In the multitude of counsel, there is safety.
Remember that nursery rhyme we all sang as children: Twinkle Twinkle little star/how i wonder where u are/(pls dont give me that eye, you were once in kindergaten, and I put it to you-YOU SANG THAT SONG!). Seems, we were always looking for stars. Lol! Jokes apart, I found some. Not just small stars but great ones too and each one of them was a SHOOTING STAR! You guessed right. Yes, I met PHOTOGRAPHERS!!!
A couple of weeks ago, I saw an interesting post about a workshop on how to improve on your photography business. I thought to myself, ‘well, it wouldnt hurt, i’ll just attend….precise time, relevant topic discussion….whats there to lose?’ Then, simultaneously, the other mind bugger came, ‘that means you have to wake up early to beat traffic and get to class on time…are you sure you want to do this? Why don’t you just stay at home, wake up late, you really need the sleep you know, plus, the weather might even change tomorrow…IT MIGHT RAIN!!!’( Hmmn…that moment when you’re between the really deep blue sea and a tempting island!)
Apparently I decided to fight against those odd thoughts,(lai, lai! Laziness will never take control!) and give in to the priceless virtues of determination and sacrifice. I told myself, ‘it doesn’t matter what I go through, as long as I can acquire relevant knowledge and can be in the gathering of like-minds”. I decided to go for the class. With this decision in mind, to my utmost surprise, down came pouring the rain the next morning!!! But NO SHAKING!!! With a steady umbrella in hand and a song in mind (i have decided/ to go to the workshop/I have decided/ to go to the workshop/I have decided/to go to the workshop/ no turning back/no turning back/) I stormed out of my house. Talk about determination.
That’s the attitude that brought me to the workshop. I gave this synopsis so you won’t run away when I start to talk about the priceless lessons I learnt from that workshop. The workshop was organized by eloPhotos and facilitated by Mr Seun Akisanmi. The class was fabulous!!
What stuck me most was the simplicity of explanation and practical guidelines given on how businesses can be improved upon (most of which are overlooked by photographers).
The class diversified from a lecture, into a discussion forum, to a talk show and ultimately into a cinema hall. LOL! As I reminiscence on the happenings of that day, I can’t help but giggle at various responses given and some situations we photographers find ourselves (trust me, I have had my fair share too!).
Thus, with my benevolent heart, I’ve decided to provide a memoir of the high points of the workshop for the benefit of those who could not attend. Plus, in a pithy way, I’ve included lessons I learnt from cartoons (YES, CARTOONS) played at the class.
The gists below are the respectable inputs from both the facilitator and photographers at the workshop. Travel with me on a juicy journey into the land of photography business. Fasten your seat belts because it’s gonna be a jolly ride!!!
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT TIPS.
PLANNING: this entail a lot of details. Any photogapher that wants to be and remain relevant needs to be a succinct planner.
What is your 2-5 year plan?
What is your marketing strategy?
Who are your target audience(s)?
With the influx of various camera technologies and indiviuals into the industry, it is so evident that a photographer without a relevant plan would simply be flushed out . Your plans would tally on the ropes of your VISION. What is your vision in photography? Where do you see yourself going?
AGREEMENT STRATEGY: This served as one of the high points of the workshop. Most photographers do not have documented terms and conditions upon which their business transactions are pitched. This issue causes a lot of squabble between photographers and their clients on payment grounds. It was discussed and advised that every photographer should have a business contract guiding operations and payment processes between them and their respective clients.
VALUE: every photographer should know his/her worth. Sincerely, value should be attributed to you as a photographer. According to Mr Seun, “know exactly what do you bring to the table”. Know your worth!!! It cannot be stressed enough. Equally, patience with your clients is key because they are your main marketers. Make them leave with a good impression with every picture. Trust me, they’ll tell others about you. It’s reciprocal!
APPROACH TO BUSINESS AND FINANCES: Photographers were advised to have a separate account from their personal funds. This would enable them to monitor their profit, give their tithe (if they’re Christians) and not mess up their book-keeping. Even though professionals such as accountants can be approached, it is not so much of a task to do one’s book keeping. To tidy up records, a system can be strategized, whereby you allocate a salary to yourself just like your workers i.e. personal salary scheme. Save at least 20 percent for future use.
BRANDING: Corporate branding was encouraged. Every photographer should have a registered company name and logo (one of which I was advised upon) as well as suitable complimentary cards. Social media was highlighted upon as one of many ways to brand & market one’s business. Websites and blogs are equally good branding tools.
This led to our cinema discussion. YES, the cartoons(#rubbing my hands now#). Lessons learned from these cartoons can be embedded in our daily lives and relationships with people. I hope you learn something:
Discover you vision and your style and never lose it.
Presentation and packaging matters. With your presentation, people tend to trust you with their pictures & their confidence is released.
Learn to work with what you have. Never borrow or paint a false image. Be professional and look comfortable with what you have.
Life is Not a competition, hence photography is Not.
Find your niche
Dream big and Plan to execute it, no matter how ridiculous.
Be positive and always celebrate even the seemingly little successes.
Show passion and remain motivated.
Never lose your enthusiasm.
Always be a good leader & try as much as possible to remember your staff by name. This increases loyalty.
Always talk as a company by using words like “WE” instead of “I”.
Learn how to communicate with people.
Be an avid reader and keep learning. Never stop because life is a longtime learning process. Never misplace the place of learning.
Resilience is key alongside preparation and courage.
Be on the lookout for opportunities inspite of discouragement. Always have your complimentary card with you wherever you go.
Be an observer.
Integrity is essential. Be truthful and willing to accept your mistakes.
Most times in life no one will applaud your little steps. But be rest assured, they would applaud you when you make that grand entry.
Savings is key
Always have a good relationship with your colleagues
Family members can be your best promoters or discouragers. Whatever comes your way, never be discouraged or feel too proud. Keep moving forward.
Despite discouragement, keep motivating yourself. Find one person that believes in you and if you cannot find that person, always try to believe in yourself.
These comments were exclusively rendered by participants at the workshop. Lessons like these, sums up my approval of this workshop as a successful one. I say a BIG THANK YOU to the eloPhotos family for a wonderful initiative. God bless you all with more creativity and inspiration. You guys are set to break new grounds in Nigeria. By God’s grace, this is just the beginning.
I had fun all through this ride and hope you enjoyed the journey of this article. To all photographers reading this, note that there is no perfect photographer: every one has a weakness. No matter what happens, keep improving upon yourself.
The Voice Photography
Plan to attend the next session of Basic Course in Photography
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