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Photography Business Boundaries

August 16, 2015 in Business Tips, Goal Setting, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

Today I want to talk to you about photography business boundaries, and boundaries in general. In the 16+ years I have been running my photography business, the thing that has wreaked to most havoc for me and my company, has been difficulties with boundaries. And, I believe, that if you have problems setting and keeping strong boundaries in your business and in your life, then getting your boundaries established and strong will be the single best way to improve your photography business.

Why do I say that? Because boundaries effect everything. Boundaries are the limits you set on outside influences. Boundaries are your first line of defense against invaders, and boundaries are your protection from harm. As creatives, we photographers tend to have more permeable boundaries than other people. And this can really get us into trouble. Here are some examples.

Pricing – pricing is the boundary you set on what your photography business’s products and services cost. Do you ever find yourself discounting your pricing when someone tells you that they cannot afford you? Do you set your pricing so low that you can’t earn a decent living? Do you fail to stand behind your pricing as being fair and appropriate for the service that you provide? Then you have a pricing boundary problem in your photography business.

Hiring, Training and Managing – your employee policies are your boundary for human resources in your photography business. Do you ever find it difficult to confront an employee that is taking advantage of you and your generosity? Do you have a hard time firing employees that are not doing their job? Do you avoid discussing issues like tardiness, absenteeism and insubordination, hoping it will just go away, or take care of itself? If so, then you have an human resources boundary problem.

Accounting – your accounting practices are the boundaries you set on where the income is coming from and where the money is spent in your photography business. Do you jump every time you see a cute new little prop pop up in your inbox? Do you set income and expense goals for your business, but always find yourself breaking your own rules. Does your expense column outweigh your income column? Then you have a boundary problem with accounting in your photography business.

Marketing – your marketing plan is the system you put in place to keep your income high enough to stay in business. Marketing effectively and consistently, with discipline, is quite possibly the MOST important boundary you need working well in your photography business. Do you plan to make a certain number of calls or visit a certain number of potential clients each week, and then chicken out? Do you find every possible excuse for why you are unable to create enough time to follow through with your marketing plan? Do you bury yourself in “research” or “education” to avoid marketing? If you do any of these things… and I’m sure you can think of plenty other examples, then you have a really big boundary problem in your photography business. And this boundary problem is YOU. You are unable to set limits on yourself, and follow through on your promises to yourself. And this, my friend, will destroy your photography business.

Time Management – how you manage the time you spend in your business and the number of hours you work are the boundaries you set on time management in your photography business. Do you find yourself working so many hours that your kids have given up trying to even get your attention? Is your workflow disorganized or not followed? Do you convince yourself that spending hours each day on Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram etc. is the best use of your marketing time? Do you try to do everything in your business yourself, never delegating or outsourcing, and continually running yourself ragged? If you have any of these problems, you have time management boundary issues in your photography business.

There are many other places that you need boundaries in your photography business, but these are some of the biggies. I have had problems in all of these areas in my business at one time or another. Photography business boundaries, or my lack of thereof, has caused a lot of damage. And, I don’t want these challenges to cause damage to your photography business.

So, what can you do? Well, the truth is, boundary issues are not quickly or easily dealt with. If you have boundary problems, they are, to some extent, part of your personality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements that will have a big impact. If any of the examples above ring true for you, you would be well served to find, and read a good book on boundaries. One of the best out there is “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud.

But, if practically everything above rings true for you, then you are probably experiencing significant difficulties in operating your photography business. And, you need to get help right away! One, two or three of these can cripple your business, but if you are having a hard time with all of them (to some degree) it will literally suck the LIFE out of you and your company.

If you are in this place, you are probably feeling overwhelmed, and maybe even hopeless. But there is hope.

I am offering a FREE 30 minute photography business coaching session to anyone who needs help right now with boundary issues. I am in the process of writing a book for photographers to specifically tackle these issues, both in their photography business, and in their life. If you would like to receive your FREE 30 minute coaching session, and/or are interested in participating in research for the book, please call me @ 512-997-7429 to schedule your appointment. All participants will remain anonymous.

