7 Myths About Becoming a Professional Photographer (and the Realities)

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Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

When thinking about becoming a professional photographer, it’s easy to have on the rose-colored glasses that make everything look easy and wonderful.

But the reality of those false perceptions can actually destroy the chance of owning your own studio (and a successful business, for that matter.)

Today, we’ll look at 7 of those common misconceptions that get those who are considering becoming a professional photographer off to a false start.

1. You have enough connections to get your studio up and running.

Myth: So, you’ve heard from family and friends that they are totally on board with you becoming a professional photographer and you think that those connections will be enough to help you open your first studio.

Reality: Your family and friends are only going to need photos every once in a while. You need to build a strategy that helps you bring in new clients on a regular basis so you can build a referral network outside your established connections.

2. Clients will know exactly what they want.

Myth: Most clients come to you with a clear vision in mind of what they want—you just have to execute it as the professional photographer.

Reality: Some clients will have their own ideas, but some will defer to your creative eye and experience for direction. Do you know what poses always sell prints for you? Do you have a few go-to locations for non-studio sessions? Clients will expect you to be the expert.

3. Discounting will help you stay busy in the slow times.

Myth: I’ll just run a sale when I need to get more clients in the door—discounting doesn’t matter that much in the long run.

Reality: Discounting does more harm than hurt if you’re a boutique photography studio. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If your product is strong, you are Worth Every Penny all year long.

4. You can be profitable while only providing a CD of the images.

Myth: You can build a profitable professional photography business built on selling or providing only digital files of your work.

Reality: Your work is art! Leaving your product as a digital file means you can’t provide color correction and/or exposure edits and are leaving the finished product to someone other than you. You should guide your clients through the print selection process so they can see the true value of what you’ve captured. This also means that part of your profit comes from providing print packages.

5. Marketing plans can be built on the fly.

Myth: I’ll just do whatever marketing activities I think are important along the way.

Reality: Having a marketing plan in place means you don’t have to sweat where your next clients will come from and you’re not flying by the seat of your pants. This takes so much stress and sleepless nights out of owning a professional photography business.

6. You’ll learn how to handle publicity as you gain experience.

Myth: Your work will gain publicity on its own as people notice your great photography skills.

Reality: Getting publicity from local and national media outlets is a lot of work—but it can be accomplished when you know where to look and how to approach it.

7. You can change your rates on a case-by-case basis.

Myth: You’ll be able to work with all clients and their unique budgets—there’s no need for an established price menu.

Reality: No customer likes to hear that someone was charged less than they were. Having an established photography price list means all clients are on an equal playing field and you’re charging what you’re worth as a professional photographer.

Becoming a Professional Photographer is hard work.

To be successful as a professional photographer, you have to let go of those false perceptions and really create a business strategy that allows you to overcome those common stumbling blocks.

As always, I’m here to help you navigate that process.

Your turn: What misconceptions have you noticed photographers facing?

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