Becoming a professional, full-time event photographer is an exciting prospect – but it's going to take some work! You've got to combine your artistic skills with sound business practices and a hefty dose of professionalism. Here are six tips that can help you progress from an amateur hobbyist to a lucratively self-employed pro.
Learn from the best.
If you really want to shorten your learning curve, you'll need to work with at least a few seasoned professionals. Find local photographers who are getting work hand over fist, and ask them to second shoot – for free if need be! Pay attention to all the little details while they work: the way they shoot, how they work a crowd and what they say to clients and attendees. At worst, you'll gain loads of useful experience. At best, you'll have a contact who might one day send work your way!
Build your track record.
No matter how great a photographer you are, almost nobody will pay you a professional rate until you've established a great track record. A friend or referral might be willing to “take a chance” on a budding pro, but those kinds of offers are few and far between. So, you'll probably need to take a few low-paying jobs to build your portfolio and a reliable list of references. (You may even need to work a few events for free.) No matter the rate, give it your all and exceed your clients' expectations. With a few solid gigs under your belt, you'll be able to quickly raise your rates.
Processing makes perfect.
You can shoot like a pro, but can you find the most marketable gems among hundreds of shots? Your customers will be paying for your artistic eye as much as your camera skills, and they'll expect polished layouts and albums. If you're a one-man show, you'll also need to get comfortable with digital editing, printing and order processing. Polish every detail of your operation to get the best rates and referrals.
Don't play into the artist stereotype; stay organized! Build your business plans and sales targets ahead of time so you're ready to sell once you've taken your shots. Event photography is all about capturing emotions, and you need to make your offers while customers' memories are still fresh. Wait a week (or more), and you'll likely lose most of your sales.
Act – and look – like a pro.
A customer's first impression of your business is YOU, so look the part! Dress well, speak confidently, and exude professionalism whenever you deal with event attendees. This is especially important for weddings, banquets and other high-class events where the guests themselves are dressed to impress. And, when in doubt, remember it's always better to overdress than underdress.
Marketing and networking are critical, but your photography skills will ultimately determine your success. Whether you're opening up shop tomorrow or planning a future career, start shooting as often as possible today. Treat your own life events like job sites, and keep an ear out for small opportunities. You need to build that portfolio anyway, so you might as well practice your craft!
If you are ready to take the plunge as a professional photographer, consider investing in your own traveling studio. Contact Fujifilm to learn more about the bizziBOX® today.