 

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The Loss Leader in Photography

July 31, 2015 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Marketing Tips, Photography Tips, Photography Workflow by admin

Today I want to talk to you about using a loss leader in your photography business.

The portrait industry didn’t start out using loss leaders, but once corporate, multi location studios began popping up everywhere, the loss leader became the name of the game for portrait photography. I imagine most of you already know what a loss leader is, but for those of you who don’t, this is how it works. You run an ad. It’s a very attractive ad, because it offers a ridiculous number of portraits for a very small price. The photography ad draws in lots of business! You take lots of pictures. You even sell some. It works, right?

Well, let’s look a little deeper. It’s called a loss leader because is leads your customers into the studio… but at a loss. A loss, you say? Yes… you see, you can’t possibly stay in business offering portraits for less than they cost you to produce them. So, why would anybody do that? The supposed logic behind this strategy is that you will attract lots of buyers, and you will, but the only way for you to keep from losing your shirt in the process is for people to buy more than the deal. If they don’t, you will spend more money than you make, and that’s a terribly bad losing strategy for any business. You might as well be sitting on your butt watching tv rather than taking pictures at a loss. So why did the photography industry build it’s entire marketing model on this strategy? It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? The reason is that it works… at least it did for a long time. And, not only for photographers. The big box stores still use this strategy all the time. They advertise a few items at a big discount, knowing they will lose money, just to get you into the store. Why? Because, when you take the time to get your kids dressed and into the car, to drive all the way to Walmart in 100 degree heat (in Austin anyway), you sure as heck aren’t going to leave the store with just that one little item on sale. So yay for Walmart. It still works for them, and probably will continue to do so.

But the loss leader doesn’t work for photographers. It worked for the big chains at one point, but even they can’t use it much anymore. Why? I believe there are several reasons.

1. Digital has made it possible for people to scan their photographs and make more themselves. When Olan Mills gave you one 8×10, they expected you would buy more for friends and family… and you did. But, when your client can essentially steal your images from you, they have no incentive to buy more. Even some people who would never consider taking a piece of candy from a grocery store without paying, won’t think twice about copying and distributing your images without permission or compensation to you. That’s not a judgement about the morality of our clients… it’s just a fact about the way most of our society has come to view digital images.

2. One of the main reasons why the loss leader works for big chains is that they are BIG. They can spread out the risk. If 100 people buy their deal, and only 50 of them buy additional items, they are probably still going to come out ahead. But if you, as a photographer, only do 10 sessions each week, and half of them only take the deal, well, how can I say it… You’re Screwed!

3. Your work is custom. It takes a lot of time, energy, skill and creatively to produce a portrait. When Walmart’s client doesn’t buy an additional item, they might lose a dollar or two. But when you give something away for free, or, God forbid, at a loss, you lose $100’s or $1000’s of dollars. Why? Because you are one person, spending a lot of dedicated hours on that one client’s portraits, and you are not making any money. You also have an opportunity cost, because you cannot photograph another client or work on a paying client’s images during that time period. Walmart can spread out that labor, but even if you have an employee or two, your risk is extremely high.

4. Probably worst of all the loss leader is … well… deceptive. People are getting more and more marketing savvy. They can smell a rat. And they already know that the loss leader is a rat. They know you will want them to buy something else. Heck, they know you “need” them to buy something else. Even if they have no idea how much you really should be charging for your work, they know it’s more than what you are advertising. This sets up an adversarial position between you and your client, a psychological tug of war, and a very messy situation for both of you in the ordering appointment. Even if you get away with it and they do buy, you probably won’t get this client back in the future, and they sure won’t recommend you to their friends, because they won’t want done to their friend what you did to them. Ick!

