I'm often asked by students of photography questions about the business and my career in particular. A friend from California asked these questions today. I liked it so much I thought I would share!! :D
1.How did you become interested in this career?
I’ve always like taking pictures, but when I was 18 my sister’s boy friend gave me his old camera. So, I took classes in college to learn how to use it.
2.What are the aspects of this career that you like?
I love being able to be creative! Working in television news got boring and redundant. With photography I can be as creative as I want to be, working all different locations and really push the limits of my imagination!
3.What are the aspects of this career that you dislike?
I really do love every aspect of my career but if I had to pick one it would be the business side! Dealing with taxes, accounting, sales, marketing, social media etc. It’s a huge part of what I do. In fact it’s most of what I do. Taking pictures is a very, very small portion of the job. I don’t love doing a lot of paperwork but it’s necessary to run a successful business.
4.Which classes or training did you take in college?
I minored in photography in college for two years and I got my degree in broadcasting. Broadcasting actually helped because I worked with television cameras that taught me a lot about digital technology before DSLR digital cameras came out.
5.Is there opportunity for advancement in this career field?
There’s always room for advancement as a photographer. In this business we call it evolving! Most photographers start out making very little money. But there are many photographers that make six figures or seven figures. It’s a matter of learning how to run a successful business and doing what you love.
6.Can you describe your daily work?
Most of the work I do it on a daily basis is at my computer in my office. I do paperwork, answer emails, phone calls, at least an hour or two of social media marketing. I’ll make appointments, scheduling and I work on taxes and accounting. The “picture taking” part is only about one or two hours a couple of days a week. And editing usually only takes a couple of hours. I typically work a 40 - 50 hour work week. Most of that is in the office at my computer.
7.Which skill do you think is the most important to perform this job?
Learning how to be a photographer and the technical side of the work is very important. It helps to be artistic and have an imagination and talent as well. But you could be the most talented photographer in the world and not make a penny. The thing you need to do to be a successful business owner as a photographer is to understand business and treat it like a business, not a hobby.
8.How do you keep your skills current?
I invest at least $2000 a year in education. I go to work shops, take classes online, I’m always studying and researching. Watching trends, staying current and also studying the market is super important . All of these things keep any business owner current in their field to stay successful.
9.If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?
Anyone can be taught the skills necessary to be a decent photographer with proper training. But the thing I would look for when hiring someone is their work ethic. How hard you work and your drive would determine how good you will be. A hard worker can do almost anything.
10.What one thing would you do differently in regards to your career?
It would be nice to have a team. I would love to have an office manager, social media coordinator, editor, and other people to help outsource my work. I’m a one-man band and sometimes it becomes overwhelming.
11.What is your advice for someone who is interested in this field?
My biggest advice is continuing education and treating it like a business. In anything that you do, you need to adapt and keep up with the times. And, in order to be successful you must treat it like a business. It’s fun to take pictures. It’s a fun hobby. But if you want to make money and support your family, it needs to be treated like a business. Insurance, taxes, computer skills, social media, marketing etc. It’s more than just taking pretty pictures.