06 July 2018 | Career Advice | Guest Author
Over half of professional photographers said they didn’t have sufficient experience when they started their business
- 98 per cent of photographers enjoy their job
- But many admit to being challenged by aspects of running their business
Only thirty-six per cent of professional photographers thought they had enough experience when starting their own businesses, that’s according to a frank new survey from small business insurance broker, PolicyBee. Just over half (53%) admitted to being lacking in experience, which could have made their first few years in the industry more problematic than necessary.
Kerri-Ann Hockley, Head of Customer Service, who commissioned the survey for PolicyBee said: “Being a professional photographer is surprisingly risky. For example, there’s only one chance to capture a couple’s special day, and getting it wrong can mean the kind of trouble that hurts both your wallet and your reputation. While it’s very honest for some photographers to admit they were ill-prepared when they first started out, making your professional life more risky from day one isn’t something we’d wholeheartedly recommend.”
High levels of career satisfaction
However, this lack of experience has not dampened photographer’s enthusiasm for their profession: nine out of in ten photographers profess to either ‘absolutely loving’ their career or having greater job satisfaction than friends in other industries.
The main reason cited for enjoying their jobs was ‘capturing special moments in people’s lives’. Other reasons were more about the photographer’s personal enjoyment and included:
- Being creative
- Being their own boss
- A healthy work-life balance & flexibility
- Meeting clients
Seventy-two per cent of professional photographers would also recommend their industry to others.
When asked about any specific advice they would pass on to those considering a similar career, photographers shared the following tips:
- No matter how basic, make a business plan to stay on track
- Find a niche rather than being a jack of all trades
- Value yourself and make sure you charge what you know you’re worth
- Know your camera and kit inside out and don’t stop trying out new things with it
A career in photography seems to attract people at all stages of their lives. In the survey of just over 300 professionals, 16 per cent went directly into photography as their first job; 28 per cent switched from a previous career that gave them less satisfaction and a further 23 per cent fell into photography by accident. Interestingly a fifth of photographers had their eye on a career change many years before they switched, saying it was always a long term plan for them to move into this industry.
Challenges: more comfortable behind the lens
Despite enjoying their job, professional photographers admit to there being significant challenges in running their business. In fact, 99 per cent agree with the statement that
‘there is a lot more to running a photography business or being a professional photographer than simply taking a great picture’.
More comfortable behind the lens than in front of it, many say that promoting themselves and their business is the biggest day to day headache they face. Second to that is general small business red tape such as tax return and HR matters. Other stressors include being commercial & charging a competitive amount; doing their accounts; and ensuring they allocate the right amount of time to different clients. Getting the right insurances is also a challenge for many professional photographers.
Hockley said: “With so many photographers admitting to not being experienced enough, having the right business insurance can be a really important part of a photographer’s kit. For example, professional indemnity insurance pays out if the photographer makes a mistake on the shoot, or if some other mishap means the results aren’t quite what the client was expecting. Similarly it will pay to defend the photographer for any accusations of professional wrongdoing - whether or not they are founded.”
Trade associations valued for networking opportunities
In order to feel supported in an industry largely comprised of people working on their own, many photographers choose to join a trade association or industry group: 58 per cent of photographers are part of a trade association from which they enjoy networking opportunities, training, discounts on products and services, as well as believing it helps them be seen as more professional, differentiating them from others.