Top Ten Mistakes New Photographers Make

February 28, 2014

Boudoir Photography Tips:

Top Ten Mistakes New Photographers Make

Mistakes aren’t all bad. They are often good learning experiences, times when you as a new photographer figure out what works best for you and what doesn’t.

In this regard, mistakes early on in your career can be, in a way, your guide. But let’s be real for a second. Nobody actually enjoys making mistakes.

Most of the time they lead to a loss of some sort, sometimes pride, sometimes money, often both. So if you can avoid making common mistakes like these, the mistakes you do end up making will be fewer and farther between.

1. Under Charging Clients

Although there are dozens of ways to under charge a client — with prints, editing or with the session itself — the point is: Don’t do it!

Know your value before you set up a pricing plan, and understand what goes into the process of running a business. Know your cost of goods (COG) and your return on investment (ROI)

It makes me cringe when new photographers charge a flat rate for the session, editing and images inclusive, a flat rate that will eventually ruin the future financial success of their businesses.

2. Not Knowing Your Limitations

Although you may be proficient in several genres of photography, you simply will not have the time to specialize in all of them professionally.  Many new photographers start off thinking they can cover everything from weddings to newborns to real estate and that because they can do all this they will get more business. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We live in a society which adores specialists.

Spend your time becoming the best at a few things, market those things, and your business will profit from it.

3. Not Investing Time in Improving Their Craft

As a photographer, it is your duty to never stop learning. Go to workshops, attend lectures, even pursue a degree at a university if you don’t already have one (or even if you do), and above all else, keep shooting.

If you want to have any chance of keeping up with your competition and to become the best photographer you can be, invest the time to improve your craft.

4. Falling Back on Old Habits

If you want to remain relevant and continue to create good work, do what it takes to create good work. Have an old habit that’s getting in the way of making great photographs? Do what you can to eradicate it. Feeling uninspired? Seek out other photographers who have tips to help you. Don’t just rely on your old way of doing things; try new things, and you may be amazed on how well it works out.

5. Ignoring the “Boring Legal Stuff”

In the photography industry, this is a BIG problem, especially for new photographers. They spend so much time researching lenses and gear, talking to clients and scouting out locations that they forget one essential aspect.

If you have questions, try out Professional Photographers of America. This is one of the many great organizations that can help steer you in the right direction.

6. It’s a Business

And as it is a business and you’re doing it professionally, there’s a whole other skill set that you have to master before you can even dream about being successful. You need to become savvy about insurance, contracts, liability, etc. etc. etc. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can get away with ignoring this stuff, or you might be in big trouble, not only with your clients but with Uncle Sam.

7. Not Taking Time Out for Personal Projects

After more than a decade of doing this, I can’t tell you enough how stale certain aspects of the business can get, and how stagnant your work can become as a result if you don’t watch out. Taking time to work on personal projects, in the midst of shooting for clients, will help you stay fresh and inspired after years in the business. You’re only human, and your mind needs that creative break.

8. Not Investigating the Competition

You do not operate in a vacuum. Whether you are in a big city or a little town, odds are there is at least one photographer in the area who you need to know about. More likely, there will be hundreds. It’s your job to research them, find out what they charge and what their processes are. It will not only clue you into your area, and help you find clients, but will let you know how hard you need to work if you want to make it in your area.

While doing this, remember what makes you unique. Don’t try and be like everyone else. I’m not saying that you need to be obsessive about it, because your business comes first, I’m just saying you need to be aware.

9. Forgetting about E-mail Marketing

Long gone are the days where you could tell your friends about your new business and they would tell all their friends, and you would be up and running in no time. You also can’t just post signs on street corners and pray that clients will come knocking on your door. In the modern age, you need to go to them. You have to find clients, and one of the best ways to do it is via e-mail marketing.

10. Being Lazy

If you are under the impression that being a Boudoir photographer is easy, think again. You need to be extremely resourceful from the beginning. Not only are you the head honcho, lead photographer and master editor, you also are your own accountant, PR person and human resources department. You will be working 60 hour weeks minimum, often much more than that. Working for yourself is one of the hardest things you can do, and if you don’t LOVE it, you probably won’t make it. Eight-five percent of new businesses fail within the first year, 70 percent in the second year, and 60 percent in the third.

If you want to have the best chance of success, make sure your heart is in it to win it. It’s 10 years later and I still work around the clock, but when you love it, it’s not work! I feel blessed everyday to get up and work my ass off and before I know it, it’s 2 am.

Now that might be my relentless pursuit of perfection, but I’ll get into that later.

And here’s a bonus reason:

 11. Not Getting to Know Clients

Here’s the real zinger that most photographers fail to understand. Besides yourself, your clients are the most important people to your business. Without them, you would not have a business. Take the time to learn their  needs and go beyond meeting them. Build relationships with people so they not only hire you again, they refer their friends to you.

These are just a few pointers to help you get started, but if you have your own advice or if you have question, don’t hesitate to comment below.

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