Last night I posted a question on my page asking what struggles you go through as a photographer...this was wonderful...I think many of us felt better just by knowing we are not alone! I've compiled a list of several of your questions and I will do my best to answer them in my perspective...it may not be the right answer but it works for me! Here goes!
1. Pricing? - This was the most asked question...pricing! Ugh...this is a difficult one! How do you know how to price and how do you know how when to raise your prices? Well, here's my answer... There is no "right" price for everyone! You have to set your prices according to you! I started out with $50 sessions with CD and I gradually just started raising them as I improved! It is also very important to raise your prices as you start to upgrade your equipment. Many people don't understand why I have raised my prices as I have but I have much more overhead than I did when I first started! I now have more expensive equipment, I attend workshops and I pay an assistant. With growth comes more expenses and you must compensate for that. I also realized that I was working so much that I was totally forgetting my family! I had to find a way to still pay the bills but not work so much...it was a hard decision, I have lost clients but I've also gained new clients and my bills are being paid. I just had to trust God and do what was best for me and my family...that is what is most important.
2. Give CD's or sell prints? - This has caused much debate in the photography world! I'm not going to say one way or the other is the right way but I had to make a decision on what was best for me! I have decided to charge a flat rate and include the CD ( my pricing structure can be found on my website, www.juliepaisleyphotography.com ) I made this decision because I would rather spend more time shooting and not ordering, packaging, delivering products. Just pick what is best for you!
3. Marketing? - Well, my answer to this is Facebook! I have only used FB and word of mouth to build my business! I put myself out there, I answer questions and that is all I have done. Networking is huge, I have made so many friends in this business and I LOVE it!!!
4. Confidence? - Hmmm....still working on that one! It's so hard...I still look at my images and want to compare them to others...DON'T DO IT!!! YOU are YOU! Don't compare yourself to others, just keep working harder to better yourself! I have actually stopped looking at other photographers sites, especially those who are close. Stay away from the blogs and just focus on your work, not anyone else.
5. Competition? - See #4! Stay off local photogs pages. You will see your former clients on their page, especially if you have increased your prices. It happens...sometimes people just can't afford you any longer...don't take it personally and move on. I have had clients tell me that they value me and my work...they may not come see me as often but they will continue to use me...I have also had clients talk bad about me because I have raised my prices...you just have to brush it off and move on! I don't see others as competition and if I lose a client to them...it's ok! I've also learned that sometimes it's God's blessing in disguise because that client might not be a good fit with you anyway...there are so many people out there...go find the others!
6. How to get sessions? - I started out with Free sessions...yes...everyone does...use an idea you have, do a casting call and make that shoot awesome! Post it on FB, and your blog...promote it death!!! Offer specials, work on your portfolio, you must have work to show for people to trust you...it's hard but you can do it! Everyone has to start somewhere...I worked my butt off for a year before I felt like I could call myself a "photographer". I think you need to earn your keep...don't think you can buy a camera and be successful the next day...it takes work...get your name out there, believe in yourself...you can do it!
7. Will a better camera make me better? Hmmm...yes and no! If you do not know the basics, lighting, manual camera settings, understanding how to focus your subject properly, a better camera will not help! Master what you have first, then move on!
8. How can I have sharp images? - Learn how to work your camera! I use the back focus button and it makes all the difference for me! Be deliberate with you focus points. Don't just point and shoot! Move your focus point to where you want it and be precise! Oh and practice, practice, practice!!!
9. How to keep clients from canceling? Make them pay a deposit! For mini-sessions, I require my clients to prepay...I learned this the hard way!
10. Lighting? I only use natural light, even indoors. I recommend using prime lenses with low aperture so you can let in as much light as possible! Find a window and shoot beside it! When you are outdoors, use it, it's amazing! I like to shoot into the sun...I do test shots and I always meter for the face...I constantly change my settings...that is key!
Ok...there are more questions and answers but they will come later...I must go to bed! :) Oh and please forgive the typos...I'm so tired and many times my brain works faster than my fingers! ;)