Digital cameras of today are sophisticated, easy to use … and everywhere. Whether you use an iPhone and an app, or your Canon EOS 5D with a full array of lenses, anyone with a digital camera and a computer can establish themselves as a photographer willing to be hired to shoot for a fee.
Yes, these wannabes may lack classical training in lighting and posing, but clients trying to stretch their budgets often see them as a viable option.
And so the pricing wars begin.
The reality of it is photography isn’t a product based industry; it is and always will be a service based industry.
Someone may tell you a photograph is a photograph – and the pricing should be comparable from place to place. But if you hear that from a potential customer, they don’t understand the nuances of photography. That isn’t his or her fault. It’s ours as photographers. And in order to create a full fledged, full time, six figure business, you must understand this and build your business into the service business it should be.
Start with your photography
The problem does arise from the photography itself. What makes you different from the wannabes? Does your work stand apart? Or is it easy to confuse your work with everyone else out there?
If you want to make this your true profession and you are wanting to grow into a six figure photography business, your work has to stand apart. You have to understand posing and lighting. You must create truly professional images. Practice, practice, practice. Attend seminars by people that are already making six figures in their prospective fields. Head to judging contests to learn what master photographers are looking for in images.
Then use this to make your photography stand apart from the competition. You can also use your knowledge to make others aware of what they should be looking for. Point to an image with a telephone pole coming out of a clients head once, and a potential client will know exactly how to look for composition as she heads off to visit other prospective photographers.
Change your marketing and sales
A potential client doesn’t know what to look for until you tell her. Arm her with questions.
- Does the photographer have liability insurance?
- Does the photographer have backup equipment?
- How many images does the photographer take at the wedding?
Whatever questions you present, explain your answers in detail and why it matters to her. If she’s armed with the knowledge you have something that other photographers don’t, chances are she’ll be back with a check in hand when she can’t find the customer service level anywhere else out there.
Use stories to teach
Doesn’t the idea of a general photographer sound great? You can visit them for your wedding, have your baby’s portrait created, and have them photograph the new earrings you’ve fashioned for the brochure you’re designing for your new business.
That’s how many people view the photography world. Flip that around and make them think differently.
Would you really want a cardiologist answering a question about a mole on your back? Or a plastic surgeon helping you with a sore throat?
People specialize to become good at what they do. And as a photographer, there is an extreme difference between shooting a pair of earrings for a brochure, and following a bride and groom around for the day of their wedding.
Yet many consumers don’t understand that. Use a story – just like the one I described about the medical field – to get your prospects to understand the differences.
Maintain your pricing
Finally, don’t be seduced into lowering your pricing in order to get jobs. If something isn’t in your arena, or a client wants you but “can’t” afford you, the decision should be on them – not you. Your time is too valuable to spend accommodating the penny pinchers that don’t realize your true potential.
Let them head out and go with the wannabes to save money. Let them be disappointed in the overall service they received. And allow them to help you by providing stories to their friends – stories that will push them towards you with the lessons they learned.