October 22, 2014, 06:31:59 PM

Author Topic: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!  (Read 15616 times)

Scott_McPhee

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I am trying to get my photography business running but I am encountering a problem I am sure we all have:

"Everyone's a photographer!"

Seems these days if you buy yourself a cheap DSLR and know how to press the shutter you can call your self a professional photographer.
The quality of the prints doesn't seem to matter, or does the fact that they are pricing their "services" so low they are killing the decent photographers out there.

I am surrounded by these, one who tapes a white sheet to the wall, sticks a light on it and claims to shoot "state of the art high-key!"
Another is offering shoots at 50% of my cost and giving the client a CD with all of the shots on them.

Clients seem to be going for the cheaper price and ignoring the fact I am producing very high quality, professionaly shot photographs for only marginally more cost.

How do you deal with this in your location?

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Khalai

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2014, 07:40:50 AM »
I am trying to get my photography business running but I am encountering a problem I am sure we all have:

"Everyone's a photographer!"

Seems these days if you buy yourself a cheap DSLR and know how to press the shutter you can call your self a professional photographer.
The quality of the prints doesn't seem to matter, or does the fact that they are pricing their "services" so low they are killing the decent photographers out there.

I am surrounded by these, one who tapes a white sheet to the wall, sticks a light on it and claims to shoot "state of the art high-key!"
Another is offering shoots at 50% of my cost and giving the client a CD with all of the shots on them.

Clients seem to be going for the cheaper price and ignoring the fact I am producing very high quality, professionaly shot photographs for only marginally more cost.

How do you deal with this in your location?

Every product has its buyer. Some buyers are budget-limited and will go for the cheapest, some seek quality and will pay appropriate price for it. Maybe you are targeting yourself at the wrong market...
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jdramirez

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2014, 08:57:08 AM »
The problem is your sales department, which I imagine is you.  You aren't successfully showing the added value of your services to the customer to make the price difference compelling.

Price is only a marginal factor in sales.  More often than not, people want the best bang for their buck.

Go grab market share.  Coupons, promotions, word of mouth, etc.  Get your name out there and have a high quality product and people will come back to you.

There is a reason most businesses don't make a profit in the first few years... because they are setting themselves up with a solid foundation. 

Also... market to groups that frequent these types of services... maternity wards, preschools, etc... make lasting relationships with customers so they don't feel like they are just a meat bag with money. 

Offer them free Facebook sized prints for upload and sharing.  Feed their ego.... having omg, that is the cutest child ever, LIKE, will do more for your business than a print hanging in their living room.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 08:58:52 AM by jdramirez »
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

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jdramirez

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2014, 09:01:56 AM »
Also, I don't like the idea of sitting fees... maybe the kid is cranky or sick... or the bride is fat on this day.... So allow for some room for error... charge a shooting fee and if they don't love the images, the fee can be applied on their next visit.... which then gives you relay business.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

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Janbo Makimbo

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2014, 09:15:29 AM »
A good photographer wouldn't need to worry about amateurs

Orangutan

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2014, 09:22:26 AM »
I am trying to get my photography business running but I am encountering a problem I am sure we all have:

"Everyone's a photographer!"

Seems these days if you buy yourself a cheap DSLR and know how to press the shutter you can call your self a professional photographer.
The quality of the prints doesn't seem to matter, or does the fact that they are pricing their "services" so low they are killing the decent photographers out there.

I am surrounded by these, one who tapes a white sheet to the wall, sticks a light on it and claims to shoot "state of the art high-key!"
Another is offering shoots at 50% of my cost and giving the client a CD with all of the shots on them.

Clients seem to be going for the cheaper price and ignoring the fact I am producing very high quality, professionaly shot photographs for only marginally more cost.

How do you deal with this in your location?

You can't sell a Mercedes Benz to a customer with Kia tastes and/or budget.  If you want to do Mercedes Benz level photography, it's YOUR job to find customers who want it and will pay for it.  If you are unable to do that, it's entirely on you.  Mercedes Benz has no cause to complain about too many Kia dealerships; they just need to create and market a product that will draw a different audience.  Please read a bit about marketing. 

Better yet, if you know someone who is a salesperson, take them out for a drink and ask for a primer on persuasion.  (I feel dirty now, I'm going to go wash-up   :P )

BoneDoc

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 09:24:04 AM »
FWIW, your post does indicate some condesencion on your part.  Photography is not an easy business to crack into. 

