Running a Small Business


Savannah Robinson, Editor

Having a small business can either have a successful or failed outcome.

You must work every day and set goals to succeed. Otherwise, the work put into it will all have been for nothing. I started my business from scratch and grew it over countless years of learning from videos, practicing with friends and family, and going on retreats with other photographers to discuss business ventures, take pictures and improve my skill. 

I have learned numerous photography techniques and tricks to help better myself with my business and provide all things to help my clients have a good experience. There are many photographers worldwide with many different styles and focus points. The amount of success you want within your business depends on how you run it. The investment in starting a business is something you will need to do to start somewhere. 

“The biggest struggle I had when starting photography was taking the jump to invest my money into the equipment I needed,” Aleah Heikkinen, a new Nebraska photographer said. “What made it so hard was not knowing if I would get back what I put in. I also had no idea about editing and if I could learn how to be decent at it. How I overcame those struggles through marketing and research. Before I even received my camera, I watched hours of videos to learn pretty much anything. I watched how to edit, pose, camera settings and about advertising. I didn’t make any money for my first five sessions. I knew if I did multiple sessions for free it would get my name to people,  which started bringing in the clients that I have now. I have definitely learned a lot about photography from trial and error and other photographers. I would say there are a lot of things you need to know about running a small business. I had the opportunity of having people in my life that have helped me with any questions I have had. I would say I have learned a lot from doing research and figuring things out as I go.”  

Investing in your business is a huge step to getting your business up and going. The equipment does not need to be the most expensive option, someone can get good equipment at a lower price and have the same outcome as expensive equipment. Your investment in equipment is one of the major purchases, along with editing software, gallery delivery websites, Honeybook, a business management tool, other business sites and quarterly taxes. Before anyone invests in expensive equipment or software, you can find more affordable sites that offer just as much as the others. 

Building your portfolio is a huge step toward gaining knowledge about what kind of photography you are interested in. This could include free sessions for others, finding inspiration online and adding your own ideas to make it original. Having a portfolio helps show others what you can do as well as your style. 

 “During my slower times of the year, I like to create for myself,” Torie Egger, Nebraska western photographer said “So during the winter, I want to set up cool lifestyle cowboy shoots in the snow or get some cool prints of livestock. I also love to be inspired by others, so I’ll scroll through social media, find an idea and add my own twist to it for a shoot.” 

This is also a good opportunity to learn how your camera works and how to manually control your settings instead of having your camera do it for you. There are many concepts to know that will help produce the best picture quality, the biggest three functions are ISO, shutter speed and aperture. All these functions do something different but end up working together to create a clear image. The way you go about adjusting these settings varies from person-to-person. My preference is to change the aperture and make the subject stand out from the background, then I change the ISO and put it on the lowest setting to reduce grain on the images. This gives the image a sharp and creamy image without any color issues. From there, I change my shutter speed so I can capture clear movement while adjusting how much light is needed to capture. All this will help the editing process within Adobe Lightroom, an editing software. Many editing software and presets help find what style you want to create. No one will have the same edits as others, may be close but not the same. Everyone finds their style and proceeds to better their work to create the colors they use to express their work. 

Atley Buhr, a wedding and senior photographer said, “I feel I am more colorful than other photographers, and not many people use Fujifilm mirrorless cameras.” 

There is more to taking pictures than editing, you must have ways to communicate with your clients and others who are reaching out, as well as the way you schedule sessions or client meetings. Before reaching out to clients and giving legal information, people must know what actions to take with contracts and payments. Email is huge within any business; it is how you communicate and schedule events with clients. It keeps the owners organized with inquiries rather than having people message them on other social media or private messages. Email is not the only way that small business owners stay organized. 

Other ways to stay organized, include writing things down or having multiple calendars to help keep track of sessions or events. I personally have three different calendars: one for school so I can stay organized with assignments and two planners for my business for the current and following year. Once I put all the details in, I then put them in my phone calendar just so I have that up-to-date with the others.

“To those wanting to start their own business, I would say “do it, do it, do it!” Lily Fisher, a Nebraska photographer said. “Starting a business can be difficult at first, but once you put your mind, time, and effort into it, it’s all worth it! The experiences you can connect with the most wonderful, talented people! I would also recommend reaching out to people who own a business like your own and ask them for guidance. When I started my photography business, I reached out to some photographers, and they gave me some amazing advice, helped answer all of my questions, and encouraged me so much!” 

The connections made throughout the small business industry are such a great experience. Gaining knowledge from others and seeing all the ways they handle situations as well as learn new techniques. For photographers, going to retreats hosted by some of the best-experienced photographers help to learn not only from them but the others who also join the retreats. You gain new experiences as well as friendships. 

Aside from taking on a business and gaining experience, everyone must also remember to take time for yourself and other hobbies. The mindset within a business differs from the mindset outside in your daily life. You must know when to take time for yourself from work and appreciate life outside the work field. It is easy to get caught up within the work field but taking time for yourself, and your mental health is huge. 

“I struggle with time management in the sense of giving me time for myself, Egger said. “The reason for that is because I can never shut off my business in my brain so I always want to book shoots, edit, schedule social post or respond to emails. I started to take one day a week off so I’m getting better!” 

Online actions play a huge part in any small business, with having a website, online stores, social media and so much more. It helps grow as an individual as well as your brand.