How to Launch a Photography Business



Lesson Info

Common Myths & Unknown Truths

I wanna talk about common myths and some unknown truths. This is all about setting the expectations of what you're about to get into. I think that's so critical, to have the right expectations, because, have you guys ever heard that basically disappoints, what do disappointments come from? It's literally just unmet expectations. So the the problem is that when you're setting out on a journey like this one, a career path, having the wrong expectations can derail you very quickly. So let's talk about it. How many people have heard this? You must have a studio. Nobody's heard that? You just promised to interact with me. You have to have a studio to have a photography business. Oh my goodness. So false. You do not. We ran the first three years, like Kenneth said, over there, over here. Like Kenneth said, the first three years of our business was out of my apartment. I had an employee in my apartment. Oh, here's the funny thing. I actually had a video I was gonna show you guys. But me, Just...

in, and our first employee Joe, we lived in the exact same apartment complex, and so our commute was like, you'd open Justin's door, walk three feet, and you're at work, and then you walk in on the other side. And we did that for years. Completely fine. At home, in an apartment, doesn't matter where you are, totally fine. Nobody makes money in photography. That's completely wrong. How many people have heard this? Please, tell me your parents said this. Everybody's parents said this. My dad just told me he'd disowned me. I'm kidding! But seriously. Okay, your portfolio has to be perfect. Oh, I'm gonna prove this one wrong. I'm gonna prove it. I'm gonna show, you guys wanna see some of our early on photos? Oh yeah, you do. Everybody loves a good bashing session. You need the best camera and lenses. Eh, wrong. Have you heard this, yeah? We were shooting, it sounds, this is almost embarrassing to admit, we started out our studio on Rebels. The Costco kit. Hey, let's start a business. Let's go to Costco and buy some Rebels. That's literally what we did. And the very first shoot that we did was in a helicopter with a Rebel. It didn't come out great. You're looking at me like, no, it didn't come out great. We made it, okay, you're gonna see it, you're gonna see it, don't even worry about it. You need a perfect brand and look. No. It's great to have a good brand and a good identity. We're gonna help you create that. But these things evolve over time, right? How many of you have not bought a great product because their logo wasn't good? Okay, how many of you have gone onto Amazon, found a really great reflector, like a five-in-one reflector, and you're like oh man, 20 bucks, it's got good reviews. How many of you looked at their logo and branding and made the decision at that point? Raise your hand if the logo and branding mattered. No. You saw the reviews, word of mouth, you saw the price, it was good. Okay, Apple is the only computer for creatives. Oh, holy crap, that's wrong. You can use anything you want. I recently switched everything over to Apple, if you guys are curious about it, I can tell you why. But, the first nine years of my career, I've been on PC. I've been on PC my entire life. I still love PC. It's just tough to maintain a studio of 60 PCs, so we're switching everything over for maintenance side. If you take great pictures, you will be successful. Oh man, that is so false. You can take the best pictures in the world and tank it. It has nothing to do with that, unfortunately. I mean, in the perfect world, in the perfect business environment, business decisions and purchase decisions would be made strictly on the quality of the product. That's just not the world that we live in. Business decisions and purchases are made based on how you feel, on what's presented to you, on the information that you actually have. So, probably a lot of the world's best photographers are people that nobody knows about. My market or clients won't pay that price. That's wrong. Your market might be smaller. Maybe it doesn't have a ton of high-end, super wealthy clients, but every time I've heard this statement, I've thought, man, there's a lot of ways around that. Either find that audience in your existing market or market outside of your existing market. Solved. Full RAW only. Please, gosh. I know studios that run jpeg. Their clients pay $8,000 to $10,000 per wedding, and they shoot all jpeg. That's not what we do. From a shooting standpoint, we shoot medium RAW for all journalistic moments. Basically moments that are not gonna be blown up to a 20 by a 30. We shoot full RAW for anything that could be. Family portraits, portraits of the clients, that kind of stuff, we'll go full RAW. But this is up to you guys to choose that. Now, I saw a question in the back. Tell me what that is, what's the resolution on that? That's like, it depends on the camera. On a 5D Mark IV, that'd be something like 16 to 18 megapixels, something like that. It's in between. Okay yeah middle. The point is, you choose. This isn't a huge, honestly, when I shoot for myself, like family stuff and all that kind of stuff, if I'm doing a portrait session for friends, I'll shoot in jpeg. Full jpeg. You know why? I'm shooting it myself. I know exactly how my camera works, I know exactly the range that I have, and I shoot it in camera to be almost, you pop a preset on it and it's done. So I'll shoot it in camera that way. But when you're operating a studio of 30-something photographers shooting, how easy is it to make sure that every single person shoots the exact same way? So we operate RAW, so that way we have more flexibility in post to be able to fix errors. Does that make sense? So, but I'm saying that I have friends that operate studios that shoot only jpeg. High-end studios. You need the best camera and lenses. No. Canon greater than Nikon, Sony, I mean that's true, let's be honest. Just kidding. Pick your weapon. It totally doesn't matter. They're all great. Use your iPhone. I'm just kidding, don't use your iPhone. If you're online, I take it back, don't use your iPhone to take wedding pictures, that's no, that's not what we want. You probably could, actually. Working for free is a waste of time and a bane to the industry. This is one of the biggest incorrect statements that has been put around the internet, that working for free is a bad thing. Working for free without purpose is a bad thing. But working for free has opened up some of the best opportunities that I've had in my career. We'll talk about it. You matter more than your camera or product in the success of your business. This is a truth that nobody ever talks about. Do you know what I mean by that? You will, 'cause I'm gonna show you how we were producing some not so great images, but we still sold $3,000, $4,000 weddings at the very beginning of our studio. It had nothing to do with operating out of an apartment, it had nothing to do with anything. Something had to do with the people that we're interacting with. Education is greater than gear. Can we start spreading this truth around? We are so brainwashed by all the fantastic marketing efforts on the parts of these camera companies that we actually believe that the lens and the exact specific aperture diameter matters. This is something that we're going to talk about quite a bit. The client experience trumps all. This is right. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. If I asked you guys here to think about an image, okay, if you're online, think about an image in your head, one of your favorite photographs of you or your family or your loved ones. You have something in your head? Are you thinking about a particular image right now? Give me my nods. Pick a picture. Now tell me if the lighting or the exposure or any of those things mattered about that photograph? Did the picture that you select, was it a perfect exposure, was it a beautiful image with amazing dynamic range? Or was it something emotional? Was it something that had a meaning and a purpose to you? This trumps all, because it doesn't matter how good of a photograph I take if I made you feel like crap when I took the photo, if I said oh my gosh, this is your wedding day, just relax, there's no reason to do that. It doesn't matter how great that picture looked, if I made you feel bad about something, that's what you're gonna remember. When you see that photograph, you're gonna remember how you felt when it was taken. Alright? Which means that if I made you feel good when I took your picture, it probably doesn't matter so much what the picture looks like. If you look flattering, if it looks good, and you remember that good feeling, that's all that matters. Is that a weird thing to hear? Good. I hope not. The business of photography is more about service and experience over the product itself. Yes. Now, you can call this an unfortunate truth, I don't know. To me, it's wonderful, because if you can separate yourselves, and this is the beauty of a statement like this, and this is the beauty of the truth of this. If I said to you to be successful, you had to be, my dear, what is your name? Chelle. Chelle, I'm Pye, nice to meet you. If I said you, Chelle, like... It's Michelle, but I go by Chelle. Ah, that is, I've never heard, that's amazing. Sorry. So, Chelle. Yes. Along these lines, if I said to you to compete in the photography industry, you have to be taking the best photographs, better than everybody else, how would you feel? I would feel intimidated. Okay, what if I said, instead, that to compete in the photography industry, you just have to give the best client experience? How would you feel now? I would do all I could to make that happen. Do you feel like one's more controllable than the other? I think so. Yeah. Giving somebody a great experience should feel a lot less intimidating, a lot more in your control, than something subjective like being the best photographer.

