Lessons earned: Career advice from veteran photographers

June 2017 issue

Lessons earned: Career advice from veteran photographers

What better way to learn than from someone who’s already walked the path? We’ve asked two members of PPA’s Board of Directors for words of wisdom: PPA President Rob Behm, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, of Valley Studio in Spokane Valley, Washington; and PPA Chairman Lori Craft, Cr.Photog., of Craft Photography in Marshall, Michigan.

What do you wish you’d known when you started out?

Lori Craft
© Ron Nichols

Craft: I wish I had known how important business classes would be. There is more to being a successful photographer than knowing how to take beautiful photographs. You have to be able to understand the business. 

Behm: Very early in my career I thought I had to be cheap to get work, but all I got were clients who were cheap. Once I adjusted my pricing to charge what my talent was worth, plus my cost of doing business and time, I got better clients who were more appreciative of my work. And they spent more as they considered it an investment.

How can newcomers learn the business?

Rob Behm
© Tim Walden

Craft: Find a good mentor—not just someone who can help you improve your photography, someone who can also help you understand your bottom line. You can be an amazing photographer, but if you don’t understand your business, you will always struggle. Also, be intentional. Don’t sit back and wait for your business to grow. You have to have a plan and continue to work the plan. Finally, one of the best pieces of advice I would give is to join PPA, of course.

What should photographers look for in a mentor?

Behm: If there is someone whose work inspires you or who you want to emulate, get close to them. Study with them in person, rub shoulders with them, maybe even work with them. Get out of the digital learning cave. Interacting with other photographers in person is always the most valuable way to improve your perspective and knowledge of photography.

Tags: business operations

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