Running a Photography Business, Getting Started

The 5 P's slide
In our previous blog we briefly talked about what this blog would be aiming to cover, today we continue to discuss the construction of a business model when you first start off your photography business.

Knowing which aspect of photography you are going to do professionally is key to the way you develop your business model. Are you going to be a social photographer? Undertaking weddings, and possibly portraits or are you going to be a wedding photographer only. Would you prefer to undertake commercial photography? Capture products for use in catalogues or on the web. Will you require a studio or can you get away from being home based? All these questions need to be answered before you can begin to formulate you business plan.

In my case I decided that my area of expertise was in Weddings, Portraits and Makeovers. I knew that I would need a studio in order to make a living from portraiture and makeovers, because you can never depend on the weather here in UK, to schedule five or six portrait sessions in one day. Any sign of rain and a full days program goes out the window. The same problem exists for weddings but the key difference is you have an option to use the wedding venue if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

These are all issues that need to be considered. Once you have established these key points you can then start to put together your business plan.
Again going back to my particular circumstances. I had decided that I needed a studio to work from. I looked around at a number of locations and ultimately decided to go for my studio in Lowton. I have had to go through this process a number of times previously so had a bit of experience in knowing what locations would best suit my business. These included:
• Good prominent main road position,
• Good parking facilities,
• Residential area close by,
• Easy access from motorway network

I avoided a town centre location mainly because of the parking issue. I personally avoid visiting town centres mainly because of the difficulty in finding parking spaces close to where I want to shop, that is partly why supermarkets have done so well, free easy to access parking spaces. My studio in Lowton is possibly the best location I have had a studio because the studio has its own ample parking facilities, it is easy to access from all locations, from Bolton, Liverpool, Manchester, Widnes, St. Helens as it is just off the East Lancs Road and close to Junction 22 and 23 of the M6.

When I met the landlord I thought he seemed a genuinely nice, accommodating person who was easy to talk to and seemed concerned about his tenants. As it as turns out, whenever there is any issue he is quick to put things right. I also spoke to other people that knew him and they all spoke very highly of him. This was a big plus for me. When I was looking at other studios some where owned by big faceless organisations with headquarters in city centre Manchester that seemed very impersonal and this really put me off at the time. Some had be left empty for a long time and were suffering from dampness and had a big pile of mail behind the door, as if they had not been visited by the landlords for months if not years. This I view as a warning and I decided not to progress with these properties.

When you are starting off in business for the first time it is vital that you tread carefully when looking for a location, often leases can be 10 years plus and if you get it wrong you could end up stuck in a place that is completely wrong for your business. Paying off a 10 year lease is not a consideration for most people so you are stuck with it. As they say location, location, location.

So now you have your business model partially established.

Next time we will be exploring more about adding detail to the business model, using the diagram below

business plan triangle