Building your photography business is going to take more than an artistic eye--you may need to understand some business fundamentals as well. Art schools offer a golden opportunity to pick up some of these practical skills along with your photography education. Here are some ways you can prepare for your photography business while still in art school. 1. Take a Business Course
Most art schools have added business courses to their curricula. These generally focus on topics specific to artists: how to present yourself to a gallery, how to start a small business, how to register and protect your copyright, how to market your work, etc. You can learn to develop a business plan for your photography business, establish a legal business identity with the county clerk, and handle your business finances. Photography students may also consider some business issues specific to their field, such as zoning regulations for running a photo shoot studio out of their home.
If your art school doesn't offer business courses, consider looking further afield: if you're attending a four-year college or university, your school may likely have a business department. Alternatively, you can find introductory business courses at the local community college, adult school, or even online. 2. Take a Web Design Course
Another smart move, while you're in art school, is to take advantage of the Web design department next door. The Web can play a major role in photography businesses. As photographer Dan Heller observes, "In the era of digital imaging, some sort of presence on the Web is absolutely mandatory for every photographer." At the very least, your website can serve as a business card. For many small business photographers, it's the entire storefront. Knowing how to take advantage of the World Wide Web can afford you the sales volume you need to get your photography business up and running. 3. Develop a Portfolio
Art school offers an invaluable opportunity to develop a broad portfolio of your work. You can experiment with different photography equipment and discover your own signature style. Instructors can offer feedback on what works, how to present it, and what features make a photograph commercially successful. 4. Network
Personal contacts are the basis of most business--especially small startups. Art school can bring you into contact with photography industry insiders. In addition to your instructors and peers, you may have access to industry networking events.
It's never too early to start thinking about how to make a living from your art. Art schools offer numerous resources for aspiring photography small business owners. Between business courses, Web design courses, portfolio development, and networking opportunities, you can graduate with the means not only to make art, but also to make money.