Creating Your Ideal Photography Business


Creating Your Ideal Photography Business


Lesson Info

Creating A Vision For Your Business

I couldn't talk about creating a vision for your business without bringing my wonderful family up here because they're such an integral part of the entire progression of everything. Peter, as the artist. And Abby, as the reason why we do everything. And so, one of the reasons that our business has moved and changed over the years is how we've spent time with her. So, when she was a little girl, like little girl, two years old, even before that, I had a desk sitting beside my desk and Abby had a little play keyboard and she had a little toy phone. And she would sit and do everything that I did. And whenever I would hang up the phone with a client, and say, whoo, $600! Abby would raise her hands and say, whoo, $600! So, she has always been a huge part of our business. She pretty much knows the ins and outs of everything. And so, you'll see kind of how our journey has transpired over the last two decades of photography business. And this is the time to stop everything that we've been talk...

ing about and put it aside because we're not going to be talking about numbers. We're talking about dreaming. And we're talking about creating this vision of what you want it to become. And so, I'm going to let our little dreamer start out here, Abby. And she's going to kick it off for us. OK. Adults always tell kids that we can do anything, as long as we work really hard. Unfortunately, somewhere in between the childhood and adult range, adults stop believing in their dreams and they start compromising them. When you were 12, did you imagine yourself overworking and maybe not enjoying the job that you have? So, adults always tell my parents how they wish they could do this, how they wish they could do that. It really confuses me because they're adults. The whole point of adulthood is that you can choose what you want to do with your life and do what your dreams are. So, remember what it's like to be 12. And remember that you can do anything. And, yeah. Great job, kiddo. (audience claps) How's that? That's pretty cool. That's why I do this, is for her and for us to live this life that we do. But, basically, 20 years ago, Kathy was working as a teacher, a middle school teacher. I was- had a job with a photography studio in Denver. We were living in Boulder, Colorado. And working at a studio was great. If you guys are wanting to start a photography business, the best thing you can do with find a mentor, someone that'll take you under their wings and show you all the rough stuff and you get the fast-track. And that was basically what I was getting. It was amazing. In the process of that, I was at this very successful portrait studio. It was kind of babies and families in Denver. I got the opportunity to start a wedding division for this studio, that previously didn't do any weddings. It's like, wow, this is great. This is amazing. But then, in the back of my mind, I was always thinking, I wanted to do my own thing. My goal was never to work for someone else. My goal was to be my own boss. And, about that time, Kathy and I were going to Yosemite National Park, one of our favorite places in the world, on a rock-climbing trip, at the time. And we talked about this the whole way, driving to California, what we were going to do and how I should progress. Well, we took a whole day. We got an empty notebook. We went into El Capitan Meadows, which is like the heart of Yosemite. It's so gorgeous. And we sat on there in the grass. And we hashed out our plan of what I should do. And, basically, I don't know about you guys, but I like to write a pros and cons list, the should I stay or should I go list. And that's exactly what we did. And, after writing out this list, it became very clear to me that I needed to move on. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, maybe, and start my own business, which was kind of hard. It was a big step to take. So, basically we created this dream. With that, we started to write down what we wanted our next year to look like, what do we want two years to look like, what do we want 10 years to look like. You know, what are the building blocks to get us there? And so, that led us to some questions. And that's you. So, these are the questions. And this is what we've always gone to any time we've had to make big decisions in our life. And it all starts with life and then, it filters down to business. So, what makes you happy? Clearly, Abby makes us happy, but there are some big themes in our lives or things that we love, that we are really passionate about. And one of them, since the day Peter and I met, is travel. We went on a trip together within two weeks of meeting each other, and have been traveling ever since. And so, we knew that that always had to be a part of our life. We knew that we wanted to have adventure. We were rock climbers. We were kayakers, mountain bikers, backpackers. You name it, we did it. And that had to be key to what we were doing. We didn't want a job where we worked 50 weeks a year and only got our two-week vacation. That was clear from the beginning. And, of course, the last thing that we decided was that we wanted to have a family. And so, we knew that that was coming down the road. So, when we thought about what made us happy, it was travel. It was adventure. And it was climbing and kayaking. Easy. Turning that into a job? A little trickier. And then, the other thing that we asked ourselves- Sometimes, if you don't know what makes you happy, sometimes asking the question, what makes you unhappy leads to a very clear, definitive answer. For me, sitting in front of a computer is intellectually death. I hate it. I don't want to do it. I want to be around people. I want to be out in the world. I want to be doing things and teaching people. And so, we made a list of the things that we hated doing. And, fortunately for Peter and I, some of those things were opposite. And so, some of things he really hated doing, I didn't mind doing. Some of the things I really hated doing, he didn't mind doing. So, we were able to accomplish a lot and nobody had to do something that they really, absolutely hated. You can't always get rid of the things that make you unhappy, but you certainly can take steps to minimize those things and make them as unprominent in your life as possible. And then, the next thing that we wrote down were what were your skills and talents. And this one is, sometimes, really hard to write about yourself. Sometimes, the talents that you have you don't even think of as talents. And so, we each wrote our lists of skills and talents. And I would help Peter see what was amazing about him. And he would help me see what was amazing about me, that sometimes we would took for granted for ourselves. But really identifying what we were great at, what we loved doing, and what we wanted to stay away from, kind of shaped what this business was going to look like. So, that one day, in El Cap Meadows, 20 years ago, we wrote a huge notebook, full of our dreams. We were pretty fresh out of college and we still had that 12-year-old mentality of we can do anything, maybe not right at this second, but some day. And there were things. Peter wanted to be an adventure travel photographer. I wanted to be a published author, like the craziest things ever. Dream jobs. That's what we wrote down. And we kept that notebook and we reviewed it every year, if not- Sometimes on really bad days, I would go back and just read through it and be like, OK. This is what we're doing. And sometimes on really great days, I was like, oh, my gosh. Check. We did that one. So, it was kind of our guiding principle, the foundation of our lives. And it was really cool.

