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Taking Your Photography Business to the Next Level

Published: 03/10/2018
By: Brandon

Larry’s recent post about moving from real estate to architectural work really caught my attention. I totally agree with Larry’s comments in that article, where he talked about the value of workshops and it got me thinking about all the other ways shooters can go about getting professional development to help them get to the next level. This can include formal methods like workshops, but improving one’s skills can happen other ways too, including coaching and going through the books and video tutorials that are out there now--many of which are featured right here on PFRE.

For me personally, the thing that really kick-started my growth was finding a coach. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if it weren’t for my own experience with one-on-one coaching, I never would have progressed as far as I have with my photography, and my business in general. Working with Tony Colangelo as my coach/mentor has been, by far, the single most important thing that I've done for myself and my business! I decided to go the coaching route because I’d already watched and read pretty much everything I could find online at the time and I knew I wanted more. I needed that personal interaction from someone who could not only share their knowledge and experience about the work but also about the challenges that we tend to shy away from discussing, like fear and lack of confidence on the inside, or the lack of knowledge about how to approach a new client group/market on the outside, etc., etc., etc. Tony helped me through these challenges one at a time, recognizing things in me and my work that I didn’t even see in myself--and he encouraged me to take chances to find it. Working with a coach like Tony not only helped me from a photography standpoint but he helped me re-wire my approach to almost every aspect of life and business. If you find yourself on a creative or professional plateau, I would strongly encourage you to reach out to a coach on the PFRE roster. If a PFRE coach isn't right for you, don't be shy to reach out to someone who inspires you; you might be suprised at how willing and able some people are to help, I know I was!

I've learned that taking chances and putting yourself out there is a big part of the process of trying to get to that next level. This might mean forcing yourself to try one new photography technique at every photoshoot, or reaching out to that potential client you've had your sights set on. For me, it was building up the nerve to post some images on the PFRE Flickr group; and once I got over my anxiety about putting my work out there, Tony talked me into entering the Photographer of the Month contests here on PFRE. I can't describe how important doing these two things were to my development. When I knew I was going to be posting an image for my peers to review/critique, it forced me to become more thoughtful behind the camera which led to a more calculated approach to my photography. Instead of walking into a room and just feeling my way through a shot, I started combining my own gut feelings with the advice and feedback I had received on past images which ultimately created a nice balance of creativity and critical thinking. As many of you know, our monthly contest has some of the most respected names in the business as jurors, and almost every entry gets comments from one or more of them each month. It is such a rich learning opportunity--one that is totally focused on getting you quick, intense bursts of knowledge that can help expedite your development. So, I’d encourage you all to take a chance, post images to the Flickr group, and enter the monthly contest.

So following up on Larry’s post--yes, workshops are a great way to learn and network but for those of you who can’t get out to a workshop for whatever reason, don't let it become an excuse for slowing your progress. There are many other ways to improve your skills and grow your real estate photography business. There are also practical ways to make the leap from real estate to interior design/architectural, if that’s what you want to do. I’m so thankful that we have such a great community of like-minded people willing to help one another and I’m proud that we have so many resources available to help folks get to that next level--from our kick-ass roster of 14 PFRE coaches, as well as links to books, videos, and upcoming workshops.

I hope you’ll take advantage of them!

If anyone has had a great experience with a workshop, tutorial, book, video series, etc., please feel free to post about them in the comments below.

3 comments on “Taking Your Photography Business to the Next Level”

  1. I've been a member of this blog for about 6-7 years.
    Because of my formal architectural and commercial photography/ lighting background, I was one of the higher priced RE photographers in my area.
    After looking at many of the entries on this blog, contest winners, including Brandon and Tony's work, I felt there was something missing from my images. When I noticed they were giving a workshop in Atlanta, I decided I truly wanted to change the look of my images to a more natural lighting feel and bring my photography up a notch to approach the Architectural clients.
    But when I considered the cost of the workshop, hotel, meals and airline fees, I was a bit hesitant and contacted Tony for some feedback.
    Tony was truly a pleasure to speak to and convinced me there was much I could take away from what he and Brandon had to offer and he was right. Not only was it an enjoyable workshop filled with many talented photographers all willing to help each other, but the workshop gave me a different way to look at and light a shoot. I also came away with not only a different outlook on shooting, changing my website to reflect the newer look, but a more confident feeling when I charge a higher price. It also gave me more confidence on approaching different higher end clientele such as builders and architects. I can attest, if you want to go to the next level, even if it is at a cost that might frighten you, by all means, find a way to make it happen, it will pay in the end.

  2. Just would like to take this chance to say thank you!

    Don´t know where my business would be today without your help!

    I work for 4 years as a real estate photographer in Berlin now, and earn a living from the first year only with you guys help!
    Actually Mike Kelley inspired me to take this step but I really learned most of my skills from you guys here!

    Big thanks to all your engagement Larry!

    Also big thanks to Scott for his useful Video Tutorials!! (Totally worth the money!!!)

  3. I can only confirm Eric's contribution. Even when I don't have a booked shoot I practice both shooting and post on every occasion I can. Only with practice, together with attending suitable* workshops can one not only move to the next level but also stay on top.
    In addition, getting a third party to view your work is valuable. A fellow photographer would be ideal but someone else who understands why and what the images are for will suffice. My best critic is my wife. No, she doesn't always say, "that is good" - she pulls no punches and if she doesn't like my picture she will tell me in no uncertain terms giving me the reasons why.

    I like images that pop with colour. She doesn't saying they don't look natural. Her words to me were, "when I look at a picture, it must give me the feeling I am actually there"! Taking this advice certainly has improved my RE/architectural work.

    *suitable - I get invited to workshops by the camera manufacturers. Unfortunately they just want to sell their gear. I have never paid for one of these. In 2017 I visited one of these, nice set up no expenses spared. I remember the flash equipment, Profoto. Fantastic gear but.
    There were models on hand so I took a number of pics. I was quite happy until my buddy, a retired pro looked at them. His comment, "lighting set up is crap" - true, although they had one of the best lighting equipment set ups on the market it wasn't ideally positioned. As it was pre-arranged I couldn't change it.

    When you are paying for a workshop, be very choosy who, how where, appraisals. Although such events are tax deductible, if it was no good or didn't bring the required results one has wasted valuable time that could have been put to better use elsewhere.

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