If you’re like me, you’ve sat in an office working 9 to 5, wondering if there’s more to life than slaving away in some uncreative job working for a wage. You’ve been an amateur photographer, perhaps a serious amateur, for some time, and you’ve fantasized about making a living as a pro photographer, but have no idea how to turn that fantasy into a reality.
Anyone with a camera and a bit of creativity can take great pictures. In order to make a living from you photos, though, you must also be a savvy businessperson. To really succeed as a photographer, you need to know the art AND business of photography.
Hi – I’m Michael Messner. Not too long ago I was working at a steady job that paid the bills and offered a bit of security and a steady paycheck. I had just finished earning my MBA and had a pretty cushy job in middle management at a Fortune 500 software company. I felt like something was missing, though. I had a six-figure salary, but every day I felt like my creative side died just a little bit, and it got harder and harder to work for someone else when I knew I would only ever be happy striking out on my own.
Today, I own a very successful and profitable home-based photography studio. I set my own hours, I make good money, I get to do something creative that I love, I work with fantastic people, including other very talented photographers and beautiful models, I get to travel the world (writing off most of my expenses along the way) meeting new people and exploring new countries, and I’m about a thousand times happier than I was working at a desk job.
But let’s back up. A few years ago, I had thoughts of being a pro photographer, but it seemed like a pipe dream. I wasn’t too keen on doing the “starving artist” thing, and I had no clue where to begin. But then I started doing some research, and discovered a few secrets about the photography industry that gave me hope. I’d like to share these with you.
Many “pro” photographers are just scraping by, or have started a photography business on paper in order to justify writing off a bunch of nifty cameras and equipment. There are a handful of photographers, though, that earn tons of money by applying a few core business principles in their work. I’ve learned these principles through a combination of trial and error, networking, and dumb luck. These principles CAN be taught, and you don’t need a degree in economics to learn them. In fact, they’re so simple and powerful that once you you put them into practice, you’ll wonder how anyone could go about doing business any differently.
Have you ever seen a famous work of art or photograph and thought “I could have done that. Heck, a KID could have done that.” Often, what sets successful artists apart from the pack is not technical skill or even hard work and determination. Often it’s little more than a certain attitude, a little bit of self-promotion, and, again, knowledge of how the industry really works.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to turn you into the next modern art sensation, OR that you should start taking photos of your toenails and try auctioning them at Christie’s. I AM saying, however, that you don’t need to have an MFA and many years of experience in the field to become a successful photographer, whether you’re shooting weddings, stock, architecture, fine art, or whatever. That’s in part because…
Time for your first lesson. The next time you’re shooting photos, take a lot. Get creative, try different angles, but most importantly, take A LOT of photos. Then, when you get home, THROW OUT 98% OF THEM. That’s right. Look through your hundreds of photos and choose, say, the 3 or 4 that you really like. Then trash the rest, or at least make sure that no one ever sees them. Only show the 3 or 4 that really “sparkle.” The “keepers” that really showcase your work. There – You just increased people’s perception of your talent by approximately 1,000%.
There’s a misconception that every time a great photographer clicks the shutter release, a piece of art is created. Horse pucky.
Professional photographers are talented, but typically they only show clients 2% of the photos that they actually take. The thousands of photos taken at a wedding will be distilled into the handful of final proofs for the album. The images from the nature shoot will be culled down to the very best. Many top photographers’ entire careers are encapsulated in one iconic image.
If you think that you can take one real “keeper” for every 50 photos you take, then you have the talent necessary to do this for a living. If you don’t, YOU CAN BE TAUGHT!
I didn’t start out as a great photographer. In fact, looking back at my early work, it’s amazing that I got any paid jobs at all. After spending time learning from some of the best photographers in the field, however, something became very clear: With practice and the right guidance, anyone can learn to take great photos. It is simply a matter of learning the “rules” of photography (you’ll see that these rules have applications in many other art forms, as well as in life in general), and then learning the right times and methods to creatively “break” these rules.
(If you want to learn more pro photographer secrets, be sure to sign up for your FREE guide: 10 Secrets Pro Photographers Don’t Want You to Know at the top of the page.)
You don’t need to keep slaving away working for someone else. People really do venture out on their own and start home businesses that help them realize their full artistic, financial, and personal potential.
- Lack of job security: You’re typically one round of outsourcing away from a pink slip.
- Unfulfilled Potential: Did you say “I want to be a customer service associate for an auto insurance company (or whatever the heck it is you do) when I grow up” when you were a kid?
- Soul-Crushing Boredom: Do you find yourself looking for mundane tasks to do just to distract you from your even more boring real job?
