I’ve said before that your biggest competitor is in your head. We all silently talk to ourselves (even out loud if we think we’re alone, or are a little bonkers!). We’ll think things like:
“I could never do that.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not confident enough.”
“I don’t have time”
“That’ll never work.”
“What if someone complains about the price.”
“Oh god, what if they don’t like the photos.”
“I need to reduce my prices to get more clients.”
“The photography industry is dying.”
“People don’t have money anymore and everyone just cares about price.”
You spend years mastering your camera skills until your fingers can instinctively and fluidly caress the appropriate button like a pianist prodigy.
Your Photoshop artistry dazzles the viewer while still honoring the subject’s natural essence and spirit…
…and then you realise everyone you’re photographing is standing there like a sack of set yogurt.
Many photographers call their style ‘reportage’ as an excuse for not knowing how to pose portraits. Capturing a special moment as it naturally unfolds is wonderful and I don’t wish to downplay the skill at all. However, if you’re photographing a wedding, for example, the bride is going to want to look elegant and fabulous in her photos. If you’re going to just follow her around all day and hope that at some point she’ll stand in the perfect pose, in the perfect light, with the perfect backdrop then you’ll probably be very disappointed… …and so will they.
First up I should explain that I’m talking about advertising in magazines and newspapers. If you have a website then you’ll have received one of those phone calls or emails from the local magazine who want to offer us a ‘special price’ for a half page advert in the Worcestershire Bugle (I chose ‘Worcestershire’ just to tease my American readers! It’s easy ‘Wuss-ter-ssher’).
Anyhooo, it’s easy to get tempted and give it a go. If you ever have then you’ve probably had terrible results.
If you want my short answer to ‘should photographers advertise’ then I’m going to have to throw you a ‘no – run away screaming’. I’m not saying it can’t work (read on for some tips on this), I’m saying you need to be very savvy to make it work. If you’re not extremely experienced in advertising and copywriting then you’ll almost certainly fail with your photography advert.
To make advertising your photography business effective you’d have to have a very persuasive, unique and attention grabbing benefit that’s so powerful people would feel compelled to put down their magazine and call you immediately. For example, if you could say ‘My mate George Clooney is in town and he’s offering a free lift to the church in his helicopter for any weddings you book with me in August’. That would work. No arguments there! There’s a danger George might run off with the bride though…
How many photographers are able to offer something so unique, so amazing, so emotionally compelling that no other Continue reading
I was honoured to be asked by Chicago’s College of Dupage photography faculty to give a presentation and Q&A session about being a professional photographer. They requested a 15 minute tour of my www.danwaterscreative.com website that explained some of the marketing techniques I use there. The Q&A session starts at around the 32 minute mark and covers the following questions:
- How do I present my images to my clients?
- What marketing techniques do I use to bring in new clients?
- How do you use flash in your wedding photography?
- What suggestions do I make to portrait clients about their clothing choices?
- What was the biggest mistake in my career?
- Do I always get the photos I’m after during a session?
- Do I present portrait clients their photos edited or unedited before they place their order?
- What equipment do I like to use for a wedding?
- What percentage of my time is spent on photography and on the business side?
I was really touched to receive the letter and card (see below the video) in the post thanking me for the advice. At one point I mentioned that in that classroom alone there is about 30 students. This means each student automatically has 29 competitors coming into the market with them. What other industry has this much competition? That’s why marketing, selling and pricing your photography is so crucial. Hope you like the video….
Sometimes when you hear or see a prospect for the first time you get a feel that they might not be a good fit. Sometimes their voice sounds like they’re sighing every word they speak. When you meet them their face looks etched with years of hurt, frustration and sadness. Life has probably beaten them up and unfortunately, it shows.
So it was with a recent family portrait prospect of mine.
She called me and I chatted with her about her family and asked her lots of questions to establish what she was looking for and to get her thinking emotionally about the photos.
After building rapport with her and getting a better understanding of what she was looking for I gave her a ballpark figure of my prices, without going into specific detail. Price out of context is meaningless. Imagine buying a car, or booking a wedding venue over the phone!
We arranged for me to come and visit her to discuss things in more detail. There’s no charge or pressure Continue reading
As human beings most of us are terrified of the unknown. It’s pre-programmed into our DNA to help us avoid being eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger the minute we step outside our cave.
It’s the same reason we’re scared of everything from parachute jumps to giving a presentation. If I could magically guarantee that your next presentation would be greeted with applause and high-fives then you probably wouldn’t be nervous.
Without a guarantee many of us become paralysed with fear and take the worst possible action (i.e. none).
Think of it from your client’s perspective
As a wedding photographer your prospective clients are worried you’ll either mess up their treasured photos or behave like a surly oaf and upset their friends and family.
We’ve all heard the horror stories, and so have many of your prospects. You need to earn their trust and the best possible way of doing that is to offer a money-back guarantee.
This is a Guest Post from author and TV presenter Chris Widener that I have been given permission to publish. I felt the simple (but crucial!) message was very relevant to the Get Pro Photo readership. It seemed especially poignant since I’ve just finished my 100th post on Get Pro Photo.
Here’s the article from Chris Widener:
“The purpose of man is in action not thought”
Often people will ask me how I get so much done in my life. They wonder at how I am able to accomplish so many things. The answer is found not in what a great person I am, but in an equation I came up with a few years ago and remind myself of on almost a daily basis. And when I live this equation out, it produces big results. What people don’t seem to grasp is that this equation will work for anybody! Anyone can see results in their life if they will live it out!
In business your natural instinct is to regard your competitors as the enemy. You view them:
- With disdain: if they charge less than you feel they should)
- With envy: if they’re charging more than you could dream of
- Through the sights of a sniper rifle: if they keep stealing your ideas!
The last thing you might want to do is help them.
Some years ago when I was just starting out in photography a competitor emailed me to ask if I could tell him how I got my website to the top of Google. My immediate reaction was disbelief. This guy had some big kahunas to ask a competitor for such a big favour. The funny thing was he’d been around a lot longer than me, so I paused to think about how I could get something out of the arrangement. He had more experience, more clients and even his own studio, so I agreed to meet him.
If you don’t have a definite plan for how you’re going to build a successful photography career then it’s a bit like jumping in a boat without a map and hoping it will take you to the Caribbean.
If you’ve read my post ‘The terrifying chart that slaps photographers in the face’ you’ll know how overwhelming it can be to find the right path.
Let’s break this bad-boy down so things look a little clearer for you.
Painting photography by numbers
Do you get annoyed when people tell you ‘we all have the same amount of time each day?’
In theory we do, but in practice we all have certain things we simply cannot get out of. If you’re a single parent with 8 children and a full time job then you’ll have less time to dedicate to creating a new photography career than an 18 year old who has left college and living with their parents.
Nonetheless, the principles I’m going to share remain valid.
That’s about 100,000 words on blog posts alone. Then there are the three books I’ve written and guest posts on other photography websites. The dull ache of RSI is never far away!
I’ve worked Friday and Saturday nights – regularly. My spirit has been broken many times. I thought the results would come more quickly. After all, there are millions of photographers the world over and they all need to know this stuff. In fact most photographers are crying out for business help if you read the forums.
However, just like a budding photographer I was ignorant to scale of the challenge of launching an E-commerce blog. I still get disheartened.
I keep going.
When I started I knew nothing about blogging. I’m still overwhelmed by the technical side. Plugins, widgets, software, shopping carts, affiliate marketing – there’s a huge amount to learn and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I just want to write and not worry about the bamboozling technical hocus-pocus of running a blog. Maybe you just want to create photos and not worry about selling and marketing…