Over the past two years I've been working very hard at establishing a photographic workshop business. This posting is not really about this, but I'll let you know that things are going very well despite the media trying to push us all into a double dip recession. I surely shouldn't be doing so well in the current climate, but in actuality, I'm doing pretty well and the business and my repeat client list grows by the day.
But the reason that things are going so well is not down to one thing, but a combination of factors. Yes, you've got to be a good photographer and yes, people have got to want to come on a trip with you because they like what you do. But you also have to provide some value for them and that means teaching them something about photography and hopefully they will go home a much better photographer. I feel I'm succeeding on this.
But that isn't the sole reason for why I'm doing so well. It turns out that I have an amazing support network of friends and people with experience in areas of business that I have needed advice on. Not only that, but I've also had some clients turn into friends and their background and experience has been invaluable as well as something I've got a lot of deep happiness out of. It's been amazing to find so many encouraging people who have wanted to support me, believe in what I'm doing and want to help me make it all a success.
Being self employed means quite a change in your life. Firstly you are fully responsible for making it work, secondly, you find yourself on your own quite a lot, working from home or in cafes during the day because you need some social stimulus. But you also need backup. Someone to share your ideas with, your fears with and have someone act as a guiding light to show you the way when you can't see the wood for the trees.
I've got one friend in particular that I meet up with each week for a few hours in a cafe. He has been acting as my technical advisor and has managed to help me get my ebooks onto the apple iBooks store, amazons kindle app (coming soon), has helped me with any infrastructure help I've needed - I use drop box to sync all my laptops and computers together with the many documents I access while away on workshops and back home, or in Ethiopia. But he's also acted as a manager, sometimes telling me about areas of my business that need more focus, or has managed to help me turn an idea into reality.
Being a successful photographer does not just require talent. Sure there are photographers out there with no talent who are making a good living. Being successful requires strategy, focus, working with others, being collaborative, open minded (handsome, great guy..... Etc,etc)..... Seriously, it requires working with others. Accepting help from others, delegating things to people you know can make a big difference to your business while at the same time making sure you know they're appreciated.
So I'm not really on my own. Here is a list of the people who have helped me or continue to do so:
Darren - graphic and illustration help Callum - strategist, technologist, ideas generator, sanity coordinator Kathy - business finance advice,instigator of the whole thing - I blame her a lot for me existing as a photographer Liz M - proof reading and ebook advice Michael M - proof reading and ebook advice Mike D - technical authoring advice Peter F - photographic mentor and inspiration generator Sonja - marketing, web design, backup sanity coordinator Clients too many to mention - feedback and ideas support network
So if you're looking for inspiration, want to develop your photography as an art or a business, then you probably don't have to look too far. Often ideas, experiences and a way forward can be presented to you by someone who's perhaps sitting right next to you, or is only a phone call away.