I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger, Karen Gunton. Karen runs her own photography business www.smileplaylove.com, in Adelaide, Australia, which is a very long way from where I live in England!
We met (virtually) because we both own blogs that help mums start businesses – Karen’s is called Build A Little Biz and is great, so do go take a look. Karen also has a fabulous Facebook page where she answers questions and starts great discussions about being a business mum.
Hi there! My name is Karen – I am a stay at home mum of two girls age 5 & 2 and I have a little photography business which I run from home: www.smileplaylove.com
My journey into the world of being a work at home mum started when I had my first baby and I got into doing digital scrapbooking. I was a complete amateur photographer but I got very skilled at using Photoshop to create fun and unique ‘pages’ with my photos. For my daughter’s 3rd birthday I took some professional style photos using my point-and-shoot camera and used my ‘scrapbook style’ to turn those photos into beautiful portraits including her name, age and sweet quotes that made me smile. That was the moment the idea for a photography business was born.
My friends asked me to do that for their kids and soon their friends were asking me what I charged. I had very little knowledge of the mechanics of photography at that time, but people liked what I did with the photos so I decided to give it a go. I always had a feeling that photography was in my blood; once I gave myself permission to pursue the idea of a photography business I felt energized and excited. It has taken two years to build my photography from a hobby, through the portfolio building stage, to where I am at now, running a professional children and family photography business. (I started this journey the same month my second child was born, and started basically from scratch. Depending on your skill set and the time you have available it may not take you as long as it took me!)
Photography is a great business for a stay at home mum – you can do it from home or at any location in your city, and if you already have a camera and photo editing software there is very little start up cost. Right now there are heaps of mums out there that are attempting to start a photography business. They have been told (like I was) that they take cute photos of kids. That, plus the availability of affordable dSLR cameras means that every other mum seems to want to start a photography business. I definitely recommend going for it, but there are some things you need to do if you want to start a biz that will have long term success, and stand out amongst the crowd of mummy photographers.
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
It is not enough to take ‘cute photos of kids’. Cameras are so good these days just about anyone can achieve that. What you need to do is take amazing photos every single time of every subject that hires you (not just your own children), you need to have the ability to interact confidently with your subjects and you need to be able to create something that is of a professional quality. The best way to get good enough to charge professional rates is to practice. A lot. Do free sessions for friends to build your portfolio and don’t charge for your work until every image you produce is of a very high standard.
LEARN BOTH PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS AND PHOTO-EDITING SKILLS
If you want your photos to be the highest professional quality you need to master both of these things. Take courses either in person or online and find groups and forums that will help you learn and master these skills. Some free ones that I love are: the forum I Love Photography http://ilovephotography.com/, the facebook group Photographing Children http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=13514981755&ref=ts and the blog MCP Actions http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/
DEFINE YOUR STYLE
Figure out what type of photography you are going to do (babies, families, pets, teens, school photos, weddings, boudoir etc.) what style you will have (modern, traditional, candid, romantic & dreamy, photojournalistic etc.) and how you are going to do your sessions (set up a studio, do locations only, go into people’s homes etc.). Again, this will come with all of that practice, but it is really important to figure this out. Don’t try to be all things at once. Figure out what you love to do and then master it.
If you’d like to start a business that fits around a family you’ll find my new book Start a Family Friendly Business really helpful. If you buy it from Amazon this Friday you’ll be able to download a pack of bonuses too, including e-book and a podcast.
Click the link to go to part 2 of ‘Business Ideas For Mums: Photographer’