By Crystaline Randazzo
Other Photographers Are Your Friends, Not Your Competition
|Photographers and friends TimothySutherland, Tom Turner|
and Crystaline Randazzo. Click a name to visit their websites.
After ten years of being in the photo industry there is one thing I know for sure. You will get more work from your photography colleagues then from any other client. This is especially when you are first getting started. It’s a matter of simple math. Most photographers are one man/one women teams. Which means they only have so many hours in day to give to clients. So what happens when one of their clients calls them when they are already booked for the date? They pass the job along to someone else that they know and trust. The morale of the story is to be the photographer they know and trust. That means network! Join your local American Society of Media Photographers. Take another photographer whose work you love out for drink. You’ll have a better competitive edge when you are simply authentic and genuine in your passion for photography. That is what connects us all together.
Multiple Revenue Streams Can Save Your Business
In all the time that I spent learning about photography, I don’t think anyone ever looked me in the eyes and said, “How are you going to pay your bills?” Among my colleagues there was a lot of idyllic discussions about running off to New York to become a photo assistant and working our way up the ranks to ultimately become a famous fashion/portrait/commercial photographer. The real world was just a fuzzy apparition in front of us.
So, are you ready? How are you going to pay your bills? The best advice I can give is to have a multi-revenue plan for your business. Look at your skills, your availability, and figure out what combination of those things can help you bring in business. It is unlikely that you will just do one kind of photography for the rest of your life. And it is possible that you might have to have a source of revenue that isn’t even photography related. I love documentary style projects, especially working with nonprofits, but here’s how I’ve paid the bills for the last ten years:
©2012 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.
Be Prompt, Be Professional, Be PreciseThe three P’s of being a good entrepreneur. Every interaction that a client or potential client has with you should be professional. You should dress professionally. You should answer the phone professionally. Your emails should come complete with salutation, concise information, and most importantly within in twenty-four hours of receiving correspondence. You should meet every deadline and follow up for feedback after your project is completed.
It’s true that photographers have the luxury of being a bit more laid back then some professions. I don’t expect you to be in a three piece suit. But if you want to be treated like a professional then you need to act like professional. If your clients see you in this capacity, they will value your expertise.
Your Responsibility to the Photography IndustryFrom the first moment I decided to become a photographer, I thought that the business decisions I was making were about me. What was I going to create? Who were going to be my clients? How much money should I charge? Where to begin?
The truth as I have come to see it is that every photographer has an obligation to our industry. I say this because each of our decisions can make or break the future of photography. It is up to us to create brilliant stories. It is up to us to charge what we are worth. And it is up to us to pass along our hard earned lessons to other professionals as they learn the ropes. The decisions we make affect our industry and it is up to us whether it has a positive effect or a negative effect.
I hear a lot of chatter from photography old timers about how young photographers don’t charge enough. How they are single handedly damaging our industry and ruining it for the rest of us. I don’t believe that. I know that I made plenty of mistakes on the ladder of experience, but what I had was a series of mentors who showed me what was what. They taught me to look at my business as a business. To charge what I needed to survive and to say no when my skills weren’t being valued. I believe that out of respect for all those who helped me along the path and out of passion for the photographic industry, it is now my responsibility to pay that forward.
Crystaline Randazzo is a documentary photographer living in Kigali, Rwanda.
"My varied experience includes a sizeable body of work in post-conflict and disaster areas. I’ve documented agricultural projects in post-earthquake Haiti, women’s cooperatives in post-civil war Uganda, and intercountry adoptions in Congo. I strive to create a variety of images during each shoot and create narratives about how large projects affect individual lives. My approach to telling individual stories puts my subjects, most often women and young children, at ease. The result is vibrant, honest, and emotional photography that resonates with any audience."
View Crystaline's latest documentary, "Meeting Mietzi," at this link.