Start a Photography School

Skills development is probably one of the biggest challenges facing South Africa today, that and the desire for people to better themselves (which can be taught with life coaching). Photography is a skill that can be easily learnt and not much is required to earn a living from it, making it perfect for unemployed or underemployed people to learn.

Training businesses are hot right now especially those where the student, once qualified has a low barrier to enter the market. In this case only a decent DSLR camera is needed (which can be purchased 2nd hand) and they are in business.

A photography school teaches people how to use a camera (usually a digital SLR) controls, how to compose photos, various types of photography (portraits, landscapes etc.), photography techniques and how to edit it later on.

Business Model
Photography schools teach photography courses; this can be both part time and full time, although starting out part time courses will be easier to manage. You can expand your offerings by offering both beginners, intermediate and advanced courses.

This business requires two things essentially: premises and a teacher/tutor/lecturer. For premises a small office will do starting out, a lecturer does not have to be a qualified teacher, but needs to know photography theory and how to use a camera. Depending on what you know you will either teach the course yourself or hire someone to.

Other equipment you will need is a laptop, projector and screen, to supplement the lessons. The lecturer will need a camera, obviously.

Target Market
Here comes your first challenge when looking at target market, every person who takes the course, will need a digital SLR camera, everyday they attend the course. If you target the middle or high end of the market, it’s no problem, they can afford to buy them, but if you target the lower end of the market, the market where skills are most needed, then you might need to supply your students will cameras to use. This is not an ideal arrangement, for various reasons, for one it will be risky for them to take it home, meaning they can’t practice or do assignments and then later on they can’t get a job or start their own business because they don’t have equipment. It’s just not tenable. To be realistic this is not a business that your students can start with no money, they need a camera and your fees.

So here is what you do if you are focusing on the lower end of the market:
The student needs a digital SLR, this part is not negotiable for people interested in doing photography professionally it is compulsory, best to focus on two brands: Canon and Nikon. Now for a small business, they don’t need the latest model, so you basically set out a list of recommended models, the best entry-level Canon for this type of training is the Canon xxxD series, the latest model is the 800D, now you go back at the later models (they usually run in multiples of 50), 750D, 700D, 650D etc. go way back even before the 500D, and go look at a model that is acceptable for a small business owner but has a very affordable 2nd hand resale value. For example: at the moment you can get the 350D in the R1000 range, yes it’s a bit old. But even if they are a few years old, these are SLR’s and their photo quality will better even modern point-and-click digital compacts, while allowing your students full control over their work. They will be able to do portraits, product photography, venue photography, even weddings.

The point is your students can pick up an oldish decent quality DSLR for in the R1000 to R2000 range from places like Gumtree, Cash Convertors, Crusaders etc. which as their business grows, can buy them more modern equipment. If they poor this is probably the only way they are going to be able to do it, no bank is going to lend them money, and if they don’t have a good job they won’t even get consumer credit, that is the reality in SA, you have to help yourself or no one is going to help you. If you focus on the low end of the market you must get this mentality into your students or potential students’ heads. We get applications all the time, from people with no business, zero income wanting to start a business and then they want finance to buy the latest, high-end equipment. Not going to happen, start with as little as you possible can,  bootstrap yourself, prove that you have a business and grow.

So as I mentioned above, if you tackling the lower end of the market, you might have to do some life and business coaching to get your people ready for business. Show them how to advertise on Gumtree if they don’t know how to, let them approach local clubs and pubs and ask if they can take instant photos etc.

Business Model Service
Equipment Camera, laptop, projector and screen
Sector Education & Training