Class Description

"If you're struggling to figure out the business process of photography, this class is one of the clearest and most concise I've ever seen. If you're experienced but the business side and pricing are eluding you, you will find clarity here. I own at least twenty CreativeLive courses and hands down, this one explains pricing and strategy better than any others I've purchased or watched live." - Julie, CreativeLive Student 
Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - start ups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 


1Class Introduction
2How To Price Your Products
3Which Products Will You Offer
4Methods For Pricing
5Mark Up Factors On Products
6What Is Your Per Hour Figure
7What Is The Feasibility Of A Product
8Target Sales Average
9Session Fees Pricing Strategy
10Minimum Purchase And Incentives Pricing Strategy
11Bundling Pricing Strategy
12Pre-Design Pricing Strategy
13Album Pricing Strategies
14Example Pricing List
15Business Basics Overview
16Tracking Product Lines In Your Business
17Track Your Session Counts
18Know Your Sales Average
19Importance Of Data Analysis
20Overview Of Costs
21Professional Photographers Of America Benchmark Survey
22Creating A Vision For Your Business
23What Do You Want To Accomplish
24Take A Leap Of Faith
25Refine Your Vision
26Products That Sell
27Identify Pricing Strategies
28Portrait Pricing Strategy Example
29Album Pricing Strategy Example
30Online Pricing Strategy Example
31Fine Art Prints Pricing Strategy Example
32Packages Pricing Strategy Example
33Sales Strategies Overview
34Portrait Sales Session Overview
35Sales Strategy for Portrait Sales
36How to Present Images to Client
37Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales
38Album Pre-Design
39Marketing: Define Yourself
40Who is Your Ideal Client?
41Who is Your Ideal Partner?
42How to Start a Partner Business Relationship
43Marketing Strategies that Work
44Product Lines: Business Plan Part One
45Workload: Business Plan Part Two
46Sessions: Business Plan Part Three
47Expenses: Business Plan Part Four
48Clients: Business Plan Part Five