So, is there ever a time to use a loss leader? Sure! I just used it a couple of months ago… and very successfully. But my goal wasn’t to make money or even produce a profit at all. My goal was to get images for my marketing, and FAST! So, what did I do? I gave it all away. I ran a Facebook ad for a FREE newborn session with 5 high res digital files. WHAT, you say? Kate!?!?!? How could you do that? I told you, I needed marketing images, and fast. I had just returned from an amazing class with Julia Kelleher at Texas School on newborn photography, where I learned a TON of new tricks for photographing newborns. And, I wanted to completely update all of my marketing and pricing with beautiful new images that reflected my heightened skill level. I also needed a test run for my workflow. How long was it going to take me to do a session with all these new props and wraps and such? How would I track everything with all the new steps I was putting in place? Would I need an assistant? I had lots of questions that needed answers, and photographing a gazillion babies in a short amount of time was going to answer a lot of questions and provide me with exactly what I needed. So I did it. I photographed 22 babies in  about a month and a half. I processed every image myself, presented every image myself, charged, tracked, culled, backed up, and posted to Facebook every image… myself. And I got exactly what I needed from that campaign. Did I make a lot of money? No! I had a lot of people take their 5 free images and go. But I also had a bunch who bought additional photographs, because I did a really, really good job for them. So, I said it was a loss leader, but as you can see, it really wasn’t. Because I was compensated in many important ways. And, I wasn’t being deceptive. I really meant it when I told them they were not required to buy anything and I wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t. Because I meant it. I knew I was getting something as valuable, if not more valuable, than the money. I set up a complete newborn studio system that creates repeatable, consistently beautiful images, that thrill my clients in less than two months, and I couldn’t have done that without using my Facebook “loss leader” ad. Will I ever do it again? Probably not. Everything I needed from that ad I got photographing those 22 gorgeous babies. And, my work got MUCH better because of it. So, now I’m worth more.

The loss leader does permanent damage to your brand. If you train your clients to expect a deal, they will expect a deal, every time. Be straight with people about why you charge what you charge, and don’t discount it. Can you run a special every now and then. Sure. But I would run specials that add value, rather than take away money. Then it is more like you are giving gifts. And most clients would rather receive a gift than a “gotcha” any day.

 

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Time Management – Concentrate

March 4, 2015 in Business Tips, Goal Setting, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips, Time Management by admin

Time Management – Concentrate

Today is our last day talking about Rory Vaden’s time management focus funnel from his book “Procrastinate on Purpose”. Today is when you finally have something that you get to do. Yesterday we talked about procrastinating on purpose. And the procrastinate step is a great way to set aside tasks that don’t need to be done right now, so that you can do tasks that do need to get done now. I’m not talking about putting off something that you know you should do. I am talking about doing something that you should do, instead of distracting yourself with something that is not as significant right now. If you ask yourself the question “can I put this off?”, and the answer you get is “no”, then what you have is a task that needs to be done now. Now it is time to concentrate. This is when you turn off the phone, close your email, shut out all distractions, and give yourself a set amount of time to really focus. Focus on that one task… that one significant task that is going to create more time for you tomorrow. Focus on creating your sales system. Or focus on setting up your social media structure. Concentrate on writing the copy for your new book, or whatever it is that is going to make a big impact… long term. If your task is a big one, you may need to schedule many sessions to concentrate. If it is smaller, then you might be able to complete the whole thing in one big chunk of time. But concentrating is about shutting out distractions so that you can get that significant task completed.

Did you know that each and every time you are interrupted, it takes 15 minutes to get yourself back to a true state of focus? Think about how many times during the day you are interrupted. For some of us that means that we never really have a chance to focus on anything. If we have our email setup to notify us every time we get an email, or our Facebook page to signal every message we get, then there is really never a time during the day that we can get real concentrated focused time. What about the buzz of our cell phones? Even on vacation, few of us are willing to be very far away from that little buzz. No wonder we all feel so overwhelmed, and yet still feel like we aren’t getting very far. We have become incredibly impatient these days. We want everything now. And we get it NOW! But we are paying a high price for that. We are paying the price of not being present where we are. The people that are right in front of us get precious little of our attention, while we defer to the email, Facebook and ringing phone.

