Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why You Should Shoot for Free when Starting a Photography Business.

Why You Should Shoot for Free when Starting a Photography Business.

People now ask me all the time to photograph them. They want to pay me to shoot them. I love it. Who
wouldn't They also tell me that I do an amazing job and that my images should be in magazines. Again, what photographer wouldn't love that.

My students ask me all the time how I got to this point. So, here is the secret. I worked my butt off. I shot for a whole year pretty much for free!! There are several reason why I shot for free and I am going to tell you them. There is good and bad with this just like anything else. I could have shot for a little money and made some extra cash. So why didn't I do that?

The reasons I shot for free.
Now first I must say that I didn't do every thing for free. I did take some paid jobs and if someone offered to pay I did not turn them down. 

Here is my theory why it is better to shoot for free than to charge a little. A lot of photographers start out and really, need practice. So they don't charge a lot. They want to draw business. The charge half of what others charge and they make a little money. They build a small client base. Then as they want to make more  money they raise their prices. this causes a major problem. The client base they build is not the client base they want and the client base can no longer afford the photographer. Also, they are not shooting the clients they want to shoot. 

Another problem is that when you are starting out you need a lot of practice and you need to build a great portfolio. When you are only taking paying client you don't enough practice and you don't get to chose the people you photograph. They choose you. 

A long time ago I decided that if I was going to do photography i needed to make it worth my while. I have bill and a family. I need to save for retirement. I want a nice car sooner or later. Why would a be a starving artist and end up working forever. I can not give up my dream. My dream is to retire early and live is a big city and walk around and shoot street photography. 

If I shoot a session and make 200 dollars I can't reach my goals. Why would I Give up my financial goals to do photography? I wouldn't. It is my personal belief that I am responsible for myself. I am not going to count on someone else to pay my bills or pay for me to retire. I have to do it. So, If I want to work full-time in photography then I have to make it so I can reach my goals. 

Those are a few of the main reasons I used to shoot for free. I still do sometimes but I am now on the way to getting paid good for what I love to do!! 

Brian Johnson is the owner of Missoula Photography School, Buffaloz Photography Training and Ayres Photography. He pretty much almost always has a camera on him. Actually, he usually has at least 4. He likes to teach and shoot and loves to learn. Yeah, even after 25 years of learning he is still trying to figure stuff out! Aren't we all?

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