Brano Vartovnik is a Photographer from Bratislava, Slovakia.
You can find him here:
- Hi Brano, tell me who you are and what do you do as a freelancer?
Hi there, my name is Brano Vartovnik and I´m an independent photography professional currently residing in Bratislava, Slovakia. My job as a freelancer is basically everything around photography and photography post-production.
- How long have you been working as a freelancer now?
I completely went freelance just a few years ago, in 2015 to be exact. Till that moment, I was doing photography somehow from 2009 aside to my 9 to 5 jobs that I honestly hated and I´m endlessly happy that I´m shooting pictures for a living right now.
- Why did you decide to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?
As I mentioned before, I wasn´t happy in my job and when I think about it right now, I wasn´t really happy in any job ever I had. I always wanted to make a living doing something creative, interesting and cool rather than sitting on my ass in the office or working in a retail shop. I was struggling with that kind of thing for a very long time and when photography came into my life, I was totally sure about what will happen next. It was a very long process but I worked my ass off to build an adequate portfolio and when it was complete, I started to shoot full time.
- What is your competitive advantage, which makes your clients hire you?
That´s a great question. I don´t know if this is my biggest advantage, but I´m definitely not an asshole and I´m completely reliable type of person. I sure do nice work, I´m also kind and professional to people that are willing to work with me and I do really care a lot about the final quality result. There´s a lot of garbage and arrogant selfish individuals in the world of photography also in my area, which are offering clients a few photos in mediocre or even shitty quality for a stupid money. And that´s definitely not my case. I´m also very honest and transparent guy.
- Who are your competitors? What do they have that you don’t?
Well, that´s a tough one. First of all, I think every photographer has his own signature and do different kind of work. I actually don´t consider it as a competition, I never did. You have photographers that shoot food, ones that do concerts or any kind of similar events, there are portrait photographers, there are wedding photographer etc. There is always at least one area of their performance that sucks shit or is at least very average, or It´s a part of photography that they aren´t interested in. And that´s when the other photographers come, to full that demand.
- Are there a lot of freelancers in your business?
- What do your customers expect from you?
Most of the time, they sure want their photographs asap. But a lot of them are kind enough to just ask when the pictures are gonna be ready, which is normal, typical and totally adequate and I´m happy that I´m not under big pressure very often. If you know your game and if you are capable of doing what you are asked for and if there´s no need it to be done in disproportionate time period, than there´s no need to be stressed out senseless. There are also lot of people that don´t have a concrete idea about how the project would or should look like and huge part of my job is to direct their ideas, make them happen and try my best to get it done so they can be satisfied the most.
- Who are your typical clients?
I have to say there´s nothing such as typical client in my case. I shoot food as well as I shoot weddings, portraits or band promo. I shoot for women and men of all ages with all kinds of demands so it´s hard to pick one particular type of client.
- How has your business changed over time?
Well, it´s something you´ll learn forever I guess. It´s definitely ok to be aware of actual trends, of new equipment that´s coming out and also learn something about psychology of your clients, what´s their needs when they cannot express themselves the right way so you can lead the direction and this and that. So the answer is: my business has changed with me since I started freelancing and It´s growing with me. That means I can actually choose with whom I will work and I´m definitely more mature and consistent when talking about photography business. Being self confident and humble at the same time is a great helper also.
- How did you gain your first customers?
My first customers were friends of friends of friends. It´s cliché as fuck and very typical but that´s how it goes in real life.
- John Wanamaker said: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I do not know which half. Do you gain your clients by advertising or in another way?
I started to be really focused on how social media really works and it´s actually really hard to use it properly when trying to build business. It´s 24/7/365 thing, it never sleeps and the competition is here to teach you a lesson if you decide to start a company or a brand. Without social media in 2017 you´re deeply fucked and there´s no way how to get around this. So my opinion on the topic is, if you have the money for advertising, use it the digital way. You can also spend it on print or in magazines, but the video ads and social media ads are playing it right for you. Otherwise you can wipe your ass with the cash, it will have similar effect on your business.
- The best marketing move, you’ve done?
Definitely founding Facebook page and Instagram account. And using it of course.
- The biggest marketing challenge that you deal with?
Definitely founding Facebook page and Instagram account. And using it. 🙂
- Do you hire outsourcing service providers for services, which you believe are a waste of your time?
I hire the make-up artist when needed but no, I never use outsourcing of services of other people. Even the catering I do by myself when needed.
- How does your typical working day look like? What do you do when you are not working? How many hours/days per week are you working?
I wake up, have a cup of coffee and then I exercise/lift some weights/ do some cardio. Than I have some breakfast and then I start to work. I actually start to work the moment I wake up, ´cause the first thing I do is checking my Instagram and Facebook page on my phone. I usually work from early morning till late night very often and have no weekends, no vacations, no any other excuses to not to work. If I´m exhausted, I take a little rest for day or two, but considering I find stereotype extremely annoying, there´s actually no consistent schedule of my work week/month/year. It´s punk rock and I love it that way. It´s freedom.
- Which books would you recommend to freelancers?
If you´re a freelancer planning to make actual money of your activities, I have to be honest that there´s no book that can prepare you for reality of business. It´s cool to have a dream and it´s cool to have and ideas but that means nothing if you don´t work on it. I have a few photography books just for pure inspiration and if I need to combine some ideas about how to use the light for my forecoming photoshoot and stuff like that. But if you don´t use your camera, you won´t learn shit. And there´s no book that can save that, buddy. It´s the same in any other art. Build your own brand and ideas and have your own focus on things and learn how to do marketing on your own. That´s something you can´t learn reading about that but actually doing it.
- What is your current inspiration that drives you in the business?
I found lot of inspiration in famous portrait and fashion photographers, ´cause of their sensitive approach to composition and work with light. There´s lot of names to mention. My motto is try to be as good as those who are the best in your field. Once you reach that level, try to outperform them. Enough said.
- What would you do differently if you would start again?
Nothing. I´ve learned my lesson many times so no regrets.
- What would you advise someone who has an idea, but no money?
Shut the fuck up about the Idea, try to get that needed money and then work on your Idea. It´s not so romantic but it works ;).
- What was the best business advice you received?
Take money from clients!
- Do you have an online resource which you use regularly? Which one?
No one. Never.
- What do you often dream about when you’re not working?
About the world where there are no people who want everything for free.
- The place where you find your peace?
- Top 3 mobile apps on your smartphone?
Instagram, Facebook and Google.
- What do you do in your free time?
- Your last vacation?
Berlin. Love this city.
- Business plans for the future?
Work my ass off.
- Your plans for the future?
Work even more.
Brano’s work and references: