Picture perfection

Stock photography can be a very lucrative business if your work is good and you know what you are doing.

Stock photography can be a very lucrative business if your work is good and you know what you are doing.

Stock photography refers to images that are not photographed for a specific client or use, but are catalogued for review and selection by someone who may need the images.

The world has an insatiable appetite for photos and it seems that people are celebrating special occasions more with photos than they did years ago.

The travel and advertising markets, on the other hand, have a greater need for landscape, travel and nature shots.

Clients include book publishers, specialty publishers, magazines, advertising agencies, film makers, website designers, graphic artists as well as interior-decor firms.

The photos are often used in calendars, gift and note cards and postcards.

Anyone with the right equipment and skills can set up a home-based photography business because digital cameras have done away with the need for a dark room. Only a personal computer with a photo-editing programme is needed nowadays.

The photos have commercial value and can be employed for multiple purposes, but the photographer owns copyright.

The photographs are good stock photography only if someone is willing to pay for using them. Unlike many products, a picture can be sold again and again and though a single sale may bring in only a modest sum, repeated sales bring in good money.

It is also not necessary to keep equipment that you don't use often, so you can hire it.

Nowadays, there is more to photography than simply pointing a camera and shooting a picture. One needs to be aware of marketing techniques. One must also be aware of the local gaps in the market.

There is always a need to be on top of your game if you want to beat competition.

You need a business plan to keep you focused on the areas you specifically want to exploit. This helps you to define your goals and strategies.

Although it will be updated from time to time, it can still help you keep things in perspective. You can always refer back to it when things become confusing.

A good business plan does not only help to increase earnings, but it also helps when you need finance for your business.

What goes into a photographer's business plan?

l The name of the business with the details of the proposed location of the business, a copy of your logo and details of copyright notices.

l The type of business, for example, a close corporation, and the kind of service you will offer.

l Plans for the future and how you plan to achieve them.

l How your business will differ from those of your competitors.

l Define your competitors, which includes both their strengths and weaknesses.

l Include the ways you will exploit any gaps in the market to suit you.

l Be able to tell who your market is and speculate how long it will be available to you.

l The financial section must include the way you intend to manage day-to-day finances. This should include your pricing strategy and how it differs from that of your competitors.

l Include a list of all the equipment you will need in your first year and how and where you will buy them.

l Write down any difficulties that may arise in getting supplies. Note whether the prices of your supplies have a seasonal fluctuation, which might influence you when to buy.

The final section of your business plan should highlight:

l How you intend to finance the growth of your business as well as stating what your financial needs would be. This should include a projection on your future earnings, as well as an accurate assessment of your expenditure.

l This should be assessed on a monthly basis for the first year and on an annual basis for the following three years.

l An important aspect of the financial statement is an assessment of the break-even point of your business. This includes the minimum you will need to pay your expenses.