Building Your Photography Business as an Amateur or a Professional

One of the focuses of this blog is to help you build up a professional photography studio. For the most part, we focus on writing about the business and marketing side (with an occasional article on becoming a better photographer).

And through your comments on such posts as

The Pendulum Swing of Photography
Wedding Photography-It’s Not That Easy
Photography Studio – Going Out Of Business
The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

I know you also agree there is a difference between the two. But how do you get the consumer to believe there is a difference? And more importantly, how do you get them to pay for the difference.

The first thing to keep in mind is there are always people that will pay for what they love. Some people love the idea of traveling, and will scrimp and save to be able to visit exotic locations every year. Some people love driving an expensive car, and will live in a small apartment, investing a high percentage of their monthly salary on their vehicle.  And some people love memories, and will pay a professional very well to have an amazing portrait of their family every year.

No matter what type of photography you choose to specialize in, how many clients do you need to succeed?  If you photograph weddings, how many per year will make you the income you desire? Or if you are a stock photographer, how many images do you have to sell every year? Knowing this number now will help you with your marketing in 2009. Reach out for this goal, and put it in perspective.

Next, you have to shoot as a professional. Take a serious look at your own work. Is it just an average portrait – potentially one they could even take in their own home with a good digital camera? Or is it something that makes them say WOW!


A true professional will be able to take images that you simply can’t get at home. They reach beyond the normal, and go for the WOW factor. They give their clients a little bit more. And they also give a complete package. Your client should never have to take their portrait to a frame shop – everything should be included, from beginning to end.

So with all of this in mind, what should your goals be for 2009?

1. Treat your business like a business. Establish yourself as a professional, and tell the world you are a professional photographer.

2. Create a complete customer service business. Provide everything from beginning to end. Include complete packages, including framing. (Maybe you even go in and install.) The idea is to be thorough in all you do.

3. Give 110%. You can’t expect your clients to pay for average – they want the WOW. Attend classes with mentors. Practice. Practice. Practice. Do everything you can to become the best you can be.

4. Teach your clients to see the difference. If you look like an image they can create at home, they won’t see the difference. And they won’t pay. But if you give them something they could never accomplish on their own – and could never get from another photographer – you can sell well.

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