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5 Business Lessons as a Photographer

businesslessons-photographerIt’s amazingly my 9th year of running my photography business, officially as a Sdn Bhd / Private Limited (those freelance days were too carefree to count!). It’s a Monday today, and all my staff are not in the office, as we usually take the Mondays off after a weekend wedding shoot to rest and recuperate. I decided to stay home and do some work here too, in between cuddles with my 15 month old son who is growing up too quickly.

On days like these, I take time to think about the business and how we can grow moving forward. Being a natural worrier by nature, it takes extra effort on my part to surrender my business to God and trust Him to bring it forward. Ever since the GST was implemented last year and everyone cut down on their spending, the economic situation has been down. Together with my entrepreneur husband, we’ve diversified our businesses and also made hard decisions to focus when the time is needed.

I don’t consider myself an expert, but here are some thoughts that I have gathered in my years as a full time photographer and mother running a business:

ONE. Outsource – As an artist, one of the pain points I had was actually running the business. I hated doing anything related to accounting (though I did go through some years of basic accounting in school). I know of many photographers who have done jobs but failed to send invoices, only to realise a few months later, that they didn’t get paid for it. So I suggest finding people who are really good at what they do, pay them to do it, and then you can focus on the parts that you love, creating art!

TWO. Marketing is Everything – One of the first things my husband wisely said to me when I first started out… “You can have a website, but if no one can find it, then you’ve already failed in your marketing.” For me, the easiest way to start marketing myself was through my blog and Facebook. I set aside a budget so that I can boost posts when needed. I also started networking with people who are not already in my own usual social circle, like meeting new mothers at playgroups. Start small, start somewhere.

THREE. Don’t Put Yourself Down – There will be days when you feel down. It will come. You will doubt yourself and wonder why you ever started a business in the first place. Just keep your head up, and try to be as optimistic as you can. Pray. Talk to more people. Keep on blogging. Think of new ideas. Don’t give up too quickly.

FOUR. Innovate – Since there are obviously so many photographers in the market, I have to think of ways to innovate my business. How can I be remembered? What can I do that is different from the rest? Can I think of new ways to do old things? One thing I started doing in recent years was approaching baby stores to sell my photography packages to new mothers. I received quite a few enquiries and sales through this method, which was great!

FIVE. Take Time Off – When you run your own business, it’s pretty much on your mind 24 hours a day. I find it really hard switching off, and sometimes catch myself rambling about some random work issue to my husband before  I doze off at night. It’s ok to take a break once in a while and recharge your creativity. When you feel tired physically, just do something totally different the next day. Read a new book. Exercise or travel. Cuddle with your kids. I find that when I am recharged this way, I am a much better person, which eventually leads me to become a better photographer.

20150925_FAMILY_PORTRAITS_ALEX_GRACE_115Alex and Grace while on holiday in Bali. 

Top 10 Female Wedding Photographers

This June, I was featured alongside 9 other amazing female wedding photographers in FACES magazine. We were dressed in beautiful gowns from That Special Occasion and Pretty in White, and each had to carry our cameras for the pic! The women featured were Fiona Lim, Jenny Sun, Anna-Rina, Evelyn Lam, Naomi Ching, Ning Liaw, Visithra Manikam, Nurul Suhaimi & Fatini Zulnaidi. Taken in The Professional Gallery’s studio, make up & hair by Michelle Touche team and photographed by Peter Tan. And thanks to Fiona for these scanned images of the mag!

For those of you getting married, do get a copy of FACES magazine this June 2010! They have awesome prizes to give away, including a RM5,000 diamond engagement ring, loan of a Mazda 2 for a lucky couple’s wedding day, a 3-tier wedding cake, over RM1500 in dining vouchers, AND a 5-day, 4-night honeymoon to Monaco, which includes airfare, hotel stay and a helicopter ride around the state! Wow that sounds amazing!

Basically, you have to keep the receipt to be eligible to enter. Closing date is 15 July 2010. FACES is available at MPH, Borders and Popular bookstores. Here’s the cover and my feature page.

Here are some behind the scenes shots that I took on that day. Since our photo sessions were split according to group, I only have photos with my group of girls. I think this shot of me getting ready was taken by Fiona, if I remember correctly!

Here’s Anna goofing around as usual! :)

And Fiona doing her usual pose while Jenny looks on… Thought bubble: “What’s Fiona doing!!???”

Darn I look short next to these girls. :P Now where’s my non-existent 4 inch heels!?

In the meantime while we were doing silly shots, Evelyn was posing for Peter.

My turn!

Here’s a shot with Michelle and Summer who did the make up and styling for the shoot.

And Patrick… who was our official iPhone photographer! I think we kept bombarding him with iPhones “Please take a behind the scenes shot with our iPhone!”.

It was a fun time. Now stop reading this blog post and go get yourself a magazine, and a trip to Monaco as well!!