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Starting a Photography Holiday Business

Lowestoftis 8 33 3
8 Jul 2012 10:01AM
This is probably a mid-life crisis thing, but I have been considering buying a property in France and running a photography/art holiday business out there. I have been looking at the Dordogne area because I'm quite familiar with that particular region, but this is most certainly not set in stone. To finance this project I would be selling my house, and my business in the UK. This is obviously a big risk, but I'll be a long time dead so I'm thinking what the hell. I was wondering if there was anyone else as mad as me on Ephotozine who would consider sharing the risk, and the hard work in setting up and running such a business. I know it's a long shot, but I don't think there is any harm in asking.

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Photo4x4 14 470 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 10:13AM

Quote:This is obviously a big risk

Quote:I was wondering if there was anyone else as mad as me on Ephotozine who would consider sharing the risk

Not the best way to sell an investment!

However good luck, it can work.

Keith Hart
Lowestoftis 8 33 3
8 Jul 2012 10:26AM
Thanks for your response Keith.

I think honesty is the best policy when discussing a possible business venture, and there is risk, and in this financial climate you would have to be a little bit mad to give up a comfortable lifestyle, for a brand new challenge in a foreign country. Maybe I should have said brave instead of "mad."

llareggub 7 825 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 10:55AM
Good luck Gary... We bailed on the 9-5 life 4 1/2 years ago and bought a small holding in Rural Hungary, no photography business here though we do a little freelancing but cost of living out here is incredibly cheap. I'm guessing that is very different in France Smile
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
8 Jul 2012 11:07AM
Just make sure that you have the knowledge and skills to make it work - and totally satisfy your clients.

Every satisfied client might tell one or two friends.

Every dissatisfied client will, according to old-fashioned business wisdom, tell 20. But with Twitter, Facebook, ePz and Trip Advisor, it is more likely that a dissatisfied client will blacken your name to 100,000.

To make it a success, you would need a very detailed knowledge of the geography, ecology and demography of the area you choose to set up in, plus a proven expertise in photography. Plus, of course, abundant people-skills and teaching ability. If you have those qualifications, very good luck.

ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
8 Jul 2012 11:10AM
go for it and good luck....
Gaucho 16 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 11:11AM
My only comment would be make sure your French is up to scratch. Without it you will probably struggle. If you need any information about living in France I may be able to point you in the right direction. Bonne chance Smile
puertouk 6 1.1k 17 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 11:18AM
Think long and hard. Setting up a business in any country is difficult. In France you have a lot of red tape, especially with the local mayor. Without his blessing, forget it. Then you have got to build your business. People will not be leaping for joy because you have a photographic business in France. There's plenty of photographers in France or the UK who do trips.

I have a photographic business in Tenerife and it's tough. I've had pro photographers even asking me for work. If you are planning to also accommodate your clients, that is even more hard work. I take it you can also speak fluent French?

You may be better staying in the UK and offering trips to France and setting up with someone who offers holiday accommodation out their. Travel to France with your clients or meet them their with a hired minibus. That way you can work out all of your costs and add the profit you want on top.

You could also do trips to Spain, Italy or wherever you want, even the UK. Don't tie yourself down to one place to start with. Keep your options open. Just don't offer trips to Tenerife!!! Hope this is of help
Photo4x4 14 470 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 11:22AM

Quote:Just don't offer trips to Tenerife

Or the Scottish Highlands! Grin

Keith Hart
Lowestoftis 8 33 3
8 Jul 2012 12:26PM
Thanks for all your advice, and words of encouragement. Much appreciated.

Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 12:43PM
I am not sure this will help but a professional wildlife photographer who regularly covers the Club circuit mentioned that he had branched out into organizing photography holidays. Maybe there is an opportunity to link up with him. His website is:

Mike Lane

Gothard 5 4 Latvia
8 Jul 2012 2:56PM
I run something like that in Latvia...and it goes pretty well...i think with a right marketing and wide options it will work Smile
Photo4x4 14 470 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 4:14PM

Quote:To make it a success, you would need a very detailed knowledge of the geography, ecology and demography of the area you choose to set up in, plus a proven expertise in photography

How true, and I'd add the history of the area as well. You will be much more than just a photographer you really need to know your stuff about the areas you visit.

Now on a more serious note, never go into partnership without getting an agreement in writing drawn up by a very good solicitor. If working abroad then you will need to seek the advice of a local firm who know the law in their own location. Never go into partnership with someone who does not put their own cash into the business otherwise YOU will be taking all the risk. Why should they worry if it is not them who loses their house?

You will be a long time dead, but you could also be a long time bankrupt and living on a pittance. Think about it very carefully, then think again, do your (realistic) sums then think again and then do your sums again.

It can be done as you have seen from this thread - but easy it isn't.

The danger is that you get carried away by the idea of it all and the 'romance' of living in France and making a living doing your hobby. However doing the same job for a profession as self-employed is very different indeed.

If you have never run a business before then you really should try and have a go at something here in the UK first. Remember the majority of new business start ups fail in the first 3 years. This is NOT usually for the want of enthusiasm and passion it is because of the lack of business skills and foresight.

What sounds an idyllic life is damned hard work and ALL the responsibility will be yours. It is 24 hours a day (sometimes) and 7 days per week 365 days per year (always).

It is good to have dreams but you MUST be realistic.

Never rely on the opinion of friends or family when looking into something like this. They will always tell you that you are great and your idea is wonderful. Try running the idea past your bank manager and ask him for some money - then you'll see just what he as an unbiased professional thinks of it.

I started my business without any borrowings so that took the pressure off as we got up and running. If you are paying back a loan then it make things MUCH harder.

Also to be honest I wouldn't go into business with someone that I just met through a web forum. You would need to check any potential business partner out in great detail (as they would you).

Good luck

Keith Hart
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2012 8:42PM
Why would you want to share the risk? I'd assume that when you started you cient base would be small - too small to support 2 photographers?
Maybe a local french photo student would be a good 2nd person and bring some local good will as well.
Its its investment you want for studio space etc, how have you researched the costs and returns in that area?

I'd assume you have much more of a business plan written down as well as the question above.

You would want to get to know your new business partner very well as you two alone might be spending lots of time getting going, you would also both need to think of exit plans and knowing when to quit if it was not working.

Good luck though, its better to try things than never doing anything.
Lowestoftis 8 33 3
8 Jul 2012 10:06PM
Thanks again for all your advice. I have been running my own business in the UK for over 25 years, I have in that time had many highs and lows as you can imagine, so I know about working 18 hours a day just to keep my head above water, and I also know about risking my own money. To Keith who said try running this past my bank manager, sadly Keith there is no such thing as bank manager anymore, in fact there hasn't been for many years, so that wouldn't be much help. As far as the type of partner I would want it would have to be someone who was prepared to put an equal amount of cash as I was into the project, and have vision and drive. It might some strange but someone having any great skill as a photographer would be a bonus, and certainly not a priority.

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