Prepare Your Photography Business

And here we are – we are ending one decade to start another. 2020 has a nice sound to it, doesn’t it?

At the end of each year, I like to assess how my year went with my businesses and plan for the next year. In this post I will talk about how to prepare your photography business for 2020.

I’ll talk about a few things to consider for those just starting their photography journey, along with some helpful thoughts for those that have been shooting for a while.

Here are 10 things to do for your business in the new year.

Business Icon1 – Get Your Business Legit!

If you are just starting out, OR you’ve been shooting for a while under the radar (you know who you are!), this is the time to get your business set up properly.

There’s a few things that goes into this, so check out this post to help you with that – How To Legally Become A Photographer. Please keep in mind that every city, county, and state has different requirements for setting up a business, so you will have to do some research for your area.

With the info I am sharing with you, at least now you will know the questions to ask the professionals you need to hire to help set up your business.

computer icon2 – Get Your Website Live Or Updated If You Already Have One

Your website will always be on your to-do list. So I don’t want you to feel bad about this. If you are just starting out, you will need to work on getting your first website up and running. See this post for info about that – What Images Are Needed In Your Food Photography Portfolio.

For those of you who have been shooting for a while, what do you want to change on your website? Any new images to add? And what about your SEO (search engine optimizing), how’s that going? Are you showing up when people google for your targeted key words? The Google changes all the time with this stuff, so Google your name and your key words, and see where you stand in the organic results.

Now, if you are struggling with this, I am doing a coaching program that has not been announced publicly yet called “Websites That Click”. It starts in January, so email me if you would like more info about this – we start January 6th, and there are only a couple spots left as we only take a very limited amount of photographers for this program.

Search Icon3 – Assess The Jobs You Did For 2019 OR The Jobs You Would Like To Do

Each year, I like to look at the jobs I did for the year. How did those clients find me (you are asking all your clients how they found you, right??)? Are those the clients I want to attract? If yes, that’s awesome, now we need more of them.

What clients do I want to work for? I then make a target list of prospects to go after. So, whether you are just starting out, or you’ve been shooting for a while, the task is the same. What clients do you want to shoot for in 2020? Make a list. These will be your targets for 2020.

Money Bag Icon4 – What Are Your Financial Goals For 2020?

Your financial goes will dictate how many jobs you will need to take in each month. Hopefully you have worked out what you need to bring in each month just to be at zero. Then above and beyond that, how much money do you want to make each month?

This question will tell you how many jobs you will need to find for the year. Then, break that down for how many jobs you will need per month. This is your target goal.

Camera on Tripod5 – Where Are You Still Challenged With Your Photography?

What do you still want to learn as a photographer? If you are just starting out, there can be several things here so – just work on one thing at a time. Do not get overwhelmed, and do NOT start comparing yourself to others in ways that will make you feel bad. Instead, look at other photographers you admire for inspiration, not comparison.

Pick one thing that you know you struggle with, and work on mastering that, then move on to the next challenge.

If you are an experienced shooter, I am quite sure there is a fun plugin you haven’t tried yet with Capture One Pro, or maybe there is some new equipment that would be fun to experiment with. Think of what that would be, and make that a goal for 2020.

Light Stand6 – What Equipment Do You Need To Budget For?

Many photographers who are just starting out are shocked when I tell them that I have a good $100K at least on my “to buy” equipment list. Here’s the deal. there will ALWAYS be equipment that you want, but the real question is, what do you actually need?

So, if you are just starting out, make a list of the equipment that you absolutely must have in order to do the jobs that you want to get next year. The bare minimum, for now – camera, a few lenses, tripod, and artificial lights.

If you have been shooting for a while, make a list of equipment that you need to get that is replacing, or upgrading gear that really is a must have.

Side note, the Leica M10-P White limited edition for $14,494 is NOT a piece of equipment that will be a must have for anyone, unless you won the lottery and it’s for fun. This is a real thing – the fancy camera market. I fell off my chair when looking for special limited edition cameras just now. These cameras are NEVER a must have in order for us to do our jobs.

Leica and Hasselblad have been doing this for decades. You do not need these fancy cameras. Do we all need a Tesla, no. Are they beautiful, of course. Will it help make your business money, no.

I have an older Phase One digital back that works great. Phase one has a new, amazing digital back that is $50,000. I would love to have that digital back. Do I need that camera for my jobs as a food photographer? No, I don’t. Would I love to have one anyway, yes I would. The reality is though, if I really did need it for a job, I could rent it.

Don’t go down that photography equipment rabbit hole, thinking that the fancy gear will make you a better photographer. Mastering your equipment is what makes you a better photographer.

Lighthouse Icon7 – Find Support For Your Photography Education And Business

These days people are becoming photographers without going to school to learn how to do photography. This fascinates me. I think it’s the whole “you don’t know what you don’t know” premise. So these people who are calling themselves photographers don’t realize a massive world that they never learned, or haven’t learned yet.

