Thursday, September 6, 2012

Building A House

A couple of years ago my( then) 12 and 14 year old kids along with their friends built a “house.” It even had a second story and a roof. They were pretty clever and resourceful in building this house. They used lumber that their grandparents, us and friends donated.
One of the other parents found them a great piece of plastic/rubber for them to use as roofing material. They ran electric to their house by way of a REALLY long extension cord and had a TV and gaming system out there. They found some “furniture” by raiding the dealership for some car seats, swiping a cooler for a stand... It was really a pretty great idea. They thought they were pretty amazing. 
 I promise you it wasn't pretty. In fact it was so scary we made them remove the second story because it was so dangerous. As they were deconstructing it my son fell through the 'floor' onto the sofa (aka vehicle seat.) Thankfully no one was injured other than their pride.

The kids didn't plan for anyone to fall through the floor or for their house to have major issues. They just knew they had the raw materials and they could do it! As adults we wouldn't build a hose with no plans and no clue how construction is done. How could you expect it to be sturdy, pass codes or last? Those raw materials don't come cheap and I sure wouldn't want to take a risk of throwing all of that away because I didn't have any plan or knowledge of how to build it.

Going into business as a photographer (or anything else) is like building a house with no plan. You have some awesome raw materials and you know what you want your house to be in the end. You just need a plan on how to get there.You aren't going into business to fall through the floor, you are going into business to make some money doing something you probably love. At the very least you are hopeful that it will at least pay for the camera addiction we all have. 
Why hang your shingle out there and take that huge chance of failure? This industry sees THOUSANDS of "photographers" come and go in the business every year. Most of them fail not because they are bad photographers. Some are even pretty damn amazing photographers. They fail because they didn't have a plan to succeed. 

Back in the day when I used to play pool competitively a coach once told me
"Plan your shot. Then shoot your plan"
It is the best piece of advice I have EVER been given. It translates to every aspect of life. It doesn't even have to translate to be applied to photography. When you create an portrait you plan how you are going to do it-posing, lighting, settings, etc. Then you shoot it. If you have planned well you get an image that is exactly what you expected to get.
It's the same in business. Plan your success, then follow your plan. Will you have to ad-lib in there somewhere? Sure. Your plan will change often over the years, but if you are planning for that change you will succeed.

Here is the key to everything:
Business is far more difficult than photography. 
A person who is good at business and mediocre at photography can succeed wildly. 
A person who is phenomenal at photography and mediocre at business will usually fail.

My first suggestion? Get a business education. It should be part of your plan. Plan to learn what you don't know. Because you just don't know what you don't know.
If you are going to school for photography change your major to business. You can get a photography education anywhere and it's much easier to learn than numerous aspects of running a business. Take photography as your minor and business as your major.

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