Becoming a photographer in today’s world is easier than ever. While you still have to work hard to learn fundamental skills and get good at it, the entry-level requirements are lowered in the age of the smartphone and app filters.
Interestingly, with the rise of consumer photography as a hobby, it’s become even more challenging to stand out and make it as a professional. For the aspiring photographer looking to take their craft to the next level and start a business, even a strong portfolio may not be enough. The industry’s mortality rate can be pretty grim; around 85% per cent don’t last past the first two years.
As a solution, you might need to diversify your revenue streams or offer a different business concept. Here are a few ideas.
Many photography startups tend to under-utilise the potential of prints in their business. This might be due to sourcing out most of the printing work to a third party, or simply a side effect of how the industry, in general, has shifted towards the digital. After all, it’s quite common nowadays to deliver your final images on a disc, portable drive, or through cloud storage.
But there’s something powerful about having a physical print – its constant presence, framed on the wall of a home or displayed in the reception area of an office, is a reminder of things people stand for, a moment fixed in time. And that’s something that’s always worked for photographers since the early days.
Consider bringing your printing services in-house to give yourself full control over the output. You can also try your hand at woodcraft for framing fine art prints or buy a wide format laminating machine to produce large posters for corporate clients. Offering a range of options, instead of just standard preset sizes provided by a third-party printer, will allow you to draw in more clients.
You might have the opportunity to work with a company’s marketing or design team in the planning stages of their upcoming campaign. Concept work is more collaborative than your standard event shoots. It can require you to be more flexible and make adjustments on the fly, but you’ll also have the chance to pitch some creative ideas of your own and expand your portfolio while at it.
Not every prospective client is looking to hire you for a big event. Although shooting weddings or corporate affairs can be your big payout, there are opportunities to be gained from doing small shoots with clients. Many people can be hesitant when it comes to working with a professional photographer. They might not know if they can afford the full package of your services, or if they even need everything. Doing small scale shoots is a great way to establish relationships with a different slice of the customer base, offering an introductory package that lets them get to know you and your work.
In a photography business, you’ll often have a large ratio of rejects to final shots. But as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Even if you and your client both didn’t care much for a particular image, you could upload it to various stock photography sites and find that someone is willing to pay for the use of that image.
Blogging is another way to increase your online exposure and open up opportunities for paid ads and product reviews. These are just two possible ways to create passive income streams and help your business survive the early stages.
Look for easy ways to diversify and bring in more opportunities, and you’ll thrive in the photography industry.