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book review - photography businessBook Review
Make money with your digital photography
by Erin Manning

Keith Cooper reviews this comprehensive guide and introduction to the business of photography

At Northlight, we get quite a few enquiries about becoming a professional photographer, whether asking for jobs or advice on specific aspects of the business of photography.

Partly in response to this I've written numerous short articles about different aspects of the business. One difficulty I face in helping some people, is that I've absolutely no interest in wedding/social/portrait photography - all our clients are businesses.

I was looking for sources of wider information and came across a mention of Erin's book...

Photography business

The book is written by someone who's made a successful career including photography.

As an English (UK) reader, I was concerned that it was going to be too US oriented for my tastes.

Indeed, the title of the first chapter 'Personal discovery'. with sub headings such as 'My journey' and 'Self-evaluation' raised my apprehension further [Full TOC below].

I quickly found I shouldn't have worried - the writing style is personable and friendly, without veering into sentimentality or the style of an airport self help book.

The emphasis of the book is on discovering what works for you, what it is that will motivate you to get up in the morning and run your business.

The book is not a tutorial guide to professional photography techniques, they are covered when looking at the major areas of professional photography, but are in the very important context of how they fit into a business.

Each aspect of photography is led with an interview with someone who specialises in that area - someone who earns a living from it.

As someone who doesn't cover sports, weddings or portrait work, I found the discussions genuinely helpful and in the product and food photography section I can say that I learnt a few tips (not bad since I happen to teach aspects of product photography).

Over the last few years, as I've got to know more and more professional photographers, I've learnt that many are seriously deficient when it comes to marketing and business planning (this is not being unkind - many will freely admit that it's the side of their work they dislike) It is an area I've tried to address in several of our shorter photography articles on the Northlight site.

The end of the book is packed with business related items, although I did wonder why marketing (and branding) gets a chapter of its own (Ch.9) whilst the out and out business matters (company types, US copyright law etc.) are relegated to an appendix? Perhaps because some of the business side is very US centric, whilst most of the rest of the book is pleasingly applicable wherever you are based.

Overall, an informative read, that doesn't shy away from the practicalities of running a real life business. Presented in an enthusiastically positive way, it nevertheless emphasises that there is vastly more to making a living from photography than just taking good photos.

An excellent book to give to someone who enjoys their photography and is bored in their office job ;-)

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Book details

Review History - first published June 2011

Some business information and articles on this site

Table of contents

CHAPTER 1 PERSONAL DISCOVERY.

CHAPTER 2 EQUIPMENT ESSENTIALS.

CHAPTER 3 PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY.

CHAPTER 4 SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY.

CHAPTER 5 WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY.

CHAPTER 6 FOOD AND PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY.

CHAPTER 7 TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY.

CHAPTER 8 SHOW ME THE MONEY.

CHAPTER 9 MARKETING.

CHAPTER 10 DIGITAL DARKROOM.

EPILOGUE.

APPENDIX A TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS.

APPENDIX B RESOURCES.

GLOSSARY.

INDEX.

Please note that as a matter of policy I rarely engage in conversation with anonymous posters. If you won't use your real name when talking to me, then why should I make the personal effort to respond? Anonymous comments are also much more likely to be summarily deleted if I feel like it...

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