You’re a photographer in a world where it’s possible for even grandma to pick up a camera and “do what you do.” Or she can grab her iPad, load up a filter app, and boom – she’s a photographer too!
But not all photographers are created equally. There’d be no fun if that was the case. The type of photos you create, the memories you provide clients… it’s those little things that set ‘em apart. It’s like this in all types of businesses and it’s no different for photographers. Just because the market is saturated, doesn’t mean it’s time to give up.
Instead, you can learn how to stand out by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Then you can jump on opportunities and minimize the danger of threats. The simplest way to address each of these areas is with a comprehensive SWOT analysis, specifically for you, the photographer.
If you’re still unsure, read on.
The purpose of SWOT analysis for photographers
While the main purpose of the SWOT analysis is focused on businesses, photographers can use SWOT analysis to set themselves apart from others. Anyone with a decent camera can become a photographer these days, sure, but that’s what makes it difficult to stand out in a crowd. Especially if you want to transform your passion into a business.
But SWOT analysis gives you the power to not only deep into what makes you unique as a photographer, but also how to position yourself in such a loud market. This will primarily focus on the first half of the analysis, but the second half can help you avoid pitfalls while you get your offerings and services set up.
Setting up your SWOT analysis
The true beauty of SWOT analysis, compared to many others, is that you don’t need anything more than a bit of time and a laptop to get started. You don’t have to be a business analyst either – although they do use SWOT to solve internal company issues often.
Strengths & weaknesses
Strengths and weaknesses are two faces of the same coin. Strengths discuss your individual advantages as a photographer. It encompasses your talent, skill, and personality.
Weaknesses, on the other hand, address where you may be lacking. But this isn’t to make you feel bad. It’s to examine areas of concern. Because you can’t fix anything if you’re not aware it exists.
You can have an easier time understanding your strengths by answering a few questions.
- What type of photographs do you take? Black and white? Film? Digital? Polaroid?
- What equipment do you use? Is it holding you back?
- Do you enhance your photos with a program?
- Whose pictures do you want to take (or what industry do you want to work in)?
- What do you do differently when you take or edit photos?
- What is the final result? What emotions do you inspire?
By answering these questions, you can understand exactly what you do but more importantly, why. From the moment you set up the camera to when you deliver the final product, all of it can pinpoint traits that are unique to you. That’s how you’ll stand out.
But, on the flipside, you also need to address weaknesses. Because you’ll want to fix them before someone else takes advantage of your blind spots. Companies who ignore their weaknesses allow the competition to swoop in. Because people can create strengths based on your weaknesses. And you definitely don’t want that.
Consider these weaknesses.
- What mediums or programs don’t you use?
- Do people ever ask you for something you won’t or can’t do?
- Have people ever complained about the photos you take? What did they say?
- Do you live in an area where you could serve a lot of people? If not, how will this affect you?
- What’s preventing you from being successful with your photography business?
- Are you lacking in any equipment? What’ll happen if you don’t have it?
Uncovering weaknesses can definitely be painful, but it’s better to address the issues now instead of losing out on business. If you don’t address them, you will lose profits and customers to someone else. That’s just how business goes.
Opportunities & threats
Opportunities, or the ‘O’ in SWOT analysis, are born from every photographer’s strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths make it much easier to identify and understand opportunities. For example, if you still develop photos by hand, this can be a lucrative market in the age of digital media. It’s easy to see where people may appreciate a more ‘rustic’ approach to photos because they feel ‘authentic’ or ‘vintage.’
Weaknesses are more difficult because it’s easy to get sucked into the void of negativity. But that doesn’t mean skip it.
Let’s say you’re lacking in proper equipment. You don’t have a lens necessary for a certain type of a shot. That’s a weakness. Or maybe it’s an opportunity?
If you get creative, you may not only get the shot but get a unique process that only you can create. This could become your selling point. Sure, it may be time-consuming, but if people pay for it, maybe it’s worth the extra hassle for you. Maybe you’ll even enjoy doing it!
The key thing to remember is that opportunities are everywhere.
But… you can’t forget about threats.
You can easily determine threats from your own weaknesses. If you don’t take care of your weaknesses, how will it affect the outcome of your photography business? Will just be a minor blip on your roadmap or derail your progress?
Threats exist in other areas too, like the economy, the market, and with customers. You need to study all three to understand where you stand in this photography business.
See? Now you’ve completed your SWOT analysis. You understand where your strengths lie. Now it’s time to make them the focus in your business. Highlight them in your marketing plans and when you’re trying to close a sale.
You’re also aware of weaknesses and can devise an effective plan to fix ‘em. Meanwhile, you can keep your eyes open for opportunities and address threats long before they ruin any progress.
You got that all that from one SWOT analysis, can you believe it? Congrats! Now take this information and use it to your advantage, before someone else does.