5 tips for new photographers

December 2019 issue

Steve Kozak will present sessions at Imaging USA 2020.
© Steve Kozak
Steve Kozak will present sessions at Imaging USA 2020.

For newbies who have recently taken the plunge into a photography career, there are some important things to keep in mind, according to Steve Kozak, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, who will deliver the session “The Secrets to Success When Turning Pro” at Imaging USA 2020 in Nashville.

1. Price yourself to succeed. “Pricing yourself too low will result in the frustration that you’re not making enough money for your time and energy invested,” says Kozak. Taking on more clients won’t solve the problem.  

2. Leverage criticism to better your work. Learn how to set personal feelings aside and see your work impartially to recognize strengths, weaknesses, and areas that need improvement. Entering PPA’s International Photographic Competition is a great way to hone this important skill. 

© Steve Kozak

3. Know what you’re selling. Hint: It’s not 8x10s and wall portraits. You’re selling an experience—and not just the experience during the session, but the experience the client has from the time they use your website to set up an initial consultation to the time you deliver final products to their home. What you’re selling is a series of exemplary experiences.

4. Have a vision. “I love this quote from James Whistler: ‘An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision,’” says Kozak. “What this tells me is that if you compete in the ‘labor’ market with the throngs of photographers out there, then you compete at the lowest common dominator: price.” Instead, have a unique vision that connects with clients’ deeper needs for affirmation and legacy, and you’ll compete at a higher level for a higher price.

5. Master your skills and always be open to learning more. “I believe those who launch the fastest and stay in it for the long term are those who seek knowledge and begin putting it to work,” Kozak says. Your camera skills should be second nature—like a musician who has mastered their instrument—and you should have a set of lighting concepts that you know by heart. Keep learning and continue implementing more techniques.

Amanda Arnold is associate editor of Professional Photographer. 

Tags: pricing

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