I’m not saying you have to go to college to become a professional photographer. I’m saying that you do need to learn everything about how to do the type of photography you want to do, and master it. So, how will you do that?

When I was thinking about being a photographer (this was before the internet), there was no other option to learn photography, you had to go to school for this, or apprentice with someone who was already a photographer. I chose to go to school. I went to school for many years, I have two degrees, and I am thankful every day for what I learned.

What those colleges did NOT teach me was the business of photography. In all my years, it was hardly mentioned.

Now people get a camera, watch a few YouTube videos, and call themselves a professional photographer (which totally waters down those of us who have been doing this for decades, but that’s a different conversation).

All Caps On Purpose: PEOPLE, YOU CANNOT LEARN ANY PROFESSION BY YOURSELF FROM YOUTUBE VIDOES!!!!!!!!

Seriously, the only way to learn any profession is with support, mentorship, coaching, training, practice, and education.

Randomly searching on YouTube for how to do something could really teach you some bad habits.

I am constantly correcting bad information that my students, and photographers that I am coaching have learned from YouTube or other articles. It’s shocking actually.

So you need to find the support and mentorship from someone who is actually shooting for a living, and still making money at it. You need to work with someone who is shooting what you want to shoot!!!! There are a ton of “business photography coaches” out there.

Many of them have not shot an actual job in years. Do they currently shoot what you want to do??? If they don’t, how are they going to teach you what you want to do? A portrait shooter cannot coach you to shoot food and get food clients.

If their profession was not dependent on finding food photography clients, how on earth are they going to help you find food photography clients in today’s market?

Now, if you want to learn how to do commercial food photography, I can help you with that. If you want to learn how to do other types of photography, I can certainly help you find the right coach for you. Just email me.

Aperture Icon8 – Do Some Experimenting With Your Photography

As photographers, we all have things that we gravitate towards to photograph. It’s easier for us. It’s more comfortable for us. We have a certain way of doing things with that discipline.

For 2020, I suggest you do some experimenting with your photography. Now, if you are just starting out, you do need to concentrate on your first love, maybe food, portraits, etc.

If you find yourself falling into the same patterns – same camera angle, same light, same type of prop placement, then it might be time to mix things up.

You need to look at this as testing. You are just trying something out with no goal in mind necessarily. See if you even like shooting this new subject matter. The entire point is to see if you like this way of shooting.

If you don’t like the subject matter, or way of shooting, that’s awesome. That means you now know that if this type of client approaches you for a job, you probably won’t like it. If you don’t like that type of job, that probably means you won’t do a very good job at it, so it’s best to turn that down and put efforts into another prospect that you would be excited to shoot for.

So, think of something you’ve been curious about shooting, and do some test shoots to see how you like it.

Design Icon9 – Find New Stylists To Test With

If you are a food photographer, you will eventually have to work with a food stylist. Now, there are several of you out there that claim you do all your own food styling. That is great in the blogging world. If you want to do commercial food jobs with clients, you will most likely have to work with a food stylist.

The best way to plan for this is to start doing some testing with food stylists. Look up food stylists in your area or near the biggest city closest to you.

If you want to start making several $1000 dollars a day for a food photography job, it will be expected that you will be working with a food stylist, you will not be styling the food for these jobs. There isn’t time for that.

I love working with food stylists. It is so freeing when the stylist is working on the food to make it beautiful, and your job is to work on the lighting for the shot. Trust me, the two of you will create an image that neither one of you could have done on your own.

So, find some food and props stylists to do some testing with in your area, or in the next closest city to you.

Everything Food Conference10 – Pick Two Foodie Conferences To Go To In 2020

I love going to conferences! I’m actually a very social person, so the conferences are one way for me to see my friends from all over the world in one place.

I am totally serious about this next statement: several conferences that I have gone to have completely affected my life in amazing ways with what I’ve learned, AND the people I have met, and become dear friends with over the years.

I am so thankful for my friendships from these conferences. I’ve also found amazing mentors and coaches at these conferences as well.

I said to pick two conferences for 2020 – I have just the perfect ones for you! The first one is the Everything Food Conference. This will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference will run April 30th – May 2nd. It sells out every year. It is a conference for all foodies. AND I will be speaking and doing a workshop at this conference! Woohoo!

Here is the link for more info about the workshop I am teaching there – Artificial Lighting Made Easy. This workshop will be happening the day before the conference starts on April 29th.

The second conference I will be going go (I’m sure there will be more but for now these are already booked), will be in November, the 5th-8th. This is the Food Photo Affair. I will be doing a few talks at this conference, moderating a fun discussion panel along with a workshop as well.

This workshop takes place in Napa Valley! This will be very fun, and it’s the only US conference all about Food Photography.

I hope to see you at either, or both conferences!


Did you know I have two free Facebook groups to help you with your photography?

Click here to join me in the Food Photography Club Facebook group for those of you who are just starting out and would like to ask questions about equipment, food styling, and get image feedback.

Click here to join me in the Professional Photography Academy Facebook group to talk about anything related to the business of photography.

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