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Why You are not in the Photography Business – You are in the People Business

14 Nov

I did photos for a high school senior recently who remarked that many of her friends were having their class pictures taken by one of the teachers at school. We chatted about this as I snapped away with my full-frame Nikon D750 and accompanying 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, a setup that delivers good results but often gets quite heavy and cumbersome after a long photo session.

As we walked around and continued to take pictures, she told me how much her friends liked the teacher’s photos. She said how happy they were with the results while assuring me that she was enjoying our photo session in the park.

I casually asked if she knew what kind of camera the teacher was using, and her response surprised me. Although in hindsight, I suppose I should have seen it coming a mile away. “Oh, he’s got one of those new iPhones with portrait mode,” she replied as my shoulder cramped up just a bit under the weight of my camera gear.

This story illustrates a painful truth about those of us in the photography business; we can’t think of ourselves as just photographers anymore.

Longtime photography veterans have known this for years. But for people like me who are relatively new to photography or those just starting to get serious, there are a few things we need to keep in mind if we want to pursue our hobby and eventually use it to put food on our tables or gear on our shelves.

You are not in the Photography Business - You are in the People Business

You’re in the People Business

As Liam Neeson might say, you have a very particular set of skills as a photographer. You understand lighting and composition. You know how to choose good locations, you get how colors work, and you might be proficient with off-camera flashes and external light meters. Photoshop is your domain and you know Lightroom like the back of your hand.

You probably have a decent amount of gear in your collection, built up over the years thanks to hard work, saving, and honing your craft. The thing is, your clients don’t care about any of that. They aren’t going to be impressed with your Creative Cloud membership or the fact that you have the newest full-frame camera on pre-order from B&H.

What they want are good photos. You and your skill set and gear (and your high price tag) are competing with mobile phones that in the eyes of your client can make awesome photos. So what option do you think your potential clients are going to go with when it’s time to sign on the dotted line? As technology gets more advanced and the line between professional photographer and rank amateur becomes ever blurrier with the increasing capability of mobile phones, you have to do something to differentiate yourself.

Differentiate yourself

There’s a line in the movie Office Space where the manager of a kitschy all-American restaurant is trying to explain why one of his servers needs to wear what he calls “pieces of flair” on her outfit. In a moment of biting condescension, the manager explains that “People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, okay? They come to Chotchkie’s for the atmosphere and the attitude.”

It might seem silly, but as time marches on we photographers have to adopt the same type of work ethic if we want to survive, pick up new clients, and keep existing ones coming back time after time. Photography, whether we like it or not, has been commoditized to the point that anyone can do it and get pretty decent results. So we have to ask ourselves, what do we bring to the table that would make clients want to use our services if what they want, like the cheeseburger example, is available pretty much anywhere?

Focus on the experience

The answer to this lies in the same movie quote. We have to stop thinking of ourselves as photographers first and make our craft one of fun, excitement, engagement, and ultimately create an experience that our clients will remember.

Advertisers have known this for decades. When you see commercials for cars, clothes, or vacation getaways the focus is rarely on the items being sold but the experiences and emotions those brands attempt to create. You can’t rely on years of training or expensive gear to sell yourself as a photographer.

Instead, you have to work hard to create experiences your clients will remember for years to come and also share with others. Whether you photograph weddings, kids, families, high school seniors, or work with clients to take pictures of real estate, products, or promotional materials, you have to make the whole experience something they will appreciate, enjoy, and remember.

Get personal

This might sound complicated but it’s not all that hard to do, and it often involves many simple things. For example, take time to get to know your clients and call them by their first names. If you’re saying things like, “Hey you over there with the red jacket, I need you to scoot over to your left just a bit” that person isn’t going to care how sharp your photos are or that you shot with a really expensive lens! Instead, he will be wondering why he didn’t just pay the neighbor kid $ 50 to shoot pictures with the Canon Rebel camera that he got on sale at Target last week.

Talk with your clients, have fun with them, play with the kids, and ask for their input. Even if you don’t use the shots, they will at least feel like their contributions were valued. And whatever happens, don’t bark out orders like you’re at a military academy.

Make it fun – keep it light

You might be stressed after hours of shooting a wedding, but don’t let your clients see that. Smile, ask people politely to do what you need, but also don’t be afraid to take charge and direct the shoot the way you want it. People appreciate leadership and professionalism, but you can have that without being rude and obnoxious.

Just like in the movie example, people can get photos from anyone nowadays. But they come to you for the fun, excitement, enjoyable attitude, and all the other intangible elements that come together to create a photo session to remember.

Recommendations go a long way

When my wife and I moved from one part of the country to another, several years ago, we had to figure out all sorts of ways to integrate into our new city; where to buy a house, where to shop for groceries, what church to attend, and even mundane decisions like where to get our car repaired when it broke down. I looked through the Yellow Pages phone book (remember those?) and saw page after page of advertisements for mechanics who were Fast, Efficient, Cheap, Highly Trained, Professionally Certified, and The Best in Town. We were so overwhelmed with choices that we just asked around. Several of our friends recommended a particular place that we still go for all our auto repairs, eight years later.

