By Paul and Sarah Edwards
Q: My husband and I want to start a mobile photography business by traveling in a studio on wheels to events such as dog and cat shows and motorcycle rallies. How do we find out if there's a market for this and if it will be profitable?
A: You'll likely be investing tens of thousands of dollars in a van for your mobile studio and photography equipment. So you'll want to know if you can produce enough income from primarily weekend events to cover your investment plus provide yourselves with a decent living.
We know from our own experience at dog shows that there is a market for professional photographers at these kinds of events. Because dog breeds are judged simultaneously in different rings, there is often a need for multiple photographers. Before you get started, however, you should:
Talk with entrants at these shows. Ask how often they need photographs and if they're happy with the photographers they've used in the past.
Listen to their complaints. How can you provide photos better, faster or cheaper than they're getting them now?
Watch your competitors in action. Noting the things they do--or don't do--can help you satisfy future customers.
Do some research. Check out magazines and websites (such as www.showdogsupersite.com) that cover championship events for other markets.
Broaden your scope. To make enough money, you may need to branch out and cover horses, birds, fish and other pets. You could also expand what you offer to include videos, DVDs, and portraits of animals with their owners at their homes.