OK, once again I jumped the gun. To end the last post I said examples of my dream assignments would be the next step, but I was a little ahead of the plan. Making my way through Selina Maitreya’s book, there’s a little more exploration of goals necessary before making the jump from what exactly you want from your life to how that plays itself out in your portfolio.
Namely, now that you’ve got the lens of what success looks like for you, what are your personal, creative, professional, and financial goals, and how do they fit (or not fit) together? Here’s what I came up with:
- To get outside of myself and contribute to the world in ways that encourage positive behavior. How does that relate to my photography? I create honest, direct images of people and organizations doing things to help the planet, and those images are used to tell their stories.
- To support my family and help create a nurturing home.
- To shape a career that allows me the flexibility to devote some time during the week to focus on my home and family if I need to.
Creative Goal – Short Term
- To create a new body of work that emphasizes my storytelling ability and displays a consistent vision with depth and breadth of subject matter.
Professional Goals – My Dream Business
- My clients view me as a trusted resource for vision, not just someone who you give image specs to at the end of the design process.
- I’ve got a constant mix of new and repeat clients.
- I work closely with clients and we communicate throughout the process of completing a project.
- In terms of my business practices, holding a hard line on copyright and usage isn’t as important to me as evolving with the industry and reaching a price on any project that is fair to both sides.
I won’t get in to the exact amounts for my financial goals; I’ll just say that they include categories for my salary, equipment purchases to keep me competitive, and marketing budget. Once I wrote out all those line items, I figured the target billing levels I’ll need in order to reach those category goals. Then I broke those billings down in terms of how much I need to bill per month, and per project if I assume I can shoot two projects per week.
As boring as this all sounds, I’ve got to say that I don’t feel like I would feel as grounded in the reality of being a small business owner without it. As a creative, it’s so easy to focus entirely on the visuals, to the point where you forget that to continue being a creative, you need to understand how those visuals are connected to your deeper goals *and* to your financial goals. They all work together. And by taking the last week or so and really feeling all this out, I feel much better equipped to move on to my portfolio.
Another note: if the process of breaking in to the photo business is interesting to you, definitely check out this post on John Keatley’s blog. First, he just does great work. And he just wrapped up a seven month process of his own revamping his portfolio and promo materials. I hope that at the end of my Big Project I end up with stuff that’s as good lookin’ as what he’s accomplished.
One of the things that’s so cool about the photography world right now is photographers’ willingness to be open with their business practices and share what they’ve learned. Not only is John great at this kind of behind-the-scenes kind of thing, but I emailed him with some follow up questions and he called me back within 15 minutes and told me everything I wanted to know. In today’s world, that’s the kind of business person you want to be.