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How do you know when to walk away?

edited November 2013 in home
Photography wise, things have not been going well. I was hoping that the move to Ohio (larger city) would help me grow-more clients, bigger area. None of this has happened, in fact, there is 0 interest in my work. I have reached out to other local businesses in the name of collaboration, solicited my services again and again, handed out countless cards with zero effect. I have sent out 150 referrals through a wedding site and have received 9 replies and all were denials. The rest never responded. I just saw someone that asked me for photography advise last year-he opened his page about a month ago and has 1k+ followers and seems busy. Likes do not equal money but the exposure is there. My site looses fans even when I don't post anything. I mention this because it is relevant and I dislike pages that post too much.

In the end, a lack of response to ones work means you are doing something wrong and the time for me to move on has come. I am currently progressing towards the acceptance phase and am looking forward to feeling better. I will continue to look for great light and good compositions and will continue to take and make pictures...it will just be for me, as a hobby.


  • After reading your post I took the time to look over your website, Facebook and blogs. You certainly have a lot of knowledge as well as talent, and I imagine quite a monetary investment as well. I would have to say that picking up and moving to a new city to to help your business shows that you have a lot of dedication and drive in your chosen field of work. Far be it from me to advise you in any life choice, but I would consider having a professional evaluate your business model before throwing in the towel. You can be the best at what you do, but if the market and demographics can't support your service, or are over saturated, then change is necessary. Perhaps there is is a market for a specific photographic need such as senior portraits, photo restoration, teaching, etc. that will allow you to still "work" in the business. Ultimately only you can decide what is best. Thanks for all the insight you provided on this site. Best of luck.
  • What kind of photography do you do? I haven't seen your work (where can we see it?) but I am wondering if your problem is marketing. Do you do any face to face marketing? Sending out cards and cold online solicitations probably isn't going to do much. I'd start with people you know. Offer to photograph them or their business for a discount to build a current portfolio and start building a reputation. Don't be shy about telling friends and acquaintances you are looking for work, people love to help. Maybe you need to go after a niche for starters such as high school seniors or photographing city stores for their websites and marketing. And hook up with the local chamber. Do you think your work is good? If so keep at it. NVN moved to America knowing probably no one (taking a wild guess there but I think he started from scratch). And now look, he's a super star. How did he do it? Yes he's a great photographer but it's more than that.
  • Rudy,

    Your post made me sad this evening. I really like your photos and I appreciate your comments on this forum. You're very talented and I wish you the best in whatever direction you take. Next time I drive through Ohio, you're on my list of people to meet ...


  • Hi Sovaohotos,

    I appreciate the feedback. I did not move because of my business-my wife and I went back to school several years ago to finish school. I majored in Biology and Biochemistry and followed it up with a Masters of Science for Teachers. My wife is in Ohio finishing her masters and we tagged along but I was not able to find a teaching job. While in school, photography provided a little extra income and it was fun. There was never the intention to make this a full time affair but I wanted to try because I enjoy it. I don't mind setbacks or obstacles but when people don't take a free photography session then something has to be wrong. Right? As far as Senior photography, I would face stiff competition as we have some talented photographers in the area and this niche seems to be dominated by women. Men seem to have a tough time in this niche and it is easy to understand why-girls feel more comfortable with women. The market here is rather large and can easily sustain another photographer regardless of the specialization so saturation is not an issue.


    as mentioned above, I have done face-to-face, email, collaboration efforts with local businesses, offering my services for free, etc. but it has not panned out. I do not know anyone here except one family and we already worked together. Her friends all loved the photos and she received many compliments (but then what friends would say otherwise) but word-of-mouth marketing did not yield any referrals. I have also given several free sessions to my kids school as part of a fundraiser but they were never redeemed.
    Do I think my work is good? That is a tough call and I can't answer it anymore but, based on experience, I would say not so much. I had a client turn me down by saying they are going with a different style so maybe that's what it is?


    don't be sad man. I feel good and wanted to share this because most people do not share "bad" news-they only represent their highlights and it paints an incomplete picture. For everyone that makes it, there are many that don't. And most definitively give me a holler as you come through Ohio. I am central to Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton and if you are into cityscape photography, we can find some nice spots.