When we talked to our friends about which shop to use, can you guess what they said about the one we ended up choosing? I’ll give you a hint, it had almost nothing to do with the quality of their work. Any auto shop can replace an alternator or change brake pads, but the reason so many people recommended that one particular shop had everything to do with the friendliness, attentiveness, and respectfulness of the staff.

Perception shapes quality

The hard truth of the matter for those of us involved in any type of service industry such as photography is that there is no objective plumb line by which our clients can consistently gauge quality. Just like choosing an auto repair shop, your clients or potential clients would probably be happy getting their pictures taken by any number of professional or amateur photographers in your area.

How they perceive the quality of the final result won’t necessarily be judged by the sharpness of the images, the intricacies of the editing, or the price of the gear used to take said photos. Instead, they will think about the whole experience of getting their pictures taken and use that as a measuring stick by which to judge the quality of the images. It seems strange and perhaps frustrating to those of us who have spent years or decades honing our craft.

But there’s no getting around the fact that the way in which people judge quality is highly influenced by their perception of the experience.

Research proves it

The concept of consumer perception and its role in shaping quality has been studied by researchers for decades. In 1992 J. Joseph Cronin, Jr. and Steven A. Taylor published a paper in the Journal of Marketing in which they concluded that among other things;

  • “Service quality is an antecedent of consumer satisfaction”
  • “Consumer satisfaction has a significant effect on purchase intentions”
  • “Service quality has less effect on purchase intentions than does consumer satisfaction”

The implications of this and other similar research for photographers is profound! Basically, if your clients had a good time at your photography session and were pleased with your service, they will view your photos as higher quality.

Good experience = they will like you = happy clients

So what can you, the humble photographer, do about all this? How can you deliver high-quality results to clients who might be perfectly happy with any other photographer or mobile-phone-wielding teenager in the area?

Differentiate yourself not by the quality of your photos but by the experience you offer. In doing so, your clients will perceive their pictures as sharper, more expressive, and just plain better than others. This is true even if your photos aren’t actually as good on a technical level – which is a real kick in the head for photographers who have amassed years of knowledge, experience, and gear.

Think of the many times you have seen photos that friends and family have posted on social media or sent out in Christmas cards to which your reaction was one of shock and horror. The lighting is all wrong! The background is so distracting! Aunt Ginny is out of focus! Nevertheless, the pictures are seen by the clients as high-quality because they enjoyed the experience as a whole and received an outstanding degree of service. Photographers who can do that are the ones getting likes, shares, recommendations, and bookings.

Improving Customer Experience

In an interview with NPR, Tony Hseih, the founder of the online shoe retailer Zappos, described his approach to selling shoes which, ironically, had nothing at all to do with shoes. He said that as his company grew, “A big turning point was really deciding we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and customer experience.”

He really meant it, and if you visit Zappos you won’t see shoes and handbags that are cheaper than other retailers. They don’t even try to compete on price at all but by offering the best service of any clothing retailer in the market today.

Walker Information, a company that studies business marketing and consumer habits, recently released a study that predicted customer experience as being the single most important way for brands to differentiate themselves by the year 2020. And that, I would argue, is the silver lining to the clouds that can easily darken a photographer’s horizon these days.

I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of this image and I think some of the others I delivered to my client were superior. But the mother was thrilled with it because I had her sprinkle leaves on her daughter while I shot photos. She had fun doing it, and as a result, viewed the final image as high-quality even though there are others that I think are probably better. My client was happy with the picture and that’s what ultimately matters.

Customer service is king

Photography has been available to everyone ever since Kodak invented the Brownie camera in 1900, but never have cameras been so powerful, ubiquitous, or easy to use as they are now. With such a crowded marketplace in which almost anyone can take high-quality photos, (even if you might not think they can hold a candle to your high-res, ultra-sharp, professional-style shots) you have to do something to stand out from the crowd and give people a reason to hire you.

That differentiating factor is the complete customer service experience. From the moment you make the first contact with potential clients, to the photography session, to the communication afterward, and even the way in which you deliver photos all matter. (You’re not handing clients a CD-ROM with watermarked JPG files, are you?)

The trump card you have up your sleeve is that you can do the best of both worlds. You have all the skills that make you a highly capable photographer and you likely have a growing collection of cameras, lenses, and software to help you achieve outstanding results. In addition to that, you can also provide a fantastic all-encompassing photography experience that your clients will remember for years while also recommending you to their friends and family.

I actually see the onset of mobile phones and computational photography as an opportunity, not a threat, and a way for me to show others how my work really does stand out.

Conclusion

I started this article by mentioning a photo session for a high school senior. After I delivered her final edited pictures, what really stuck in my mind was how she and her parents talked about the experience as a whole. Her parents told me how much fun she had and expressed appreciation that I was able to bring their normally camera-shy daughter out of her shell a bit to get some gorgeous images of their daughter that they don’t normally see.

I say this to illustrate a point about the core lesson of this whole article. You are in the photography business, but in today’s world, you can no longer afford to be just a photographer. You have to be so much more.

