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Pro­fes­sional por­trait pho­tog­ra­pher Barrie Spence, who also runs Pav­il­ion Pho­to­graphic Stu­dio in West Loth­ian, shares his top tips for start­ing and run­ning a suc­cess­ful photo stu­dio. You can see Barrie’s im­ages at

www.spen­cepho­tog­ra­ or find out about hir­ing the stu­dio, tu­ition and work­shops at www. pavil­ion­pho­to­graph­ic­stu­ 1 Busi­ness abil­ity (es­pe­cially mar­ket­ing and sales) is more im­por­tant than pho­tog­ra­phy skills. If you’re not good at some­thing, get help in that area.

Most of us start­ing out will be one-man-band oper­a­tions – you’ll be very lucky to use a cam­era for 20 per­cent of your work­ing time. You have to do ev­ery­thing, and that in­cludes the clean­ing in the stu­dio.

2 Your mar­ket­ing/ad­ver­tis­ing bud­get al­most cer­tainly needs to be more than you cur­rently spend – busi­ness rarely lands in your lap from web searches.

3 If you are wor­ry­ing about saving pen­nies on the cost price of prod­ucts then your prices are too low. If 50p is im­por­tant to you on the profit mar­gin of a sale, your pric­ing is all wrong.

4 De­velop a re­la­tion­ship with sup­pli­ers such as your print lab. Make life easy for your­self by hav­ing a lim­ited range of prod­ucts from as few sup­pli­ers as pos­si­ble.

5 Don’t com­pete on price – you’ll al­ways find some­one fool­ish enough to of­fer more for less.

6 The money you earn with the cam­era needs to sus­tain all the work that isn’t di­rectly bill­able.

7 It can take a long time (years) to be­come es­tab­lished and break even – that’s a fact of busi­ness. Many busi­nesses fail be­cause they can’t af­ford to sus­tain a longerthan-planned start-up pe­riod.

8 Don’t buy equip­ment you don’t need. In the end you’ll value the lit­tle things that make life easy (good light stands, re­li­able ra­dio trig­gers, cast­ers on equip­ment you need to move, and so on). 9 All the mun­dane, less artis­tic work (head shots, pack shots, and the like) pays the bills. Shoot­ing mod­els and be­ing artis­tic might at­tract at­ten­tion, but it doesn’t pay your mort­gage.

10 Don’t judge your fail­ure based on oth­ers’ ap­par­ent suc­cess – the busi­ness is full of il­lu­sion­ists.

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