October 25, 2014, 10:17:07 PM

Author Topic: Professional Photography Marketing  (Read 2401 times)

awinphoto

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 2002
    • View Profile
    • AW Photography
Professional Photography Marketing
« on: December 21, 2011, 10:21:47 AM »
In a previous thread, the topic of Amateur Photography and Professional Photography popped up.  Amateurs are the new up-and-coming competition for Professional Photographers as they can offer lower prices, sometimes free services, and all they want is recognition... So how can we Professionals compete?  How do you compete with craigslist photographers who can shoot a wedding for $100?  How do you make the sell and push your brand as a more desirable service than those who can offer the same job for a fraction of the cost?  This thread is not about the rights and wrongs about the Pro/Amateurs, however this is merely to bounce ideas, share strategies, and to help each other better separate ourselves from the rest. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

canon rumors FORUM

Professional Photography Marketing
« on: December 21, 2011, 10:21:47 AM »

Ryusui

  • Guest
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2011, 03:15:31 PM »
Networking.  I'm talking both online social networking as well as business partners.

In this digital age, if you're not online you're very potentially losing a huge chunk of business opportunities.  You should at least have a website and a Facebook page.  It's also very useful to have a blog.  Twitter can be nice too since there are a lot of people on it, but it can be both a negative and a positive depending on the individual and how they implement it.  And you need to keep up with the latest trends.  Will Google+ take over Facebook like Facebook took over MySpace?  No one can say.  You just need to watch it and be prepared.  Do your research, find out what's happening in the online world and be there before anyone else.

Then you’ve got business partners.  For wedding photographers, you obviously want to be best friends with as many good planners in your area as possible.  Hell, try and connect with planners outside your area, too (again, online social networking).  Get in good with bakers, venue owners, florists...anyone who ties closely in.  Let's say you take a few days out of your schedule and offer to shoot some free images for Wedding Cake Bakery Inc.’s website or print work - in exchange they see how good you are and you ask to be recommended.  Do the same for the popular wedding venues.  For event photographers, the exact same rules apply.  Talk to caterers, hotels, shuttle and limo companies; anyone who you think could give you as a recommendation.  If you do sports shooting, same deal.

Basically, if you know what your target clientele is (weddings, events, sports, real estate...) look at the other people your potential clients deal with and market yourself to them.  Sure, a lot of your business may come from people who Google “wedding photographer (local zip code)” or check the yellow pages.  But many of these people may also be asking others for recommendations, and if the other people in your target industry don’t know you then they can’t recommend you.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 03:18:30 PM by Ryusui »

V8Beast

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1022
    • View Profile
    • Stephen Kim Automotive Photography
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2011, 04:58:28 PM »
How do you make the sell and push your brand as a more desirable service than those who can offer the same job for a fraction of the cost?

You don't. If someone else can offer the same caliber of service for a fraction of the cost, of course they're going to get hired over more expensive photographers. Generally speaking, however, I have found that you get what you pay for. Editors and art directors know this, and even in tough economic times, they're willing to pay a premium for top-notch work. I don't worry about the two-cent hacks. I just concentrate on working my ass off and providing the highest-quality product possible.

Every now and then, you'll get someone willing to work for next to nothing that shoots just as well as an established veteran in their field. The downside to this strategy is you've set the expectation that you're willing to work for peanuts right off the bat. So unless you're so good that you can eventually raise your rate, you might one day realize that the money  you're making isn't enough to pay the bills, and hence your pricing strategy isn't sustainable long-term. Basically, a lot of these guys work for nothing just to get their foot in the door, which eventually puts them out of business.

