Killing your Photography Business Before it Starts

So one of the students I taught photography last year gave me a list and cost of the items she needed to start her photography business full-time.

Camera…………..  $1100
Lenses…………….   $940
Flash………………   $750
Charger……………    $62
Memory card…….. $125
Lights………………  $310
Backdrop…………  $125
Reflector………….    $62
Tripod……………..  $310
Ballhead…………   $310
Cable Release….  $310
Hood……………..    $125
Laptop…………..    $620
Blackberry……….  $620
Biz Card…………   $125
TOTAL…………..  $5894

WoW. I was shocked. This person wanted to start out in business as a BILL GATES: a multi-billionaire. Funny thing was she didn’t have any money to start buying the items; she was believing God for them.

I pointed out that how come there was no provision for training, marketing, books, & website. The items that I felt mattered the most were left “unlisted”. By the way, who needs a $310 ballhead or $620 blackberry to start out in photography. Or am I missing something here?

It’s amazing the increasing amount of photography newbies that think $600 – $1200 is too outrageous to dole out for photography training, yet they don’t bat an eyelid to purchase a canon 5d mark iii. It is well.

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With my help I was able to reduce the bill to about $1240. Infact if I have $10,000 in cash, I wouldn’t spend more than a third to acquire gadgets and assets. Call me an accountant but I’ll rather use $3000 to get the basic necessities and use the income that come from that small investment to purchase more gadgets as I grow in business.

Heck, I’ll even prefer to be an intern with an established photographer for at least 3 months before going all out on a spending spree. Better yet, I’ll get the book by Dale Carnegie (How to win friends and influence people) and see how I can make more photographer friends that will be willing to borrow me their camera (if I don’t want to rent from eloPhotos) whenever I have jobs.

But then again, I could be wrong. Bottom line is that I think we should focus more on how to get clients than on how to acquire photography gadgets that will supposedly help to
Massage our ego when no jobs are forthcoming. May God help us. May the God who invented photography help us all.
Or what’s your take on this matter? What will you advice someone with such a list?

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  1. Think Outside the Studio · November 26, 2012

    you make a great point. All the gear in the world won’t help you “sell” anything, including your self!!


  2. Mandy Womack · November 29, 2012

    I agree completely! My mentor and one of my best photography friends says this all the time “I have a closet full of $99 gadgets that will supposedly make me a better photographer, but they won’t, I don’t need them, they will hire you for you, not your gadgets.” We cannot sit on our laurels and think the world will come to us, we have to go get the world and show them why they need us, and why they should come to us. My 2 cents for what it’s worth. 🙂


    • elophotos · December 1, 2012

      Thanks for the advice. Twas worth it. I just hope a lot of people starting out will take note.


  3. JR Arsenault MPhotogCr · November 29, 2012

    This is how you create failure. Many years ago, I was a state PPA affiliate keynote speaker, promising any of the audience I would reveal how to make $1MM/year in photography. And I did! They merely needed to start with $2MM. There is a lot to that. No one wants to ‘pay their dues’ and learn the craft’s materials and processes. I see a lot of photography by the pound out there, with photo techs offering to take 3k pics at a wedding, then spend a couple weeks editing them to produce several mediocre prints rather than cutting once after measuring twice before snapping the shot at the decisive moment. They think because the have the f2.8 trinity of lenses they are a master photographer, when it merely creates more megapixels of crap without the artistic experience to back it up. My RIT bachelor’s degree is in photo hardware, so I have a solid background in the capturing of images. Back in film days, everyone wanted pricey Hasselblads when Mamiya twin lens could do 95%+ of the work competently. At 10% of the price. I had both, but used the TLR’s to build my bank account. It is an income for me first of all. If it is not, then admit you are addicted to a pricey hobby that keeps you from paying your bills. The same is true today, with little of the work going over 8″x10″ to newbies. Learn composition, get some solid inexpensive equipment to get the fundamentals down. Building a business needs the right tools, but it is much more getting the business coming in (and the paycheck!) that is the trick. Even 30+ years later for me!


    • elophotos · December 1, 2012

      Wow. The professor has spoken. Coming from someone who started photographing before I was born. Really appreciate ur advice. U shld write a book also.


  4. Bashir Sadiku · November 30, 2012

    Good one! Its really not about the gear absolutely, passion and creativity comes first. The gear in my view should serve as a support to the former intangible assets noted. Instead of doling out such ridiculous sum, I’ll suggest investing in educating and training oneself first. Then go out and do a few assistant/back up jobs, so you get hands-on experience of how the business runs. These I dare say one can do with a basic semi pro DSLR cam, however, I’ve had my fair share of clients asking what camera you use before even asking to see your portfolio…*smh*
    My 2Cents


    • elophotos · December 1, 2012

      Thanks so much for ur input. Really appreciate it


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