Why Some Professional Photographers Aren’t Successful

Have you ever wondered why some photographers have excellent photo-taking skills but can’t seem to get any business? Or perhaps you’ve noticed some photographers don’t seem to have adept technical skills but are getting a bunch of business. This may be why.

I’m sure we’ve all come across successful photographers within our local market with lots of client reviews and what looks like seemingly mounds of business who have, to say it nicely, less than stellar portfolios. We’ve all also probably come across photographers whose work we admire, but who can’t seem to get any business — or worse, we’ve seen photographers with exceptional photo skills who’ve given up on running a professional photography business because they weren’t able to bring in many paying clients. There is a distinction here, I’ve realized.

Three Types of Photographers

I’ve noticed, within the world of the professional photography industry, there are three types of photographers. 

  1. Photographers who are great at running a business, but haven’t taken the time to master their skills.
  2. Photographers who have mastered their photo skills but haven’t taken the time to learn how to run a business properly.
  3. Photographers who have mastered both their photo skills and how to run a successful business.

Of the three, which do you think is the most successful? Obviously, the third type, photographers who have mastered both their photo skills and how to run a successful business, are the most successful. This is because running a successful photography business requires the photographer’s attention be split between continuing to grow technically with photography as well as improving business knowledge and best practices.

The Many Hats of a Professional Photographer

In his book, “The E-Myth Revisited,” author Michael E. Gerber outlines why most small businesses fail: it’s because when we go from being a person with a passion for something we love that we want to turn into a career, we go from wearing one hat (the photographer) to wearing multiple hats to make our business work. To be successful in professional photography, we also have to learn how to manage ourselves, our time, and our business, and we have to become an entrepreneur. This can be hard for anyone who doesn’t have a business background or a business mindset. However, if you want to be successful with running your photography business, you have to adapt.

How to Make Your Business More Successful in 2018

Are you one of the photographers I mentioned earlier who has focused mainly on improving your craft and not on growing your business knowledge? This may be one of the leading causes holding you back from having a more successful photography business. Taking time and learning some of the business aspects of being a professional photographer will ultimately help you to run a more fruitful business. It will help give you a clear vision for the future of your business and will help you attract the type of clients with whom you’d most like to work.

What has been the biggest struggle for you in transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional? Let us know in the comments.

Lead Image by Gerd Altmann via Pexels.



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