I’ll go ahead and say it…I LOVE writing. Always have. Currently hidden in my mom’s house are journals (little girl translation = diaries) from when I was nine years old. Nine! What did I have to talk about then? Apparently, I felt the need to write on skating parties and what the characters of Full House were up to. To this day, journaling is one way I best express my thoughts, feelings, and document favorite song lyrics (yup, there are more lyrics in my journals than I’m willing to admit!).
Another perk to being a photographer who likes to write is guest blogging. When I see an opportunity, I jump on it! Recently, Washington-based Brianna Widen of Brianna M. Widen Photographics was searching for new writers. I happily volunteered to discuss a topic that most photographers deal with from time to time, and it hit her blog this week!
Please look at her wonderful work, and leave her some love! Enjoy my article below, too.
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Confidence: Can I do this?
Will people like my work?
I can’t charge that much. I’m not good enough.
Their photos are so much better than mine!
I’m not really sure what I’m doing.
Can I really run a successful photography business?
If you’re anything like me, at least one of these questions has run through your head at some point if you’re trying to become a professional photographer. From time to time, we all struggle with confidence – but it can become especially heightened when you’re trying to get a small business off the ground.
I started my business by first selling prints and note cards of things I liked to shoot – nature, architecture, home life, etc. If I wanted a photography biz, why didn’t I just start out photographing people? Because I was scared!! Who was I to expect others to pay me to take their family photo? I wasn’t prepared for it yet. After a year of real practicing on friends and family (and the occasional stranger), as well as learning about how photography works, I made the leap. I’m very thankful that Simply M Photography has been growing and growing ever since!
Now, that’s my short story. Yours may be completely different! But we are the same in one aspect: everyone feels less than confident at some point in their career. I wish that we could avoid this somehow, but it’s part of the learning process. If we were always 100% pleased with our photo results and the way we ran our businesses, would we try to improve? Most likely not. It’s good to have that little jolt of adrenaline from time to time that asks you, “How can I do this better?”
“Will people like my work?”
As a self-declared ‘people-pleaser’, this was something I had to work on. A LOT. It’s very important to find your style of photography….I’m sure you hear this all the time, but it’s only because it’s true! Maybe you like the clean look. Vintage. Photojournalism. Maybe you don’t know what any of those styles are! My advice is to start scouring blogs to find inspiration. Once you find certain styles that appeal to you, figure out ways to make them unique to your business. Once you start showing how you can create original photographs that describe what you feel/see when looking through the viewfinder, the people you were concerned about will notice. If you show that you’re confident in your work, people will respond in the same way!
“I can’t charge that much. I’m not good enough.”
Oooooh, boy. Pricing. I will not pretend that I’ve got all this together, because my pricing is a work in progress. The main thing I have learned is that once you learn that you, your style, your time, and your ability are worth it, you need to charge in that way. I always want to give things away, which can be detrimental to a small biz. There is a time and place to be charitable, but if you can’t afford to run your business because of your kind heart, it may be wise to donate your photos to auctions or something of the like to soothe that desire. Here’s a great article on pricing by Jodi at MCP Actions.
“Their photos are so much better than mine!”
It’s true – there are many, MANY talented photographers out there. It’s easy to look at other, more established photogs and get discouraged because your work isn’t up to J* or Justin and Mary standards. However, I will once again tote the beauty of the Internet….are you in love with the certain photography styles? Creative angles that others use? What about the creamy coloring you’ve seen? I have an answer: use the ‘net to research! There are so many fabulous articles, posts, forums, podcasts, etc. that you can learn from – on basically any topic you’d like to know about! A few of my favorites include Photographers Redefined and Pursuit 31. Everyone has to start somewhere….and I bet your photos are a lot better than you think they are! The important thing is, is that they’re yours. They are unique to your style and voice – be proud of what you can do.
“I’m not really sure what I’m doing.”
I can guarantee that you aren’t alone in that feeling. I felt this quite often at the beginning of my photography adventure, and it sometimes still creeps up on me. There is so much to learn and determine at the start (and as you continue to grow); it can be very overwhelming. What has worked for me is organization! I have more lists than I’m willing to admit, on every photography item possible. I recommend downloading Studio Cloud – what a beautiful little program. Helps keep everything straight for me, from invoices to scheduling sessions to goals I want to meet. Try it out!
That’s one part of being unsure of what you’re doing. The other is, if you enjoy talking with others (I sure do!), chat up others in the field! Ask them to coffee or lunch and be ready with a few questions. In my experience, other photogs are more than happy meet newbies and share their photography journey. Now, I’m not talking about asking for business secrets, but it was so helpful to me to ask others how they got started and learn things to avoid/things that worked for them. Plus, it’s a great way to get your name out there, especially for second-shooting opportunities! I’m thankful for all the friends I’ve made in the Nashville community, and I can’t wait for my upcoming coffee dates!
“Can I really run a successful photography business?”
You can probably guess what I’m going to say here…..YES YOU CAN! I’m not an expert, and I’m still a long way from where I want to be, but I fully believe that if you really want it, you can make it happen. Research as much as possible, ask as many photographers as you can, practice constantly, and stick with your instincts! I wish you so much luck in your photography journey….can’t wait to see your work!