Once upon a time in a bustling city, there was a young woman named Sara, a talented photographer who was eager to turn her passion into a thriving enterprise. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, she dove headfirst into the world of business, with her trusty camera as her guide. Now, let me ask: Have you ever been like Sara, bursting with enthusiasm, only to find out that the business side of photography isn’t as rosy as those Instagram filters make it out to be?

According to a shocking survey by the Professional Photographers of America, 60% of photography businesses fail within the first year, and 25% don’t make it past the second year. Eye-opening, isn’t it?

Today, we’ll delve into the three common mistakes photographers make in their businesses. By doing so, we aim to guide photographers like Sara, and maybe even you, to dodge these potential pitfalls.

Mistake #1: Undervaluing Your Work

‘I was just thrilled to have my first big gig, you know?’ Sara said, reminiscing about the early days of her business. ‘I mean, I was so excited that I didn’t even think twice about the price tag.’

Many photographers, especially when starting out, undervalue their work. This paves the way to undercharging and, in turn, overworking. It’s a treacherous path to burnout, leading to a vicious cycle that can seriously impede your photography workflow.

What should you do then? First, calculate your costs, including equipment, travel expenses, time spent on editing, and overhead costs such as rent, utilities, and even your own salary. Add in a reasonable profit margin to ensure your business doesn’t just survive, but thrives. Remember, your skills, time, and effort are valuable. Pricing appropriately is crucial to communicate this value to your clients.

Mistake #2: Skimping on Marketing

‘I always thought my work would speak for itself. That if I just focused on making great photos, people would come,’ Sara confessed, her shoulders slumping.

Unfortunately, this mindset is a common pitfall for many photographers. In an industry as saturated as photography, relying solely on word-of-mouth or your portfolio’s aesthetic appeal is not enough. While excellent photography skills are a must, they don’t guarantee a steady inflow of clients. Effective marketing is key to making your business visible and attractive to potential clients.

‘But, I’m not a marketer,’ you might protest. I hear you, and Sara did too. But the good news? You don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of resources available to help you navigate the world of marketing. From social media tactics to SEO strategies, learning these skills can truly make a difference in your business success.

Mistake #3: Neglecting the Legal Aspect

‘I remember when I had my first copyright dispute,’ Sara reminisced, ‘I was so confused and scared. I didn’t know anything about copyrights or contracts.’

Legalities can be a daunting prospect for many photographers. Dealing with contracts, copyrights, and releases isn’t as glamorous as capturing moments or editing artful photos, but it’s just as important. Neglecting the legal side of things can lead to serious consequences like unpaid dues, copyright infringement, or even lawsuits.

How to avoid this pitfall? Equip yourself with at least the basics of photography law. Consult a legal professional to help you draft a strong, clear contract. Understand your rights and obligations as a photographer to protect yourself and your work.

In conclusion, the path to a successful photography business is not just about mastering the art of photography, but also understanding the business and legal side of things. Remember, like photography, running a business is a skill that can be learnt and mastered. So, keep learning, keep growing, and keep shooting. What’s your biggest takeaway from these common photographer business mistakes? And how will you use this knowledge to ensure your business thrives and not just survives?