Much of your success in life will be related more to your ability to deal with people, albeit customers / clients, vendors, or just pretty much anyone you meet or have a relationship with.  Learn this skill well, and learn to serve your customers and clients.  In time, this will pay off.

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 09:24:04 AM »

RLPhoto

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2014, 09:28:28 AM »
In the end, you want affordable clients and not cheap clients.

An affordable client will pay your fees even if they choose a much smaller package. A cheap client will pester you for more than what was contracted.

An affordable client will work with you on a budget. A cheap client will want you to foot the budget.

An affordable client understands they will get less photos for less money, but all the work is beautiful. A cheap client wants every shot edited, proof printed, delivered on CD at the sacrifice of quality and then will not like them, ask for reedits and re-prints. Afterwards they will take your shots and hand them over to someone else to slobber them with Instagram filters and post them as your work. :/

In the end, they can have the cheap clients. I'll take the budget/affordable clients anyday. :D
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 09:31:04 AM by RLPhoto »

agierke

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2014, 09:37:45 AM »
Quote
Go grab market share.  Coupons, promotions, word of mouth, etc.  Get your name out there and have a high quality product and people will come back to you.

Quote
Also... market to groups that frequent these types of services... maternity wards, preschools, etc... make lasting relationships with customers so they don't feel like they are just a meat bag with money. 

Quote
Offer them free Facebook sized prints for upload and sharing.  Feed their ego.... having omg, that is the cutest child ever, LIKE, will do more for your business than a print hanging in their living room.

No, no and no. these are all ways to cement yourself into low prices in a low paying market that competes with low charging, rebel wielding amateurs.

in most markets, its increasingly more difficult to find clients that pay well. you won't find them any faster by offering coupons, discounts and freebies. you will set up the expectation of continued discounts and freebies.

any further advice would greatly depend on what type of photography business you are trying to start up. are you looking to get commercial/advertising type of stuff with 1200.00+ day rates or are you trying to do private/family types of jobs? they are two very different markets and require different approaches.

two things that have helped me get higher rates is staying diversified and maintaining a professional network of photographers in my area. the diversity allows me to survive any lulls in business. i shoot corporate and collegiate events, commercial and advertising, weddings, head shots of all sorts, architecture, and product. if any one of those business streams starts to slow i can usually count on the others to pick me up. because i stay busy i dont feel the pressure to take low paying jobs. networking with other professionals also helps. i still assist and do second shooting for my fellow photographers when i am free. the relationships i have developed by doing this has gotten me my best paying work as when one of those photographers cant take a job they flick it to me.

it takes time and patience to build a sustaining business. you have to know what your bottom dollar is though and have the discipline to say no to a rate that is too low. try not to worry about the low rate amateurs, even though they will keep coming out of the woodwork they never last that long. they literally price themselves out of the business.

private photography unfortunately is really difficult to reach decent wages unless you are doing massive amounts of work and have a support staff you can pay minimum wages. professional clients are harder to find but you will get better wages in the long run and won't run into as many rebel toting, discount waving amateurs. pursue professional businesses, doctors, lawyers, commercial real estate companies, universities etc. they will understand better the difference between a professional and an amateur and will pay better.

get a good website going and only show professional caliber work. do not rely solely on social networking sites like facebook...they aren't professional and real professional clients avoid them like the plague.
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Orangutan

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2014, 09:47:30 AM »
FWIW, your post does indicate some condesencion on your part.  Photography is not an easy business to crack into. 

Much of your success in life will be related more to your ability to deal with people, albeit customers / clients, vendors, or just pretty much anyone you meet or have a relationship with.  Learn this skill well, and learn to serve your customers and clients.  In time, this will pay off.

+10

There are LOTS of photographers with the experience, skills and gear to do great work.  What distinguishes successful mid- and upper-level photographers is their people skills.  You must make your customers feel comfortable with the entire process, from first meeting to the shoot to writing the check.


mackguyver

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2014, 09:51:46 AM »
FWIW, your post does indicate some condesencion on your part.  Photography is not an easy business to crack into. 

Much of your success in life will be related more to your ability to deal with people, albeit customers / clients, vendors, or just pretty much anyone you meet or have a relationship with.  Learn this skill well, and learn to serve your customers and clients.  In time, this will pay off.

