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When I started my business, I was solo, working out of my apartment while working a 9-5 job too. Needless to say, it was hectic. So I knew that IF I went full-time as a professional photographer, I couldn’t do it alone.

I am a people person; I love working in collaboration with others. So I knew that building a studio team would be essential to both my success AND my happiness. Today, I have three associate photographers who work in my office, helping me manage my studio.

Do you want to build a studio team?

A team looks sexy, but it isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering adding photographers or staff to your growing studio, ask yourself a few key questions.

  • Do you want to be a boss? Managing a team means setting deadlines, dress codes, company policies and occasionally having to discipline them.
  • Do you want to make more money? If that’s the ONLY reason you want to build a studio team, I strongly suggest you don’t do it.
  • Having a team is a liability and can cost you more than you make, especially if it’s not done with the right intentions and business sense.
  • Do you like to educate and mentor others? You’ll need to train each of your staff members, so be prepared for this step.

How do you find your ideal team?

Craigslist? Probably not the best source! The team will represent your brand, so you should search for someone who shares both your corporate values and your photographic style.

  • We’ve found success by reaching out to local university photography programs for internships.
  • During a semester-long internship, we can assess a team member’s work ethic, photographic style and personality.
  • In addition, we can get to know their business acumen (or lack thereof).
  • Our best associate photographers usually are strong in every area BUT business, so it’s attractive to them to shoot creatively without the headache of taxes or business administration.
  • I utilize my associates as staff, taking care of other essential studio tasks, so it beefs up their job description and also fills their time. That way, they only work for ME!

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Having a team works well for me. There’s lots of laughter, some silly dance parties and tons of fun while creating imagery that we love for our clients. Of course, there are occasionally some tears and hard moments in between. That’s all part of the learning process and goes with managing a studio team. I hope this article helped you assess whether building a studio team is right for you!

About Tracy Autem

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Tracy is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas.  Starting Lightly Photography in 2005 she has grown her team to 3 associates specializing in weddings.  In 2010 Tracy pulled her wedding work out into a new brand, Tracy Autem Photography while still personally providing portraits through Lightly.  She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts with a concentration in photography from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Tracy is a wife & mommy and often described as talkative, transparent, emotionally invested and a woman with a smile. She values love and the relationships with her family, friends and clients.  This defines her style as she focuses on story telling and romantic imagery.

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