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Old 12th February 2008
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Deciding 'When' and 'How' to go part-time / full-time

Hey All

Someone posted something in a thread recently that really made me sit back and think about what was said in considerably more detail, and I wanted to gather your opinions on this if I may please. It's possibly a tad philosophical this discussion, but it certainly does have a 'real world' element to it too. Here goes...

Someone said to me in a thread on here... "is perhaps now the right time to go part-time [into photography]...?".

A very flattering comment indeed to which I am very grateful, but it did make me wonder; what is it... what is the actual event or trigger that should encourage and enthuse someone to go-pro as it were...? On top of this, and perhaps more importantly... what does that actually mean... i.e. 'going pro'...? Is there something that actually 'happens' that allows one to identify when one has actually gone pro/semi-pro, or is it just something that one says to oneself...?

Personally, as I have mentioned here on this site previously, it's no secret that I'd very much love for a total change in career and to become a full-time, professional photographer. However, apart from the obvious prerequisites related to getting there involving skill, ability, expertise, business registration etc (which I am always working on); what is it that says you actually are or have become a pro/semi-pro...?

I would very much wish to be a semi-pro/pro tog, and though I have some way to go, I do believe I am taking the steps I have identified to get there. The thing is, this doesn't mean that the steps I've identified are the right steps, and as such I am curious as to your thoughts on this one folks...
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Old 12th February 2008
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Re: Deciding 'When' and 'How' to go part-time / full-time

John

I believe you need to make the commitment and get all of the right facilities and backup in place for the sake of your clients. Being a profitable tog will be the thing that comes later - not getting it wrong happens before that.

Are you clear on what you want to offer and not. Set limits and standards early. Don't take on jobs outside of your spec (eg would you tackle a wedding?).

Are you clear on which of your 'jobs' takes priority. For me I have four 'jobs' and it is the thing that defines where I take things on. What about you (project manager or photographer first?)

I wish you well, you have talent and appear to be well motivated. Why not do some research about likely profits (eventually) from other photographers in the area. Could be the key issue.

Peter
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Old 12th February 2008
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Re: Deciding 'When' and 'How' to go part-time / full-time

If you are really comfortable in becoming a full time photographer then go for it, my reason is that you only get one chance in life and it seems to me you have a gift with your camera, It is never easy making a large decision like this but I feel reading your post that you have it in your heart to go in this direction.

And with some careful planning you can make your dream into a reality, if you beleive in your skill then go out there and develop your hobby into a profession.

Never class your self as a Semi-Pro but a Pro even though you are going to be starting off slowly.

I wish you all the best and hope you find a way forward with your quest.

Good Luck
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Old 12th February 2008
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Re: Deciding 'When' and 'How' to go part-time / full-time

I know a couple of people who've had the decision forced on them recently, because they've been made redundant. Luckily they already had contacts, websites for marketing/advertising as well as local opportunities lined up.

Only you can decide when the time is right to take the huge step of turning down a regular income and becoming self-employed.

I think you have the ability to be successful. Do you need to class yourself as anything other than a "Photographer"?

I think you would need to explore both the means of getting commissions and ways of selling, setting up exhibitions to both publicise and market your work and so on.

I went to a talk at a photoshow last year, it turned out to be about marketing for wedding photographers, so wasn't really much use. The one thing I did pick up was the advice to price properly, set out the prices high to low and with something you'd probably never expect to sell right at the top (huge canvas for example), that way people looking at either yours website or adverts will think the middle options are reasonable - neither too cheap or too expensive.

Also, remember that internet sites are cached by search engines, so don't sell yourself short to begin with. Choose a market position and stay with it - would you commission somebody who sells their pictures for a fiver? Did you know that people look online for information about people. Apparently some have lost potential jobs because of what they've said or done on Facebook or YouTube after a drunken spree - not that I'm suggesting you've done anything like that of course

Have you contacted magazines, to see if they will publish any of your pictures? I believe some clients might expect to see tear sheets.

A completely different approach might be to take a market stall somewhere, even as a 'casual'. There are a couple of photographers on our local market, they seem to do good business - and their work isn't cheap either.
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Old 13th February 2008
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Re: Deciding 'When' and 'How' to go part-time / full-time

My wife (desperately hoping I might do something productive with my time, no doubt) bought me a copy of The Freelance Photographer's Market Handbook at Christmas. I found some unexpectedly useful ideas in there, although I haven't yet pursued them.

I have been thinking similar thoughts to TheMusicMan, especially as my attempt to set up a PR/Marketing Consultancy post-"early retirement" last year has not resulted in vast volumes of work (just enough not to completely destroy hope - in some ways that would have been easier!). At the moment, my thoughts are largely around stock on the basis of generating a small, but steady and reliable income stream, and possibly news/event photography for business/public sector, as this is an area I have past experience with (both in terms of shooting in film days, and more recently, commissioning).

The only problem with photography (and with PR!) is that the marketplace seems to be getting more crowded. The answer may be to run multiple careers/job alongside each other, but I'm still trying to get my head round that after 30-plus years of working for single employers. I think the worst thing is just getting started...
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Old 9th April 2008
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Re: Deciding 'When' and 'How' to go part-time / full-time

Hi Musicman,

I just happen to be one of those people that made the move to Pro Photography before Christmas. The first thing I done, was a Start your own business course at the local college this lasted 16 weeks. I found it invaluable when it came to putting together a business plan,marketing plan and I was shown how to do my accounts,Vat etc;

If I was to give any advice to you it would be to do something on the same lines, before you even think about starting a business or going Pro.

I don't know about the adult education system in the UK, but the local colleges in Ireland run these courses every September.

Being a professional photographer is only words at the end of the day you will be judged on the quality of your work and your ability to work and deal with people honestly.

The photography is the easy bit, its the business and marketing that is tricky
You will no doubt get lots of knock backs and doors closed in your face, but you have to be ready for that. Total commitment and a hard neck is what you need to move forward.

Don't forget COVER EVERY ANGLE! excuse the pun!!
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Old 9th April 2008
arbib
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Smile Re: Deciding 'When' and 'How' to go part-time / full-time

All the above advice is well founded...And should be considered "per" your expectations.

But the 1 thing I haven't seen is"...The Income your are making Part Time with Photography....Before you should consider going Full Time.

I have read somewhere a while ago..That you shouldn't consider Full Time until your PT income is at least 50%-60% of the Living income you need NOW.

The added hours from the PT > FT should be used to generate more work. And the added hours will allow for more bookings.

I Think the %'g is correct above..If not, some one correct me.
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