+10

There are LOTS of photographers with the experience, skills and gear to do great work.  What distinguishes successful mid- and upper-level photographers is their people skills.  You must make your customers feel comfortable with the entire process, from first meeting to the shoot to writing the check.
+11? This is so true - there are a lot of mediocre photographers out there making tons of money because they are great to work with and market themselves well.  There are also a ton of very talented jerks out there getting very little work.

jdramirez

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2014, 09:58:03 AM »
If he can seek out commercial work, go nuts.  But I got the feel that wasn't the market he was going after.  Market share is important, and once you get a foothold, you needn't continue to discount... but that's fine.

Quote
Go grab market share.  Coupons, promotions, word of mouth, etc.  Get your name out there and have a high quality product and people will come back to you.

Quote
Also... market to groups that frequent these types of services... maternity wards, preschools, etc... make lasting relationships with customers so they don't feel like they are just a meat bag with money. 

Quote
Offer them free Facebook sized prints for upload and sharing.  Feed their ego.... having omg, that is the cutest child ever, LIKE, will do more for your business than a print hanging in their living room.

No, no and no. these are all ways to cement yourself into low prices in a low paying market that competes with low charging, rebel wielding amateurs.

in most markets, its increasingly more difficult to find clients that pay well. you won't find them any faster by offering coupons, discounts and freebies. you will set up the expectation of continued discounts and freebies.

any further advice would greatly depend on what type of photography business you are trying to start up. are you looking to get commercial/advertising type of stuff with 1200.00+ day rates or are you trying to do private/family types of jobs? they are two very different markets and require different approaches.

two things that have helped me get higher rates is staying diversified and maintaining a professional network of photographers in my area. the diversity allows me to survive any lulls in business. i shoot corporate and collegiate events, commercial and advertising, weddings, head shots of all sorts, architecture, and product. if any one of those business streams starts to slow i can usually count on the others to pick me up. because i stay busy i dont feel the pressure to take low paying jobs. networking with other professionals also helps. i still assist and do second shooting for my fellow photographers when i am free. the relationships i have developed by doing this has gotten me my best paying work as when one of those photographers cant take a job they flick it to me.

it takes time and patience to build a sustaining business. you have to know what your bottom dollar is though and have the discipline to say no to a rate that is too low. try not to worry about the low rate amateurs, even though they will keep coming out of the woodwork they never last that long. they literally price themselves out of the business.

private photography unfortunately is really difficult to reach decent wages unless you are doing massive amounts of work and have a support staff you can pay minimum wages. professional clients are harder to find but you will get better wages in the long run and won't run into as many rebel toting, discount waving amateurs. pursue professional businesses, doctors, lawyers, commercial real estate companies, universities etc. they will understand better the difference between a professional and an amateur and will pay better.

get a good website going and only show professional caliber work. do not rely solely on social networking sites like facebook...they aren't professional and real professional clients avoid them like the plague.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100L->85mm f/1.8 USM-> 8mm ->100L & 85L

surapon

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2014, 10:22:10 AM »
I am trying to get my photography business running but I am encountering a problem I am sure we all have:

"Everyone's a photographer!"

Seems these days if you buy yourself a cheap DSLR and know how to press the shutter you can call your self a professional photographer.
The quality of the prints doesn't seem to matter, or does the fact that they are pricing their "services" so low they are killing the decent photographers out there.

I am surrounded by these, one who tapes a white sheet to the wall, sticks a light on it and claims to shoot "state of the art high-key!"
Another is offering shoots at 50% of my cost and giving the client a CD with all of the shots on them.

Clients seem to be going for the cheaper price and ignoring the fact I am producing very high quality, professionaly shot photographs for only marginally more cost.

How do you deal with this in your location?

Dear Friend Scott_McPhee .
The PRO call us " Uncle Bob"----That Include ME, ( Some times)---BUT only time that The Bride and Groom / My Close relative ask me to take the photos in their wedding for them, AND they  truss me and do not like their Dad& Mom hire that Professional Photogrraphers.
BUT, My rules : When, I am at the Wedding, I( Camera gears in the trunk of my SUV) go to talk to the PRO , tell them that I am her uncle ( of the Bride), and the Bride & Groom want me to take the Candid Photos for them , Just for FUN. Yes, I tell them that I will not use Flash, And Use the Long Zoom lens at the back or at the Sides of their Photographers, Never at their front, or in their Pictures.----Tell them, If they do not like , Please go to tell the Bride to stop me, And I will not  take any Photos. But If you stop me, There are 1,000 guests in this ceremony will use their I-Phones, Tablets, Canon 1DX or Nikon D4 to take the wedding photos any ways.

