Live Ask an Agent at Somerset House/World Photo London/Question One

Recently Lisa hosted Live Ask an Agent at Somerset House, London as part of World Photo London. Inspired by Ask an Agent, a monthly feature on the LPA blog and photography’s first agony aunt, the live Q&A session answered 6 preselected questions about the photography business and inspired some lively debate!

As promised we’ll be sharing the answers here on the blog over the next few weeks.

The first question comes from no other than editor of The British Journal of Photography, Simon Bainbridge.

What sort of investment do you need to put in after college to be in a position where ad and design agencies (and agents) take you seriously?

Simon Bainbridge, editor The British Journal of Photography.

Well I reckon the answer to this question is pretty much based on how long and how much it costs to get any business up and running.

The key thing that graduates need to remember is that being a professional photographer is very much about running a business. You need to develop a product and a service that people want to buy. You need to be able to market and deliver this product as well as (or preferably better than) your competitors and you need to evolve with industry trends and client demands. When you are able to do all of this, that’s when the industry will take you seriously. But thing's don't happen overnight.

Being acknowledged as a professional photographer is usually a slow burner, a very gradual transition. You need to be persistent and consistent, ramp things up slowly and gather momentum.

Cost wise, people often imagine it’s just you and a camera and forget all the other costs of running a business. Fair enough you don’t usually need to invest in large premises, lots of staff and a warehouse full of stock but there are many things you do need to invest in over the years to be taken seriously. The main initial cost will be technical equipment and the sky is the limit on this one. You will also need to heavily invest in your marketing, not just a website and a business card, all the personal projects, networking expenses and subscriptions are all part of this don’t forget. And thirdly there’s all your general business overheads, insurance, phone, bank charges, computer software, the list goes on.

So how long and how much until you crack it?

I reckon 45K and about 5 years - here’s how I came to this equation.

The regular Ask an Agent monthly spot will return on the 2nd July and thereafter the first Monday of each month. So please carry on sending your questions to and we’ll answer as many as we can.