March 1, 2021

Starting your photography business | Alexandria, VA Family, and Senior Photographer

Congratulations on starting your own photograph business! I was half excited and half scared out of my pants when I started. Actually maybe make that 40/60 instead of 50/50. There is so much to learn on the business side that I was completely not prepared for. I jumped in head first and it was like drinking water out of a fire hose. I had exactly 1 million sticky notes with ideas, tasks, inspiration, etc. all over my desk.

Which brings me to point number one – try to designate a spot for yourself to work. Most of us are still spending a lot of time at home and indoor space is limited but having a spot to call your own is super helpful. Maybe it’s a specific couch in the living room or corner of a room. Call it your work space.

In all of the spinning wheels that was my mind I found a desire to streamline the client end (and my end) of booking a session. I was looking at having a questionnaire on Google Forms, a contract on Jot Forms, my personal email, a form on my website – it was too much! I knew I wanted my booking process to be simple for my busy-mom-client so I invested in a client management system called Dubsado. I also invested in Google Workspace which included an email that didn’t end with @gmail.com. WOW was that life changing! Now I have all my emails, contracts, questionnaires, and invoices in one spot. Amazing. There are plenty of other CRM platforms out there that fit different needs so do your research and then consider it an investment in your clients and your peace of mind.

I also purchased new gear and a nicer computer. I know this option may not be for everyone but someone told me “you need to spend money to make money” which I think is so true. Again, consider it an investment and that you will be paying yourself back (plus some more!) soon. You simply cannot get high quality images without a professional level camera. I purchased a Canon Mark IV which created stunning images. But little did I know that by using a kit lens on my beautiful camera was downgrading it significantly. A friend said “why did you spend money on a good camera only to put crap glass on it?”. Blunt but true! I bought a pro-level lens and again I was blown away by the images. Since then I have bought a Canon 85mm lens and the mirrorless Canon R5. Hand in hand with a nicer camera came a sturdy, powerful computer. I had a slow-as-molasses MacBook that I upgraded to my current workhorse MacBook Pro. I promise that professional gear (and practice and skill on your part) will take your work to the next level. 

Lastly, I made connections with local photographers. I reached out to a few photographers like Sara Thom Photography and Misty Rodda Photography and met up for coffee and chatted. They were so kind to do so and I am so grateful for the time they gave me. I truly believe in community over competition. There is a photographer out there for everyone and if we don’t get along then the session isn’t going to go smoothly. Plain and simple! After 1.5 years in business I decided to “host” a local photographer meetup at a brewery in Fairfax. About 15 photographers met up in January and February of 2020 and we still chat today! Of course we didn’t meet in March 2020 but I am hoping to start it up soon. I also make friends on Instagram (sending those voice messages all day long, people) who have helped me grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined! Find your tribe and stick together. The relationships that I’ve made through my business are priceless. 

I hope this helps give you some focus. Please feel free to reach out and chat!