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Great advice from a freelance photographer on making it on your own as a photographer.
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Want to have your own business? Be smart, be bold, and be organized.

It’s every photographer’s ambition to have their own business! Yet, this is where many aspiring artists struggle to turn that dream into a reality. No matter how truly talented you are or your skill level, creating a successful business is a process for everyone.

Equally important to know is what you want to do with your photography? You always have a choice to make this your sole livelihood, but it’s possible to have your own career and make money as a photographer. No matter what you choose, both paths will definitely require a great deal of self-discipline but there are people who enjoy having the best of both worlds!

Adrian DeJesus is a local photographer in Spencerport, NY who specializes in weddings, high school portraits, family sessions, and profile headshots. Unlike most photographers in upstate NY, photography is not entirely his sole occupation. In fact he’s one of the last people you would suspect of having any time for running a business!

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“Besides Photography. I work full time as a Fire & EMS Dispatcher. I am also a Volunteer Firefighter, Second Vice President and Assistant. Explorer Post Advisor at Spencerport Firemen’s Association. To top it off I am a Membership Director with the Greater Rochester Professional Photographers. So needless to say, I have a very tight schedule. I’m not going to say that it’s easy to keep everything straight!”

Part-time photography can be overwhelming for Adrian, but like most of us he had to start out small. If you’re struggling to balance photography into your life, check out these tips from someone who knows what it’s like…

 1.) Work Your Way Up!

Running any business is about embracing changes and improvements wherever possible and that doesn’t always mean an expensive new camera or lens. Adrian started out with a kit camera from circuit city and bought used equipment, but his current project to turn a 400 square foot space garage at home into a studio is just another example of how far he wants to push himself. Don’t be obligated to buy expensive, complicated equipment if you’re just starting out and take steps to make the most of what you have!

“Every year I analyze my business to see where I can improve or offer something unique that other photographers in my position can’t or don’t offer. Late last year I decided to convert a 440 square foot space in my home into a studio & meeting space where I can meet with clients, present their photos properly and hold sales sessions. It is still a work in progress, but it is nearing completion and I expect to be done early this summer.”

2.) Be Organized!

Life can be chaotic and many people who try to launch their own photography business can be overwhelmed by their personal life and other commitments. Always keep track of your priorities and workflow. Little things like mixing up appointments, forgetting to reply to requests or even following up with potential clients can leave a bad impression. Utilize cloud services and apps like Google to organize your daily life.

“I have a very tight schedule. I’m not going to say that it’s easy to keep everything straight. Everything I do is well documented on google calendar. All of my business email filters through Google, Information PDF’s live on Google Drive in case I need to share something with a client. My business line runs through google and so does my voicemail.  I don’t book anything without consulting my calendar and as soon as I receive a confirmation the first thing I do is make an entry. All of this of course syncs across all of my devices and is readily available to me whether I am at my computer or only have my phone. That accessibility definitely helps.”

3.) Network! Network! Network!

Don’t be afraid to reach out to and surround yourself with likeminded people. Photography is an ongoing competition to win new clients and stand out from other professionals, but that doesn’t have to make you an isolated rival. If you want to get ahead, keep in touch with the community and forge relationships. Even if you just want more clients, you never know which of your friends in the industry will make a referral to you!

“Join a local professional photography organization. Join a local networking organization regardless of industry. Join your local chamber of commerce or business association. Surround yourself with people and business’ that are going to lift you up. Support other small business’. Ask an established photographer to work as an assistant at some of their jobs. Don’t be afraid. Show your work off, ask for critiques, participate in critiques.  All of this will help you grow as a photographer and business person.”

Turning your photography into a business is a lot of work and there’s no way to sugarcoat that! One of the most important facts to learn from people like Adrian is that you’re going to make your fair share of mistakes, but don’t let those faults repeat themselves. Learn something from your negative experiences and apply it to your business to make yourself better and transform your hobby into a profession!

Check out more of Adrian’s work here!

What other tips do you have for having your own photography business? Let’s talk in the comments.

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