One time I had a professional photographer at a local arts fair criticize my idea. I entered his booth amazed by his work and engaged in conversation- I told him I was staring up my very own photography business, hoping to do senior portraits to begin with. He shunned me, told me it was not viable.
“Do not flood the photography community with cheap images, you are taking away vital work from those who need it to make a living,” his remarks echoed in my head. But who’s to say I do not want to make a living? I ignored his ill-tempered comments, he had a point, but not one I was encouraged to live by.
Within the next week I had drafted up a business plan to get my show on the road. I was to make social media surrounding my business, I have a huge following on my personal profiles, so I promoted my business there, before shifting all my personal profiles to private (making only the business ones visible under a search of my name). Next I figured I would start cheap and small-scale. Stillwater is fairly small, with many local businesses that have public bulletin boards- aha! Bulletin boards. I needed flyers with rip-off contact tabs- that is a start. But I needed more, brochures, to give to my clients when they inquired about pricing
But that was only the beginning. Pricing was very difficult to say the least, I had to be reasonable. I am a student photographer with access to multiple DSLR cameras, SLR cameras, and photoshop, however, I am not a photographer with a fine arts degree and a photo studio with expert knowledge. I could not charge thousands if I wanted business. Therefore, I started very baseline, I gathered up local photography companies’ brochures and sliced their pricing by 50-75 percent- that combined with my prominent social media presence flooded students in.
Here are some examples of my first shoots. What really got my show on the road was beginning with my closest friend- who admittedly, cancelled her appointment with a photography company to help me seriously start up my portfolio.
Two things I had immediately realized were that clients did not necessarily want to stay in the greater Stillwater area, and a lot wanted shots with their pets. Firstly, with distance, cliented wanted to sometimes, be an hour out. Therefore, I found that I needed to alter my rates, by changing pricing about $30 higher for out of area shoots, to assist in gas. Secondly, I had to learn the best way to get pets to behave during a shoot- and as silly as it sounds, by holding a treat with my camera, I can get the focus of any animal right on me- and of course, most pets behave well when a treat is at stake.
Senior photos were slowing down as the winter months came about, and after going to an adult dinner party, I found there was notable interest in me as a photographer for a family Christmas cards.
After my first family shoot I noticed three huge things as well- managing five people is difficult, and never ever give out discounts on your first multiple-person shoot, however, on a more positive note, the notoriety of your clients is an advantage. In the above slideshow, Julie Cronk, is a local dermatologist with many clients, and Trevor Cronk is the Director of Marketing at The Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater.
After sending out their cards, I would have people say to me, “Hey I saw Julie’s card- amazing work!” This will definitely stick with me in the future, as that is a passive way to advertise my work.
So there you have it, Tiana Meador Photography may be new, but it is growing. For the future I hope to be able to move into executive headshots, sports photos, and even professional internships where I can learn more about cameras and lighting. However, I do plan to market myself in the same fashion at college next year, and I have no doubt I can succeed with my level of determination.