Keith Hern
Keith Hern

To many an enthusiast the idea seldom gets past the stage of being an idealistic dream, but there are people out there who have successfully made the transition and are now enjoying a new career that happens also to be their passion.

One such individual, Keith Hern, is now working with Aspect2i and running a introductory course about making the ’big change’, or as he puts it his ’midlife career enlightenment.’

Commercial Photography by Keith Hern

With twenty years of sales and marketing behind him Keith made the change some six years ago so is in an excellent position to talk through what’s involved, the challenges that lie ahead, some do’s and don’ts and provide a good insight into how to get started on a new life.

In the first part of the course he covers the key preparatory thoughts and actions that will need to be considered. Starting with an introduction from each attendee to provide an overview of their current situation and looking at what the motivation is to consider a career change, where the decision has come from, and the timing of such a move. Once the desire is there and the reasons understood, then attention switches to what is actually involved.

Portrait at Home by Keith Hern

Now is the time to look in a little more detail at some questions, all of which need to have been considered: photographic ability and training needs - what is a good enough standard to make a living? Should you be a generalist or specialist? What equipment do you need to get started? How are you going to trade? How much research have you done into photographers you admire or whose expertise you’d like to emulate? Have you sat down and written a business plan? What is it like being self-employed? .

This section aims to provide something of a checklist as to whether this is the right move for you, and will cover the approach Keith used at this stage. Have you thought through what will be involved? Have you talked it through with your family and are they supportive? If so is now the right time? On the assumption the answers are yes, then the next step is to examine what preparations need to be put into place in order to start your new business.

As you have decided your trading name you will need the set-up investment such as a website, business cards, maybe some written promotional material, stationery, a bank account, relevant computing, storage and software. How much is needed and at what cost? Start to think what it will be like from the buyer’s perspective - can you answer and back-up questions like ’what photographic commissions have you done before?’ and ’who are your clients?’

Next attention moves to other key points to consider before starting. Where are the contacts that will get your business off the ground? How much are you going to charge for your work? Have you spoken to friends and family and got some initial feedback to your thoughts and ideas? What other issues need to be considered before starting? Do I need insurance, if so what? What about a CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) check? When and why might it be necessary? What about cash-flow and what approach will you take to late payers?

Piano Room by Keith Hern

The closing part of this section of the course looks at how different it is when you are being paid to take photographs, and some thoughts on overcoming those initial nerves the first few times you are commissioned. This will all be based on Keith’s experiences, along with a cautionary word or two about the areas he didn’t get right, and an insight into being self-employed.

The objective is not to provide a blueprint to success as that is down to the individual, but more to ensure the basic elements are in place, to increase awareness of what is involved in setting up a new business, and the necessary thought and preparation is in place before the career change happens.

At the end of these sessions attendees will have a better understanding of what is involved in planning for the career swap, and the awareness of what needs to be done prior to starting with the aim of maximising the chances of the new business being a success.

© Keith Hern