I believe that there are five major components found in every successful studio. Different studios may have more strength in some categories versus others, but I don’t believe a studio can survive the long haul if they are seriously deficient in any one of these. This week, I am going to break down one of these elements of success each day, and offer steps you can implement right away if you think you come up short in any of the categories. Proficiency in all of these areas is a process . . . and one that I still work on daily in my own business. I hope many of you will join me in the hopes to become better in all of these areas!
Today, we’ll start at the very beginning. For me,, the very base of successful studio ownership is a working knowledge of how to create consistently good photographs. You don’t have to be a master photographer who has won awards many times over (although that wouldn’t hurt!), but you do have to be able to regularly create strong images that are better than what your clients can produce! If you’re unsure about the quality of your work, take a good, objective look at it and ask yourself if what you’re producing is really professional-grade. Far too often, I see photographers tout themselves as “professionals” when their images are really of a snapshot quality.
If you are honest with yourself, and you feel your work is not of a professional quality, I want to encourage you to stop selling your photography (just temporarily) and focus on practicing instead. Launching your business before your work is at a professional level does a lot of damage all around. It is sad for the clients who were counting on portraits that should be cherished family heirlooms. It is sad for the photographer, as she builds a reputation for selling poor photography, which may stick even after her skills improve. It is sad for the industry, as that photographer just lowered the bar on the public’s expectation of what the quality (and usually price) should be for truly professional photography. Instead of doing this damage, here is what I’d like to encourage you to consider doing instead:
- Join PPA, WPPI, and your local photography guilds. The education available through them is amazing and typically very economical!
- Look for mentoring programs and workshops in which hands-on photography training is included. (MWC will be launching a program this summer – be sure to join our e-newsletter list if this is something you are interested in.)
- Practice, practice, practice with friends and family – for free – until you feel confident that you are controlling the outcome of the images.
If you take a good look at your work and you honestly feel you are producing professional-quality portraits, congrats! If you’re like me, though, you may still be very critical of your images, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! While I do feel that I create professional images, I know that I can continue to improve my craft. I hope some of you feel the same way. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Enter print competitions. Both PPA and WPPI offer great competitions in which you can enter your work, and receive feedback from extremely knowledgeable professionals.
- Hold practice sessions just for the sake of learning or perfecting a skill.
As we go through this series, I hope you all know that I wish the very best for you, no matter where you are in the journey of building the photography business of your dreams. Have a great day friends!