You have to create memorable experiences for your clients, allow them to elevate the quality of your work because of those experiences, and be attentive to their needs throughout the photography process. Even though this might take a bit of work, the results will pay off in the long run and people will see with their own eyes, and hear from their friends, about why your work is a cut above the rest.

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The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

31 Aug

No photographer wants to get into the photography business with the aim of becoming a marketing expert. But the reality is that if you don’t focus on the marketing and business end of photography, your business will not be able to survive long enough to do the fun stuff. It stinks, but this is the truth.

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Luckily, the learning curve at the beginning is the toughest part, and as you get used to the business side, everything will come much more naturally to you. Eventually, you might even learn to enjoy it, or at least appreciate the work, after you see how powerful it can be in getting you where you want to go.

So here are 10 of the most important strategies you can start right away to make sure your photography business succeeds.

1. Use Your Personal Network

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Nobody wants to be that annoying marketer that always pushes their business on their friends and acquaintances. However, this fear can push photographers way too far in the opposite direction, never working with the people that have grown to trust them the most. Your personal network is your strongest asset and even more so at the beginning of your photography business. These are the people who will give you your first jobs and introduce you to your first clients.

Photography is unique in that no matter what genre you are involved in, people in your network will most likely need your services at some point, whether it’s wedding or event photography, business portraiture, family portraiture, or print selling. So let your network know what you do and how you can help them.

Create a mailing list and send out an announcement to your network. Show your best work, talk about your photography business, and make sure to explain how you can help people. How can your business benefit them? They will not know unless you tell them. In addition, make sure to ask for referrals.

2. Take Advantage of Local Marketing

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Whenever you say the word marketing these days, for some reason everyone immediately starts talking about social media. That is funny, because as important as social media is, it should be one of the last steps to think about for any marketing plan.

Your first step should be working within your local community. Similar to the last point, these are people who know you. You are just down the street from them. There are businesses of all types in your community that can probably use your work, so create a plan for how to get in front of them.

Make a good impression

Keep in mind that you only get one first impression, so be smart about how you reach out. First and foremost, figure out how you can benefit them. If you are going to reach out to someone, you need to know how their business or life will be better with your services and explain how you can help. Always be kind and courteous with their time, and if possible see if you can get an introduction before contacting someone cold. Does anyone in your personal network know the person you want to contact? That’s always a great first step, but if not, just reach out yourself.

The more you are seen, the more people in your community will notice you and start to think about working with you. Whether it’s local events, business events, fundraisers, you name it, you should make the point to be there, particularly at first. This is the way to create new relationships and to spread your reach.

Similarly, reach out to the other photographers in your area. Many photographers will assist others when they need help and vice versus, and this will help strengthen everyone as a whole. It can be easy for photographers to feel competitive with each other but avoid this. The ones that work together and refer each other will do much better in the long-run than the ones who try to do it all on their own.

3. Create a Mailing List

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Use a mailing list provider such as MailChimp or Aweber to keep up with your clients, personal network, and fans. Email lists have the highest engagement of any form of marketing, and it is the way for you to stay on people’s minds.

Ask people if you can add them to your list, and always have them opt into the subscription. Put signup forms or popups on your website that encourage people to join. Consider giving away something to encourage them to do so, such as free computer wallpapers of your photography.

When sending out emails, create content that your list will enjoy. Do not sell too often with it. The more benefit and interest that you provide for the people on your list, the more they will enjoy it and the more they will like you. Then when you sell, they will be primed to purchase your services or product. When it’s time to sell, sell.

4. Create a Personal Project

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

This image is part of a personal project I’ve been working on involving talking to and making portraits of people in my community.

Personal projects will not bring new clients to you right away, and they will take away time from building your business and making a living. This is the tougher side of doing projects, but they are immensely important for the long term growth of your business and for growing your voice as a photographer. A project can be done slowly over a long period of time, so you can build it into your weekly schedule.

Think of an idea that will resonate with both you and your community. This is a way of keeping your passion for photography alive. It will also help to set you apart from the other photographers in your community. It will show people that you are an interesting person. They will be more interested in working with you, even if the paid work you do is a completely different genre. It will be a way for you to gain press coverage and something for you to talk about to engage people. All in all, a personal project will make marketing yourself so much easier, and it will feel much more natural.

5. Respond Quickly

There is no point in building your photography business or marketing your work if you are not going to respond quickly to inquiries. Respond quickly at every step of the process throughout a job as well. Responding quickly does not have to mean within the hour, although sometimes that can help when getting a new inquiry. It can mean responding within 12 hours or a day, as long as you are consistent and prompt.

Fortunately for you, a lot of photographers are terrible at this, so this will quickly set you apart. It will show people that you are a responsible person, and it will make them more comfortable working with you.

6. Build Your Connections (Both Local and Online)

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Building your network is a lifetime process. As you go further and further in your career, you will begin to create connections with people who can do more and more for you (and who are tougher to get in contact with).

Whichever point in your career you are at, and whatever level your skill level as a photographer, start at that point and build connections there. Then over time, work your way up the ladder. Be patient, be smart, and don’t try to push too hard at first, particularly with people who don’t know you. First impressions are impossible to get back. Grow your network carefully and consistently.

