Is amateur and professional photography possible on a low budget?


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Like any specialist profession, photography is expensive. There are great savings that can make it affordable for the professional, some of which can help the hobbyist as well.

Some in the industry have an unhealthy attitude that successful professional photographers make a lot of money and have the best of everything. This is not the case. Many photographers find it difficult to make a living, especially when they are just starting out. Several talented professionals that I know have second jobs; the income from their photography is not enough to feed their families. Nevertheless, their customers are happy and their photography is first class. For me that means they are successful.

It’s a daunting thing to start a business, especially to become a professional photographer. I am not telling you this to discourage you from entering the profession; it is extremely rewarding to work for yourself. But it’s not something anyone should do lightly. Many small businesses fail in the first year due to a lack of money.

Being thrifty helps your bottom line, and the good news is that there are ways to save money that will also help you streamline your business, saving you valuable time.

Cameras and lenses

You must own the latest Canikonympusji (not a real brand), that’s what photography snobs are telling you. Not so. There is a lot of nonsense that some brands and formats are better than others. However, as long as you can take the quality photos you need with your camera and lens, that’s all that matters. Great photos have more to do with you than your gear.

There are great photographers in all areas who use all formats and brands. Everyone has their own style which is in part influenced by the system they use. Photos taken with other brands are neither better nor worse, they are just different. In addition, your clients are not photographers. They won’t know or care if your cameras aren’t the very latest model. The results you provide are what concerns them, not the camera you use.

That said, the quality of the lens makes a big difference. If you feel pressured to upgrade your kit, upgrade the lenses first.

Buy a second hand

If you have to buy another camera, think about reliable retailers in the used camera market. After all, the Mark I version of this Canikonympusji camera was perfectly good enough a few years ago, and it hasn’t gone bad. Yes, the new version has a few more bells and whistles, but the old one still works.

Keep up to date with paperwork

Much of your time will have nothing to do with photography. Days will go by without you picking up your camera, but you will be spending hours in front of a screen writing ads, monitoring your finances, and controlling your social media.

Organization is important and there are administration tools that will help you manage them.

Desktop publishing programs are great for creating advertisements, flyers, and newsletters. Scribus is completely free and will probably do whatever you need to do.

If your admin is limited to word processing, creating a spreadsheet, or giving an online presentation, Google offers a free service. Once you sign up for a Google Account, you get Gmail and access to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, as well as very limited 15GB cloud storage. For many people, free Google apps are great and a great alternative to Microsoft Office 365. However, Microsoft also offers free cloud-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

When your needs increase, you can either upgrade to Google Workspace premium with packages varying from $ 6 / user / month, or Microsoft Office 365 from $ 5 / user / month. Both options come with 1TB cloud storage.

There is another alternative. If you need something a little more fancy than the basic MS Office or Google software but can’t afford the upgrade, and you’re happy with a program that runs on your computer and not on cloud computing, then there is another free option: LibreOffice, is free, open source software available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

A function

Free office

Microsoft Office

Google

Word processor

Writer (free)

Word (free cloud-based or subscription)

Documents (free or subscription)

Spreadsheet

Calc (free)

Excel (cloud based or free subscription)

Sheets (Free or Subscription)

Presentation

Impress (free)

PowerPoint (cloud-based or free subscription)

Slides (free or by subscription)

Database

Base (free)

Access (Subscription)

Charts and diagrams

Prize draw (free)

Equations and formulas

Math

Graphic creation

Graphic

Excel (cloud based or free subscription)

A much more in-depth comparison can be found here.

Free has its limits. As there are no cloud services, so no simultaneous document collaboration. It doesn’t have an email client, but there are alternatives to those. Likewise, there is no chat service but, again, free options exist for this as well.

Email and websites

Ideally, in business, it’s more professional if you have an email address linked to your domain name, as opposed to a generic one, like those ending in outlook.com or gmail.com. So it’s worth considering purchasing a unique domain name from a web space provider that offers email service, especially since you’ll want a website to promote your business as well. Pick something short, easy to remember, and relevant to your business.

Many companies register domain names, and it is worth checking their costs before buying from them. Some big names include WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Ionos. These all provide simple templates for websites which may be a good place to start if you just want pages to advertise your services. However, over time you may want to build your own custom site, or create one for yourself, with more functionality, and therefore access to server space can be important.

Some companies offer completely free web services, but they all have drawbacks including limited functionality, lack of security, and slow load times. So, I’m not going to recommend any of them, but this article lists a few for you to consider if you’re in a real rush for funds.

Another consideration is the program that handles the emails. Windows comes with the Mail app, which has its issues, and like cloud-based Microsoft Outlook, is free and includes basic calendar synchronization. There are many applications available for Macs.

Take a look at Mozilla’s Thunderbird, which also makes the Firefox browser. It’s free and can be fully integrated with Lightning Calendar, which also has a to-do list feature. Thunderbird offers unparalleled customization with extensions and themes.

Account management

Keeping books is a problem for most of us, and an accounting program really helps. I recently reviewed Light Blue which is a top class product and there are others on the market for photographers. But for one-man-bands just starting out, they can seem expensive.

There is still some good news. Express Accounts by NCH is a superb accounting program. For small businesses, it’s free but with limited functionality. The perpetual license for a single computer is currently reduced to around $ 80. This saves a tremendous amount of time creating invoices and emailing them to customers. It’s not as versatile and doesn’t have as many features as Light Blue, but it’s excellent nonetheless.

Online storage

Cloud storage can seem expensive. Backing up our photos remotely gives us security against loss that we wouldn’t have if everything was stored at home or in the office. Once committed to a cloud service, it’s likely we’ll stick with them for the long haul.

One of the best cloud services I’ve found for still photos is Amazon Photos. You get unlimited storage space as part of the Amazon Prime subscription. However, if you are an MS Office subscriber, you get 1TB per person included in the plan.

Online Meetings

Many people are now familiar with Zoom. I use it to run individual workshops remotely, but there are other options. Microsoft Teams is available for free, as is Google Meet.

Cataloging, development and editing of photographs

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a photo that you took two or maybe three years ago. This is where a powerful asset management system comes into its own.

Lightroom Classic is an exceptional program for image cataloging, and the good news is that even if a trial subscription has expired, the library module is still working. However, it slows down your workflow as it means jumping between apps. On1 Photo Raw is available as a standalone package, and it’s great value for money. With its latest update, the navigation module is perhaps even more powerful than Lightroom.

For raw development and editing there are some free options, but this is one area I wouldn’t skimp on. All the well-known premium programs produce good results, although they are different. The free ones look awkward in comparison. If you must choose free software, check out your camera manufacturer’s offering, with Lightzone, getpaint.net, and Gimp as possible alternatives.

Do you have any money saving tips that will help others start their photography businesses? What are your experiences with the apps I mentioned? It would be nice of you to share your views.

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