    Last but not least, I will still be here on the forum and will still shoot whenever possible. The creative part does not go away just cause the money making part did not pan out. As a matter of fact, I am working on a LEGO project to practice lighting...and it is not easy to light a 2 inch figure with speedlights.



    And, lets be honest, the internet does not have enough cat pictures so I will contribute there as well!


  • Cats! My favourite subject.. or you would at least think so if you saw my LR catalogue ;)

  • Rudy, before you give up, don't. I like you am suffering, perhaps its the time of year, but seriously do not give up! Your work is amazing so there it must be your marketing. I for one heavily rely on Facebook as a way of gaining clients, I add friends, I gain likes for my page, I update my blog (when I can) and my website, I network with others in the wedding industry (very important) and try different things. handing flyers out doesn't work, I know I've tried it. Advertising in magazines and newspapers doesn't work, I know, I've tried it. What does work is social networking, a good strong solid website that ranks high on Google (if you need help with SEO inbox me or email me) and wedding fayres help a little. But perseverance is key, too many photographers give up after a short time, it takes a long time to get your name out there and for people to get to know you. Keep at it, and don't give stuff away for free, it merely under values you and more people will expect the same, ie, "hey I know a guy called Rudy he's cheap, he might even do it for free! "
  • Well, it is kinda late to not give up since I have moved on. I actually feel better now since the expectation to book clients is gone. One can only market/network so much without any ROI before wanting to cry :)

    I am not going to turn anyone away if they want to book me but I am done trying to get clients. I have done everything you mentioned and it just did not work for me and I can't keep spending money/time on marketing and networking.

    My website is new and does not show up yet when googling for photographers in the area but, according to everyone I asked (potential brides, families) they found their photographer through word-of-mouth. (Once you are popular, people will book you, even if you are not any good) I am still going to work on optimizing the page for SEO but that's it.

    Also, it was not just a lack of general interested in my services that made me move on, it was the inability to sign those that were interested/contacted me. And it was not a personality issue-those that have worked with me loved me and wrote me great recommendations, raving about my customer service and how I worked with them.

    The kind words about my work are appreciated but I still feel that something is lacking in my portfolio/style. There is/are no "wow/grab your attention" photos and more "hey, nice shot" images. Maybe I should join the "action" photographers and run all those actions to "enhance" my portfolio :)

    One thing is certain-if you do something well/different you will get noticed and I am not there yet.

    Anyway, I need to rely on my Biology and Biochemistry degree to earn some cash before my wife kicks me out :)

  • Sounds like it's the right choice for now Rudy but I hope you continue to improve your photography on the side and get to the point where you are ready to dive in again and try to make a go of it. If you go to as many workshops and conferences and classes, etc.... you can you will really improve. And take the business/marketing workshops too. Enjoy it as a hobby now but don't rule out another business try down the road.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Give us the links to your website and FB page?
  • I would prefer not to because I don't want this thread to go into the direction of a C.C., I feel good about my decision and my facebook (both private and public) are currently offline.

    I am surprised you have not missed my pithy comments and retorts on your status updates! Perhaps a reactivation of my private account is overdue to see if you have added any new "rules and regulations" when looking for an assistant and to see if you have gotten used to the new iOS yet :)
    I told you that you should go with a BB Z 10 or Q 10 even if some apps are still lacking. It has a great calender, email, etc.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Nope, it's still business as usual on FB, with me telling people to STFU.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    On a more serious note - this topic in a way relates to photographers having (or not having) an exit strategy.

    I think few photographers are able to save up enough to retire … so what is the exit strategy? Where do you go when you know it is time to walk away?
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