7. Keep Your Existing Clients Coming Back

It can help to create a client management system. You can start off with an excel document at first and eventually grow to a more robust system, such as Sprout Studio. Keep in contact with your best clients, and even consider sending them holiday cards or a small gift to stay on their minds. A small gesture can go a long way, and it is much easier to get an existing client to come back than it is to reach a new one.

8. Makes Sure Your Website Sells

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Think about your website as your number one selling tool. Whatever your primary service is, your site should be developed for the specific purpose of leading people to hire you for that service or for purchasing one of your products.

Study the basics of copywriting, create specific sales pages for your offerings, and even consider creating sales funnels that lead people to an end goal. These can be very powerful ways of priming people to want to work with you.

9. Take Advantage of SEO

SEO, or ranking highly in search engines, is a long term strategy that takes some studying to understand how to do (beyond what we will be able to cover completely here). My belief is that you should always focus on local networking first, as that has the ability to get you very quick gains, whereas an SEO campaign can take years to truly get you where you want to be.

But that being said, SEO should not be ignored, because most people will use Google to find the right photographer for them. Always remember, the goal of Google is to serve up the most relevant websites for the query topic. If you want to rank for a specific term, make sure to create the best possible page that will answer that query. Without this, an SEO strategy will not work.

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Listen to Google

Google runs on links, so you need to figure out how to get other related websites to link to yours. It’s interesting because while it may seem annoying to gain these links, Google is actually forcing you to do things you should be doing in the first place.

Network with websites that you would like to be featured on, and figure out how you can provide that site with some value before you contact them. You will get nowhere if you just ask for something, but if you contact them willing to help them out, it will help immensely. As you grow with your abilities and your marketing, your opportunities for getting covered will grow as well. Internet marketing gets much easier over time.

This is another area where a personal project can help grow your business. People want to share interesting topics, so even if you are not generating income from the project directly, you can use the project to get covered on websites and to make people more aware of you, which will ultimately help improve SEO and grow your network and mailing list.

10. Create a Daily Plan

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

All of this is way too much to do in a feverish month of working. Similarly, your marketing skills will grow gradually, so take your time and be strategic about how you work through your marketing plan. You do not want to spend a whole month contacting everyone you can only to burn out soon after.

Set aside a daily block of time to build your business. Contact a few people every day or every few days. Use the feedback from those to tweak your next pitch. Over time, you will figure out what works and what does not work. A small amount of work each day will eventually snowball into much bigger things.

Conclusion

The main theme throughout this article is that you need to put yourself out there. The work will not just come to you. Create an organized plan, stick to it, and go for it. Be both careful and relentless. That is what is needed.

It may seem like there is a huge wall in front of you that is impossible to cross. But if you chip away at it a little bit each day, within a few years you will find that you have opened up many paths through it.


For even more business help – join the Focus Summit 2017 Online Business and Marketing Conference for Photographers on Sept 26-28th 2017. We will cover marketing, business development, law, SEO, branding, blogging, and much more. Use the code “DPS” for a $ 50 discount.

The post The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to Create a Successful Local Marketing Strategy for your Photography Business

26 Aug

The internet has taken over most aspects of our daily lives. We can talk to the world at a moments notice, promote our services instantly, and sell anything we want day or night. However, in the quest to grow as many followers and fans as we can, it can become easy to forget about one of the most important opportunities that exist for your photography business. There is so much potential right outside your front door.

Think local

No photography business can afford to forget about their local community – so you need to create a complete marketing plan that addresses both the internet and your own local community.

Photography Business Marketing

You don’t need to reach an audience around the globe to receive a job from your neighbor down the street. How many people cross your path in a given day? How many of them know what you do or could potentially use your services? How many of them might be interested in what you have to offer?

Through local marketing, you want to create a daily strategy for your local connections to grow consistently.

Photography Business Marketing

Be informative not intrusive

You do not have to be overly intrusive about it. You do not have to sell to your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances directly. Have you ever had a friend that you haven’t seen in years suddenly contact you out of the blue asking to talk or to get together? Then you speak to them and realize that they have just gotten a job as a financial planner (or some other such thing) and are trying to sign you up as a client.

This is not what I mean by local marketing, but you do have to be effective at making people aware of what you do, whenever the situation presents itself. You want to intrigue people. When people ask what you do, help them understand your photography business. You are in a creative field, so make it sound as exciting as possible.

Photography Business Marketing

Just let people know what you do

If there is a crossover that might help the person, mention it. For instance, what type of photographer are you? What are the specific services that you provide? Depending on who the person is, tailor what you say to them or their situation.

Send out an official announcement letting everyone know about your photography business. Briefly, explain what your services are and how you might provide potential customers with assistance. When done correctly, this will not be intrusive but informative. People will congratulate you and celebrate your endeavor.

If you are trying to grow your family portrait or corporate business, the people you know will be a huge help. How many of your friends work for businesses or have families? I am assuming most of them. Why would these friends want to seek out a stranger to provide these services when they could work with someone they know? You can be that person.

