Bear with my little story I’m about to tell. It reveals why some photographers can charge vastly more than others and still have delighted clients, despite the end product being virtually worthless.
I’ve been going to a chiropractor for several years. I pay £35 per session and must have paid about £500 over the course of our relationship. My back is much better than it used to be.
About 18 months ago I started to get a searing pain in my left hip. It would last for 4 or 5 days and then go away for a couple of months, before returning.
A wedding photographer with a dodgy hip is about as useful as a short-tempered yoga instructor!
A few weeks ago I decided I had to get it looked at before I ended up swearing in pain while one of my brides made her grand entrance.
My doctor told me he thought it was trochanteric bursitis (an inflamed tendon). He referred me to a physio. The physio looked at me for 2 seconds (literally) and told me I had one leg longer than the other. He recommended I go to the local pharmacy and get an insole for my shoe and to do some leg exercises.
Why do some photographers earn thousands for their family portraits, while others struggle to make minimum wage (after they’ve factored in their costs)?
Are their photos 10 times better?
Do they steamroller their clients with a barrage of bewildering sales speak?
The following video won’t just show you how to increase your family portrait orders. It also demonstrates why the best way to earn more is actually the easiest and least stressful approach. In the video I mention a piece of software I use called Proselect. It takes a lot of the stress and pressure out of selling. If you’d like to know more about how Proselect helped me triple (and then some!) my average order values then click on this link after you’ve watched the video.
Yesterday I had one of those family portrait sessions where mum is constantly shouting at the children, the children are sulking and dad would rather be watching football. In fact, he’d probably rather be smacking himself in the face with a hammer!
Does this happen to you? It can really kill a session can’t it? The same thing happens with weddings. The bride and groom are so keen to make everything perfect they end up sabotaging themselves by causing a stressful and anxious environment.
Conversely I once photographed a wonderful bride and groom where everything went wrong and they just rolled with the punches. They had to endure an uncle’s suspected heart attack (he was ok in the end), a power cut during their first dance, a father who got too drunk, rain (obviously – this is the UK) and extreme heat (weirdly – this is the UK!).
No-one will ever forget their wedding and it all turned out wonderfully in the end. What people will remember most is how serene and calm they remained throughout it all. That’s a marriage that’ll last!
They also sent me a thank you card that expressed how grateful they were for my support and positive attitude throughout the day.
All this got me thinking. How can photographers help encourage positive emotions from their clients?
Here are my thoughts.
Get Pro Photo readers know that creating beautiful portraits is just the beginning. With all the cheap competition out there your entrepreneurial skills need to be as creative as your photography. However, if your photography looks like everyone else’s then it makes your sales and marketing even harder.
One way of helping your photography stand out from the crowd is to create HDR portraits. HDR is a technique where you blend several exposures to give you a far greater range of tones than you could ever capture in a standard photo.
People are much more likely to invest in your photography if you’re offering something that looks unique and something they could never achieve, even in 1000 attempts. As soon as people start asking “Wow, how did you do that?” you know you have a great formula for producing work that people will invest in.
There are a few pieces of software that create HDR photos, but the most popular by far is called Photomatix. It’s what I use.
It’s so simple to use and incredibly cheap considering what it can do. £72 for a tool that will help your photography stand apart from the masses is a bargain.
ProSelect is a wonderful piece of software that helped me gain portrait order values well over £1000. If you’re not projecting your portrait photos to clients then you have to start right now. Put it right to the very top of your priority list. Projecting your portrait photos is the best thing you can possibly do to earn a decent living – trust me.
Although this article isn’t about projecting your photos, the ProSelect Room View function is an ingenious way to present photos to your clients during a projection session.
Have a look at this video and then read on to discover how it works and why it will increase your profits and reduce your stress.
You may be shocked when I tell you that one of the most profitable photography niches is family portrait photography. My last family portrait order was £1366 ($2085) and there are other portrait photographers who dwarf that amount. Of course many of your weddings may be over £1366 but when you compare the hourly rates there’s no contest.
Not only is family portraiture profitable photography, when you compare it with the stress of weddings and the tight deadlines of commercial photography it’s probably the best niche for avoiding ulcers!
Do you sweat like an Eskimo in an oven every time you have to try and book a new client? Do you wonder why some photographers seem to be able to charge vastly more than you despite their photography being no better than yours?
This post explains how to book more portrait clients by getting inside the mind of your client and helping them see the value in choosing you.
I recently wrote about this same subject from a wedding photographer’s perspective, so you should check that post out too.
Speaking of ‘perspective’, that’s actually the beginning of the secret to booking more clients. You need to think from the prospect’s perspective. What do you think is going through their mind when they’re contacting you? The better you understand the answers to that question the easier it is to give them want they want.
Marketing professionals aren’t like lawyers and doctors where you need a certificate to practise it. Sure you can get a degree in it (that’s what I did) and there are various professional bodies like ‘The Chartered Institute of Marketing’, but over the years I’ve realised something; there seems to be more dangerous, misguided, baseless myths and rumours about marketing than almost any other profession.
Far too often people let their personal opinion overrule cold, hard, proven facts.
There are dangerous myths around design, copywriting, selling, pricing, branding and so much more. But let’s get back to the reason why your website isn’t getting you as many enquiries as it should.
If you go onto most photography forums you’ll find a lot of depressing and negative comments about the state of the photography industry. Is it really that bad though? Is the photography industry dying, or has it just changed? My latest video looks into how the industry has changed and what you can do to compete.
I draw comparisons between photography and other industries like the music industry and supermarkets.
So, if you’re worried about how you’re going to compete with all the other photographers in your area then this video will open your eyes to a new way of thinking.
If you’re serious about learning how to create a successful photography business then sign up to get free photography sales and marketing ideas sent straight to your email inbox. You’ll also receive my free book ’17 secrets to photography success’.
This is a two-part answer. First and foremost, the best people to focus your marketing on in any industry are your existing clients (I’ll get on to new clients in a sec). After all, they have already used you and if you offered a good product and service they are likely to use you again.
The massive mistake most photographers make is they do a job for a client and then they never get in touch again, or even keep hold of their contact details.
If you’ve just photographed someone’s wedding then why not send them an anniversary card the following year and ask them if there are any editions to the family that might need photographing?