12 Stages Of Running A Photography Business

1. Excitement
This is it, I hate my job and I want more out of life. I love photography and know beyond a doubt that this is my passion. I see myself as a great photographer, taking images people truly love and care about. I’m going to be the first in my family to own my own business, and I’m going to control my destiny by making it a success.

2. Confidence
All the pieces are falling into place. I can see my dreams coming true, I have my business card in hand, and people are giving me a lot of great response. I can do this!

3. Anxiety
Oh my gosh, why aren’t they calling me back? Can I really do this? Maybe I need to ask for more hours at work. How can I ever find enough people to keep me busy all the time? Do other people really do this for a living?

4. Fantasy
I know, I’m going to start a routine. Get up early, work for 3 hours on nothing but social media, and change my ways. I think I’ll create an entire new campaign, and advertise in all the local publications. I’m going to have an article in the local paper, and be so busy next month I won’t know what to do. Everyone is going to love and refer me, and I’ll be the most talked about new business here in my city…

5. Procrastination
I’m really going to start that new routine … tomorrow. Today I have to go to my daughter’s teacher conference. And the dog needs to go to the vet. Oh, my mom called, “Hi Mom…” I think I’ll go check my email – what did she say on Facebook?

6. Realization
Hey, I guess the only way it’s going to happen is if I do it.

7. Determination
Okay, I really can do this. I’m going to try one new thing this week – not go into overwhelm. I’ll spend one hour marketing, then reward myself with an hour at the gym.

8. Apprehension
I’m getting the routine down. I have new things in place. But are they really going to work? How long until I see results? I really will see results, right?

9. Anticipation
Okay, patience is a virtue. I know I’m going to succeed. I know I’m going to succeed. I’ll just stick to the routine, and I WILL see results.

10. Purpose
I see it now. It’s there. It’s working. This is what is going to bring me my financial independence. This is what I will enjoy doing for the rest of my life.

11.Self Assurance
I really can do this. I did it, and I know I can keep doing it forever. I’ve got it figured out, and part of that is knowing I need to keep learning forever.

12. Evaluation
Am I in the perfect place for me? What else can I bring into my life that helps me enjoy what I do even more?

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7 thoughts on “12 Stages Of Running A Photography Business”

  1. Well I’ve started running in the last few weeks and I go for a run before I start the day… does that mean I’m at stage 7? I feel more at 8 or 9 🙂

  2. Great article! thanks for posting. I can (as can all vocational photographers) identify with each of these stages.

  3. Great post, though you have left something vital out of it, business acumen. you need this to survive. I have been trained in business administration, I have handled accounts, and worked under some great businessmen, I recieved a vocational education and had to serve an apprenticeship.

    I am also trained (proper schooling and apprenticeship) in several key parts of photography. I have the experience and background to turn my hand at many disciplines.

    I wish that digital had never been invented, because I am losing work to amateurs under selling their work and time. Invariably they let their clients down thus sullying the business. The worst thing is that now clients that have been tainted put so many restrictions on contracts and working conditions it becomes difficult to work. My baseline price for a wedding is £800 however even on that cheap package the clients would recieve the best high end support, photography and best business practice. i found a amateur charging £150 for a wedding and not supplying any of the services that I provide. Due to the recession clients want everything on the cheap, by that photographer underselling in the market place, the threshold of financial acceptance becomes lower by prospective clients.

    A cheap digital camera, a subscription to Strobist (sorry David), and the latest version of photoshop does not make you a professional photographer. Passion and creativity only gets you so far.

    If you want to run a business, learn business skills, respect the integrity of other businesses, that is a long way before picking up a camera body.

    Absolutely fed up with amateurs diluting the market, you wouldnt have a amateur brain surgeon would you?

    Get educated, get an apprenticeship and do it the hard way, the best way to learn.

    • Great comments Richard. I couldn’t agree more. I have a Masters degree in business, and still to this day take as many business related courses as I do photography. I also teach the same number, but that’s a different story! There is so much to running a successful business, and it isn’t all about underpricing the competition. The only way to be great is to learn from greatness, and strive for it yourself.

  4. I have been told that the digital age has made the world flat and that competition can come from anywhere, at any time. Competition and pricing is always a challenge to business. I have been told that you need to re-evaluate your marketing or branding approach to compete in today’s market. Some have even said that competition from startups and new entrants can benefit the established professionals if they adapt. I don’t disagree that it is a challenge and I don’t have a solutions. That is one of the reasons I am reading blogs like this one. I am trying to understand what I need to do to improve my position. Education and experience are always valuable and make you better at what you do but some people could just grab their cameras and shoot the events on their own. It might not be a professional photo, but it is always the memory that is important to the client. My thanks to Virtual Photography for trying to assist other photographers in becoming a better business.

  5. @Richard- If you have business acumen, you’d know there’s no point in complaining about people undercutting you. It happens in every industry, you have to deal with it or get out of the business. Too many people complain about getting undercut and not doing anything about. Step up your photography and charge a higher price. Get into a niche no-one else is in. If you are worrying about getting undercut don’t compete on a price point and it won’t bother you. Everyone starts out that way, I’d say someone who has a subscription to strobist, has photoshop, and has a cheap digital camera is off to a good start. A lot of amateurs are better than their “professional” counterparts.


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