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Remember how we hoped 2020 would end so we would be rid of the pandemic? Well…clearly we have not been through another pandemic. In as much as Covid is still hounding most countries down in 2022, in Jan 2021, people were already tired of having their lives on hold. Most people were eager to get the lives back on track. With this new revival, came a stream of new work that eventually grew in the course of the year.  2021 was definitely the lifeline we needed, 2020 had been hard on us. It was like that lifesaving gasp of air before you drown. It almost feels like the number of jobs we got in 2020 we could count with our fingers and still have other fingers left.

We are really grateful for the work we did last year and the clients who trusted us. We did some really dope projects that we are proud of. Hoping 2022 will also keep us busy and that we may do product photography & Video projects that we love!

Croissants & Butter - Brioche food photograpy

Shot for Brioche, Jan 2021


As we start the new year, we start by reflecting on the past year, lessons learnt that we will carry with us in 2022 & beyond.

1. Save the reveal after payment of the deposit

A lot of times, before we shoot styled images, we do a mood board that we share with the client. We normally try to do these mood boards after a deposit has been shared. Reason is, it takes time to research on a credible direction that fits what the client wants & needs. A few times, we may break this rule but we try to avoid it. When we break this rule its normally based on our relationship with that client or the “referrer” of that referral.


Shot for Ari’s Gourmet, Feb 2021

There was a time we had a meeting with a potential client who sounded very promising. They even added us to their Pinterest board. After the first meeting, we sent them notes to the meeting, they didn’t respond. We had promised we would follow up on some model costs, which we got from various agencies and shared with them. Still, no response. Followed up with them via phone call only for them to promise calling back but they didn’t. They never got back to us.

We invested too much time on a client who had already decided to work with someone else. You lose time, you lose money. Try to push commitments that will take a bit of time to after the deposit has been paid.

2. They like you, they will pursue you

This statement has been proved over & over again based on interactions we have had with various clients & potential clients. Sometimes, we lose too much time chasing clients who are just “shopping” for quotes. They are looking for the cheapest person to do the job.

A lot of the times these individuals don’t like giving you a lot of detail, they usually just want to know the cost of the shoot even with vague details. If an individual doesn’t want to give you details so you can quote, that is usually a red flag.

Dairyland Pinacolada ice cream shot on a beach like environment

Shot for Dairyland, April 2021

Serious clients will answer questions, make time for meetings, pay the deposit. Essentially they will take their work seriously and be involved. Just make sure you are also following up and playing your part.

3. Clients work with people they trust

Put the hurt ego aside. It doesn’t necessarily mean your work is not good, it just means they have worked with the other person before and they believe they can deliver. The best option is to work on projects that are so good (personal or paid) that the client is willing to take a chance on you. You now have a foot through the door.
This is especially true for larger clients. They will most likely work with agencies. Remember, whoever is recommending you to the client from the agency, is putting their name on the line so if you get the opportunity, don’t waste it.

Dairyland dessert sauces shot on white

Shot with the Nikon 50mm, individually then composited. Shot for Dairyland, May 2021

4. We are more than photographers, we are also marketers

If you own a photography business, then you are more than a photographer. You are also a marketer and depending whether it’s a sole business, partnership or company, you may perform many more roles.

In 2021, we listened to the e-book version of: The one page marketing plan. It’s such a transformative book! We learnt we had a marketing strategy (that could use some enhancement) but we didn’t have marketing systems to support this strategy. Given, we already knew we need to build systems for every part of our business after listening to E-Myth, we were still in a sort of paralysis. We knew what where we wanted to go but not how to get there. This book changed that.

A macro shot of coffee

Sigma 105 macro, baby! Personal shoot, 2021

We also understood marketing is not something you can avoid as a business owner. Even if you intend to delegate it, you have to own it. Read/listen to the book, it will change your life.

It’s interesting how these lessons build on the lessons we have been learning through our journey. Check out the lessons we learnt at the beginning of last year:

7 Powerful Lessons Learnt in 2020 That Can Transform Any Business

5. Our studio is where we are

Since March 2020, we left our “normal” fixed studio and gradually moved all our props and gear home. Home became our default studio and we had to adjust greatly! Now our studio is mobile; we can shoot at home, at the office or even on location. We have become more flexible and try to coordinate on what works for the client as well as for us.

Bila shaka Brewery - Dirty Hairy

Shot for Bateleur Breweries, August 2021

6. We don’t have to know everything

We have so many big plans! So many, so big, they are scary. In order to achieve those plans, we need a number of skill sets. We are currently a team of 3, trying to perfect some of the skills we already have and learn more. Yet can we have an unlimited number of skills and do them all, very well?

We have learned to outsource some things. Through quite a bit of projects in 2021, we have worked with an external editor. She is efficient and better at editing than us since that is her core job. It has saved us a lot of headache and helped us work on multiple projects concurrently.

Kvant by Shot By Alama

Shot for Mega beverages, November 2021

We are looking to scale in 2022 and get help for some jobs that we normally don’t have enough time to implement on our own.

7. Charge your worth

It’s a lesson we continue to learn. Not every client is yours, don’t try to bag them all. Don’t sell yourself short. Do we need to say more?

You may also like our last post: Two Lenses That Will Elevate Your Product & Food Photography

8. Balance

Rest is just as important as work! We had simultaneous projects in 2021 and we struggled with late nights, busy weekends and early mornings. We had so many internal projects we were looking to achieve as well. Frankly, we became toxic, we hardly took lunch breaks and ate at our desks.

Toyota Lubricants -4L Group

Shot for Toyota Tanzania, November 2021

We decided to change. We hope to scale more so we are not overwhelmed by work but we get the necessary support. We are also now not eating at our desks and taking appropriate breaks. Constantly, we are reminding ourselves that its OK to stop working at 5.30. We are keeping ourselves accountable and taking our mental and physical health seriously. We definitely want more wholistic lives and we wish the same to you.

We hope these 8 powerful business lessons resonate with you. Let us know what you have learned in your own journey in the comments below.

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