After his full-time staff position with the Chinook Observer ended, Damian Mulinix was left with plenty of experience and limited options.
“I had to make a really quick choice as to what I was going to do. I didn’t have time to plan it or anything like that,” Mulinix said. “Basically, at this point in my life, I’m almost 40, this is what I do and I kind of need to earn money at it, was what it came down to.”
That need eventually developed into Mulinix’s first business endeavor as a freelance photographer.
Now, with just over six months as a business owner and a photographer, Mulinix said when it comes to the business side of freelancing he’s still learning on the job. Part of that learning curve comes from the basic struggle to find clientele as a fledgling entrepreneur, a process that, for now, means casting a wide net for potential clients.
“The business is a little far flung at the moment, if it gets to the point where there’s a certain clientele that ends up working out better...then maybe the focus could narrow a little bit more, which is what I would prefer,” he said.
Mulinix has about than 20 years of background as a professional photographer, something he said has helped him to develop his business. Learning lighting and other techniques at previous jobs prepared him for the variety of work he’s had to take on as a freelance photographer.
Keeping the business going — and growing — has become matter of keeping an open mind when it comes to possible work, Mulinix said.
“It’s kind of a balancing act for me, because what I would love to do is just make photographs that I like, that interest me, and then sell prints, make books, things like that, but that doesn’t really pay the bills. So I have to be open to whatever possibilities,” he said.
Keeping himself open to possibilities is important in what he describes as a niche market. When people are making their decisions as to what they’re going to budget for, professional photos aren’t often at the top of the list, he said.
“I think that’s why I’ve actually diversified as much as I have, out the gate, because there is a limited amount of people on any given day who would be interested in (professional photographs) or have money for that...so if I can capitalize on doing five different things instead of three different things, then I have to do that right now,” he said.
Mulinix has found help deciding on the details of his business from some friends at the Olympic Photo Group. They’ve given him guidance on some of the basics, like pricing, and finding steady clients, like school districts and sports leagues.
At the moment about half of his business comes from local clients, including the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau and Inn at Discovery Coast, and the other half ranges farther afield to locales like Portland and Seattle. Eventually he said he’d like to solidify contracts with local schools as well.
His work for Inn at Discovery Coast will be displayed in guest rooms and, should a guest want one of the prints, will be available for sale directly from the hotel, he said.