Photography Business Marketing

Build relationships with other businesses

How many businesses do you frequent on a daily basis? From restaurants to law firms to local shops, there is a wealth of opportunity right under your nose. It is simple but can seem so daunting at the same time. Smile, talk to that business owner you have seen for years and tell them about your services and how they might benefit from them. Bring a brochure of your work.

For businesses that you do not have a prior relationship with, try to locate the person in the company who would be in charge of hiring out the type of work that you want to do. It can be much less effective to just walk in the door blind with the aim of speaking to the first person you see. Your prospective chances will improve significantly if you can make a pointed and direct contact with an influential person within a business.

Exhibit your work

Seek out gathering spaces, such as a coffee shop, a bar, or an event space to hold a show. This is good for their business as it provides art on their walls and a reason for people to enter their establishment. For you, it provides a fun space to show your work. If you live in a smaller community, where a lot of people who know you will come across the work, then this can be a great strategy. If you can draw people to the space to help show and sell your work, then that is a good thing. Many gallerists hold pop-up galleries in addition to their permanent spaces for just this purpose. Consider doing similar pop-up events of your work.

If you live in a smaller community, where a lot of people who know you will come across the work, then this can be a great strategy. If you can draw people to the space to help show and sell your work, that is a good thing. Many gallerists hold pop-up galleries in addition to their permanent spaces for just this purpose. Consider doing similar pop-up events of your work.

Photography Business Marketing

Make sure it’s on your terms

However, there are some pitfalls to this strategy. Providing your work to a business for an open-ended period of time at no cost doesn’t necessarily mean that your work will sell or that it will help you get noticed. I see artwork covering the walls of coffee shops all over New York, and most of it never moves. This is just giving the establishment free art with little or no benefit to you.

You need to select the correct establishment and have a way to draw people there with the specific purpose of seeing your art and hopefully purchasing it. Without that, this strategy can be as much of a drain on your time and resources as it can be a success. If these benefits are not there for you, the establishment should pay you for your work (or pay a rental fee) since you are providing a service to them. You are giving them an ambiance and improving the experience for their customers.

Photograph students at a local school

Another thing you could consider is contacting an acting or music teacher at a local school and offering to photograph the student’s headshots. If you do well, it will help build your portfolio and both the students and the teachers alike will tell others of your services. Hang an advertisement in a local business, do work for a local website, sell your work at a local fair; there are many creative ways to integrate what you do into your community.

Photography Business Marketing

There is an infamous and successful example of this type of strategy employed by a guitar teacher named Dan Smith in New York City. Beginning in the 1990s, Dan hung small ads in doorways and vestibules in businesses all over Manhattan. You could not walk into a diner or coffee shop without seeing one, and these ads persist today. He has built a business out of this single marketing strategy, and it lead him to be so ubiquitous that even The New York Times ran a profile of him.

The repetition is what worked for him, and it was not annoying; it was almost humorous and became a defining characteristic of growing up in the city. This is an example of the 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of your income can come from 20 percent of your marketing. Dan found a strategy that worked and pushed it to the extreme. It only worked because of the extreme measures that he took in plastering so much of the city with his ads. Other music teachers pasted their ads around the city, but none did it like Dan.

Conclusion

By working on a variety of local marketing strategies, these endeavors will combine to create an overall awareness of your business in the community. Some of the individual pieces might seem small, and all of this may seem tedious at first, but all together they can be very powerful.


For even more business help – join the Focus Summit 2017 Online Business and Marketing Conference for Photographers on Sept 26-28th 2017. We will cover marketing, business development, law, SEO, branding, blogging, and much more. Use the code “DPS” for a $ 50 discount.

The post How to Create a Successful Local Marketing Strategy for your Photography Business by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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5 Ways to Promote Your Photography Business

25 Aug

You worked really hard to learn the skills that you need to be a fantastic photographer and you worked even harder to build your business. But, for your business to succeed long-term, you need to have a solid marketing plan in place. Courtesy of Pixabay.com Check out the five tips below for effectively marketing your photography company to the masses. Continue Reading

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Zenit is back in business, plans to release full-frame mirrorless camera in 2018

22 Aug

Russian publication RNS has revealed that camera maker Zenit has restarted camera production, and may in fact launch a full-frame mirrorless model on the international market as early as 2018. The initial announcement was reportedly made by Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant’s Deputy Director General for Civilian Production and Consumer Goods, Igor Sergeyev, who revealed the plans via Moscow Region Radio 1.

The planned full-frame mirrorless camera will retain iconic, brand-recognizable elements, according to the announcement, including “characteristic contours, ergonomics, [and] camera lines.” However, the camera will be modernized for today’s market, featuring both light and dark color options as well as leather trim.

The price will exceed that of a “good smartphone,” according to Sergeyev, though specifics weren’t provided.

Zenit, though once popular, ceased production in 2005 following multiple failed attempts to revive its place in the market. According to Sergeyev, the latest production round will not attempt to compete with big-name camera manufacturers like Canon or Nikon. In fact, an unnamed “leading photographic equipment company” will produce some of the components for this camera.

