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02-07-2017, 12:31 PM   #1
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Thinking of Starting a Business

I am thinking of trying to get a business going doing portraiture....

The thought I had was to initially offer my services for half hour for free on the weekend so long as the client would supply a class 10 16gb or greater name brand SD card for me to use in my camera and sign a photo release form that would allow me to use their image and likeness for advertising.

At the end of the shoot, I would hand them back the SD card and that would be the product.

Has anyone started out like this? Is this a good idea or one destined for failure?

Thoughts and insight is appreciated...

02-07-2017, 12:50 PM   #2
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Why not start part-time and if you have enough business move it to a full-time business?
02-07-2017, 12:54 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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How exciting!

However...... If you establish that your labor is free, you'll have a hard time charging for it latter.

It's better to establish an appropriate fee for the service and offer a limited time promotional discount than to work for free and hope you can raise your rates later. People love a discount but hate paying jacked-up rates.

The bring-a-card-leave-with-a-card model offers no option for post processing or follow-on services (retouching, printing & framing, etc.)

Best wishes on your business!
02-07-2017, 01:11 PM   #4
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Instead of saying you are starting a business, Advertise you are looking to improve your skills and that you are looking for models over the next few weeks / months. Then offer the bring a card / leave a card option, but also offer post processing or follow-on services for a fee if desired. Another option is to provide a free 4 x 6 to Nursing homes to take family pictures during specific holidays. Any additional pictures or services will cost. Bring some business cards and rate sheets. use Smug Mug to allow people to order additional prints or other prints. Not totally free to you, but fairly inexpensive and provides a way to grow.

02-07-2017, 01:12 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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Interesting idea... but free labour is not IMHO a good starting point for any business, as it doesn't put food on the table.

Think I'd start off in the more traditional way, where charges cover costs, plus a bit...
02-07-2017, 01:14 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by W.j.christy Quote
I am thinking of trying to get a business going doing portraiture....

The thought I had was to initially offer my services for half hour for free on the weekend so long as the client would supply a class 10 16gb or greater name brand SD card for me to use in my camera and sign a photo release form that would allow me to use their image and likeness for advertising.

At the end of the shoot, I would hand them back the SD card and that would be the product.

Has anyone started out like this? Is this a good idea or one destined for failure?

Thoughts and insight is appreciated...
My only concern would be this:
Most of my friends don't have an SD card readily available, and if I were to tell them they needed one for a shoot they'd immediately be turned off...
And if they don't have a card reader, maybe they'll need to buy one as well

Unfortunately, most people today have this "need" for instant gratification.

Maybe adjust the plan a bit?

Buy a 50 pack of USB drives.
Charge $20 per 2 or 4 GB drive, loaded with photos from the shoot.
Consumers would rather show up with a $20 than an SD card.

Honestly, I spoke with quite a few photographers before choosing one for our wedding last year. They all said the same thing, "With social media now, everyone thinks they're a photographer, or at least a photo editor"
Countless times I was told they would spend a week editing photos just to see someone post one on facebook or instagram with a filter on it...

If the consumer is going to trash your hard work anyways, why bother?


Just a thought.
But I love the idea! We have to keep up with the way our culture is moving.

Consumers today are not the same as 20 years ago, even 5 years ago...
Trends change weekly now, so we have to keep up with the fast paced market. Originality is key.
02-07-2017, 01:17 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by W.j.christy Quote
I am thinking of trying to get a business going doing portraiture....

The thought I had was to initially offer my services for half hour for free on the weekend so long as the client would supply a class 10 16gb or greater name brand SD card for me to use in my camera and sign a photo release form that would allow me to use their image and likeness for advertising.

At the end of the shoot, I would hand them back the SD card and that would be the product.

Has anyone started out like this? Is this a good idea or one destined for failure?

Thoughts and insight is appreciated...
But what exactly is the business case here??
It has been discussed multiple times in this forum: being able to take decent photographs isn't even half the task. You need an idea for real and hopefully sustainable business case, you need an idea how to generate demand for your shots, how to price your work, how to generate a network and so on and so on.
Maybe it is a possibility to ask an established photographer to work as an assistant to get some insight.
Best of luck!
02-07-2017, 01:34 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
My only concern would be this:
Most of my friends don't have an SD card readily available, and if I were to tell them they needed one for a shoot they'd immediately be turned off...
And if they don't have a card reader, maybe they'll need to buy one as well

Unfortunately, most people today have this "need" for instant gratification.

Maybe adjust the plan a bit?

Buy a 50 pack of USB drives.
Charge $20 per 2 or 4 GB drive, loaded with photos from the shoot.
Consumers would rather show up with a $20 than an SD card.
.
Thats a good thought.

I don't think that I have expressed my goal with the free service, though, several have put together what I am trying to do. I would need to start out somewhere, and currently can't justify having people pay for a professional when in reality, I am just an armature with a decent camera an glass.

The idea of using models is nice, but then I would have to provide a studio for them to work in. Unfortunately, this would be in my garage and quite frankly its too small for that and I am opposed to having folks to my house at this point. I could rent the studio space, however, that adds to the overhead and would force me to charge more than I am willing to charge.

At this point, being able to meet folks somewhere of their choosing, or going to their house to set up my equipment sounds more viable with respect to the cost/benefit analysis of a fledgling business..... Keeping overhead to a bare minimum is essential in the beginning days to be successful for most types of startups.

I do agree that raising prices once the free base line has been set would be hard and it may drive off customers. To that, I agree with perhaps a promotion of $20 you keep the card service but expressly state this is a promotion. That may help.

02-07-2017, 01:45 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by W.j.christy Quote
Thats a good thought.

