Getting Down to Business
Now that I am on my way to being organized (more about that later), it is time to move on to the business of being a photographer. This is probably the most difficult aspect of transitioning from hobbyist to professional, but it is essential. There is so much to learn and think about: marketing, promotional materials, website building and management, financial, taxes, and more. While it is challenging, it can also be fun and creative. Did I really say that? Yes, I did; and here are a few examples. Check them out for yourself, and let me know if you did or did not find them to be informative, inspirational, and helpful in any way.
Online Webinars / Seminars / Podcasts / Audio Resources
Creative Live - One of my favorites. They have a regular schedule covering a variety of topics relative to photography, business start-ups, and other peripheral topics of interest to entrepreneurs, artists, and others. Recently they have completed or scheduled several topics related to startups. They deliver live content, with interactive chat rooms; all free for the watching. If you missed it, they will do free re-watches. People from all around the world are listening in and participating. The courses can also be purchased, usually for under $150, some as low as $29. Discounts are given if you purchase during the live broadcast and for a short time after. Courses usually last anywhere from 1 to 3 days.
For example, Jasmine Star ReSTARt http://www.creativelive.com/courses/restart-jasmine-star (3rd and final session will be on March 6).
In January, Creative Live topics included Building a Profitable Portrait Studio with Bambi Cantrell, the Right-Brain Business Plan with Jennefer Lee, and many others.
Kristen Kalp Brand Camp http://www.brandcampblog.com/
I just started following this, seems there are a lot of spin-offs with good information.
Sarah Petty’s The Joy of Marketing http://www.thejoyofmarketing.com/
Sarah Petty has great ideas and her enthusiasm level is tremendously uplifting.
There are lots of resources available on the internet, facebook, Youtube, etc. Many of them can be found just by checking out the three examples above.
Hands-on / in person
If you prefer hands on, in-person, there are lots of opportunities in the local Chicago area.
Local Colleges: Chicago has many of these, with some great photography programs. I am currently taking classes at the College of DuPage. (A great bargain tuition-wise, and a great staff in the Photography Department). Here is a starting point: http://www.cod.edu/photo/
In addition to a variety of technical courses, there is the Professional Practices course for Photographers. This semester, there is a Career Boot Camp, a 5-week intensive class jointly sponsored by the Photography, MPTV departments. These classes include guest speakers, many of them alumni of the program, and always actively pursuing their craft. There are field trips, lots of homework assignments with specific and practical applications, and great networking opportunities.
Self Employment in the Arts (SEA) - http://www.selfemploymentinthearts.com/.
This weekend, February 22 and 23, is the 13th Annual SEA Conference. Hands-on practitioners in Performing, Literary, Media and Visual Arts fields will share their knowledge and experience during this 2-day jam-packed conference. Topics include finding clients, alternative income options, crowdfunding, networking, financial management, and many other subjects of interest to those wishing to pursue a career in photography or other artistic areas.
SPE (Society for Photographic Education)
This year’s SPE conference, the 50th, is being held in Chicago, at the Palmer House, from March 7 - 10. https://www.spenational.org/conference. While the focus is not on the business aspects of photography per se, this is a great place to network, meet other professionals and students, and learn from many educator/practitioners. In addition to individual presentations, panel discussions, and caucuses, there are exhibits and portfolio reviews.
Filter Photo Festival
The Filter Photo Festival http://www.filterfestival.com/ also deserves mention here, since it provides a connection point between producing art and presenting it in a public way. This is a ‘community’ whose mission is to “connect emerging, mid-level, and professional photographers from across the country with gallerists, educators, curators, editors, and other elite photo professionals, focusing particularly on those of the Midwest.”
Coinciding with the SPE conference, the Filter Festival is running the exhibit Archetype Drift, from March 6 - 23; opening reception on March 6. Covering new methods of photography-making, the exhibit is held at Johalla Projects on Hubbard Street in Chicago. The Filter Festival website explains “Johalla Projects was established in the fall of 2009 by Anna Cerniglia as a venue for emerging and mid-career artists.”
This weekend, offerings include Thursday, February 21, at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) where Curator Allison Grant will give a guided tour of original landscape photography from the MoCP permanent collection; including works from Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, Terry Evans, Mark Klett, An-My Le, Richard Misrach, and Eliot Porter. Other events include exhibition talks on Friday, February 22, at the Milwaukee Art Museum and reception for “Subway” series at the Kasia Kay Art Projects on Aberdeen Street in Chicago.
If these are too ‘short-notice’ for you to participate, mark your calendar for the annual Filter Photo Festival event in downtown Chicago on September 25 - 29. This includes workshops, lectures, tours, panel discussions, networking events, and portfolio reviews - all designed to help emerging photographers get to the next level.
One final thought - there are many ways to learn about photography and the business of photography. Just as we can learn from teachers, peers, professionals, and others about what makes a “successful” image, we can learn from associates, professionals, entrepreneurs, and even clients about what makes a successful photography business. What worked for someone else may not be the thing that works for you, but there are plenty of ideas and techniques out there to choose from; and there are plenty of generous people in all of those categories who are willing to share what they know and have learned.
How about you? What are some of your favorite resources for getting your photography business on a path towards success?