In one of my last posts, I went through five common mistakes which beginner architectural photographers make.
If you’re a bit further along in your architecture photography career or just want a glimpse into the future to see what not to do once you’re working full time, here are three mistakes I’ve made as an architectural photographer, which hopefully this post can help you avoid.
1. Know your worth
I think charging what you are worth will be the biggest issue for most architectural photographers.
I’m speaking for the UK market here when I say that there are plenty of people wanting it for free but there are also plenty of people wanting the confidence that they’re going to get the best job available to them.
There is always going to be someone cheaper than you – it’s your job to be better.
The average architect I work with will take between 5-15% of the budget on a build, so if you’re shooting a project worth £1m, they’ve taken in the region of £100k gross.
In order for them to get the next job or awards, they’re going to need that project shooting in the best way possible.
If you’re charging ~£1k a day, which is average for most architectural photographers in the UK then it’s 1% of their total fee and has the possibility, if used right, to get them the next project – that’s a 9900% return on investment!
Even if they don’t see the value of photography outside of awards and recognition, it’s important you can convey this fiscal value to a client.
2. All the gear and no idea
Spending too much on photography equipment is no new thing to any photographer, but when you’re running a business it’s important to know why you are buying new gear.
If you’re looking to make a business from your architectural photography, then you want to make sure every purchase you make is going to make you more money in return.
If it’s not directly making you more money or making your job a WHOLE lot easier, then do not buy it.
The main reason to have a business is to try and make money.
If you’re spending all that money on new equipment, then you’re just fuelling a hobby and not improving your life outside of the business.
Increasing your marketing budget, rather than buying new gear, will make a genuine difference to your bottom line, which will allow you to grow.
Once you have a client whose work demands or needs a certain bit of kit then you should be thinking of upgrading.
I had the same camera for the first eight years of my professional career: a Canon 1ds mk3 and only bought an EOS R because the pixels began to die on the other body.
None of my clients have even noticed this ~£2.5k investment in terms of the image quality improving and in fact, I’ve had some mention the file sizes are now too big for them to be able to handle.
3. Trying to do it all myself
This would be my number one regret from day one. I think it stems back from working in backstabbing agency environments where admitting you couldn’t perform a task was seen as a sign of weakness.
You can be the greatest photographer in the world but if your marketing isn’t on point, nobody is going to know about you.
If your website looks like it was built at the dawn of the internet, your phone will quickly stop ringing.
And if your accounts aren’t in order then the taxman is going to come after you pretty quickly.
Know your strengths and know your weaknesses.
Even if you have a one-man/woman business, work out a list of all the tasks which you need to be carried out and be honest about whether you can perform those to the skill level needed.
Having a good person doing your marketing will ensure you gain loads more leads = more money and having a good accountant will mean you can keep hold of more of that money.
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