

So if a person says "BUSINESS" I go by the definition of business.

If you mean something else THEN SAY THAT.

Don't say I'm wrong when you are using the wrong words to say what you mean.

Otherwise you're all your talking is number 10.

How about we embrace these people, help them out and not be so judgmental.

Where is the judgement? ANYONE say he can't do it? His pics suck? Not that I say to this point.

If I was from the UK I'd have gladly given him all the information he needed without the condescending tones I see so often here.

yes, a few have said 'use google' and 'go read a book'. I've read at least 50 marketing books of one kind or another, another 50 on photography, more on sales, running a business, etc. And I think you'll find most business people have done similar.

Business success isn't for wallflowers. It's not gonna fall in your lap anymore than Miss World is gonna come knock on your door and take you out on the town. YOU have to go out there and get it for yourself.
That's what I'm seeing here - advice on how to do that.

You don't run a business in the UK, so you should have let those that know advise him.

Maybe we need a semi-pro forum here, one where people like the OP can get some advice on how to start out but don't want to spend the next six months developing business plans, etc.

All I can say is Wow.

A business plan is a road map and nothing more. You can't expect to get to Budapest from Moscow by randomly walking about.
A map - what roads, when to turn. Bus, train, car, plane? How much time, gas, is needed? Gonna stop for food? Need to spend a night in a hotel...10 nights?

If the OP, or anyone, wants to have a SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS then they need a plan. It can be simple or complex and detailed.

Simple - he wants to build his portfolio. How long will that take? 5 sessions? 100? 1 week or 5 years?

I want to make $30k this year say, shooting weddings. How do I do that? Hope and a prayer? Nope, no way. That's dreaming and it WILL NOT WORK.

Will telling people work? Mailings? A bridal show? Putting flyers on cars outside bridal shops? yes, but how much of that is needed to get the weddings i need to do $30k in sales?

It's not rocket science, it's not too difficult for anyone to do. But it needs to be done if you want to be a 'professional' photographer or have a business that does more than buy your lunch every so often.

A business plan as you define it is a huge waste of time. 95% of businesses fail, most had a plan, but no one plans to fail, so oops, what do they do when things don't go according to plan?

You can't plan five years into an unknown future, you can't plan 1 year. You can look at budgets, how much you can afford to spend and how much you can afford to lose but someone that is just starting out doesn't have real answer to 90% of what gets input to these stupid business plan programs that exist out there. Gaining experience is the plan, learning by hard work first hand what works and doesn't work.

You all seem to ignore that there is a gray area for the transition that allows one to charge for their services yet does not require they be a "real" business as well. Even the IRS tax code allows you to make a certain amount of income from "outside sources".

"Transition' is called school, paying your dues, working as a second shooter or assistant. But nobody wants to do that anymore. They want to buy a camera and tomorrow be a "Professional photographer and business owner!"

You can probably cook a hamburger. So open a 'restaurant'. Do it on the side, out of your basement or from the trunk of your car at the local park. Invite people to your house and get $5/head for your burgers.

Transition is when you do something part-time to determine if it's something you 1) want, 2) like it enough to do it for a living, 3) are good enough to make a living at. Most businesses start out as part-time while they are funded from the persons full-time activities. No one just jumps into the water blindly unless they want to get eaten by sharks.

Do you ever watch Shark Tank, a huge portion of the people there started their business while working full-time.

I work with many start up organizations, I almost always advise them to not quit their main job until they are earning enough money in their business to afford to.

Sound like a good idea or some kind of joke?

A joke, right? And that's the issue we have with your suggestion - it's a cruel joke to tell people to do that and it's 'the path to success' - it's not. It's a fools errand.

I'd be happy to mod that forum and ensure all you dream stompers are providing constructive advice or get restricted from the threads.

Again, you and others have some kind of vendetta against me. READ THE POSTS IN THIS THREAD - and I mean READ, no assumptions and reading between the lines. Look at who is making the posts - it is not all me.
I'd be more than happy to post a list of blogs and sites that are more sugary than us here but say the same thing.
I think maybe I'll do that in the near future. And we all can just refer to that post on threads like this one.

I have no vendetta against you, I don't even know you. I'm sure we could have a drink and share quite a number of stories, maybe even a few laughs. I hate, yes hate, the way you come off here with your condescending and negative tones. The reason we have so much poverty in this country and people on welfare is because people like you constantly want to crush others dreams using fear.

You could do a lot of good here, you could be a mentor, but instead you constantly throw up barriers at most newbies that comes to this site seeking advice.

Yes, owning a business is hard, but it's the best experience one could ever have, it's the American dream to work for yourself. Encourage people with constructive advice, nurture them and you'll feel a lot better about yourself at the end of the day.

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Don't seek advice from someone who is not where you want to be - CJ Lewis
My opinions are my own and not those of DPR or its administration. They carry no 'special' value

-- hide signature --

Don't seek advice from someone who is not where you want to be - CJ Lewis
My opinions are my own and not those of DPR or its administration. They carry no 'special' value

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