Additional details on the camera or Zenit’s renaissance weren’t provided, but we’ll let you know just as soon as more is revealed.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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7 Common Mistakes That Every Photography Business Needs to Avoid

11 Aug

Everyone makes mistakes. When growing your photography business, you will make more mistakes over than the years than you can count – and some of them you will even look back on and cringe.

Mistakes are all part of the process. But also part of the job of being a photographer is figuring out how to minimize these mistakes, especially the ones that can set you back a long way. Learn from your peers so you can avoid their mistakes.

Photography Business Marketing

Here are some of the main pitfalls that plague photographers. Just fixing these alone can save you a lot of money, and even more importantly, a lot of time.

Mistake #1 – Not Charging Enough

When you are first building your portfolio, certainly you might have to do some jobs for free or at a reduced rate as you build your skill level. That part is fine, but once you have that portfolio and are a full fledged business, you do not want to sell yourself short.

Photography may seem to others like a passion job – that you just show up for an hour or two, take some photos, and send them over. But it is about so much more than that. It’s about building your skills, learning about light, composition, fixing mistakes on the fly, editing, and learning how to work with clients. It’s traveling to and from the location, paying your expenses, spending the time to market yourself to get the job, paying the bills to keep the lights on, and feeding your family. And it’s about having some time left over to enjoy yourself.

Photography Business Marketing

Create a spreadsheet and calculate these costs so you know what you have to make per job to survive and thrive. This will give you the confidence to ask for what you are worth. If you’re not able to cover all of these costs, then you’re not running a true full-time business, you won’t survive in the long run, and you’re lowering the value of the work itself.

Stay away from the cheap jobs and the cheap clients. They will just suck your time away and demand more and more. If the requirements for a client on a particular job suddenly change halfway through, ask for more money.

Sometimes you will want to do work for less than you are worth if it is the right type of job or the right type of client, but this should only be situational. There will be many points in your career where it will be more valuable to spend the time on your marketing and business development than on the job itself.

Mistake #2 – Not Reaching Out to People and Being Proactive with Marketing

Photography Business Marketing

Jobs are not going to come to you at first, no matter how good your work is. You will have to go out and find your clients, so create a list of your ideal client types and of the best ways to reach each of them.

Work within your personal network, canvas local businesses, attend events and offer your services to individuals. The more you put yourself out there, the more business will come to you. But at first, every job you receive will come as a direct result of you proactively contacting someone or figuring out a strategy to get your work in front of them.

Mistake #3 – Not Collaborating and Working With Other Photographers in Your Space (i.e. Your Competitors)

Photography Business Marketing

Other photographers can be one of the biggest helps to you along your journey. They’ve been there before, they have a lot in common with you, and they could become great friends. Learn from them and offer to help them.

Often you will get some of your first jobs from other photographers, whether it be assisting them or taking some of their overflow. Many established photographers still have a portion of their income come from helping out other photographers in their community.

In addition, accountability can be extremely important for your growth. Find a photographer in a similar place (level and business-wise) as you and work together. Have strategy sessions and share what is working and what is not. Having someone in your life like this can be integral to your success and for getting you through the hard times.

There will be a portion of photographers who see you as a competitor. They will not want to talk to or worth with you. That’s their problem, and the collaborations that you do with the willing photographers will help you both jump ahead of the ones who don’t.

Mistake #4 – Not Responding Quickly Enough

Why don’t photographers respond as quickly as possible to job inquiries? Either way, it makes things easier for us when the competition is slow to respond. I hear it all the time, how surprised people were by how quickly I responded to them, both at the beginning and throughout the entire job process. This shows a level of dependability, and in addition to helping people to want to work with you, it will also make them want to refer you. The more dependable you are, the more your clients will want to help you out however they can.

Even if it’s not a job inquiry, respond quickly. You never know when a casual conversation or advice that you give will turn into a job or reference. Often, it will turn into nothing, but when those one or two out of 10 turn into jobs, in the long run, those will add up.

Mistake #5 – Not Spelling Out the Terms of a Job from the Very Beginning

Photography Business Marketing

Being a skilled photographer is not just about creating beautiful pictures. A big aspect of the photography business is how you handle the job from start to finish, and often the most important part is the very beginning when you spell out the terms and requirements.

It is really tough to know exactly what a client is envisioning for the job, so it helps to ask a lot of questions. This will even help them figure out what they want, as many of them will not have any experience with hiring a professional photographer. It will also help you justify your price when you talk out the steps of a job with them.

Make sure they know that if the parameters of the job change (through their decisions), you will have to charge more for the extra work. Most clients will think it is not a big deal to add something that was not specified ahead of time, but this is just more work they are giving you that was not spelled out originally. It happens a lot of the time, so it’s very important for your photography business to learn how to handle it correctly.

Mistake #6 – Not Having a Contract

Similar to the last point, while you both need to come to an agreement on the scope of any photography project, you also need to spell out those terms in a contract. Without a contract, you can easily be screwed over, and many photographers learn this the hard way. Hire a lawyer to give you advice, and look into thelawtog.com, which provides a variety of photographer contracts. These can save you a lot of time and money.

