Are you in the business of photography (a Pro-tog) or happy with your status as a recreational shooter? Either way your pursuit of photographic excellence sets you apart from the millions of non-photographers in the world. I write about photography a lot, both from an aesthetic point of view and as a pragmatic businessman, because it’s what I like to do (it’s my passion). This post, once again, addresses the business aspect of photography—it’s primarily for those of you making money with your photography and those who would like to. For further reading on the subject see my published articles at Northrup Photo.
If you’re in the business of photography (or plan to be) you need to know that you can’t make it alone. Business is all about contacts, partnerships, and strategic & tactical alliances. In the internet world many of these partnerships are entered into electronically and not face-to-face. I opened my photography business Indochine Photography in 2009 (seven years ago), and its been an ongoing challenge (and struggle) to move it forward in the very competitive world that is photography (there are some really great Photogs out there). I’ve had help along the way (in the form of partnerships), and that’s what I would like to share with you.
Website. Up until a year ago my website was hosted by a company I contracted with serving the photographic community. I had my domain name IndochinePhotography.com and the service cost me a small fortune ($50 usd per month). As template-oriented companies came online it became obvious that my company wasn’t keeping pace (their software was cumbersome and not particularly user-friendly), and it was a major pain-in-the-ass to change my site at any given time. I made the decision to switch last year and chose WordPress.org as my new hosting service. This a paid service (as opposed to WordPress.com which is a free service), because I still wanted my domain name (my new domain name is IndochinePhotography.me where it used to be .com). Where I used to pay $50 usd per month I now pay less than $10 usd per month. Another relative newcomer on the scene is SquareSpace and it’s getting great reviews (at about $10 usd per month).
eCommerce Store. My website features an eCommerce store hosted by Fine Art America (Pixels.com). I couldn’t be happier with this partnership, and though other companies offer this service FAA has the reputation of being one of the oldest and best. Their premium service is only $30 usd per year (per year, not per month). They handle everything for you: quick worldwide product fulfilment (printing, matting, framing, etc.) to accounting and billing. You set your prices and they do the rest. Their products and service are first class. Learn more about FAA here.
Marketing. Marketing is a vital part of any business. Where social media leaves off MailChimp takes over (their basic service is free). MailChimp handles all of my email promotional efforts (my free monthly newsletter, my VIP and non-VIP announcements, and any special notices). MailChimp is an easy and very cost-effective way to market your business (along with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, etc.) and you can learn more about them and how I use them here.
Affiliations. Professional business affiliations can be beneficial too. I spent over a year as the staff photographer and photojournalist with the Mexican newspaper The Yucatan Times while living in Yucatan, Mexico. At the same time I was the unofficial “Official” photographer for two non-profits: the Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve and Puuc Jaguar Conservation. All of these affiliations allowed me to meet influential people, showcase my photography, and promote my business at Indochine Photography. Do you have a business plan? You should have. Does it include partnerships?
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer, World Traveller
La Serena, Chile