A lot of it also depends on who you shoot for, as quality is in the eye of the beholder. The average bride's mommy doesn't have a professionally trained eye, so I can see why it would be tough for wedding photographers to convince clients to pay a premium for their services. Surprisingly, there are many editors and art directors that are clueless in this regard as well. That said, from my experience it tends to even out in the end, and the cream always rises to the top.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 05:10:52 PM by V8Beast »

V8Beast

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1022
    • View Profile
    • Stephen Kim Automotive Photography
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2011, 05:07:56 PM »
A few more thoughts:

As with many products or services on the market, word of mouth advertising reigns supreme. No one wants to hear you tell everyone how great you are. Potential clients want to hear other people tell them how great you are. I've never even met many of the clients I work with on a regular basis, and others I've only met face-to-face once or twice. Nevertheless, I've been able to earn their business based on references from other people that I've worked for.

Also, personality plays a big part in being successful in this business. Even if you're a great photographer, no one's going to want to hire you if you can't hit your deadlines, complain about how long it takes them to process your invoices, and need your client to hold your hand when setting up a shoot. Most of the time, when someone calls me up with a job, the next time they hear from me is when I deliver the product. I try my best to isolate my client from any hoops I have to jump through to get a job done. That's my problem, not theirs.

dr croubie

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1400
  • Too many photos, too little time.
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2011, 05:44:24 PM »
Generally speaking, however, I have found that you get what you pay for.

Every now and then, you'll get someone willing to work for next to nothing that shoots just as well as an established veteran in their field. The downside to this strategy is you've set the expectation that you're willing to work for peanuts right off the bat.

+1 on them. From me as a consumer, I doubt i'm ever getting married (at least with the suit and the long flowing dress and the pro photos), but if I did, probably the last person I'd be going for is some hack charging $100 or doing it for free 'for practice'. I know I could save some cash, and I may even find someone decent. But if I'm doing it, I'm doing it properly and hiring a pro. You gotta distinguish yourself by offering quality, because if your dinner depends on it, you can't compete on price to a guy who's got a dayjob.

You get what you pay for can sometimes surprise you on the low end and get a great guy for cheap, but can also backfire on the high end. I was talking to the guy in the local photolab the other day waiting for prints (he was a wedding photog for 40+ years or so, then he 'retired' to just printing), he was talking about a guy in Sydney who was famous for just being expensive. $10-20k or so for a day's wedding (and this is 10+ years ago). He'd rock up in a Merc, 3-4 assistants, all the pro gear and lighting stands and umbrellas and all. And he wasn't even the best (ok, but he was good). Had a gimmicky deal where if the bride and chicks were ready on time he'd give them a free life-size portrait (which was built into the cost anyway), only had to print it 1 of every 5 or 10 shoots though, nice profit.

But for me as a photographer, I'd rather go the other way. I'm too scared to shoot anyone's wedding, because I don't want to upset them if I muck it up. I've only done it once, and that was with a 8MP P&S in France, and I was only there because I was backpacking in the area and met up with my friends there. Only 6 of us in a chateau (the bride/groom and other 3 had flown over from Aus especially), and if I wasn't there they just wouldn't have had many photos at all. Only time i'd consider it again would be my mate who just got engaged, but that'd only be if i could borrow his kit (5d2, 50/1.2, 85/1.2, 70-200/2.8), and was only a "backup" for a real paid guy.

Going online, with a portfolio in a nice easy to use website, with real contact information, is absolutely essential. I was recently looking for a driving school (ok, i'm 10 years too late getting my license), did some searching and used the yellow-pages. The ones without a website I didn't even consider, I opened all the rest in multiple tabs, went through the rest, and just closed off the tabs of the ones that looked too much like a hack-job. I don't care if one of them turned out to be Nigel Mansell or The Stig, professionalism counts. Even more so for photography, I'd say, I'm probably only going to spend $300 or so on driving lessons, if I want a good wedding photog I'd probably be paying $1-2k. If you can't make your website look good, why should I trust you making my most important days of my life look good?
Too much gear, too little space.
Gear Photos

briansquibb

  • Guest
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2011, 06:17:43 PM »
Nowadays I work pro bono so I have issues turning people away (I only do charities and church sponsored work plus any work that I want to do). I saw the end coming when the 5D came out.

UncleFester

  • Guest
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2011, 07:35:57 PM »
Word of mouth.


If you can shoot, you'll always have work. Period.  They'll be looking for you.

