[source: Joshua McKnight pixabay]
“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
Being a photographer is an incredibly creative and fun profession. But it can also be quite challenging. It requires a blend of strategies, skills, and adaptability.
1. Market Oversaturation
One of the biggest challenges that professional photographers are facing is extreme competition. It can be hard to stand out in a sea of other competitors vying for clients. Therefore, securing clients can be a losing battle.
One way that you can work through this is by specializing. If you can find a style of photography that speaks to you, it can be easier to find clients since you will be doing the kind of photography that is in demand for your chosen niche.
You can also stand out more by creating a unique brand. In your marketing, make sure that you give your images a bit of flair. What’s something that you can make yours? Leverage that and be consistent to build a recognizable brand.
The last thing you can do to combat this is through networking. As cliché as it sounds, it really is about who you know sometimes. Try to make contacts who can recommend you event projects, you never know who may request a service.
2. Equipment Costs
It’s not a secret that cameras can cost quite a pretty penny. With top equipment prices exceeding $3000, a big hurdle for many hopeful photographers is staying up-to-date. This is not to say that the only way to be successful is to have the newest and shiniest of everything, but better equipment can mean better results and the ability to create images that basic equipment just won’t give you.
Fortunately, you can keep the need for buying new equipment at bay by taking the time to learn about techniques that can help you make the most out of the gear that you already have. Alternatively, if you just must have a piece of gear to do your job effectively, you could also rent out the equipment for a fraction of the cost. This option is especially great for people who only need some things on occasion.
3. Content Theft
The internet has made it easier to share things with everyone, including examples of your work. However, this also means that other people can save your photos and pass them off as their work. This can lead to problems down the line from a loss of customer base to people accusing you of stealing.
To deter people from using your images without permission, you should make sure that you watermark all of the work that you publish. For an added layer of protection, you could even add copyright notices. Unfortunately, where there’s a will, there’s a way. These are not always 100 percent effective at keeping thieves from taking your work. In these cases, if feasible, it’s best to consult with a lawyer on the ins and outs of copyright infringement claims and figure out what the next best actions should be.
4. Irregular Pay
Some photographers work as freelancers. With this set up it is difficult to know what hours you will work or be able to reliably gauge how much money you will earn from week to week. Particularly when first starting, this can mean being unsure if you’ll be able to pay necessary expenses, especially during slow periods.
Creating a budget for yourself is one way that you can make sure you’re making the most out of the money you make from your early gigs. Keep track of how much you’re spending and on what. You should also make sure that you’re putting away money to the side in case of emergencies.
Beyond these strategies, there is no way to alleviate the issue completely. You could also consider diversifying your income in the early stages and having other sources of income like part-time jobs or other side hustles.
5. Client Expectations
Client expectations can be one of the toughest aspects of being a photographer. Sometimes, expectations far exceed what you’re able to produce given the circumstances of each event.
The biggest deterrent to issues in this department is clear communication before you even take out your equipment. The client should express what exactly they’re looking for from you and, if possible, give reference photos for you to work with. In this stage, you could also offer your artistic vision in making these photos truly unique to the occasion. You should make sure that you document everything that was agreed upon beforehand so that if issues do arise, you and your time are protected.
If the issue is with the time in which it will take you to process the photos, you could consider educating your client on your process and why it may take a bit longer than their ideal. It’s best to try and strike an agreement in the middle ground with both parties able to compromise on some things. This will help ensure that all transactions with clients are smooth and productive.
By far, the most important thing to remember as a photographer is that you will need to be able to persevere through any challenges that you’re faced with, especially in the beginning. The best way is to learn from your mistakes and make the most of every experience you’re afforded. Improving upon your skills consistently, creating lasting connections with clients, and maintaining a high level of professionalism will go a long way.
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