"Your job is so easy" or "you're so lucky" have both been cast my way a few times over the years which is a good indication that some don't really understand what I do. Don't get me wrong. Yes, I am extremely fortunate to do what I love, and I don't take it for granted, but being a professional photographer is much more than just pressing a button to create pretty pictures and having fun all day like some may think.

As with most small business owners, an individual wanting to become a pro photographer will have to learn to be competent and successful at a multitude of skillsets and roles. As you grow some of these can and should be delegated and outsourced, but for most people starting out on a budget the following will be ALL ON YOU.

Roles as a sole-propriortor photographer

1. Owner/Proprietor

  - Responsible for overall business operations and decision-making.

2. Photographer

  - Captures and creates visual content for clients.

  - Is knowledgeable and proficient in the use of equipment and technical aspects of photography.

  - Plans or assists in planning with clients or art director the creative goals and production of a shoot

3. Editor/Retoucher

  - Edits and enhances photographs to meet client expectations with technical software such as Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, Affinity, Topaz, Nik, etc. For some this is very personal and both creating the photos as well as enhancing them in software is done by the same person. For others image processing may be one of the first things that is outsourced because it's an entirely different skillset than creating the photos and the photographer may view it more as a collaborative effort.

4. Art director/creative director/producer

  - Often times photoshoots are too low budget for these roles so the creative direction, talent acquisition, location scouting/booking, pre-shoot planning, and more are placed under the photographer's responsibility.

5. Marketing Manager

  - Develops and executes marketing strategies to promote services. Also not my expertise and something I continue to study and learn from others. The majority of my new clients come from referrals which is because I've been building a solid network of people around me for nearly three decades. Referrals are wonderful of course, but if you're young, new to an area, and/or just starting out then developing and implementing an actual strategy will be core to your stability.

6. Customer Service Representative

  - Handles client inquiries, communication, feedback, and concerns. You're going to have to learn to have people skills AND best to develop some thick skin if you want to be a photographer. Like it or not.

7. Scheduler/Appointment Coordinator

  - Manages appointments, sessions, and schedules. Stay organized from the get go! Eventually you'll have multiple projects going on at once. I've double booked before on accident and that's not a fun situation to resolve. Fortunately my clients where understanding and flexible but that might not always be the case.

8. Administrator

  - Handles administrative tasks, such as paperwork and organization.

9. Accountant/Bookkeeper

  - Manages finances, including budgeting, invoicing, and bookkeeping. Getting paid is great, but these are not my favorite tasks! haha. Also one to potentially outsource early once you start making enough revenue and depending on how you run your business.

10. Sales Representative

  - Sells photography services and negotiates contracts. The statement "everyone's a salesman" is nearly spot in most careers. Don't worry. Selling a skillset that many struggle with at first, but it can be learned.

11. Networker/Connector

  - Builds and maintains a professional network. This is HUGE, and I was fortunate my mom used to give me the "it's not WHAT you know, but WHO you know" advice a lot in my teenage and young adult years. Treat people with respect, be professional and friendly, make the effort to maintain relationships, and take the time to get out and meet new people.

12. Legal Compliance Officer

  - Studies local, state, and federal law to ensures business operations comply with legal requirements. Oof! This is kind of the "scary" one at first because it can be so daunting for us creative types. Don't worry there are plenty of resources out there to help.

13. Technician/Equipment Manager

  - Manages, cleans, and maintains photography equipment.

14. Webmaster/Online Presence Manager

  - Maintains and updates the business website and online portfolio. Of course this can be outsourced as well, but if you're on a tighter budget there are many great platforms these days to build a great website. I personally use Pixieset to build the majority of my site.

15. Negotiator/Contract Manager

  - Negotiates contracts and manages client agreements.

16. Counselor

  - This may be for yourself or your client! Haha. Jokes aside though, photography can sometimes be very personal and at times evoke unexpected emotions. Guess this could be a personality type, but people tend to open up and express private details of their lives to me. I've heard similar stories from other pros about their own experiences.

17. Janitorial/Workspace Maintenance

  - Keeps the workspace clean and organized. Another one you could outsource but you gotta make that money first!

18. Last but not most definitely not least - Office Manager!

  - Organizes, prioritizes tasks, and manages time efficiently. NOT always the easiest for us creative types so get a handle on this ASAP when launching your business.

Now you can see there is fairly wide range of skills and responsibilities that a pro photographer takes on when they are working as a sole-proprietor. If you read through all of that, then you're obviously serious about knowing what it takes to become a professional and I applaud you for making the effort to learn. If you're an aspiring or early professional photographer and ready to take your business to the next level feel free to reach out with questions or check out my educational services and events to learn other ways to sharpen your photography and business skills. Best of luck to you!