Focusing on the business side of your photography venture is the best way to stand out in a saturated market. The trick to every successful business is having a practical business plan, and every business plan starts with a mission statement. This post will teach you how to develop a mission statement for your photography business.
What is a Mission Statement?
Simply put, a mission statement is a written declaration of your business’ core purpose. This statement can be a single sentence or several, but regardless of length, it should:
- make clear your business’ core values
- clearly states the services that your business offers
- convey a sense of your business’ general intentions
- be unique and meaningful to you
- should convey the work that you want to do more of
Purpose always speaks louder than words or images. Prospective clients want to know if your goals and values align with theirs or the organizations they represent. As Simon Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
However, be sure that your mission statement also conveys the work you want to be hired to do. You might be talented at portraits and weddings, but if that’s not the kind of work you want to do more of, don’t make that part of your mission statement. Focus entirely on what you want to do. That is how you will attract your ideal clients.
What is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement is a bit different than a mission statement. While the latter communicates a business’ purpose and values, a vision statement provides more strategic direction. Specifically, a vision statement details what the business desires to achieve in the future. Do you need both a mission and vision statement? Not necessarily, but it certainly helps!
Sample Vision Statements
“To be the world’s most customer-centric company.” – Amazon
“Helping investors help themselves.” – Charles Schwab
“To provide access to the world’s information in one click.” – Google
How to Write a Photography Mission Statement
1. Why do you do what you do?
To start, write down your specific reasons for wanting to be a professional photographer. What is it about photography that excites you? Why do you do what you do?
Example: I love using photography to help people see the best possible versions of themselves.
2. Determine what kind of photography work you want to do.
Before you can market yourself as a photographer, you need to establish what your specific services. Be very clear to yourself about what kind of freelance work you desire and to translate that to your website and business materials.
- Do you desire to focus on commercial clients or consumer clients?
- What specific types of photography will you focus on? (try to have no more than 3 to start with)
Example: I seek consumer clients seeking photos for their own personal use. I will focus on portrait photography and boudoir photography.
3. Describe your ideal client.
Everyone has their ideal photography client. For some, it’s a bride or family with young children; other photographers might prefer a major corporate or editorial client.
- What kind of clients do you want to work with?
- What photography environments and/or setups do you want to work with?
Example: My ideal photography client is women in their 20’s-40’s wanting beautiful portraits of themselves to treasure this period of their lives. I don’t mind doing environmental portraits in other people’s homes or public spaces like the park or beach. However, I thrive when shooting in a photo studio with a big lighting setup.
4. How does your business satisfy the needs of your ideal clients?
Consider the answers from questions 3 and 4. What do you love about photography, and how do you convey that passion to your clients? Your answers to these questions may end up highlighting your value proposition.
Example: I believe that all women of every age and shape deserve to feel sexy, beautiful and confident. My photography studio runs on the desire to provide intimate portrait and boudoir photography to women to boost their confidence and love the bodies they are in. All photo shoots are held in my private, film noir inspired photography studio that is staffed by other amazing women who love what they do.
5. Define your personal values, passions, and goals and relate them to your photography business.
Your personal values won’t necessarily be the same as your photography business, but the two will certainly influence each other. Start by listing your personal values, passions, and goals. Use these answers to do the same for your photography business. If you want to be thorough, brainstorm and run ideas by your friends, family, and co-workers. Sometimes, getting feedback and personal assessments from others is the best way to uncover unique traits about yourself that you weren’t aware of.
Sample Photography Business Mission Statements
- Our mission is to provide an enjoyable experience in front of the camera as well as timeless photographs that you will treasure for a lifetime.
- As a photographer, my goal is to capture stories in the form of images. Photos have the power to help you relive a specific moment in time and recall all of the emotions and details surrounding that moment. When I work with you on a photo project, my goal is to provide you with photographic records of those moments. I want you to be able to look back at your photos years from today and be able to relive that moment in time.
What to do with your mission statement
Once you’ve settled on a mission statement, don’t be afraid to revise it in the future as needed. However, don’t stress over it and revise constantly. Make a poster or handwritten note to yourself with your mission statement on it, and put it somewhere visible where you always see it. Running a photography business is tough and there will be many times when you will lack motivation. It’s important to have a constant visual reminder of why you do what you do to keep you going during stressful times.
Next, take that mission statement and put it on any public-facing marketing materials such as your photography website, marketing proposals to prospective clients, flyers, or anywhere else it might be impactful. Speaking of a photography website, use your new mission statement to guide your website design, and your choice of portfolio images. Make sure all of your marketing materials, especially your portfolio, have a with a consistent style and vision, that complements your mission statement.
At first glance, a mission statement might remind you of a faded piece of paper that’s taped to the walls of a corporate office, going largely ignored unless HR is conducting a test or survey. But the truth is any successful business should have a very clearly articulated reason for doing what they do, and that lives in the form of the mission statement.
Does your photography business have a mission statement? Include yours in the comments below!