Read this on contracts: The Biggest Legal Mistake Photographers Make

The contract is important for setting the boundaries of the project. It will be easier to ask for more money if the scope of a job changes when you have a contract that spells out the exact requirements that were drafted.

Mistake #7 – Not Having an Efficient Workflow

Photography Business Marketing

Efficiency is one of the most important aspects of running a photography business, and unfortunately, speed is something that is learned over time. Create a speedy and organized system for how you work. Import a job, cull the selects, crop, do the post-production work (light, color, contrast, etc.), export, deliver, and invoice. The more efficient you are with this, the less you will procrastinate. There is nothing that will cause a photographer to procrastinate more than staring at a mountain of unedited images.

While this tip may sound simple, jobs that might take beginning photographers three hours to edit, can take an experienced photographer an hour. It took me much longer to edit a job when I started, and this organization and efficiency can give you so much more time to spend on everything else.

Also read: Photography Workflow Tips – From Memory Card to Computer and Beyond

Always tell a client that you will get a job to them a couple days later than you think you can. This will allow you time to screw something up and still get the work to them on time. Usually, you will get it to them early which will make you look even better (this is called under promise, over deliver).

Mistake #8 – Bonus Tip: Learn When to Say No

Photography Business Marketing

It’s hard to say no as a photographer, especially if you are growing your business and are under booked, but some jobs or some clients are just not worth it. If you are not being paid enough and the job is not good for your portfolio, if the client is tough to work with and overly demanding, save that aggravation and pass.

Some of these clients will prey upon young photographers to squeeze as much out of them before the photographer wises up. Just avoiding these jobs alone will save you so much time, and allow you to put it towards marketing and business development efforts that will set you much further ahead than by taking a less than desirable job.

Your time is very, very important, so don’t waste it. Saying no can be one of the best decisions you make.

If you have a photography business and have any other tips for newbies just getting started, please share in the comments below.


For even more business help – join the Focus Summit 2017 Online Business and Marketing Conference for Photographers on Sept 26-28th 2017. We will cover marketing, business development, law, SEO, branding, blogging, and much more. Use the code “DPS” for a $ 50 discount.

 

The post 7 Common Mistakes That Every Photography Business Needs to Avoid by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Confirmed: Bowens is going out of business

23 Jul

The sad news is now official. PDN has managed to confirm a report initially published by DIY Photography, claiming that UK-based lighting company Bowens had entered liquidation and was going out of business.

The 94-year-old company was scooped up by investment company Aurelius Group last year along with photography retailer Calumet. But while Aurelius commitment to Calumet continues, the company has decided that Bowens will not be able to overcome the challenges the lighting market faces.

In a statement, Aurelius Group told PDN the decision was due to, “the far-reaching changes affecting its market, including new, considerably less expensive products by Chinese manufacturers, product innovations by competitors, and the changed buying behavior of professional photographers, who are now only willing to invest in new equipment if the investment guarantees additional income.”

According to Aurelius’ CEO, Calumet will continue to service Bowens products in Europe, and the company is “working on” figuring out service for Bowens products globally. No word yet what this will look like, but in the US, Bowens products were distributed by Manfrotto.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

27 Jun

I have been a Digital Photography School writer for the past three years and I have to say, I absolutely love writing and sharing my photography experiences and knowledge. Every time one of my articles get published, my Facebook page and my website get a lot of visitors. I know this is because I use google analytics for my website which tracks visitors on any given day and shows where they spend most of their time (I highly recommend using Google Analytics for your website). I also get a ton of questions on my Facebook business page and the recurring theme of the questions is always something like this, “I love photography, but can you advise me on how to start my photography business and make money from it?”

So I decided to address that burning question in the hopes that it resonates with so many other photographers, who are thinking the same thing and are perhaps a little nervous to write in for the fear of showing their vulnerability. If you are, please don’t be, because everyone, including me, started somewhere and we all had similar thoughts.

#1 – Just Start

If you are thinking about starting a photography business to such a large extent that you cannot think about doing anything else, then just start. Go ahead and take that first step towards making your passion your career. Remember that “done” is so much better than “perfect”.

We, photographers, are always learning new things every day, be it in business, technology or photography skills. If you wait to be a perfect photographer, you will be waiting a long time. Now, I am not saying that you should not invest time and effort in understanding and practice. Skill is very important. But if you are considering learning the craft and the art of photography, then there is no better time than now!

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

My lovely friend and fellow photographer during a casual meet up where we exchanged headshots and talked shop over coffee and cupcakes!

# 2 – Use Social Media

Social media has exploded over the past few years in terms of the number of people who are using it for business, no matter what business they are in. Because so much of social media is both visual and text, photographers and writers have a slight advantage in terms of creating and sharing quality content.

So as a photographer, it behooves you to take advantage of the channel at your disposal. But be aware that the whole point of social media is to be social online, showcase your work, show who you are as a photographer and a person. Network, connect and interact online. It is one of the relatively inexpensive ways to make yourself know and recognized.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I love Instagram and think it is one of the best tools out there, especially for photographers. It is so visual and by engaging the right way, you can get a loyal following, new clients, and industry contacts. But like anything else it takes time and a concentrated, thoughtful approach.

