By popular demand (lol), I’m writing a series on how you can make money in the media arts. I will do this every day for the next one week or so. I will be posting on The Twim Art Institute’s blog, and cross posting on our Facebook page and on Nairaland. I teach my students stuff like these in the Entrepreneurship Development class at The Twim Art Institute. Considering that we have had hundreds of amazing stories (and a number of international awards) as a result, I think I have earned the right to talk about this.
So let’s begin with photography. How can you make money as a photographer in Nigeria?
The best known cash cow is Event Photography. In Nigeria (and much of the world), the events industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. There is an “ariya” happening close to you almost every weekend regardless of the state of the economy. For these events, photographers are needed. And great photographers make a lot of money every weekend!
I once posted about a past student of mine who was charging N200,000 per event and who had a regular stream of events to handle. Some people replied that it could not be possible (someone even wondered how I could insinuate that a photographer could in effect earn more than a “well paid” banker in a month). That’s laughable because the student in question is just one of many and there are others who earn far more every week. Like our elders say, a child who hasn’t visited another person’s farm will think his father’s is the biggest. If you are not experiencing it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. In fact, if you still doubt my claim, do a Google search for any popular photography brand and call them to find out what they will charge for your wedding. You are in for a surprise.
The big question is therefore not the potentials of event photography but the methodology to adopt in order to become one of the big players in the industry. Here are a few suggestions:
- Get trained: Be good at what you do. Get the best training you can lay your hands on. We can help you with that at The Twim Art Institute.
- Start small: Photography gear (equipment) can be very expensive and there is every tendency to want more. Refuse to get tempted! Don’t buy gear that your clientele cannot pay for- when it’s time to upgrade, you will know! Like I usually tell my students, it’s not so much about the camera as it is the person behind the camera. Having said that, there are some basics…
- Don’t open an office until you need one: With offices come direct and indirect costs. In most cases, people do not make their choices based on the presence or absence of your office. Your portfolio is more important to them. Besides, events often happen in parts of the country where you have no physical presence. Most of your potential clients will never visit you physically!
- Use social media: If you don’t need an office at the start, then how do you reach out? Social media! Master the art of social media. Most wedding jobs are contracted on Instagram nowadays.
- Work on your portfolio: If you do not have the kind of portfolio you want, do whatever you have to do to get it, including free or very low-priced jobs. If for instance a very wealthy politician in my church is giving out his daughter in marriage and it will be a classy event, I will approach him and do the wedding photos for free. I will also go a fantastic job. You know why? That’s the easiest way to enter into that clique. He may or may not pay me at the end of the day but I would have gotten the kind of pictures I want in my portfolio. To further understand this point, ask yourself: how come all the popular photographers in Nigeria are always showcasing photos from weddings done in exotic places?
- There is no such thing as quick money: Be consistent. Do it again and again and again. It may not seem to work at first. Do it again and again and again!
- Work on your service, presentation and packaging: You will be surprised that people pay much more when you appear well, are friendly, easy to relate with and not arrogant. No matter how good you are, no one will refer you to to others if you are arrogant. Also, ensure that your product packaging is impressive. Invest in those those things as they can make all the difference.
- One more thing: There is a world of difference between someone who is self-employed and a business owner. When you start getting steady patronage, you may want to start creating business ownership structures. Ah… that’s a totally different topic. Maybe when you join our EDS class 🙂
I should add that there are many ways, other than events, to make money as a photographer. A friend of mine shoots corporate photos for big brands. I shoot for non-profits. I have other friends who are into other genres as well (such as wildlife photography and product photography). There are different strategies for different photography genres. You may be able to catch some more strategies from the next post (which will be about making money from documentary filmmaking).
Meanwhile, you can enrol for any of our classes at Nigeria’s leading school of the arts: The Twim Art Institute. We have courses such as Photography, Digital Filmmaking, User Interface / User Experience Design, Electronic Music Production, Multimedia Storytelling, Video Production, etc. Please visit our website: http://twiminstitute.com or call/Whatsapp 09033279205 for more information.
I’ll be back with Part 2 tomorrow.
Rector, The Twim Art Institute