We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Zach Connor. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Zach below.
Zach, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. It’s easy to look at a business or industry as an outsider and assume it’s super profitable – but we’ve seen over and over again in our conversation with folks that most industries have factors that make profitability a challenge. What’s biggest challenge to profitability in your industry?
Within the photography industry, there are many challenges to profitability facing professionals.
Profitability is an obvious challenge. The saying “starving artist” didn’t come from nowhere after all. Making photography a sustainable and profitable career is incredibly difficult. Partially because of the second part of this answer (saturation), and partially because photography is not a necessity for people, it’s nice to have. If your customers love your work but don’t love the price they won’t buy it and you won’t make any money. Simple as that. Most people will love your work until they have to pay for it. To supplement this, many photographers will drop their prices and increase their bookings running themselves ragged and burning themselves out. The lucky few that get “noticed” by big names, influencers, etc. have an easier time with this.
Saturation is another large challenge within the industry. Since the invention of digital photography, the amount of photographers has exploded. the cheap and large availability of digital cameras (and even smartphones) make being a profitable photographer increasingly difficult. I can’t count how many times I’ve lost sales or bookings to people who say they can get a larger print from cheaper somewhere else, or their cousin offered to do their portraits for $XXX. In those cases, you just have to smile and wish them the best of luck. The more you bend to them driving your prices down, the less likely you are to be profitable. Remember, people aren’t just paying for photos, they’re paying for your time (the time taking the photos, traveling, editing, etc) your product, your creativity, and most importantly YOU. They reached out about YOUR work because they saw something different about it that appealed to them. Don’t be afraid to have that conversation if someone balks at your prices.
Zach, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I have been a professional photographer for over 12 years specializing in nature, landscapes, and portraits. People choose to do business with me because I bring a unique perspective of the world around them. Whether thats a certain animal, landscape, or even a family, I take the time, do the research, and work with those involved to ensure I am providing something they love and will continue to love for years to come.
Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
Early in my photography career, I was still developing my own “eye”. I came up with a motto that I still stand by today. I have it engraved in my leather camera strap, so it is the first thing I see every time I take my camera out of my bag. That motto is, “Photograph the world to help open the eyes of those who are blind to it, and enrich the minds of those who see it differently than you.”
Every shoot I go on I remember those words, and that inspires me to get creative. Sometimes creativity can be scary, as you know the simple way has already been successful for others. Be brave enough with your camera, and in yourself to break away from the mold, and be your own professional.
Any advice for managing a team?
Morale within photography can be an absolute killer. there will be dry spells, there will be times where you’re not happy with your work, or even worse and the customer is not happy with your work. Just like anything else, there are peaks and valleys that we all go through. The best advice I can give you is to DO NOT GIVE UP. If this is something you’re truly passionate about, carry that passion into your work every day. Whether you book shoots or sell prints, do shoots because you love to do it!