Starting a photography business was just a dream for me. I looked at so many artists I admired and never realized that I could in fact do this as well. Many times you see challenges as ways to hold you back from your ambitions. I love pictures. I love what they mean. Could I really do it though?
July 20th was my 6 year anniversary of Brittani Gattis Photography. For the last 6 years, I have tried so many different things. Like many new photographers, I thought so many styles were cool that well to be honest, weren’t. I took classes, had incredible mentors and got to learn first hand next to a photographer who had won Time Magazine’s photo of the year. (He was so kind and gave me advice to help me get a photo I have always wanted. Thanks Dave!) I learned that taking the time to actually learn the craft was important, and as a result, I became a better photographer from it.
I decided on my anniversary that I wanted to give some new photographers some advice. Advice I wish I had at the very beginning.
~ Don’t join deal sites to build a client base. I had a very successful run on a few “deal sites” and well… I sold 200 vouchers and had to honor that in 1 year. I worked every weekend that year. I saw my husband maybe a few hours a week and date night consisted of editing. I made NO PROFIT. Also, out of 200 clients – I retained 30. 30 sounds great. 30 was minimal compared to the number of hours and time it took to get them.
~ You can’t start with beginner equipment. Yay, you just got your new camera. It’s everything you never thought you could have… I assure you – a basic kit won’t get you far in the photography world. You really need to build a solid collection of lenses and bodies. Yes, you need more than one camera. Back ups are everything.
~ Don’t feel like you have to copy others to accomplish good photos. Many times I see photographers copy an idea directly from others. It kinda bothers me. Yes, we all have similar poses, but changing the scene, location, and overall style of your photos makes you different. Originality is what makes you stand apart from others, embrace that.
~ Owning a photography business is great, but remember… it is a business. It’s not just taking pictures and editing images. You actually have a responsibility to register your business, pay taxes and maintain good business principles. I have done accounting for 10 years. I had experience in finance. This was extremely helpful for me. I highly recommend learning what goes into a business before opening one.
~ Lastly, don’t be afraid of others talent. I actually was ashamed at points to admit I was a photographer because so many people I thought were better than me. We all see art differently. We all have a different opinion of what looks best. One of my photography professors looked at an image and said I need more red in the photo. I added it and thought it look bad. I kept it anyway because she was the teacher. Another photography professional I showed it to said I added to much red. You won’t win all crowds.
I am happy I made it past the 5 year hump. Many new businesses fail in the first 5 years, but Brittani Gattis Photography made it through. I can’t thank my clients enough for the support and referrals. I can’t thank my clients enough for giving me the opportunity to accomplish my dream. Also, I want to thank my husband for being an assistant all these years without complaint. You are the best!
Here’s to another 6 years!