Not Your Normal School

What’s The Real Secret To Getting Started In The Business Of Photography?

I found an old letter while I was digitizing slides and negatives from way back in the film days… Pam’s archives included the paperwork from each job she did.

This letter was from one of her very first jobs ~ if not the first ~ here in North Carolina. I will show you the letter in a moment, but it got me thinking about the #1 secret to starting a photography business, or any business really.

Ignoring it will stop you cold… using it will make you unstoppable!

Here’s the story…

When we moved to North Carolina, and Pam decided to be in the business of photography she didn’t have any clients. In fact, she didn’t even know exactly what she wanted to do with her photography business. She just knew she wanted to do photography.

Now, to top this off, she didn’t have much training. So her technical skills were pretty low and the equipment she had was bottom-line basic — not what you would consider to be “pro”gear.

In short, she couldn’t have started from a lower point, especially considering that the market was already saturated with professional photographers and the entire population in our area was “thin” — less than 70,000 in the entire county at the time. Had we “analyzed the market” from the perspective of a business consultant, we would have advised us to start a different business.

In fact, there were some people who told us exactly that.

But we didn’t listen.

Pam got started anyway.

And in those early business days she did any job she could get including types of photography she didn’t particularly like, had not done before, and didn’t really know how to do.

Which brings me to the “interesting thing” I found while scanning Pam’s old client files. It was from one of her very first jobs in North Carolina and involved interior photography for a hotel… something she still doesn’t know much about even today. It is just not something she is passionate about.

But she took that job anyway because in the beginning any work is better than no work, and one thing can lead to another. In this case, it was a start, and getting a start — for real — trumps not doing anything.

Getting started in business even trumps making a big profit, or any profit — as you can see from the note below, the “hotel job” was not one of Pam’s most profitable projects. It was also done at no risk to the client… whatever it takes to get started with real work for real money even if it’s not much — each step builds confidence, moves you forward, and lays the groundwork for the future.

OK, here is the note that triggered the memories of how we got to where we are today, and why Pam can now charge $997 a session and up — it just wouldn’t have happened had we hesitated, used “logic,” or let a “lack of” hold us back…

first photography job

I hope you enjoyed this little dose of “motivation” and “can do” encouragement. The NYN photography business success course can, of course, give you the nuts and bolts of getting started in the business of photography and put you way ahead of where we started, but ultimately you must apply the true secret of getting started any way you can and not letting false barriers stop you!!!

Photographically yours,

Jeff Farr, co-founder and director
Not Your Normal School of Photography