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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Keeping Your Photography Business Alive

Or -

Getting Started in Professional Photography - How to Do it the Wrong Way

Kind of a funny title isn't it? Usually we don't approach subjects like this from the negative, but the positive, such as "how to do it right". But I really wanted to bring attention to the fact that making a small mistake (or what you think is a small mistake) when promoting your photography business can backfire on you, and you can kill your business dead before it ever gets started.

I don't very often write about this kind of thing, but it crossed my path this morning on seeing a post from a photographer I've sort of known for years - he and his wife have managed to grow their photo opportunities from micro-stock "getting started portfolios" to a large and growing commercial business. They did it the hard way - good old fashioned hard work, trial and error, honesty and well, just being great at what they do. If you want to learn a few things, they offer some online tutorials, and training - you can visit them at "Shoots" 

Sean's Photo
©Sean Nel
(used with permission)
He'd discovered one of his stock images in another photographer's portfolio.  And before anyone asks, no, they didn't use the image without permission, they bought a stock license to use it for advertising.

Whether or not using it as your own in your portfolio is considered advertising or not is something else - I'm not sure this is the kind of advertising you'd expect someone to use it for. Once word got around (as it always does), at least one other friend from my microstock days noticed one of her images in the portfolio of this photographer.

Right away you begin to wonder just how many of the photos in her own portfolio are, well, really her own?

So my peeps, here's the thing. THIS is not the way to start your business, nor is it the way to advertise your business. Think about this for a few minutes. Here you are, reading my post and I can just bet you are aghast at the obvious faux pas here. When you are trying to prove how good you are as a professional photographer, you DO NOT use other people's work as your own. You do not misrepresent advertising images as your own photos. The entire point of having a website for a photographer is to showcase their work, and if you are getting into photography, you better have some work worth showing to your potential clients. If you don't, then you shouldn't be showing them anything.

If you don't have enough work of your own, then show what you do have - it doesn't matter if you have six or eight or two hundred. Your potential clients want to see what YOU can do ... not what some other great photographer can do.

Promote your work professionally - be honest in all your dealings with your clients, and your potential clients. After all, your business is on the line.  This girl made one of the biggest mistakes of all - she forgot that integrity makes the business grow and survive.  Engendering a lack of trust from your clients is not a good way to get started, so when you decide to make the jump to set up your own business (small or otherwise), remember to do it the right way.






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