The Pro Photographer’s Guide to WPPI

Headed to WPPI this week and next? Like 15,000 wedding and portrait photographers, you are headed to one of the biggest gatherings of people from our industry, that you’re ever likely to encounter. Whether you’ve been a dozen times, or are headed out for your first time, the entire experience can be a bit overwhelming (to say the least). Between the platform classes, master classes, impromptu classes, shooting experiences, mentoring, and of course – the parties – there’s a lot happening. Want to come back in one piece?

Here are my WPPI Survival Tips:

1. Don’t try to do everything. You’ll hear this a lot from many people who have been there, but seriously – DON’T try to see everything. You can’t. It’s too big, and you’ll end up robbing yourself of the benefit of what you DO take in. Be picky about where you spend your time. You’ll get the most …

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Four Magic Words

If  you ever encounter a client with misguided expectations, or a client wondering why you offer what you do, here are four magic words.

These four words make all the difference in helping create and manage expectations for your clients.

“Most of my clients…” and then whatever it is that you want them to do.

Here are some examples you can use:

Most of my clients choose either a 10×10 or 12×12 leather-bound book in brown or black.

Most of my clients find that an hour and a half is a perfect amount of time for a first look and your wedding party photos.

Most of my clients find that it’s a much more enjoyable process to come back to the studio and place their print order.

Most of my clients find that taking a small amount of time for a “first look,” ends up being the most relaxed, enjoyable experience of their entire wedding day.

Most of my …

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4 Photography Business Keys for Scalability and Sustainability

 

To build a scalable and sustainable photography business, you must first acknowledge that there’s a difference between “being a photographer” and “running a photography business.”

Not only is there a difference, you can actually do either – without doing the other! You can be a photographer without running your own business, if you work for someone else. Or, you can run a photography business without ever clicking a shutter. For many of us, however, we find ourselves standing squarely in between both worlds. We are photographers who are balancing being creatives and learning to be business professionals who happen to be creative.

The tension of being “both” is what causes us to struggle when it comes to growing our business. In fact, our roles as photographer and business owner sometimes find themselves with conflicting interests as we examine what it means to expand and grow our business. Often we are …

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What Every Professional Photographer Should Know about Business

A few weeks ago, I was in a strategy meeting for a project I’m working on, and the question was asked, “which of these two buildings are we building?”

The difference is pretty clear. On the left – the leaning tower of Pisa. It’s famous for one reason: it’s falling over! Sure, structural engineers are slowing down the inevitable, but because of its poor foundation, the tower is falling after just a few hundred years.

On the right – the Pyramid of Giza. For most of modern history, this was the tallest man-made structure on earth. It has lasted thousands of years and has withstood earthquakes. We don’t know know exactly who built it but it stands firm. Its foundation is solid, even as it rests in desert sand.

The Pyramid of Giza isn’t as sexy as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Italian architecture is more appealing, and “artistic” than the pyramids, which …

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Connecting With People That Matter To Your Business

It’s a big world out there. Even in your market or area, there are probably more than a hundred wedding industry professionals and vendors. One of the most valuable ways to build your photography business is through the relationships you develop with these key industry professionals. It’s also one of the hardest.

Although photographers seem to be a pretty social group, I often hear from friends and peers that the idea of trying to meet planners, venues, coordinators, designers, etc, can be intimidating. Where do I even start? How do I get people to refer me business? What do I do to meet the important people?

Those are all great questions. Just as in any industry, people want to work with – and refer business to – people they know and like. People want to work with people they’ve already developed relationships with. …

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Questions to Ask When Developing an Associate Photography Brand

Though our wedding photography business has always been a boutique studio, over the last two years, we made a decision to build and develop associate photographers. We looked at this as a market opportunity as we continued to grow our business – especially in our home market. We wanted to offer a service line that would be accessible to more clients, while adding to our bottom line as a business.

Since this is such a common subject of discussion, I thought it might be helpful to break down some of the important questions we had to answer when diving into this new area of business. Here are a few of the steps we took as we learned the best way to bring on Associate photographers.

1. Will your associates operate under your brand, or a separate brand?

This is one of the most common questions – whether you should market your …

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Keys to A Successful Client Consultation

It’s intimidating!  The very first time you sit down across a table from a potential client.  ‘Will they like me?!’  Trust me, I understand.  I also understand that the client consultation can be the most important interaction you have with a client.  It sets the tone and direction for the entire relationship – so here’s a few things that might help the next time you meet with a client.

1. Consider Your Environment.

Where do you meet with clients?  It might seem like such a small detail, but where you meet with clients is one of the most important aspects of your client meeting.  It dictates the very first impression your client will have, and first impressions matter.

It seems that photographers are sort of split among three groups – those who meet in their studio, those who meet in their home, and those who meet at a coffee shop or restaurant.  I’m …

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Four Steps to Higher Wedding and Portrait Sales

If photography is your full-time gig – or for that matter, even if it’s just a part-time gig – then you’re probably interested in finding ways to grow your business and make more money. Even the most successful photographers are looking for ways to increase revenue – and increase profit. That’s the purpose of a business, otherwise it’s just a hobby.

At the same time, many photographers are intimidated by the process of “selling” their work. It’s not only scary to ask people for money – it often goes against our passion for creating art. Fortunately, there are some really simple things you can do to help increase your sales starting with your next wedding or portrait session.

1. Shoot with the end in mind.

When I’m shooting a wedding, I’m constantly thinking about the album that the couple is going to share with their family for generations. When …

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Is It Your Policy, or Is It Your Ego?

Is it Your Policy, Or is it Your Ego?

If your business is anything like mine, you’ve probably had a few clients that tested your patience – if not your will to live! You know the type, the father of the bride that wants to rewrite your contract, or the bride who asks for a 12 page shot list. Maybe you’ve had a client suggest that they’d like to pay their balance once they’ve received their photos, instead of before the wedding.

Every time it happens, I find myself wanting to dig my feet in and stand on “principle.” I find a frustration and indignation inside, that someone would question the way I’ve set up my business, and that they aren’t willing to play by the “rules.”

Inevitably, though, I find myself asking whether anyone REALLY benefits as a result of some of these rules. I find myself evaluating …

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Sales 101: It’s All About Relationships

Most photographers don’t choose to follow their passion for photography because they enjoy selling “stuff.” Photographers are artists, and generally have an aversion to just about anything related to selling. After all, we’re artists, so it’s our inclination that we create art for the purpose of the creative process.

At the same time, if you’re running a business, you have to make money. Many photographers – especially wedding photographers – design their business to make most of their money through their creative fees. This is a perfectly acceptable model, if you truly understand your costs, labor expenses and margins, and it meets your businesses needs. On the other hand, I think that wedding photographers (and portrait photographers for that matter), leave a lot on the table by not focusing on developing a solid sales process.

Sales sounds like a bad word. It makes us feel dirty just …

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