Grow Your Business with Tips from Advertising Photographer Tim Tadder

Grow Your Business with Tips from Advertising Photographer Tim Tadder

Knowing how to use a camera or lighting is great but not enough to have a successful photography or videography business. PRO EDU have teamed up with advertising photographer Tim Tadder to produce a series of short clips where he shares insights from the industry and his philosophy on making his business profitable. Although the videos have been shot on a backyard golf course and Tadder not being your best golf teacher, his business advices could be quite helpful for your current or future career in photography and video.

Breaking In the Industry

It's all about the good work, not the big studio. Wherever you are you should be working on projects and show a good portfolio. You better do work that you'd like to include in your portfolio than producing images and video just for the money.

Determining Your Pricing

You can calculate your own day rate but you can also take advice from a professional in the industry or hire an agent. They will help you get in the ballpark of the rates for certain types of jobs on the market.

Should You Sell Photography on Stock Websites?

If you have time in between projects you should definitely produce more work. If you can license this work, go for it. Tadder is not talking about microstock websites which, according to him, are hurting the industry. He talks about premium rights managed licensing of your work.

Rental Fee on Your Own Equipment

Tadder advises you should charge a rental fee for your equipment and studio as this is your cost of doing business. He doesn't charge by the item but has a flat fee for this digital kit and lighting kit.

Where Is the Industry Going?

The industry is providing a lot more channels to publish your work. This means there are more opportunities to grow your business. Tadder encourages the photographers to create more and more content and publish it through those channels. He also welcomes the efforts of many photographers who try to build their way towards video.

Advice to New Photographers

It's not only an advice to new photographers but also established ones: produce more and more content. According to Tadder, bringing more clients is always preceded by creating more projects.

Specializing in One Field

Photographers have to specialize in a certain field to get noticed for that. They should create intriguing content that makes people stop and want to find more about it. Photographers should not scatter their efforts all around different areas but stay focused on a particular style or line of projects.

What Social Websites Should You Publish On?

Tim Tadder thinks his current best social media outlet is Instagram. He confesses he's disappointed from Facebook as they control the exposure too much. He uses other social networks too but thinks you don't have to be obsessed with publishing your work everywhere just because there is an option to do it. Find those that bring you the most satisfaction and profit.

Where Did Tim Tadder Learn About Business in Photography?

His base knowledge in business comes from his father and gives a practical example about buying gear. It's not about buying just to have it but to make profit of it. Buying a new piece of equipment is a better choice than renting it only if it would pay for itself before it becomes irrelevant on the market.

Finding an Agent

Tadder says it's more like letting the agent find you thank you go and search for the right one. The agent is not a panacea, i.e. someone who will find you clients regardless of your efforts. You should produce good work and have enough clients so that you might need an agent to help you with networking, marketing, managing contracts, and organizing deals. If you don't have a good amount of work with your current portfolio, an agent may not help much. It is your work that attracts clients at first place, not the agent.

Tips For Investing in Marketing

There is not right or wrong answer here. For him creating a workbook and sending a regular mailer with your current portfolio is something that works. Of course the rest is the work the agent does on your behalf. There are sites that offer you promotional services but it's up to you who you should choose.

Opinion on Payment in Installments

Tim Tadder's personal opinion is you should be paid for the work you are licensing. If the client is paying on installments they should be able to use only what they paid for. Tadder shares his philosophy on the matter by giving an example with a company that uses your work, hasn't paid yet, and in six months it's out of business.

When Should You Charge a License for Image Use?

His answer is "Always." This is an intellectual property and clients paying you for re-licensing is something you might consider. If people want to own your work they should pay premium price like a double or triple your day rate. His view on giving your work away is that this could be also harmful for the clients themselves, because they would not invest in anything new but use the materials they already had licensed in full.

Burning or Not Burning a Bridge

As everyone, Tadder regrets turning down connections and relationships in his career. But alongside with keeping bridges there are some that have to be burned down if they are not good for the business. He gives an example with a client who takes 90 percent of your time but this earns only 20 percent of your income. This is a relationship that has to be changed or dropped.

Questions New Clients Are Asked

First it's about the topic of project. The photographer asks himself if the possible outcome from these efforts would fit well in his current portfolio. Then Tadder wants to know if the client is going to collaborate in brainstorming and executing the production, as otherwise there could be lots of misunderstanding and the end results may not be liked or expected by the client.


Tadder doesn't put watermarks on his images as he thinks of them as a sign of an amateur. According to him the watermarks can be distracting sometimes and can be easily removed.

How Much His Agent Is Involved in Getting More Clients?

The agent Tadder is working with sends a quarterly report about the marketing and networking they did: emails, promo books, meetings, etc. For him it's hard to evaluate how much work comes from the agent's efforts alone but he's happy with the current service he gets.

What Practices to Avoid And What to Embrace?

Following the trends is something Tadder advices to avoid. When you are not doing what everyone else does you will be unique on the market. He also thinks trends are cyclic and a "new thing" is not necessary something that hasn't been done before. It could be an old trend returning with a renewed strength.

I hope you found this series helpful. For more educational content check out Tim Tadder's amazing portfolio.

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Jonathan Klempa's picture

This was so helpful to me, personally. Thank you for sharing!

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

You are welcome Jonathan!