Have you ever wondered what it is like being in the photography business? If you are like me probably not. You will be surprised with what the 5 truths I have discovered about the photography business you may not know.
When you see a photographer, you most likely imagine a glamorous life filled with beautiful women in the latest designer outfits on a private beaches in Dubai glowing on a golden sunset. You may also see them as divas who turn up to an event click a few times and say "Ok, that's £300 please".
This is far from the truth, if only life was this simple. This leads me to my first point, what a photographer spends most of their time doing in reality is less exciting.
Most of my photography life is spent doing administrative tasks. Prior any jobs you have marketing, social media, updating websites, writing blogs, selling yourself. Each job received comes through responding to emails, phones calls, word of mouth, the website and reviews. Once a lead comes and is confirmed there is still the communicating the details of the job often with constant confirmation. After the shoot images need to be delivered via mail or electronically once edited and formatted. Basically even if a shoot was to last 1 hour, quite a bit of time has been spent in administration.
For this reason there is a market for automative software administrators (costs hundreds of pounds) to minimise certain administrative tasks. The softwares track where your clients are, what you need to do, can unpick information and present it in a clear manner even sending out reminders via text and email. Additionally there are outsources who will remotely handle admin for you.
The market is saturated with under cutters. Undercutters are a big issue, essentially they may provide services for free or less than minimum wage. On many occasions I have had business turn away because they have a "bredrin" who will hook them up.
If your work is above a standard then undercutters are less of an issue (with the exception of people who pay no regard to quality). I take pride in my images, I want to attract clients who appreciate what I can do so as my brand has developed this has become less of an issue.
The other thing undercutters do is make people feel like they are entitled to freebies or a significant discount. I have learned to be tough but fair and say "NO". The emotional blackmail has worn off. If I choose to bless someone then that's on me but I no longer feel bad if this tactic is used. This leads to my next point.
It's weird but for whatever reason, there is a certain group of people that in your early day tear you down, discourage, ignore you. But once you get traction get buddy, buddy. They prey on low self esteem and think that by offering "Credit" (which is an acknowledgement) that you will be happy to work for free "to build a portfolio". They highlight a connection with you as a reason why you should do what they want and get offended if you say NO.
I was recently sent an article which spoke about the industry. It highlighted that businesses that revolve around things people are passionate about have a higher ratio of exploitation. This is because unlike a clerk job, the perception of people is that the photographer wants to do it and so asking for peanuts or a freebie. Whereas the office clerk is less likely to enjoy the job and thus a person would be less likely to exploit them in terms of payment for the work.
As a business you have to learn not to let people use and abuse you. Mentalities need to switch and as in any business you would never survive giving everyone freebies. Freebies cheapen you, and as an added curse they (your entitled) spread the word that you work for free.
This is where I may sound silly but I was not aware of some of these costs. I call them hidden as clients often disregard it when getting a quote. Take a look through and see whether you knew these costs existed.
Public liability (freebies don't have that for sure)
Equipment and maintenance costs
Travel and parking
Development and learning
These horrible referral websites
Yes, I ended on social life, working on a business in the early mornings, late nights, moments throughout the day getting things in order. Working a full time day job with the additional tasks can mean fore-fitting events, socials and having as much time as people want of you. Yes there must be a balance but some sacrifices need to be made. When deadlines are present and you are building a brand it is essential that you deliver quality and in good time.
More common than you think, back pain from lifting gear for hours can make some jobs uncomfortable. I recently discovered I adopt a squatting position by default when shooting. Though good for my thigh muscles, after a day of doing it this can be uncomfortable. It is important to be able to physically rest on a long job and to watch your posture when bearing weight.
As popular solution for this is the smaller and lighter cameras are becoming common for photographers who simply want to get the job done but be comfortable at the same time. The lighter gear though an added cost has helped some professionals continue doing the job they love.
I have spoken about 5 truths that you now know, if you have some truths that you feel I should of mentioned send me a message and maybe I will cover it on another occasion. Thank you for taking time to read this I really do appreciate your efforts. Hopefully the next time you book a freelancer you will have a better understanding of the work they actually do.