Let’s talk about these two steps. Let’s take an honest look at what are the realities and problems we are facing. Then let’s look at what we can do to get around the current situation to survive and thrive. Our industry has changed! We must change too, or we won’t survive. Let’s look at some of the facts:
- Almost everyone has a cell phone with a camera or a smart phone that is a portable computer where they can use Instagram, SnapSeed or other programs to enhance their photos.
- Almost everyone has a Facebook account or Flickr, Smugmug, Photobucket or other online photo albums. These popular digital dumps have almost completely taken the place of wallet photos.
- Almost everyone wants files of their photographs so they can post them and share them. Digital frames, laptops and IPads are killing 8×10’s and 5×7’s.
- Really good cameras are affordable. Today, you can buy a camera kit with a nice DSLR with two lenses for what my average portrait order used to be. And because of digital, everyone can look at the Magic Screen and say the three most harmful words to a Professional Photographer, “That’s good enough!”
- Almost anyone can fix problems in Photoshop, Picasa, iPhoto or a dozen other apps, many of which are free.
- Someone who would have bought an Instamatic or even a disposable camera in the film days, now have amazingly powerful point-and-shoot cameras or even low-end DSLR’s. And of course, they can see if the photo turned out immediately! So they think they don’t have to “buy one” now.
- We live in a “Do It Yourself society.”People are learning to and doing their own gourmet cooking, decorating, investing, selling their home, growing their own organic food, remodeling and of course, photography. Photography satisfies three itches people have, “I love photography, it makes me feel good AND I save money by doing it myself.”
What are we going to do? First, we have to create an image a client will buy. It’s that simple! We have to do something our clients can’t do themselves!
There are several things we can do to stand out; one is to develop a style. The best style is one where your clients recognize it, want it and will pay for it. One thing I use to build a style is distinctive lighting. I am well-known for my Off Camera Flash images with creative, unique lighting.
Another way to build our business is to look to niches. You may know a child or friend that is into sports that gives you an “in.” Or you have small children and live in an area with lots of young families. Some people use Photoshop and post production style to stand out. You need to tap into people’s emotions. People buy photography they want, not what they need.
The second thing we HAVE to do is become experts in marketing and selling. There has never been a more important time in our industry to learn better sales techniques. As I visit with photographers across the country, listening to colleagues talk about their business, the photographers who are succeeding are the ones who are marketing the most. You need to have some type of campaign going all the time! Of course, when you get clients in your studio, you need to know how to sell instead of just taking orders.
Another thing we must do to show we are different and professional is maintaining membership in PPA and working to become a Certified Professional Photographer. There are tons of new photographers out there. It is hard for clients to know the difference between someone who just started and a true professional.
Don’t resist change, it is going happen, and remember, it is not personal. Technology changes, it does not pick its targets. Be flexible and resourceful and quit spending precious energy looking around for someone to blame.
Doug Box has taught at seminars and conventions in 49 states in the U.S. plus Canada, Mexico, Scotland, Wales, England, China, Ireland and on 5 cruise ships. He was chosen to teach at the International Wedding Institute and has taught at 18 different PPA Affiliate week-long schools. He is only the fourth person in the history of PPA to earn over 1,000 PPA Merits and is an invited member of the prestigious CameraCrafstmen group, one of only 40 in the world.
He is Past President of Texas Professional Photographers Assoc. and currently the Executive Director of TPPA. He has served as Executive Director ASP (American Society of Photographers) , Published ASP Magazine, has been an officer in his local Guild and the PPA Board. He is the co founder of World Photographic and the Texas Photo Festival.
His articles and images have graced the pages of most professional photographic publications. He is the author of “The Power of Business” marketing systems and has written several books including “Professional Secrets of Children’s Photography”, “Professional Secrets of Photographing Weddings”, “Natural Light Photography”, “Posing for Portrait Photographers”, “Flash Photography” and his newest, “Available Light Photography” published by Amherst Publishing.
His students claim Doug is the cross between an stand up comedian and a Baptist preacher. He is one the most fun and easy to learn from instructor you will ever encounter.