Just a brief update today to let you know my work has just been published in Issue 76 of Photo Professional Magazine this month, along with a short interview. The magazine approached me in December on the back of a recommendation from the good folks over at PhotoShelter. They were producing a special feature covering every aspect of launching a photography business and wanted to get some insights from me on my own experiences.
This is how they describe the article on their website – “New year, new career… – We’ve teamed up with top website provider PhotoShelter to put together a 16-page supplement for those turning professional and others aiming to give their set-up a more professional edge. This is crammed with invaluable advice – how to tell the world you’re out there, through to attracting clients, creating a marketing plan and networking.
I thought you might be interested in reading the answers I gave to the questions they posed and so I’ve shared them below;
:: Can you give me a few brief details please about your business and the specialty you’re offering?
My primary areas of specialisation is a combination of Irish Landscapes and Botanical images. I cover the gamut in terms of Landscape genre’s from Landscapes to Seascape, Colour & B&W and I continue to work towards covering every county across the Isle. However I combine this with a very strong portfolio of botanical work particularly floral macro imagery. It this combination I feel sets me apart from the majority of my competitors in Ireland.
Up until recently my main source of revenue has been through selling Fine Art prints, both through my Website and art fairs. This year however I have won a number of commissions which has really helped me break into the commercial space and begin building some very constructive relationships with larger Commercial Clients.
:: How long have you been a professional photographer and how did you set about breaking in?
I am actually still working towards gaining a solid enough platform both in terms of revenue and a recurring clients/referral network before I take the step into Photography being a full time occupation. This year has really propelled me along that path and with the expanding commercial client relationships I am building I am feeling very confident about taking that next step within the next 12 to 18 months.
:: Has it helped you to have a strong speciality in order to differentiate your business?
Absolutely, I think it is critical. As a culture I think we have lost sight of the value of the “master craftsman”; the specialist if you will. And while I don’t claim to be a Master Craftsman I do feel strongly that being able to show commitment to a specialist area, and deliver consistency in that area resonates strongly with potential clients. I mentioned above that my value prop is the combination of Irish Landscape and Botanical Imagery and indeed one of the largest commissions I won this year, a 12 month project, was based on that very specialist focus and the fact no-one in the region could compete with my portfolio.
:: What advice would you give to someone trying to set up as a professional photographer these days?
First and foremost you need to understand what it means to be a professional photographer. If you ask the average non-photographer they will probably tell you it is someone with a professional camera that can take brilliant pictures. Ask someone in our industry and they will tell you it is someone who earns their primary income from photography. But its those and more; you need to deliver top quality, under pressure, consistently and on time, on budget and within brief. You need to take the very best care of your clients which often means doing things other then taking pictures. You will live and die by your reputation so protect it.
:: When you’re creating a new business from scratch, what are the most important things to be aware of?
Match your aspirations to the economic and commercial realities of the market you are entering. I operate in a saturated market with an incredible number of talented hobbyist and professional photographers producing amazing landscape images every day. You need to figure out what will set you apart from your competition; assess if that difference is of value to your target market and, assuming it is, make sure you position that proposition at every opportunity.