Archive for October, 2012


One year on

So, it’s about one year since I sold my first portrait, and its been fun, hard work, and has given me a sense of achievement. I feel I have come a long way from driving round my area in a clapped out Ford Focus, dragging my sorry ass up to apartments in tower blocks, trying to take the best portrait ever, in rooms where there wasn’t enough room to swing a cat, and trying to sell great products at reasonable prices to be told, “that’s too expensive”.
I am now settled in my lovely studio, where people come to me. As soon as they walk through the door, and get offered a cup of tea, they seem to realize that they are here to spend money after they have had some wonderful portraits taken.
Oh, yes, and I am now a proper portrait photographer, having achieved my Licentiate with the MPA. The certificate is proudly hanging on the wall in my studio,acting as a constant reminder to work towards my Associateship in a couple of years, but that’s going to be a lot tougher.
The figures for the first year came in just under plan at sales of just over £20k. My expenditure was a lot higher than expected, so I didn’t make any profit, but at least I can mitigate the loss with a tax rebate. Having a good accountant is a great thing.
My targets for the next year include: increasing my average order to over £300, getting onboard at least 5 more corporate partners, aiming to win some awards at professional photography competitions, achieving 15% of my sales from referrals and achieving at least one sale in excess of £1,000.
Am I going to give up my other job? Not yet, and not in the foreseeable future, a good salary, which acts as a safety net and a great pension scheme are the handcuffs which keep me working there. But that’s not the point of it all, my life has changed so much, I haven’t been to my local pub in over a year, I have met some great people, I have seen tears of joy and smiles of happiness when people see the photos I have taken.
However, taking the photos is only a small part of the whole package, there’s marketing, networking, sales, bookkeeping, processing, ordering photos and other stuff, repairs to equipment, managing cash flow, oh yes and cleaning up after babies and other customers. I have learned a lot of new skills. So this Saturday I will be raising a glass of Prosecco to another year of even greater success.


Why i am so happy to work in my studio

The studio has been open three weeks, and its absolutely brilliant.  It is a joy to come to work here, and I wish I had found this place months ago.

Before, when travelling to peoples homes, not only did I have to carry all my equipment and samples, but the amount of uncertainty I faced was amazing:- would there be a place to park my car (hopefully, without being clamped or getting a ticket), how much space would there be (from a purpose built studio in one house, to four people living in a single bedroom with no room to swing a cat), where would I put my light, how would I show them the images (nice modern TV I could plug my laptop into, or would I need my projector).  Now I have a place with easy parking, three rooms to work in: a reception to get to know my clients and to find out what styles of photographs they want, a studio to actually take the photos, and a viewing room to show them the pictures afterwards.


And of course because I am operating in my studio the lights are already set up, and I just need to make minor adjustments during the session.

On the negative side, my overheads are higher, but that should be equalled out with higher average orders.  Also I have to clean up after my customers.  Anyone who has had a baby will know how messy they can be! It also astounds me how many mums don’t think twice about wheeling their wet, muddy pushchairs onto the carpet.


One of the nicest things for me is that if I have a cancellation, then I can get on with something else like accounts or photo editing or even updating this blog; whereas, when I was on the road, a cancellation invariably meant dead time.  Having said that I am finding the studio has a slightly higher no show rate than home visits.

Another great thing is being able to take family portraits, something that was quite hard to do in people’s homes.  Now I have the space to do this, and also it makes available to me certain national marketing campaigns, that weren’t available to me without a studio.


Now, I am starting to market the wedding side of my business, and if I get 5 or 6 weddings next year that will be fine, because realistically there is more profits in family photos than there is in weddings.