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The Lab – Short Answer: Business Advice For Students

Question: What’s one piece of advice you would give a photography student to help them understand the business of photography?

“The best advice I can give to a photography student is that commercial photography is mostly not photography. You’ll spend the vast majority of your time not taking photographs. There is an awful lot of work involved in promotion, management, digital image workflow, client services, and more. Make sure you’re prepared to do a great job not just at taking photos but at all the other aspects of the job. However, don’t let this be a license to spend all day on Twitter and photo blogs. Make sure you set limits and work efficiently so you can get back to the part of the job you look forward to the most – making photographs.”

Alex Wright, creative director, Dripbook

“Be prolific. If you take two photographers who market themselves consistently and equally, but one shoots frequently and the other only shoots client work, who do you think is more successful and busy? BINGO! I have researched my own clients across the board and it’s true to my experience: The photographer who shoots for himself, too, is more successful. Create work and images that fulfill you. I’m not asking you to shoot to “find yourself” … I’m saying shoot to EXPRESS yourself!”

Amanda Sosa Stone, creative consultant, Amanda Sosa Stone

“The newest addition to the endangered species list, the lone wolf photographer, is rapidly heading toward extinction. In today’s world of rapidly changing capture technologies, distribution vehicles and publishing platforms, you can’t do it all yourself. You must learn to collaborate – to clearly communicate your unique vision while leaving room for creative contributions from your client and your team.”

Judy Herrmann, photographer and business consultant, Herrmann + Starke

“If your school offers a business class, take it! It’s hard to find solid answers on pricing and marketing and it takes some mining to get a complete picture. Also, try to find an experienced mentor to coach you through it, and consider joining ASMP or another professional group.”

Lee Love, photographer, Lee Love Photography

“The one piece of advice I would give to students is to have a strong portfolio with great images. The only way to do that is to create a new image daily, weekly or monthly. Keep it fresh! Editing is the most difficult part for any artist, be sure to ask a mentor or industry professional to give you some feedback. Create your portfolio (and website) as if it were a book. Tell your story through your images.”

Maria Ragusa-Burfield, founder/owner,

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