With a little planning, you can build a world-class photography team around you.
If you’re like most photographers, you are extremely capable and self-sufficient. Making snap decisions (no pun intended), creating lasting images, and being adaptable in the fast-changing world of photography in the digital age are what you thrive on.
But no matter how good you are, you will reach a decisive moment in your career when you need to make choices about building a team around you. After all, there is only so much one person can do alone—no matter how hard you work, or how good you are at what you do.
Having a teammate on your side can be a great experience for you, and can help you become more productive and profitable.
Creating a team environment that enables you to do better work and is a challenge that can take you to the next level, but it can feel overwhelming.
Start by breaking down your work into two aspects; Creating beautiful images and Running your business.
In front of the lens
There is no doubt that a team dramatically improves the quality of a successful photo shoot, and makes the hard work a lot more enjoyable. When you’re out on location or in a studio, there is so much that needs to be taken care of in order to create great work. If you don’t have support, then these tasks probably don’t get done, or are done in a hurry, and the quality of your work suffers.
From organizing transport to hiring equipment, models, wardrobe and props, the tasks start to pile up even before you take the first shot. It makes a huge difference to have a few people working with you and to delegate tasks.
Your goal should be to organize your shoots so that you can concentrate all your energy on what you are seeing in the viewfinder, and have other people do the rest.
An efficient team gives you the chance to tackle more ambitious and imaginative projects.
Behind the lens
It’s amazing how a small team can radically improve the quality of your pictures, and how much fun you can have in the process. The same is true for growing a team to help you take care of day-to-day business operations.
Give yourself permission to outsource parts of your business that you don’t like doing, or that you’re not particularly good at. Freeing up that time will allow you to focus on where your strength lies.
When it comes to bring someone on board for setting up shoots, look for a people person; someone who enjoys dealing with agents, models and clients. Empower them so that they know the kind of work you’re looking to do it, and then let them do it.
Social media is another area where a photography team can make a real difference. Take a look at some of the photographers you follow. How often do they post? What times of day, and on which platforms? Find a strategy that you like, give it your own spin, and adopt it. If you can’t afford a digital agency or consultant to run your accounts, then look around for someone who is good on social media and may have the time to dedicate a few hours a week to it.
How to do it
The key to building a good team is to start slowly, and build one by one. Don’t go out and hire 5 people at once. You’ve done well on your own, now see how you do with two, then three, then four people.
Try reaching out to a photography school or art college in your area. Inquire as to whether they have any students who would be willing to intern for experience. If not, ask a friend or call in a favor. Rest assured there are many people who would jump at the opportunity to work with you.
Why not look around for a photography club in your area, and join them during one of their activities? Enthusiastic amateurs are a great group of people to collaborate with. They’re often knowledgeable, committed and keen to get involved.
Do some part-time work for someone else when you have time. You can see how they do it, and you can build relationships that will benefit you as well. Ask them to return the favor when you’re doing your next shoot.
Working alone and learning your craft is a brilliant way to start. But there is massive value to be found in thinking long-term and building a team. It’s an investment in your business, and it empowers you to become the kind of photographer who can take on bigger and better jobs.