Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Where to Find Great Free Photo Business Education

Learning about photography is often the work of amateur photographers, while learning how to run a business is often the work of professionals photographers. Unfortunately, no matter how creative you are, if you want to make a living from your photography, you must understand the business side as well as you understand the photography. For that reason, I'm pretty jazzed about some great and FREE opportunities to learn more about the business of professional photography. If being a professional photographer or working for yourself is one of your new year resolutions, than check out these great opportunities to learn for free:

This is one of my favorite new additions to the world of professional photography education. Chase Jarvis Live is sponsored by Polaroid, which means he doesn't have to charge you for the content he's creating. He's recorded live interviews and ARCHIVED them for your FREE viewing pleasure to revisit whenever you have time. I've seen three so far and I have to say it's well worth your time to sit down with some morning coffee once a week to check it out. What's great about Chase is that he pulls in people from outside of the photography world- people who approach business and entrepreneurship from many different perspectives. I'm confident you won't be disappointed and you'll learn at least one new thing from each episode, even if you've been in the business for a while. If I could give Chase an official Photo Lovecat stamp- I would, because he's nailed the lovecat way. Visit the link below to check out the series:

I went back and forth about including this as a resource because the free content is a marketing pull to bring you into paid content options, however, I figure you're a smart cookie and if you should be applying money to your credit cards instead of accumulating more debt, than you'll resist the temptation to get the paid content until your finances are in order. That being said, the FREE offerings are so good that I HAD to mention it. Solid, direct, concise material for building your business, your brand, and your marketing strategies. Way to go Sarah Petty! Most of the stuff that you might want to pay for is actually available for free during the "live events." So, watch out for those and put time aside in your calendar to keep the livecast on in the background while you edit. Sarah's program has been around for more than a year now, so there are some real gems that you can access right now on the website before the next live event. Check it out on:

After moving my business three times, I can definitely say that meeting other photographers in your local area and developing a local support network of colleagues is a key to running a successful business. In the Boston area, we have a lot of photography and meet-up groups, each one with their own particular flavor. All of the ones I've mentioned are free to join and are worth investigating to find out what's available in your local area. Here's a way to figure out which one is best for you:

PUG Meetings- sponsored by Pictage but open to everyone, these are great for meeting your local wedding & portrait photography community, sharing business ideas, and connecting with other professional photographers for assisting or second shooting trades. Each local PUG has a different feeling and community, which you'll learn more about after visiting a couple times. If you're a wedding or portrait photographer, this is a great free resource and way to connect with other professionals in your area:

SMUG Meetings- sponsored by SmugMug and open to everyone, the SmugMug community is generally made of amateur, part-time, sports, and fine art photographers. Since I still have yet to attend one, I can only imagine that it's very similar to the PUG meetings in that it's a great place to connect with other like-minded photographers and to learn a little something new at each meeting. Here's a link to find Smugs in your area:

ASMP Meetings- the American Society of Media Photographers is generally geared toward established professional commercial photographers and photojournalists. Unlike PUGs and SMUGs, there is a fee to be a regular member of a local ASMP chapter (much like PPA), however it's minimal compared to other memberships and it generally includes perks and discounts that you wouldn't get otherwise. I included it on this list as a FREE resource because there are generally plenty of informal get-together events happening on a weekly or monthly basis where you can meet the group and find out if it's the right fit for you. Since many of these people are established professionals with strong opinions, tread lightly and figure out the personalities and politics before asking too many questions, but don't let that stop you from checking out whatever they have to offer for free. Find your closest chapter here:

Now that you're armed with some great options for improving your business in the next year- I hope you'll let us know what you've found useful and if there are any resources we should add to our list! Check out the ones we've already listed in the past as well:
MORE Great Photographer Resources

Anne Ruthmann is a documentary lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.