The New York Times recently ran a fascinating piece about mothers going into business as semi-pro photographers. The article described how some women are buying top-end digital SLR cameras to photograph their own children, and then earning extra income by taking pictures of other people’s children. It’s well worth a read.
There were a few points that really stood out though.
First, some of the women — and the article focused predominantly on women — were using some pretty creative marketing techniques. A few, for example, made business cards that included a picture of the last child they’d photographed and gave a handful to the client. When they felt they were passing on pictures of their little one, other mothers were happy to distribute the cards to friends and family.
The photographers also made a point of networking in the places they were most likely to find clients: playgrounds and parks. That certainly makes sense, and when it’s a place where you feel at home too, the networking should feel natural.
But although many of these part-time children’s photographers seem to find it easy to pick up jobs, few took a professional approach to their work. They didn’t know how much to charge (and often massively undercut professional portrait photographers), and they didn’t have a plan for future growth.
For some of these photographers though, those failings probably don’t matter. They’re likely to see their photography more as a hobby that brings in a little extra money than as a business that pays the bills. Seen that way, neither the income nor the long-term growth of their ‘business’ is important. Other photographers though will need to decide on a rate that allows them to pay for their equipment, their marketing costs and their own salaries, and understand how and when to invest for the future.
That’s something that all photographers who want to continue earning income from their pictures have to do.
It’s also worth noting though that few of the photographers were willing to photograph weddings, a major source of income for many professional photographers.
That isn’t surprising either. Wedding photography requires experience and a particular set of skills that have to be learned. The women profiled in the Times article were simply selling skills that they’d already learned photographing their own children.
And that’s really the secret to extending this sort of business into other areas.
If you’ve taken great pictures of your pets, your child’s sports events or your grandparents, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do the same thing for other people. You’d just need a camera, a set of business cards and a willingness to network among people just like you.
In the end, perhaps the most important point we can take away from this article is just how easy it is to become at least a semi-professional photographer and turn what you do fun into money.
[tags] women photographers, women in photography business, photography mothers [/tags]