Photography "Money-Making-Scheme" Idea

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by taptic, May 3, 2015.

  1. taptic, May 3, 2015
    Last edited: May 3, 2015

    taptic macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2012
    So I had an idea. And it's probably a dumb one which is why I'm here to have you guys point out the probably multiple massive holes in the it.

    I'm a student and have done some graduation announcement photos for a couple other people. As far as portraits go, it isn't too terribly difficult to get some nice shots fairly quickly. Get a nice green background, some clean outdoor light and a small depth of field and they come out pretty well.

    I like to think of ways I can make money on my photography without actually committing to going out and doing photo shoots for random people because I find it somewhat awkward, but this is a little different an idea.

    I would advertise with fliers/craigslist etc. saying something to the effect of, "Need some simple grad pics?" and then I'd find a place on campus that had said lighting and background. Anyone who needed pics could come there during such and such hours and get 2 to 3 simple pics.

    Once I got home I'd do minor editing, watermark them, and then send them to the students. If they were happy, they could PayPal me a small fee ($15?) and I'd send the pics without the watermark.

    So basically, multiple people come to me so I don't have to spend a ton of time getting to know someone and be super comfortable going through a ton of poses. Students can get their easily if it's on campus and they have little to lose.


    Now maybe this kind of forum isn't the place for this type of idea, but you people generally seem to have a sound head on your shoulders... NOW SHOOT ME DOWN!... otherwise I'll just drive myself crazy.

    Also, I realize most students want to put more time into their photos. I think their might be a small number that for one reason or another would prefer something quick and simple.
  2. kenoh macrumors demi-god


    Jul 18, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    First point to check for me would be whether you would be allowed to be on campus grounds doing a commercial shoot while there is likely an official photographer working the scene too. Check there are no exclusivity catches.

    Second, might not be relevant for your part of the world but here there is a constant threat of rain. You need a plan for being rained off. If you are forced somewhere else, you need a nearby alternate location and/or alternate lighting.

    The guys on here will spot others but these sprang to mind immediately.
  3. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    People pay for "good" photos, not "simple." You run the risk of under-selling your services. "$15? How good can this guy be?"

    It reminds me of cruise ship photography; probably less than 15% of shots are actually purchased. If the subjects don't think they look good (poor expression, etc.), all the technical merit in the world doesn't help. I think the saving grace for that business is that they can shoot so many people in such a short time.

    For the kind of people who'd consider a graduation shot to be a burden, it's almost definitely more fruitful for you to be where they will be than to persuade them to come to you.

    So maybe you'd do well setting up outside a major event. But if you do, you have to expect to pay a concession fee to be there. And you'll need an assistant to deal with the crowd, and shelter and supplemental lighting because you can't afford to be at nature's mercy...

    It seems a fair bit of your motivation is social. If anything, in the setting you describe, it'll be harder, not easier, to deal with the people. They won't be happy if they've had to wait in line, they'll expect a smile from you before they smile, and you'll sell a whole lot more afterwards if they liked working with you.
  4. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68010


    Jun 5, 2012
    Not a horrible idea but I wonder what would differentiate your "simple" shots from shots that 99% of the student population could get from handing their phone to a friend and asking them to take a photo. If a person doesn't care about professional/studio portrait quality they may even settle for a selfie.

    ~ Peter
  5. taptic thread starter macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2012
    Thanks guys! All very good points. Aside from getting campus permission, it sound like the major thing I'd have to do is differentiate between "simple" poses and professional quality.

    I know not many people would come to this sort of thing just because they want something special, but even 6 or seven and I would have made $100 which is great for a student in one day. Also, although I might have trouble feeling comfortable with the same person/people on a photo shoot for hours, in this kind of scenario I can handle myself fairly professionally and offer a smile to put them at ease.

    In the end, I probably won't try it this year just because it's coming up a bit soon... maybe I could put up some craigslist ads (though I'm not sure how many students would see them) asking if their is any interest.
  6. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    apart from what others have mentioned so far...

    Do you have shots that show the example? (I see you mentioned already doing some). Maybe I am tired still but reading the post was like "ho-hum...yawn" almost like ehh, shrug your shoulders and here you go, some photos.

    The $15 sounds super cheap and in my eyes (though I've always liked photography) seems super undercutting. heck even $20 sounds like a more rounded number and an easy bill. Are these printed or do you just give digital files? Perhaps it is because you haven't laid out more here with details but it seems very light.

    The nice thing about the campus spot is ease of location...the bad thing about the campus spot is ...ease of location for others to find or realize they can just do it themselves. The backdrops at a field or barn or rugged industrial area are interesting because of the backdrop and something you might not see everywhere. The simple green background will, no doubt, be pleasing, but it may be too simple and somebody waiting might think, I can go to those other steps and have someone take the shot too (like noted above)

    do you do touchups for blemishes too?
    I'm not saying this can't work for you. perhaps limit the "session" to 10-20 people. this sets a number people who may be interested in, want to get in earlier to ensure they have a spot. simply saying come one, come all and people might be interested but not feel the urge to go. Limited space/time usually gets people to respond. promote the idea of a rushed/busy lifestyle and you will have the photos taken within an hour of arrival and photo proofs sent out within 12 hours or 6 hours. Something that fits into the "Simple and quick" There is a market for this, as you probably know. but it is like any market where you are hoping somebody who doesn't have time or money will want to do this and pay for it. heck after seeing the proofs they could ask someone to go back out and do a similar shot.
  7. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Here's something to think about. Most people (from what I can tell) don't look very carefully at the phone shots they have or take. They don't really perceive that the background is cluttered, for example, or that the lighting is strange. They look and say, "Oh yeah, that's Caitlin . . . cool" and don't pay much attention.

    I'd be inclined to get a friend to help you, and get an image in which, yes, the person's head/face are certainly visible and basically in focus, but where the background is just all, all wrong and the lighting is just on the wrong side of OK. Then use the same person to make the kind of image you're talking about. Be sure not to make the person in the "bad" image look bad, or stupid. Just compose it badly.

    Put both on your flyer, with some text pointing out the differences.
  8. DevNull0 macrumors 68000

    Jan 6, 2015
    The problem is people are so used to low quality now they can't even see the difference. There's even people who frequent the photography forum here and claim to be photo enthusiasts who adamantly insist that a snapshot from a cell phone is every bit as good as a picture from a DSLR. They can look at side-by-side comparisons and say the don't see any difference.
  9. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Purely to put you in a "business" mindset - If you spend time and effort promoting this, if you spend time after the shoot dealing with the customers and the images... you didn't make $100 in one day. Just how many hours will you spend on this altogether, and how does that work out as an hourly wage?

    And if you have any out-of-pocket costs, those have to be subtracted...

    I don't know what's expected for this kind of photo. Delivering a digital file is fine, if that's all they need. If people still want prints, consider offering a (profitable) print option, too. Some will pay you for the convenience of doing that for them - just be sure to get the money in advance.

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