I don't think that I have expressed my goal with the free service, though, several have put together what I am trying to do. I would need to start out somewhere, and currently can't justify having people pay for a professional when in reality, I am just an armature with a decent camera an glass.

The idea of using models is nice, but then I would have to provide a studio for them to work in. Unfortunately, this would be in my garage and quite frankly its too small for that and I am opposed to having folks to my house at this point. I could rent the studio space, however, that adds to the overhead and would force me to charge more than I am willing to charge.

At this point, being able to meet folks somewhere of their choosing, or going to their house to set up my equipment sounds more viable with respect to the cost/benefit analysis of a fledgling business..... Keeping overhead to a bare minimum is essential in the beginning days to be successful for most types of startups.

I do agree that raising prices once the free base line has been set would be hard and it may drive off customers. To that, I agree with perhaps a promotion of $20 you keep the card service but expressly state this is a promotion. That may help.
If you don't feel like you have the experience to charge for your services, then connect with other professionals and do Trade For Print. In Seattle at least, there's a Facebook group where photographers, MUAs and models can set up shoots to build their portfolios.

Sure, you don't have a studio. You don't need one. Find a park:





If you feel the need to create a studio look, you just need a white wall you can blow out with flash, it can even have writing and power plugs on it.

I did this in a park pavilion:

02-07-2017, 01:53 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Would you hire a mechanic that's never worked with cars? A surgeon that's never had a live patient?

Portraits are not my forte (so consider my comments with a grain of salt), but I would consider getting the experience you need to feel comfortable with charging people first, e.g., through books or workshops, and then going out into the world.

Giving your work away devalues everyone else's work and it's a hard enough business as it it is. Put yourself in the shoes of a seasoned pro: how would you like to compete against people doing your job for free?
02-07-2017, 01:59 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by W.j.christy Quote
currently can't justify having people pay for a professional when in reality, I am just an armature with a decent camera an glass.
At least you can admit that...
There are too many "Professional Photographers" charging $1500-2500 for a wedding because they got a Canon T3i for Christmas and a kit lens and now think they're Ansel Adams.

Be realistic with goals.
If you want to get your name out there, meet up with other photographers and maybe take up an internship of some sort.

You gotta start somewhere, just don't make the same mistake as the ones mentioned above.
They'll always be known as "Oh, that guy..."
02-07-2017, 02:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
If you don't feel like you have the experience to charge for your services, then connect with other professionals and do Trade For Print. In Seattle at least, there's a Facebook group where photographers, MUAs and models can set up shoots to build their portfolios.

Sure, you don't have a studio. You don't need one. Find a park:





If you feel the need to create a studio look, you just need a white wall you can blow out with flash, it can even have writing and power plugs on it.

I did this in a park pavilion:
It would be really nice to have a place where people detail how they shot things like these. I would love to hear how each of these was lighted and what post processing was done etc.
02-07-2017, 02:08 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
It would be really nice to have a place where people detail how they shot things like these. I would love to hear how each of these was lighted and what post processing was done etc.
If you make a place like that, I'm happy to share.
02-07-2017, 02:22 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by JHfwp Quote
Would you hire a mechanic that's never worked with cars? A surgeon that's never had a live patient?

Portraits are not my forte (so consider my comments with a grain of salt), but I would consider getting the experience you need to feel comfortable with charging people first, e.g., through books or workshops, and then going out into the world.

Giving your work away devalues everyone else's work and it's a hard enough business as it it is. Put yourself in the shoes of a seasoned pro: how would you like to compete against people doing your job for free?
A couple of thoughts to this, I was a mechanic that had no experience with working on cars, but managed to put my self through college doing so. How you may ask? Very similar model to what I am trying to do here. I bought a car, sought out the knowledge of those who were better than I was (my dad, the auto store guys, books etc...) and put it to good use on my own vehicle. First friends started to notice, and asked if I could help them, which I did for free. At some point, I felt confident enough to go on to work at an auto parts store, then I went on to being a mechanic for a national chain.... Point of the story, I started by not knowing anything working, on my own stuff, and then offering free or discounted services with the understanding I was learning and no where near perfect. After some time, I was able to command a fairly substantial income (for a part time mechanic in college on flat rate) as a professional.

Do I think my services as a beginner mechanic devalued those of the professionals? No, why, because it was understood I was a student and the folks understood there was a chance I would get it wrong.

People who need a professional who can provide consistent professional results or service will seek a professional always.

People who need a service but the results are not critical have the liberty to choose someone who may not have all the experience or knowledge needed yet, but is good enough to get the results needed.

I think the issue you bring up are those who think they are truly good photographers worthy of a high price, when the reality is they are just me, and what I am is just an amateur with a good camera and glass looking to gain the knowledge i need by offering a service for some one who is willing to take the chance.

---------- Post added 02-07-17 at 03:28 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
Be realistic with goals.
If you want to get your name out there, meet up with other photographers and maybe take up an internship of some sort.
This has been suggested several times, unfortunately living in a city as big as Houston makes finding a group local enough somewhat difficult. I have approached some groups like this but in the end most of my attempts at contacting them went unanswered. That has left me with a little hesitancy to try again.... But this time maybe it will be different.

---------- Post added 02-07-17 at 03:29 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
If you don't feel like you have the experience to charge for your services, then connect with other professionals and do Trade For Print. In Seattle at least, there's a Facebook group where photographers, MUAs and models can set up shoots to build their portfolios.

Sure, you don't have a studio. You don't need one. Find a park:

Gorgeous photos!
02-07-2017, 02:38 PM   #15
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Thanks!

I haven't messed with it, but some people like Model Mayhem. If you can find some local friends who are willing to model for you, they could end up with profile pictures, while you add to your portfolio.
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