Young Upstarts

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Tips For Launching A Photography Agency Startup

Going into business for yourself as a photography agency, it’s important to present your photography well. Maybe you plan to only offer your services as a photographer about town as an events photographer or to represent other photographers? In each of these cases, you’ll need to set up properly to be taken seriously, either by potential clients or other photographers wanting their services marketed more widely.

Here are some tips to launching a photography agency.

Prepare a Business Plan.

While a business plan is often overlooked, it’s important to have one. Some organisations will request to see one. Not having a business plan indicates a lack of planning in your business which is looked upon poorly.

The business plan includes what types of sales you’ll pursue and how you’ll achieve them. You’ll have a stated annual income target for the first few years. It’s helpful to break down your income into monthly amounts and individual assignments. For photographers represented by the agency, it breaks down by photographers on the books and the average number of bookings made on their behalf.

Don’t forget to also include all relevant equipment, necessary supplies, administration, travel and accommodation expenses when traveling to assignments or meeting clients.

Specialize as Soon as Possible.

While it’s difficult to specialize at the beginning, because as a start-up you’re wanting to generate whatever revenue you can to keep the doors open, it’s better to specialize. It is far easier to make a name for yourself and your agency when you excel at one thing.

You may need to take on different photography assignments at the start. Develop expertise and gradually narrow the types of projects you work on. Eventually, you can get a strong enough client list to only work on your preferred type of photography. Make that a goal to work towards if you’re not able to insist on it initially due to financial constraints.

If you’re going to represent other photographers and make bookings for them, then don’t muddy the waters by also booking assignments for yourself too. It will create a conflict of interest that’s difficult to overcome when making the all-important first impression.

Get the Right Equipment.

While it’s to be expected that you cannot purchase the most expensive photography equipment at the beginning or a high-powered laptop in the office ready for day one, you still need gear that’s good enough to produce excellent results.

Clients are not going to be satisfied when the portfolio you present them with after an event isn’t up to the expected standard. Unless they hired more than one photographer, they’re now stuck with sub-standard work or results that don’t meet their exacting brief. You cannot afford to get a bad review online, as it never goes away.

Research through dedicated photography websites and magazines to determine what cameras and accessories you require to get started. Some of them you’ll already own, and others will be too outdated and need replacing. Look at your total financial budget and decide where the money is best allocated to get the best bang for your buck. There are places to economise that won’t hurt the quality of the final shots.

Start with the Business Framework.

Set yourself up properly as a start-up, either as a solo business owner or as a business entity.

Ensure you have limited liability protection from being sued. That could happen should photos not turn out right, or from acting as an agency and failing to secure a booking. Lawsuits can happen for a variety of reasons, including ones that have no merit, but still must be legally defended at considerable cost and inconvenience.

Get the right insurance policies to cover the business from problems. This includes accidents on location as a photographer for hire or from clients like another photographer alleging that they’ve lost money due to a failed booking.

If you plan to hire anyone, ensure they receive a proper contract, and everything is taken care of on the payroll side. Hiring an accountant and a business lawyer is sensible too.

Get the Portfolio Online.

Getting a portfolio online for prospective clients to see is crucially important. As a photographer, you’ll need to demonstrate how great your shots, are and if you are representing other photographers, it’s important to let people see the portfolios to choose between them. Each photographer has their own style and being able to see their work clarifies whether their style will be suitable for a project or not.

Going Online.

While it’s possible to create a separate website just to show a portfolio, it’s too much work for most people. It’s a much better idea to try out a portfolio platform that’s specifically designed from the ground up to make the best of every photography collection (or graphical logos or other art work).

A portfolio platform like Format is ideal because it provides many useful tools for photographers and photography agencies needed to present existing photography collections.

Making a Portfolio.

Putting together a portfolio when using a platform like Format is easy. You can follow their process to make a portfolio in no time at all. They have a link into Adobe Lightroom software making it simple to edit photos and update a portfolio in real-time. The changes are then implemented directly on the standalone website from Format. The process is seamless which saves so much time, especially when the portfolio is substantial.

If you or a photographer you represent has photos exclusively on Instagram, there’s also a feature to import those directly into the online portfolio. This avoids needing to hunt down the original images and upload them one by one when they’re stored on various computers, a smartphone, and across several storage mediums. It’s a real lifesaver.

Proofing.

When working directly with end clients, there are useful proofing features built into the Format website structure. These allow for the presentation of a new portfolio of images securely to the client. The client can select the images they prefer from a series of shots – for instance, for a wedding album – and add notes for the photographer. The ability to download a sample image to their device can be enabled or disabled. Images can also have a watermark added for copyright protection too.

The proofing features are excellent for photographers who find that letting clients choose their favorite shots works better than making the decision for themselves. For clients who don’t wish to make those decisions, the photographer can do so.

Don’t Forget to Market Your Business.

In the early days, it’s all about how many people you talk to and getting your brand out there into the world. Use Instagram to promote photography and show your best shots. You probably cannot afford to hire a marketing team, so you’ll have to get over any shyness or trepidation and do it yourself. Have business cards printed and always have them on your person to hand out. Talk up what you’re doing. Have an elevator pitch ready and practiced to get new leads quickly when meeting people.

Launching a photography agency business is not easy. Choosing solutions to help you get up and running sooner just makes the process less foreboding. Take advantage of that, so you can focus on finding new clients and not wrestling with complex technology.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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