Owning and operating a photography business is as diverse as the art of photography itself. There are so many styles, concepts, mediums and genres of photography that there truly is no limit. However, I believe in order to maintain a profitable, sustainable and satisfying business in a creative field, there are some key elements that will keep business owners on track to success. 

These tried and true concepts have proven themselves over time and the small businesses that choose to create and sell photography have found them to be the path they needed to meet their personal, business and financial goals. We all know roads have curves and hills and valleys during the ride, however, if small creative business owners stay dedicated to these concepts, their journey will be a much smoother ride with less of the trials and tribulations that can come their way.

This does not mean that there will not be challenges that business owners will confront.  Let’s face it, shift happens, and we often find ourselves in a situation that we need to modify, simplify or amplify an existing business plan or practice. But that does not mean that the key concepts should be thrown out. It simply means that the key concepts need to be looked over and redesigned to address trends, new technology, and business opportunities.

As I said, “shift happens,” so mainstream portrait, wedding and event photographers had to embrace digital photography many years ago in order to maintain a viable business. Most small business owners have to modify their entire advertising plan every few years to attract the next generation of potential new clients. For example, in order to stay relevant in the marketplace and attract the Generation X clients, small businesses had to create websites, blogs and understand the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As soon as they mastered that, or at least started to understand it, then along came the Millennials, and it became crucial to understand Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, SnapChat and every other social media platform that came along. Every single one of these generations usually needs a completely unique marketing and sales concept, however, what they have in common is that there needs to be a concept or brand for them to embrace and desire.

The elements in a small, creative business that do not change should be considered the virtual foundation of the business itself. When a business is built upon these key concepts, it gives the business room to grow with some flexibility and creativity but ensures a base strong and stable enough to create a sustainable business and livelihood in the realm of professional photography. Moving forward, I will discuss the importance of creating and maintain a studio brand name. 

All successful businesses must have an established brand name with a substantial consumer reach. The businesses need to strive to give platinum customer service 100% of the time and offer unique and custom products. All of this has to be done in the simplest of systems. In today’s climate, most of our clients are extremely busy, and, while we need to stay true to the foundation of our business, we need to be flexible enough to accommodate our clients’ busy lives. We need them to believe that we can give them exactly what they do not even know they want, and photograph it to perfection and beyond. Then, it must be delivered with all of the excitement and approval they could ever dream of. 

Mary Fisk-Taylor, MBA, M. Photog., Cr., EA- ASP, CPP, ABI, API

Certified StoryBrand Guide

Profit First Professional and Guide

For almost 25 years Mary Fisk-Taylor has owned a portrait and wedding business with her business partner, Jamie Hayes in Richmond, Virginia. Hayes & Fisk Photography is one of the most sought-after Portrait and Wedding studios in their industry.  Mary and Jamie are both incredibly committed to preserving family legacies, professionally capturing and printing portrait and milestone memories.  They both believe that these need to be proudly displayed in family’s homes, not living digitally on phones, computers and modern technology.  Mary co-hosts the podcast Get Your Shoot Together with Kira Derryberry and has her own consulting company helping other small business creatives be more profitable, sustainable and successful.   

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