- Your Boss: Do you get your work done despite your boss’ interventions, rather than because of them? The bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle.
- Allows you to put your creative talents to work
- You’re the boss: I know that’s half the reason you’re here.
- Work from home: Spend more time with your family, ditch the commute, and work in your pajamas.
- The photographer’s lifestyle: Work with brides, fashion designers, models, and other creatives. Get paid to travel and always have the best photography equipment.
- A quickly growing industry: With the growth of the Internet and smartphones visual media is syndicated everywhere, and talented photographers are in very high demand right now.
- Great to talk about at parties: “So what do you do?” “I’m a photographer.” Just try saying it once. Feels good, right?
- You bring people real happiness: Think about a news story you’ve seen about people surviving a fire or other natural disaster. What is the one posession many people try to save? Eight times out of ten it’s a prized photo album.
When people are feeling nostalgic for their wedding day, for their child’s first birthday, for a time when their dog was just a puppy, where do they turn? Photographs.
Beautiful photos make people happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Inspiring people with your work? How many careers allow people to say that they give lifelong happiness to their clients? The first time you make a client cry with happiness, I promise you’ll remember reading this and you will hear me saying “I told you so…”
If I have one passion equal to or even greater than photography, it’s teaching. That’s why I’ve put together The Art and Business of Photography, the most comprehensive photography business course available online today.
- This is NOT just an Ebook: This is a full course and set of business tools, not just information you can find online.
- This is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme: You will have to work at this, just like any business.
- This is NOT a bunch of empty promises: “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” – Zig Ziglar. I can only give you the tools and the inspiration. It is up to you to take action and take ownership of your own success. I do promise to help you get there, though.
This is a full online course, complete with quizzes, personalized feedback, video instruction, presentations, a full suite of business tools and, yes, homework (not too much, I promise).
I will be your personal guide and advisor, available to hold your hand when you need it and offer encouragement when you don’t.
Everything you will learn here has been field tested. I made all the mistakes (many of them expensive) so that you don’t have to.
A “Reality Check” Assessment Test: This will help you know exactly where you stand. Is your understanding of the photography industry accurate? How much do you already know about photography? About digital retouching? About marketing? The results of this test will help you know what to focus on in the course ahead.
The 8-Week, 8-Step Guide to Launching Your Photography Business: This 150+ page resource guide will be your day-to-day guide to launching and running your business. It includes dozens of interactive lessons, including:
- Writing a Business Plan: Find out whether you need a business plan at all, and how to write an effective one if you do.
- Purchasing Equipment: You’re going to need equipment to get started, but probably less than you think. This lesson will teach you what’s essential and what can wait as you get started.
- Pro vs. Prosumer Equipment: What’s worth the extra money, and what isn’t. This is valuable information, folks. Just this info is well worth the cost of admission.
- Renting vs. Buying: Get the very best equipment for pennies on the dollar only when you need it, and avoid the costs of depreciation.
- Computers and Software: This lesson will show you what kind of computer and software you need to run a successful business. Updated monthly, it contains the latest info on computer hardware and the latest versions of Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, etc.
- Storage and Archiving: Protect your work from theft, accidental deletion, hard drive crashes, fire, and other natural disaster with this automatic and cheap method of backing up your work. Infinitely scalable, you won’t even need to buy external hard drives.
- Financing your business: Unless you’re being financed by a rich uncle, you’re going to need some funds to get started. Whether you self-finance, take out a loan, or look for an investor, this lesson will give you guidance.
- How to price your work: Learn about cost-plus, target return, and value-based pricing and how to put exactly the right price tag on your work.
- Hiring Assistants, Contractors, and Employees:Occasionally you’re going to need help, and this lesson will teach you where to find free assistants and interns to help you.
- Working pro-bono: Why working for free can help build your business and help return dollars in the end.
- Insurance: How to protect yourself without breaking the bank.
- Creating Client Evangelists: Much of your paid work is going to come from the recommendations of your clients. Ignore these lessons about word-of-mouth advertising at your own risk.
- Power Networking: Build your business by networking with other photographers and vendors.
- The Education of a Photographer: What books, seminars, etc. are worthwhile, and which are a waste of time and money.
- Time to Get Social: How to use Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, and blogs to book yourself solid.
And many, many more.
You’ll also find a set of short quizzes to test your knowledge as you go. By taking these quizzes you’ll instantly know what aspects of your business you’ll need to focus on in order to succeed.
Already running a photography business? This workbook contains a few quick and easy financial tests taught in every MBA entrepreneurship class to evaluate the financial health of your business and learn what steps to take to maximize your profits.
