The Creative Business Side of Photography
Being creative in a photography business goes well beyond creative imagery.
The business of photography is about combining your technical and creative skills with a camera and creating compelling reasons for people to choose your work to fill their needs. If you are going to be a successful photographer in any genre of photography you’re going to have to get comfortable with being an entrepreneur. You don’t have to break any new ground in running a business, but you do need to learn to pull together a combination of business practices, management procedures and marketing efforts to grow in your genre of photography.
First and foremost, you have to be able to use your camera and create the picture you want to get and do so successfully when you trip the shutter. Knowing how to get the image you want or are being asked for is the entry-level requirement to make it in any genre of photography whether it be landscape, wedding, portrait or commercial photography. You’ll always be building on your photographic and post-production skills throughout your life, but there’s a certain level of quality and consistency you have to develop to make a living from photography. Once you do, it’s then a matter of applying your creativity to creating awareness of your business and building a sustainable foundation for you to grow your business.
Creativity should take place in every aspect of your business.
Business creativity is about using your creativity to infuse a sense of uniqueness in how you work with clients, the processes you follow in providing your art or services and even how you deliver your work. You want to use your creativity to deliver an experience to your clients that they find enjoyable and leave them open to working with you in the future. There are opportunities to show that creativity exists throughout your business in everything from your physical spaces, workflows and transaction paperwork to your voicemail messages. There’s nothing too small that you do in the delivery of your work that shouldn’t be examined for its impact on your customers – and employees.
Let me give you an example of a way to infuse a bit of creativity into an otherwise plain process: sending an invoice to a client for payment. Most photographers use a standard business form or print off an invoice with their business info at the top which creates a pretty pedestrian form like the one your customer gets from any utility or credit card company. Getting an invoice like that just reinforces the feeling of a bill to pay. That’s not the impression you want your clients to have when they get your invoice – you want them to be glad to pay you because they are getting something they value.
Rather than a boiler plate invoice, use a program like InDesign or Publisher to create an invoice which presents your bill in a friendlier way in its design and appearance. The invoice below departs from the boiler-plate invoices often used by being graphical, simple to read and includes the image they are getting as a reminder of what they are getting in return.
It is simple opportunities like these that will make your business stand out to your clients and will add to all the little things that add up to getting their business again and again.