The Part Time Photographer Startup Series:
There are four things you’re going to need to start making money through part time photography:
Here’s where the equipment snobs will try to work you over with a sack of credit cards. Or they’ll at least try to get you to max yours out.
What you have is what we’re going to start out with. Whether that’s a little point and shoot or a dSLR, it makes no matter. We’re not going to start out aiming at the framed 20×30 crowd. We’re looking squarely at the 8×10 and under client set, and anything over 1.3 megapixels should work just fine.
If you’re trying to judge the value of your camera, nowadays, odds are if it’s made by one of the name-brand manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Kodak, Pentax, etc.) it’s probably worth what you paid for it. A $50 camera will give you $50 photos and options for taking pics, a $200 camera will give you $200 photos and options. I would hope you’re at least starting with something other than your camera phone, but whatever the case, we’ll make it work.
The more expensive your camera gear, the greater control you will have in taking photos – playing with depth-of-field to blur a background, manually adjusting the shutter and aperture for tricky lighting, better low-light performance for shooting indoors or at night, etc.
But even a basic point and shoot can make photos good enough for our startup purposes. Again, the business model we’ll work with makes every shoot a no-risk, buy what you love situation for you and your clients. The more good photos you make, artistically and technically, the more money you will make, but even with the most rudimentary equipment and skills, you can start making money today.
(Such as: any Canon PowerShot or Nikon Coolpix – dSLR beats point and shoots, more expensive P&S beats cheap, but nearly anything sold today can make a decent 8×10)
You will need a computer with which you can download pics from your camera, do some post-processing on them (brighten, add contrast, crop, blemish removal), show to clients during their sales session, and to post photos on your blog.
The faster and more modern your computer, the more efficient your workflow will be during post-processing. Faster = less time, less frustration.
A laptop is better than a desktop computer for our part time photography purposes. This will allow you the freedom to process photos anywhere, to do viewings in clients’ homes or at Starbucks, and basically take your mobile office anywhere you want.
I love to set up at the local diner, eat pecan pie, and process photos. I often get comments about my photos while I’m working and get to hand out some business cards.
(Such as: whatever laptop is on sale at Newegg – get more for your money by opting for a heavier beast with a medium to large screen)
Software will be the first thing you’ll spend your hard-earned part time photography money on. But, as always, you’ll start with what you have – or at least with freeware off the net.
The top two free image editing packages are GIMP and Picasa. GIMP is powerful but has a dry interface, and Picasa is very newbie-friendly but not as powerful. Try them both and see which you jive with. I’ll write my reviews and tutorials for how to use each for our purposes in the near future.
Other than the image editing software itself, you’ll need a good system for organizing photo shoots in folders, backing up those folders, presenting photos to clients during your sales session, and posting photos and information to your blog. I’ll cover all these subjects in future posts.
The great majority of the marketing we’ll do is going to take advantage of free services on the Internet – Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, Craigslist, Flickr, etc. Most of your on-your-own educational opportunities outside of PartTimePhoto.com will also be through online tutorials, courses, webinars, blogs, and photography forums. We’ll also use online labs for making prints.
If you’re reading this blog, you’ve got this base covered. You can take advantage of Wi-Fi hotspots and libraries if you don’t have access to the net at home, but hopefully if you have a computer, you have at least dial-up net access, which is all you need.
As with your computer, faster internet = less time, less frustration. A slow computer, slow camera, or slow internet access won’t kill your money making opportunities with part time photography.
(Such as: AT&T or any local providers – ask friends or neighbors for recommendations; broadband beats dial-up, but costs 2x-3x as much)
The lesson here is that you can start getting paid today as a part time professional photographer with the tools you already own or have free access to. This is Dave Ramsey-style business financing: bootstrap it, start with what you have, invest what you can as you earn it.
If you are missing any vital piece of this equipment puzzle, watch for my upcoming buying guide which will give solid recommendations across the board for any budget – including $0.
In Part 3 of our Startup Series, I’ll make sure you have your legal bases covered for accepting money in exchange for your services.
- Brainstorm session: Write down a list of the equipment you have right now to start your part time photography business. Are you missing any of the above-mentioned necessities? Write down who you can beg, borrow, or steal from to fill in the gaps until you earn enough to buy what you need. File in your Brainstorms folder.
- Read PartTimePhoto.com every day to make sure you don’t find yourself lacking at your next photo shoot. You’re invited to click the “Subscribe” link at the top of any page on this web site.
- With the equipment you own now, could you start your own part time photography business? Leave a comment below, e-mail me, or call or text me at 830-688-1564.
- How to make money as a part time portrait photographer – Startup Series, Part 1
- Want to make money as a part time photographer?
- The legalities of starting a part time photography business – Startup Series, Part 3
- Top 15 Internet Marketing methods, from least to most effective, from Darketing to Arketing
- Should you buy an Apple iPad for your photography business?