LIFETIME Access to the Pro Photo Guru Community: Network with other aspiring photographers, trade strategies, get help, and hold each other accountable. This is a journey that we’re all on together. I am in the Pro Photo Guru forums every day, answering questions and offering advice. We also host FREE monthly webinars based on topics that Pro Photo Guru members vote on.
That’s why I’m not afraid to offer a zero-risk, ironclad…
If you don’t ABSOLUTELY LOVE this course, I’ll buy it back from you. Give it a test run for 30 days. Heck – you may have already LAUNCHED YOUR BUSINESS 30 days from now. If you’re not happy, for whatever reason, let me know and I’ll give you a full refund – No questions asked.
It was hard to choose a price for this course. I thought back to when I started my own photography business and all the time and money I wasted searching for this kind of information, all the money I blew through on equipment that I ended up not using, and the hours I spent creating marketing campaigns that accomplished nothing except drain my bank account. I also thought about the opportunity cost: all the money I missed out on by not getting started on the right foot.
There was only one conclusion I could draw: This information is virtually PRICELESS.
If you promise to contribute to the Pro Photo Guru Community, to remember us when you’re a successful photographer and share your success story with the group, to offer hints and tips and let people know how this course helped you get there, I will only charge the remarkably low price of $49 for the ENTIRE course.
That’s right: Only $49 for information that’s literally worth thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of saved time. This course will save you hundreds on books alone. A quick look at Amazon.com will reveal entire books on writing a business plan, on lighting, and on financing. You can take weeks to read all these, filtering the valuable info from the filler, or you can get all the info you need – nothing more and nothing less – with The Art and Business of Photography. But wait:
For a limited time I am offering these industry guides FOR FREE with your purchase of The Art and Business of Photography. Each is a painstakingly researched (and experienced) guide to building your photography business in one of several niches:
Wedding Photography Profits: Wedding Photography is the bread and butter of many beginning photographers’ business. This guide will show you how to get started shooting your first wedding, how to find brides looking to hire photographers, and appropriate packages and pricing structure. You’ll also learn how to pose families for formal portraits and much, much more.
Normal Price: $39
Portrait Photography Profits: Probably the easiest photography business to get up and running, this guide will show you how to take professional headshots, senior photos, and lifestyle portraits that sell. You’ll learn how to adapt your lighting for your home studio and how to shoot portraits on location. It’s easy to make over $1,000 a day shooting portraits at an event – this guide will teach you how.
Normal Price: $29
Stock Photography Profits: Microstock sites like iStockphoto, Fotolia and Shutterstock have exploded in popularity in recent years. This guide will teach you how to catch this wave and make money selling photos of everyday objects in your home, of people at work, or really of anything at all. Shooting stock photos is a great way to make money in between wedding or portrait clients.
Normal Price: $29
Boudoir Photography Profits: Learn to take flattering, sexy images for wedding clients and couples. In this guide you’ll learn how to hire models for free to build your portfolio, and how to sell boudoir photography as part of a wedding package, as a portrait session, or as fine art in a gallery showing.
Normal Price: $29
Photography Secrets of the Pros and Photoshop Secrets of the Pros: This pair of video guides will cover exactly what you need to know (and don’t need to know) to take and edit photos that sell. These guides cover the ENTIRE workflow, from the shutter click to final print, including composing and framing, camera settings for dozens of lighting situations, adjusting brightness, color, contrast, retouching portraits and more.
Normal Price: $39
Photographer’s Contract Pack: It is crucial that you agree to terms in writing before any photography job. Protect yourself and your clients with this indispensable set of contracts.
This contract pack includes a tool to adapt any set of contracts to any particular job by simply changing the names, delivery terms, and payment details. Normal Price: $19
…this is an AMAZING value. To recap, you get:
- The Art and Business of Photography eBook
- The Art and Business of Photography Video Guides
- The Art and Business of Photography Workbook
- Lifetime access to the Pro Photo Guru Community of photographers
- The full set of industry guides:
- Wedding Photography Profits Value: $39
- Portrait Photography Profits Value: $29
- Stock Photography Profits Value: $29
- Boudoir Photography Profits Value: $29
- Photography Secrets of the Pros and
- Photoshop Secrets of the Pros Value: $39
Purchased separately, the bonuses alone are worth almost $200. All of this is yours for the low price of only $49. Click the “Add to Cart” button below to purchase.
If you want to experience the life-changing empowerment that comes from being self-employed, from working creatively, and from providing your clients with memories that they will treasure forever, you owe it to yourself to take this first small step away from the 9-to-5 grind and toward the rewarding lifestyle of the professional photographer.
Catch you on the flip side,