We have heard the saying many times “Slow and steady wins the race” and over the past 30 years of being a photographer I do have to agree with that statement. In this day and age it seems like instant is everything, instant potatoes, instant text messaging and instant success takes precedent over the slow and steady philosophy. Over the past several months I have had the pleasure of talking to a number of photographers that got me thinking of how far we have come from the slow and steady approach to running a business, especially a photography business. One photographer that had been in business just over a year told me they were revamping their business and changing from one specialty to another because they had not achieved success in that area after the 14 months that they had been working in it. Another photographer was changing their entire approach to shooting weddings as they thought that this new way would bring in more business, that was after 8 months of being a wedding photographer and not getting enough bookings. A couple photographers that I know completely switched camera systems last year as they figured a new camera system would make them more money.
Don’t get me wrong if you are doing something wrong then please fix it and do it now, if your equipment is not working properly then fix that. But make sure that you know the difference between wrong and the fact that it takes time and work to be a success. I was in business for many years before I shot my first wedding, then for the first couple of years that I did weddings I only shot one or two weddings a year. It took 5 years till I got enough weddings to make me feel like I was a success in the bookings that I was getting. Then it was another 5 years till I was at the point that I was able to feel comfortable doing weddings and I was getting enough business to see word of mouth bring me in more and more work. Today if a photographer does not get 20 weddings in the first month they are in business they are switching to something else.
Another photographer a couple months ago told me that they were changing their business model to follow a famous photographer in the US. The photographer here in Alberta was in business for a couple of years and was moving from weddings to new born photography, just as the one in the US was doing. Problem was that the US photographer was a wedding photographer for 20 plus years and was making the switch because they had built a huge following from past wedding business for new born and child photography as well they had a family photography business that was making a huge income and bringing in a lot of referrals for new born work. The photographer here in Alberta had zero portrait income and a very small new born income and had only done a handful of weddings. So they stopped booking all weddings and made the switch. In two months they have now decided that they should leave photography as they did not get any bookings for new born work.
It takes a long time to grow a business, even longer to be called a success and a lot longer to be comfortable enough to be able to switch from one specialty to another and not take a huge hit on your income.
So before you do anything, take a minute to think things through. Calculate what you are doing, what you are going to do and if you do decide to change anything realize that you will have to put in a lot of work to make it a success. Also understand that changing the way you shoot, what you shoot or what you use to shoot will take a lot of adjustment not only for you but for your customers. I have been doing the same basic thing for 30 years and when I do make changes they are slow and carefully thought out. I could have changed camera systems many times over the years but each time I did so had to be thought out as the cost and the learning curve is / was HUGE. It took me a lot of years to decide to leave shooting weddings as I needed to make sure that other photography would take up the slack. When I was shooting weddings I had the same look for a long time as changing was not only something that I had to do but it was something that I had to sell my customers on. Remember sometimes slow and steady does win the race and quick and drastic changes will loose the race for you!