# 3 – Practice, Learn and Practice Some More

Photography is an art form with many different nuances. Each aspect of photography has many different interpretations and to really excel in photography, you have to know and understand the basics.

Light, color, composition, emotion, and movement are all critical aspects of a good photograph. You have to learn them, practice them, and then put your own spin on them to make your own photographs go from good to great. There is no time limit for learning photography. The only way you can get better is to keep at it and photograph every chance you can get.

I carry my camera everywhere I go. I have been doing this for so long that it’s second nature now and I don’t think twice about it. Sometimes I will only shoot ten to twelve frames and sometimes I will shoot several hundred. But what I tell myself every time I bring the camera to my face is that this time I have to try something different and create something I have not created before.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I always give myself permission and time to play – sometimes it’s with florals from my neighbor’s backyard.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

Whereas other times it is a quick click while hiking in the mountains around Boulder. The snow and the clear blue sky made for a pretty backdrop for this ranger outpost!

#4 – Market Your Work

Marketing is crucial to any business but so few of us really put much into it. Most of us have the mindset that if you produce quality work, then your photography will speak for itself and clients will line up outside your studio for all eternity.

But sadly, that is far from the truth. Like any good product or service, we have to take the time and the effort to educate our clients and our potential clients on why working with us is a great idea. The more you think about promoting your work on a daily basis, the more effort and heart you will put into your marketing. And remember, marketing takes a lot of time. Very rarely does a marketing effort pay off immediately.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

One of my marketing pieces for a show that I am participating in – the show is aimed towards other businesses as well as creative women entrepreneurs!

#5 – Use Your Network

Unless you live in a personal bubble, you have a network. Networks can be social (i.e. friends and family), professional (peers or work colleagues), or industry related (other businesses that support photography).

So I challenge you to do a network analysis (sorry, I am a computer science major from my previous life so I love all this technical jargon!) and figure out who are all the people that you can reach out to and tap into for work. They might not be your direct clients but they may know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who is looking for a photographer. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

Word-of-mouth and referrals are the best kind of marketing you can ever invest in and they are free (for the most part). Your only expenses – making genuine connections and friends among your networks!

#6 – Hustle

You have probably heard this adage before – there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are no shortcuts to anything in life, so what makes you think that there are shortcuts to photography?

Photography, like any other profession, is extremely competitive with a relatively low barrier to entry. This means you have to hustle that much harder and longer to make an impression and to have an impact on your business bottom line. If you are starting out, try many genres of photography.

If you are starting out, try many genres of photography. Use any opportunity you can to improve your skills. Make friends with others in the industry and share experiences. Give it your all and eventually, you will reap the benefits.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I met these two local creatives via social media. We really hit it off well and collaborated on a beautiful spring tablescape inspiration shoot.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I also routinely go out for shootouts with many other photographers. It is a chance to make friends in the industry and geek out on all things photography!

#7 – Share

Share your work, your knowledge, and your expertise. The more open and willing you are to share among your peers, your competitors, and your clients, the more satisfying the journey to photography business success will be.

People, especially clients, will understand that you are genuine in building professional and personal relationships and the next time they hear of any photography work, they will connect with you. Photography friends and peers will refer clients if they are booked, help you when you are in a pinch, and work with you on creative projects – all of which as so important for your personal growth and growth of your business.

Conclusion

If you have other tips on growing a photography business, feel free to share with the larger dPS community in the comments below. Remember it’s not what you know, but how good you are building a community.

The post 7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Apple ad hints that its Portrait mode is so good it will save your family business

16 May

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. But in a tongue-in-cheek new Apple ad, a picture turns out to be worth hundreds of new customers, thanks to the iPhone 7’s Portrait mode. The minute-long spot features a quiet family barbershop that sees its business boom after posting photos of its clients and their sleek new haircuts in the window. The photos, of course, are taken with the iPhone 7’s bokeh-imitating Portrait mode. 

Photographers will likely find the premise a little tiresome, as they’ve heard for ages how easy it is to replace their experience and skill set with an incredible new camera/auto mode/photo app. But as much as we want to dislike this ad, it’s just too darn upbeat and clever to hate. See what you think.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Lower cost of image sensor business lifts Sony’s annual income estimate

22 Apr

According to a report by Reuters Japanese electronics manufacturer Sony has lifted its operating income estimate for the financial year ended March 31. Sony says it now expects an income of around ¥285 billion ($ 2.6 billion), which is up from a 240 billion yen estimate in February.

The main reason for the adjustment of the estimate are lower amortization costs for Sony’s financial services segment but the company also cites lower-than-anticipated costs for its image sensor business. The company doesn’t provide any more detail than that, so we can only speculate what those anticipated costs were. 

Sony’s semiconductor business has been a market leader for years with a dominating market share of around 40 percent. Sony sensors have been deployed in the cameras and smartphones of a large number of vendors. The company will report its full-year results on April 28.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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