For the op, If someone will pay $100 instead of your rate, they can't afford a photographer anyway.

As far as networking goes, a good friend of mine does not and never had a website, and he's is usually booked solid 12 months out of the year. No bull.

Btw, a lot of these amatures really stink.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2011, 07:35:57 PM »

wickidwombat

  • Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 4522
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2011, 07:43:16 PM »
Everyone has to start somewhere...

todays amatuers are tomorrows pros, dont hate them just because they cant afford all the gear and just want to get a start in something they are passionate about. Generally the people on this site seem very supportive of people in this position who ask for advice, this is really nice to see. 

I guess the most risk free way is to keep a day job and do photo work in the other time you have and build up to eventually being able to be just a pro photographer. I do respect the people that just jump straight into the deep end though and quit their job then are at the mercy of the market.


APS-H Fanboy

willrobb

  • Guest
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2011, 09:50:59 PM »
Everyone has to start somewhere...

todays amatuers are tomorrows pros, dont hate them just because they cant afford all the gear and just want to get a start in something they are passionate about. Generally the people on this site seem very supportive of people in this position who ask for advice, this is really nice to see. 

Indeed, everyone does start out somewhere and most of today's pros started out as an amateur. I started by doing lot of gigs as a second/third shooter for low pay to get experience and I was lucky enough to be able to start out on my own. I liked this route as I got to learn on the job, earn some money which helped me upgrade my gear and give me the confidence to know what I was supposed to do. I can't imagine walking into a wedding/corporate shoot for the first time with no prior experience...scary. I was lucky enough to be helped out by a few people when I was starting out and I like to give back when I can.

Anyway, as people were saying above, networking and internet presence is a big thing. It's hard to start out and be successful without being on the net and using your URL in adverts as well as being searchable in your local area. Know the wedding planners, know the venues where people get married, know the hair and make up people. If you can work well with others they will recommend you. Likewise, give it back and if someone comes t you first and says they need a hair/make up artist and a venue, give them your recommendations.

Also, I know it's perhaps not the done thing, but I like to know other photographers and pass on work I can't take. Usually these guys scratch my back in return, I hire them for gigs and pass on work, they do the same to me. I know a lot of photographers hate to be in contact with the competition, but it's really nice when you meet good like minded people, you can help each other out, learn from each other and it's nice to grab a beer and bounce ideas around now and again.

However, for those who build a good reputation, word of mouth is always the best. Some people with established wedding studios don't need to network or advertise, the work just keeps coming in. Good for them, it's something we should all aim for.

Ryusui

  • Guest
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2011, 11:27:34 PM »
Also, I know it's perhaps not the done thing, but I like to know other photographers and pass on work I can't take. Usually these guys scratch my back in return, I hire them for gigs and pass on work, they do the same to me. I know a lot of photographers hate to be in contact with the competition, but it's really nice when you meet good like minded people, you can help each other out, learn from each other and it's nice to grab a beer and bounce ideas around now and again.
+1

willrobb

  • Guest
Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2011, 11:53:22 PM »
Forgot to add some other thoughts earlier...

Also I find it's a big plus when someone has several strings to their photography bow. Few people these days are just wedding photographers or just newspaper photographers, they freelance and do whatever they can, that's the reality of the industry these days. Anyway, if someone has a lot of publications or awards or the likes then it's an excellent marketing point. If someone is widely published in a local paper, they'll be looked upon well by local clients who will have seen their work. Those who work for nationwide/international publications get even more recognition and it's a easy way to get them ahead in the race. For example, someone is deciding between two similarly priced wedding photographers, one is very good but has only ever taken wedding photos and the other equally good guy has worked for National Geo, Vogue and the New York Times....people like to hire someone they can boast about to their guests right!

As a real example, I was looking at high end wedding photographers portfolios in Asia recently and saw a guy charging $25'000 a pop, his claim to fame was he'd won "Press photographer of the year" a few years back. Nicely done that man I thought.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Professional Photography Marketing
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2011, 11:53:22 PM »