Opening Words: Does the World Really Need Another Photography Blog?

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Photography is a tough industry. It is over saturated, under valued, and fiercely competitive. It takes planning, persistence, and flexibility. As someone who hires, manages, and trains new freelance photographers, I can tell you – with certainty – that every now and then it also takes a little tough love. Think of the Firebrand Blog as tough love for a tough industry.

 

You want to start a photography business. And I want to help.

There are a lot of blogs in the digital world. Blogs to entertain, educate, encourage, or enlighten. Rants, reviews, community, and commerce. There’s a little bit of everything for all sorts of audiences and purposes. There are plenty built around photography.

Over the years, I have bookmarked a great many of them. Some grow bigger, others disappear. Some are quite good. Others, not so much. Bigger and better are also not always the same thing.

There are more and more lightweight, shallow articles readable in 2 minutes or less. Trendy topics loaded with search engine keywords. Clickbait titles hacking you toward imagined success. Links and backlinks on affiliate revenue generators disguised as product reviews.

Mostly, they are repetitive. Not much signal, too much noise.

So does the world really need yet another photography blog?

Not another one like the ones I’ve described, no.

Which is exactly why this one exists.

Let’s start from the top…

Several years ago, we began hiring and training photographers for our own company. At about the same time, I began to participate in online photography groups. I was specifically looking for places to send our people for helpful education and feedback.

The longer I spent in these groups, the more I saw the same problems, the same questions, and the same best-guess answers from peers. It soon became obvious that there were camera owners determined to go into business, whether they understood anything about business or not. A camera and a Facebook page and they were off.

Until they weren’t.

My own photography business is an outgrowth of a previous business that organized events. Over time the focus – no pun intended – was less and less on events and more and more on the photography that we had developed around the events. It was an opportunity that my then-business-partner-now-husband and I approached as an experiment to see what we could build and how much fun we could have while we were at it. Success has been a happy outcome.

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People will tell you that business has changed a lot over the last 20 years. Because people believe that, they feel older principles and best practices no longer apply. I, however, will tell you that it hasn’t changed nearly as much as some people might have you think. The tools may have changed, but the objective is still the same. Provide a product or service that someone will pay money for, make them aware of it, and make the trade.

That’s business.

Photography business has its own little quirks.

Photography is both creative and technical. It’s also a very emotional process and product. There are countless resources for the creative and technical aspects of photography. Trends and techniques are cyclical and change over time. The machinery we use has its own learning curve and these tools have become more and more capable of incredible things. They have made the technical aspects almost effortless.

You can become a great photographer with the education available in the digital world. You can even become the greatest photographer in the world, and still be a total failure when it comes to turning that photography into a business.

There are volumes of law regarding things people create. This includes photographs. Copyright, licensing, contracts, privacy, and so many more bits and pieces need to be understood. Applying all these things into a viable business is absolutely crucial.

Business is a giant tangle of law, finance, taxes, marketing, customer relations, psychology, and more. There’s more to a photography business than a camera and a business card.

The business side of photography education has not caught up with the technical side of photography education.

Our photography company hires independent contractors and takes pleasure in giving opportunities to new photographers. In the beginning, I naturally thought that I could send them to an Internet search engine for the basics of how to establish and run their own legitimate business. They could then freelance for more work.

I also thought it would be helpful to put together a list of resources. So off I went into the cybersphere. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

Remember that repetition I mentioned? There were plenty of websites and articles to give various versions of the the same “5 things to do” list. It all went more of less like this:

  • 1) Pick a name
  • 2) Get a license
  • 3) Get a tax number
  • 4) Get a bank account
  • 5) Get a Facebook page/website
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And not much else. Not even much explanation of what those things meant, much less how to go about doing them. Or why.

It was little wonder that those online photography groups were full of questions and confusion over starting a business.

This also goes a long way toward explaining why so many photography businesses start and then almost immediately fail.

Remember that giant tangle I mentioned? On the job training that’s mostly trial and error is a waste of time. And when the job happens to be the business you’re trying to run, too much error becomes fatal.

Eventually, I began informal feedback for photographers here and there. I created a few workbooks to keep them on track.

So now we have another photography blog.

This blog has traveled about for a few years under various names. It’s finally come to rest currently as the Firebrand Blog, and the program name, TheWorkingPhotographer.com. Along with the blog and its resources, we’ve founded an online community specifically for those who want to turn their photography hobby into a photography business.

At the time of this writing it’s undecided whether we’ll add technical training and product reviews, but that option is open. There are some truly excellent websites already available for those topics and right this minute the plan is to concentrate on the business of photography.

Building a business is like building a house. And like that house you build, the business is where you live your life. A strong foundation and well thought out features can make both those structures last a lifetime.

Photography is a tough industry. It is over saturated, under valued, and fiercely competitive. It takes planning, persistence, and flexibility. As someone who hires, manages, and trains new freelance photographers, I can tell you – with certainty – that every now and then it also takes a little tough love.

Think of the Firebrand Blog as tough love for a tough industry. You want to start a photography business. And I want to help.

So as we say every morning that our photography team begins work, “We on!


Updated July 12, 2022
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