IN THE KNOW RUNNING A STUDIO
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.spencephotography.co.uk or find out about hiring the studio, tuition and workshops at www. pavilionphotographicstudio.co.uk 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.