How I booked 13 weddings in a row

How I booked 13 weddings in a row

Booking weddings at a healthy profit isn’t a simple case of taking an order over the phone. It requires great customer service skills, enthusiasm and a desire to be helpful and unique.

Before I kick off, let me clarify something here. I didn’t book 13 enquiries in a row. Some people send me an email and never respond to me – even though I have a highly effective email response system.

What I did achieve was I booked 13 weddings in a row when I was given the opportunity to meet with the bride and groom. Just so you know, about half of my enquiries agree to meet me. Don’t forget, I have no prices on mywebsite and I don’t email price lists for reasons I’ve explained here and here.

Don’t dwell on price

Instead, I get the prospect away from thinking about price and onto thinking about their wedding. I ask lots of questions that are designed to help them think more emotionally about their wedding and to understand how important their wedding photography is.

When they’re asking about price on the phone I explain I’d like to ask them a Continue reading

How friends and family can help you grow your photography business

How friends and family can help you grow your photography business

Once you’ve seen this video you’ll understand how to use your network of friends and relatives to bring in a stack of new photography clients for you.

Nope, this video is not about giving away free or discounted sessions to friends – that’s for another day – this is all about growing your photography business by utilising your existing network of friends, family, colleagues and associates.

On average people know about 250 people. If you’re a Facebook junkie then you may have thousands of ‘friends’.

Even if you’re a bit of a hermit I’ll bet you know someone who could be very helpful to your photography business. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do any begging – it’s a win-win situation.

Take a look at the video and leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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How to get more photography customers – the 7 steps

How to get more photography customers

There’s a defined system for getting more photography clients and begging isn’t part of it (even though it seems to work well for dogs!).

For most people it’s even harder to learn how to get more photography customers than it ever was trying to wrap your brain around F stops, ISO, exposure bracketing and the law of reciprocity. Yep, this is the million dollar question.

You love photography and after years of infuriating trial and error / error / error / error you’re finally able to create beautiful images…     …yet no-one’s ringing. It’s like Bridget Jones waiting for her man to call.

There are so many photographer’s per square inch that it’s easy to feel like the desperate, clingy ex girlfriend / boyfriend when it comes to getting more photography customers.

So, let me see if I can turn you from Bridget Jones into Catherine Zeta-Jones (or Indiana Jones if you’re a guy!)

Today I’m going to explain how a simple 7 step marketing process from www.ducttapemarketing.com can apply to your photography business. By the way, Duct Tape Marketing have a bunch of useful free ebooks on marketing you can download here.

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The best way to help your prospects understand the value of photography

The value of family photography

I have no digital photos of my late father and only a handful of small poor quality prints. This lovely photo is one of many I’ve created of her since I’ve become a photographer and appreciated the value of what we do.

A family portrait is never more valuable than when someone in the photograph has passed away. My father in law has just had a heart attack. He’s back home now, but it’s still quite serious. Within 96 hours of finding out about his situation my wife and I had travelled from the UK to Malaysia to go see him. Nothing is more important than family.

When chatting with my final client before our trip I mentioned our family crisis so he would be able to understand why his family portraits wouldn’t be ready to view as quickly as they normally would.

As I explained things to him his 13 year old daughter was listening and she became a little emotional and gave her big ol’ dad a hug. In that instant the whole family seemed to become closer. As they hugged I said “I guess ultimately that’s what portraits like these are all about, bringing the family together and creating treasured memories”.

It reminded me that stories like this are the best way of helping people FEEL the importance of portrait and wedding photography. My own father passed away in 2004 (before I knew anything about photography) and I have no digital photos of him and no decent prints either. I’d pay a fortune to acquire just one lovely portrait of my whole family together, but it can never happen.

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Dangerous opinions about the photography industry

 

Opinions about the photography industry

Your own thoughts and prejudices could be preventing you having the success in the photography industry you desperately want. Photo copyright of John Eisenschenk

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.”

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How to pose portraits, by the great Jerry Ghionis

How to pose portraits

This video on how to pose portraits by the awesome Jerry Ghionis reveals how to get the perfect balance between beautiful posing and natural expressions.

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.

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Should photographers advertise?

Should photographers advertise

This is the typical type of advert I see in magazines all the time. I’ve scrawled out the contact details to save their blushes. Sadly an advert like this is a huge waste of money – read the article to find out why and what you can do instead.

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

Webinar with photography students from College of Dupage in Chicago

College of Dupage webinarI 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….
 

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How I turned a ‘bad’ client into a good one

How I turned a bad client into a good one

It’s easy to jump to conclusions about people. Sometimes a little perseverance, kindness and good old customer service can turn the stormiest of people into a ray of sunshine.

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

Should photographers have a guarantee?

 

Should photographers have a guarantee

I believe all photographers should offer a guarantee of their work – and really mean it. It builds trust and shows you care about your clients. I put my guarantee in writing too.

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.

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