Minardi Photography

(based on a lecture Michael presented for Kodak's Professional Imaging Mentor Series)

"You are a business now! Act like it."

If you want to make a business out of photography, you have to stop treating it like a hobby. To start, get the proper materials. This includes proper stationery, business cards, licenses, transportation, insurance, equipment, invoices, delivery memos, contracts, model releases and estimate forms. Something which seems obvious but is often not followed: you must make more money than you spend. Toward this end keep accurate records and stay up to date with your bookkeeping. It is also important to find a good lawyer, accountant and bank that will work with you.

"Act in a professional manner."

  • APPEARANCE: Be clean, neat and businesslike. The days of the poor artist are gone. Something as simple as bad breath or body odor can turn off a potential client. Always keep a comb and a bottle of cologne with you.
  • APPROACH: Attitude is everything. Be positive. Be aggressive. Believe in yourself and in your photography. Think yes!
  • PRESENTATION: Marketing yourself is very important. Put together a compelling portfolio (if you don't know how to do this I offer a portfolio review service). You are going to need at least one portfolio to show and one to leave with the potential client. Show what you want to do, not just what you have done. Plan your marketing strategy. Write down what you are going to do the next 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year and two years.

"Use the 4 "P"s of Marketing."

  • PRODUCT: Know your product - the type of photography you do. Develop your own style and individuality. Always mark your work with your name.
  • PROMOTION: Make a portfolio of your work and show it. Target your market wisely and go after what you want. Do mail outs, get into source books and seek out every possible source of good P.R..
  • PLACE: Know your market. Know your buyers, clients and even the competition. Determine their wants and needs, their strengths and weaknesses. Learn from your competition but do not follow it. Make your own path.
  • PRICE: Know what to charge and how to charge for it. Make sure you get everything in writing before you shoot the first picture. Price the actual job, it is very difficult to get more money than budgeted after the shoot. And be careful of those unseen expenses such as long distance or agents fees. It is a good idea to add on a "fudge factor" of five or ten percent to cover yourself and your art director. But don't make the mistake of under equipping yourself. For instance, an assistant is a necessity, not a luxury. Pre testing of film may save your client money and embarrassment, and protect your reputation. Slide film has only a one fourth stop tolerance.

Minardi's Rules for Success

    1. Success is a way of thinking, not something that is accomplished after a specified time of work.
    2. Get organized and DO IT NOW!
    3. Make a plan and work the plan. Short and long range goals.
    4. Take calculated risks, not foolish and reckless risks.
    5. KISS (keep it simple stupid) a Universal Axiom.
    6. Put in more than 8 hours a day.
    7. Work hard, it usually pays off. No good deed is for naught.
    8. Manage your time. Quality vs. quantity. Write what you do on a daily log, even phone calls. At the end of the day, look at all you've accomplished.
    9. Accent on detail. The whole is made up of its parts.
    10. The best way is not always the easiest way.
    11. Be aggressive. Be responsible and reliable and always come through.
    12. . Get ready to hear "No", but find the "Yes".
    13. You are not going to please everybody, so don't try.
    14. Give every prospect (potential clients) your best effort.
    15. Everyone makes mistakes, so don't worry about it.
    16. Keep your health and your humor.
    17. Be courteous and polite. Please and thank you are still magic words.
    18. Trust your instincts. They are based on good judgement and past experiences.
    19. Learn to see the photo before you take it. Conceptualize and visualize.
    20. Work from a purchase order or contract.
    21. Learn to say "No". Don't work for free or lose money, unless you want to do a "Pro Bono" for a charity.
    22. Always ask for the check. Its yours and you've earned it. Ask for a deposit to cover your expenses.
    23. Do your very best on every assignment.
    24. Learn to listen, really listen to what your client is saying.
    25. Survive! Survival is essential.