When you’re a newcomer to the photography world, it’s easy to make a few blunders. This is because you don’t yet have the big picture. That’s okay. All of us make mistakes when launching a new business. From my perspective, here are some 5 common mistakes new photographers make when beginning to make a name for themselves. I learned these mistakes firsthand from making them myself!
Common Photography Mistakes
1. Not Blogging Regularly
Blogging consistently is the best way to build the know/like/and trust factor. It’s easy nowadays to get a website up and running in no time flat. Back when I started, this wasn’t even an option. Set your blog to your home page and post at least once a week. Two times a week would be even better. Blogging is the best way to build your brand, gain exposure, and market your services.
Post about a variety of topics. Let your audience get to know you. Tell stories. Show your pictures. After all, photographers are really just storytellers so tell yours. Stories let your readers see you as a real person with faults and foibles. Let them peek into your life with all its nuances.
We all like to hire real people so nourish relationships with your readers. That’s the best marketing tactic there is. Share each and every post on social media. This is free marketing so take advantage of it. It’s another way to build your brand, and build trust with your target market.
2. Getting Caught Up In The Bells And Whistles
Don’t go overboard on equipment in the beginning. I did this. I thought I had to have all the newest gadgets to be successful. Hello, did I really need a cable release as a new photographer? Get a good-enough camera, and a zoom lens. This will enable you to get familiar with focal length. Learn how to white balance, and about Kelvin.
Be in control of how you expose your pictures by mastering your camera settings: F-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance. Always be on the look out for good lighting. Lighting is everything. Oh, and maybe grab a reflector. Instead of spending money on fancy equipment, spend time on learning your craft!
If your niche is wedding photography, you’ll need to invest in a good flash and monopod or tripod for when you photograph indoors. Think white balance here too – that’s an essential skill. Initially, however, get really comfortable with your camera settings so your pictures are exposed correctly. Thank goodness for autofocus lenses. A photo can be perfectly exposed, but if it’s out of focus, it’s a no go. Work on nailing focus.
3. Making It All About The Money In The Beginning
In the beginning, make getting comfortable with your camera settings a priority, and building your portfolio. If you have to grab friends and family for free, do it! It’s worth it. You are going to need the help of those closest to you. Think about the money down the road. Buckle down and get camera savvy. Learn composition.
If a customer isn’t happy with their pictures, acknowledge it, learn from it, and redo the shoot if possible. Or give them a complimentary gift to compensate – like a couple of 8x10s. It costs you pennies, but they’ll remember what you did for them. The customer is always right. That’s a truism in sales – whatever business you’re in.
Remember, people will always remember how you made them feel. That’s just how we’re wired. Use this to your advantage. It’s takes absolutely no time to go the extra mile, and make someone feel cared for.
And that, right there, is another form of free marketing! The customer is always right even if you don’t agree with them. And trust me, you won’t at times. Guarantee your work as much as is possible. People are paying good money for your services.
It’s easy, especially as a new photographer, to get your ego bruised. Find the strength to deal with your insecurities, and make sure your clients are satisfied with their final images. You know how you’d feel if you took the time to be photographed, and weren’t happy with the outcome. Plus, word-of-mouth referral is powerful, and you want to tap into this form of marketing.
4. Failing To Develop Your Own Style
I was so fired up when I first started my business, but so insecure as well, and downright scared at times. I was obsessed with other photographers’ styles. This is fine when you’re starting out. It’s how we all learn. At some point, however, you will clearly see your own style developing, which is exciting.
Trust that your style is unique, worthy, and special. Use the wonderful language of photography the way only you can. Trust your instincts and what you know.
Sure, you’ll make mistakes – plenty of them- in hindsight, you’ll see how far you’ve come, and you’ll be proud of yourself for perservering. There will be times you’ll want to give up. That’s normal for any business. Dust yourself off and get back in the saddle. If you stick with it, you’ll find yourself less frustrated, and less often.
Develop your people skills. Boy, are you going to need them. Be a people-person and a person who cares about people. Photography is a very personal art. To underscore this fact, think of a young bride planning out every single detail of her fairytale wedding, There’s a lot at stake, and many emotions at play. Be her ally – she is entrusting her special day to you.
5. Not Defining Your Niche Market
Think how many niches the field of photography encompasses: wedding photography, baby photography, family photography, fashion, commercial, real estate, seniors, headshots, landscapes, pet photography. You could keep yourself busy with any one of these niches.
Choosing just one, though, in which to specialize, lets you position yourself as an expert in that particular genre of photography. Additionally, your marketing strategies will be more focused. You’ll become more adept at what you do if you narrow your focus.
You will achieve much artistic growth and productivity by focusing on one specific niche. Try to imagine Ansel Adams, as not only a landscape photographer, but as a wedding photographer too. Somehow it just doesn’t jive. Or can you imagine Annie Leibowitz not being a portrait photographer, or Anne Geddes not photographing babies. The mind just can’t comprehend.
Of course, when you’re starting out, it may take awhile to figure out where your talent and passion lies – what your bent is. Once your get a hint of where to focus your efforts, go full steam ahead, and be the best you can be!
Photography is an awesome field to be in. Heck, if you just mastered the art for our own enjoyment it would be worth it. I deeply treasure the family pictures I have taken through the years. You can’t put a price on memories. Tell you story – let your vision, inspiration, and camera be your tools.
Are you a new or seasoned photographer? Let me know in the comments:)