I do like this for last 20  years,  And NO PRO will refuse my offer----Ha, Ha, Ha, EXCEPT ONE PRO, after they see my Photography Equipment include  Canon 600 mm Lens  that I use for shooting from the Balcony of the Sanctuary 300 feet from Altar, where the Wedding ceremony take place---In Candle light Lit, And He came to ask me to share these photos, Yes, I let him use my big lens with his Canon T3

If you are " Uncle Bob" like me,  Please talk to The PRO first, before you interrupt  their paid duty, BUT if you are the PRO, please understand that " USA, land, are the land of freedom---any one can do any thing / Under the laws, as their wishes---And You, THE PRO do not worry about UNCLE BOB, His photos might like the SH_T, when compare to the PRO like you. Let uncle BOB happy and smile in this wedding---YES, the Most important factors = Uncle Bob will spend $ 1,000 US Dollars to buy the prints from you, and give to Bride and Groom.

Just my IDEAS.---Only my Ideas---Many of our friends might have very difference Ideas.
Have a great work week, Sir.
Surapon

Wedding Photography Training: Dealing with Uncle Bob

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2014, 10:22:10 AM »

anthonyd

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2014, 10:29:26 AM »
Hello Scott, I'm your worst nightmare!  No, not really, I hope anyway that I'm not classified as an idiot with a rebel that calls himself a pro (because I neither have a rebel, nor do I call myself a pro).
However, inadvertently, I do take away some of your business because I price low since I have a day job and I do photography for fun.  I could go completely free as a matter of fact, but I charge for three reasons: a) so that I don't create the "free photographer" reputation, b) so that I offset some equipment, and c) out of respect to you. Yeah, I'm not into the business of destroying your business.

Anyway, I have some advice for you as to how you can explain to the customer that you are better than me.

First, I don't have a real studio.  I have lights, backdrops, props and stuff, but I convert my house into a studio when I have a gig.  Show your high paying clients your studio and make a point about it.  Somebody who's willing to pay top dollar would probably find my living-room studio a little stupid and your real studio more appealing.

Second, I don't have time to postprocess, since I have a day job. I do postprocess of course, and I do a lot of it, but that means that my clients have to wait for weeks before they get their pictures back.  Show your client a before and after picture where you did magic in photoshop and tell them that they'll get this type of service from you and they'll get it fast.

Third, I don't have the volume of pictures to make any local printing store pay attention to me. Go to a local store and persuade them to give you a discount in return for doing all your prints there.  Then offer the client complete solutions (albums, mugs for grandma, canvas, whatnot).

Fourth, I don't have time for photography all the time, so I have to squeeze my clients in my busy schedule.  Offer them flexible scheduling and offer them to do things at their place, if they prefer (pregnant ladies like that, and so do parents of infants).

Finally, advertise yourself locally.  Facebook might bring you customers, or it might bring you the wrong customers, but going to a maternity clinic and leaving a few cards with your contact info and a few nice maternity shots on them, could do miracles.

Scott_McPhee

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2014, 11:02:57 AM »
A good photographer wouldn't need to worry about amateurs

I object to that one!  Go look at my pictures before you start slagging me off.
This is something that is effecting us all.

Apart from the above comment, there are some great views in response to my original post.

I do charge a sitting fee and include in that a set of mounted, fully finished prints that the customer gets to choose and keep.
If they want extra prints or shots on canvas they pay for them.
To me, this is fair because the one hour sitting fee always goes beyond it, the shots are taken in their own home and they get virtually every shot I take to choose from.

To get clients in I could drop my prices or give "offers" but a friend of mine tried this by doing very low priced "intro" shoots - he then got a lot of backlash from customers wanting to know why his prices has suddenly gone up and from others who were not getting the same deal.
You can get stuck in budget-zone here and it can become very difficult to get your prices back up to a decent level.
I would rather shoot less for more than more for less.

All around us there are people with cameras launching themselves as "Photographers" and it will continue to impact on the photography industry.
The attraction of "Instagram" type photos has taken the professional quality away from our work - as I seen on a recent shoot done by a rival that I thought had been shot on a mobile phone!

anthonyd - I work in the same way as you my friend, I respect your views  :)

This was really aimed at other opinions and methods for combating the pro-beginner as I call them.

For example, two photographers take a clients picture, one professional one pro-beginner.
Both shots are presented to the client - pro's looks amazing, costs $200 pro-beginner, rough $20.
Which print sells?

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2014, 11:02:57 AM »