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

Build a business and get people to spend money on your photography. Award-winning photographer and co-founder of Lin and Jirsa Photography Pye Jirsa will walk you through the first 12 weeks of building your business. With his relatable and actionable teaching style, he’ll explain how to define your product as a photographer and determine where it fits into a consumer mindset. You’ll learn the steps to creating a brand, pricing yourself confidently, sales techniques, and basic marketing practices. This class covers everything you’ll need if you’re considering photography as a job, including:

  • Where to position yourself in the market
  • Branding your business to attract your ideal client
  • Pricing and basic financing
  • Creating a business plan
  • Setting up a portfolio
  • How to get your first customer in the door
  • Getting leads on new clients
  • Understanding sales
  • The psychology of a buyer

Pye has built multiple successful businesses from the ground up and this course includes your 12 week road map to launching your business.


1Class Introduction
2Common Myths & Unknown Truths
3The Road Ahead
4Find Your Passion
5The Lin & Jirsa Journey
6Part-time, Full-time, Employed, Partners?
7Stop Wasting Time & Money
8Your 12 Week Roadmap
9Great Plans Still Fail
10Strategy Vs. Planning
11Mind Mapping
12Select a Focus
13Competitor Research
14S.W.O.T. Analysis
15Strategy & Long Term Goals
16Values, Vision & Mission
17Effectively Managing Your Time
18Artistic Development
19Create Your Plan
20What's Your Product
21Luxury vs Consumer Products & Experiences
22Quick Break for Econ 101
23Your Target Market & Brand Message
24What's in a Name
25Your Client 'Why'
26Crafting the Why Experience
27Document the Client Experience
28Business Administration Basics
29Book Keeping Management
30Create the Logo & Branding
31Portfolio Design
32Design Your Services & Packages
33Pricing Fears & Myths
34Three Pricing Methods
35Package Pricing Psychology & Design
36Psychology of Numbers
37Pricing Q&A
38Grass Roots Marketing
39The Empty Party
40Friends & Family Test Shoots
41Join Groups
42Second Shooting Etiquette
43The Listing & Classified Hustle
44Make Instagram Simple
45Your Automated Pinterest Plan
46Facebook Because You Must
47Giveaway & Styled Shoots
48Content Marketing & SEO
49The Monster: SEO
50Selecting Your Keywords
51Testing Your Keywords
52Grouping Main & Niche Goals
53Your Content Road Map
54Content Marketing Q&A
55Inspiration to Keep Working
56How to Craft Your Content
57Internal Linking Basics
58Back Link Building Basics
59Link Value Factos
60Measuring Link Value
61Link Building Strategy & Plan
62Link Building Plan: Vendors & Guest Writing
63Link Building Plan: Features, Directories, Comments
64Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool
65What is Sales? Show Me!
66Your First Massive Failure
67The Sales Process
68Your Second Massive Failure
69Understand Buyer Psychology
70Step 0: Building Rapport & Trust
71Step 1: Identify Need or Want
72Cognitive Dissonance
73Steps 2 & 3: Value Proposition & The Solution
74Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask
75Step 5: Follow Up & Resolve Concerns
76Family Photography Hot Seat
77Business Example Hot Seat
78Boudoir Photography Hot Seat
79The Best Sales Person
80Your Mindset, Vibrations & Frequency
81Always Positive, Always Affirming
82The Second Money & Dual Process
83Chumming the Price Waters
84Creating Want or Scarcity
85Timeless Advice on Being Likable
86Selling Over The Phone
87Forbidden Words in Sales