If we can use Rory Vaden’s focus funnel to eliminate things that don’t serve us, automate things that can be systematized, delegate things that are better handled by someone else, procrastinate on things that we do not need to be doing yet, and concentrate on the things that really matter… our entire lives and businesses can transform. We can get back to spending our lives on things that make a difference, on things that are fulfilling and meaningful. And for me, a chronic driver and over-achiever, maybe even finally find peace. 🙂

Here’s to you and to your peace… today and everyday moving forward.

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Time Management – Procrastinate or Concentrate

March 3, 2015 in Business Tips, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Time Management by admin

Time Management – Procrastinate or Concentrate

If you have been following my posts on time management and Rory Vaden’s work on the focus funnel, you are going to love the next step. If you have asked yourself, “can I eliminate this?”, “can I automate this?”, and “can I delegate this?”, and you haven’t been able to get the task handled, then you have finally found a task that is all yours to handle. Whew! I bet you thought I was going to have you give everything away didn’t you? Nope… there are some things that are yours to do.

If you have used the focus funnel well, then you have either eliminated or outsourced every task that is not significant to YOU. What do I mean by that? I mean that you were put here on this earth to do something important. There is something that only you can do… some impact that you are uniquely and perfectly qualified to create in the world. THAT thing is what will be significant for your life and your business. And… the tasks that lead to that impact are the ones that will provide the most fulfillment for you. Wow! It may be hard to imagine right now, if you are overwhelmed by all of the tasks on your to do list, but imagine for a moment what life would look like it you were only handling the significant tasks. If you were focusing solely on the things that will make a real difference. How would you feel? Would you feel happy, vibrant, alive and significant? I believe that’s how I would feel. And, that’s why I am using the focus funnel to restructure my thinking and my time management process. I can already feel more freedom and hope. I can already see a light at the end of the “to do” tunnel, as I shift my thinking away from the urgent and important things, and on to the significant ones.

So, once a task falls out the bottom of the funnel, and you are clear that it is a task that you must handle yourself, you now have a choice. You can get right to that task… which Rory Vaden calls concentrate… or you can do what you have probably told yourself for years and years that you should never do… Procrastinate (on purpose). Procrastinate has gotten a bad rap. But that is because it carries with it a piece of the definition that I am going to recommend you disregard. There are really two types of procrastination. The one that we most often think about is: putting off something for another time, that you know you should be doing now. That is the type of procrastination that we want to eliminate. If we KNOW that we should be doing something now, then we need to use concentrate to get it done. But… there is a second type of procrastination. Rory Vaden calls it procrastinate on purpose. This is when you put off a task until the last moment that it can be done. And, I don’t mean, AFTER the last moment… like when you pay your bill the day AFTER it is due. That is paying it LATE. I mean, paying your bill on the day it is due, and not before that. There are advantages to procrastinating on things that can wait. Mainly, because things change. Plans change, the market changes, people change their minds. And if you do things EARLY, then you may end up having to do that thing again later, after things have changed. I used to pay my bills early all the time. I was so paranoid that my bill would be late, and I would incur a late fee, that I made sure that as soon as I got my bill, I would go pay it. But after a while I realized that paying them early was silly. That was money that could be invested in something else in the meantime. Why would I want to give it to the electric company before it was due? I wouldn’t. And, you probably wouldn’t either.

So when a task drops through the focus funnel and you are given the option to concentrate (do it now) or procrastinate on purpose… you can ask yourself the question “can I put this off?”

Woo Hoo! What a freeing question. Just think of all the things you can remove from today’s to do list, just by putting them off. And, you know what I have found? A lot of those tasks end up taking care of themselves before I ever get to them.

Here is our Focus Funnel again:

Screen-Shot-2015-02-19-at-5.11.19-PM

What things can you add to your procrastinate on purpose list today?

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Photogenesis 2015

January 17, 2015 in Business Tips, Goal Setting, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Tips by admin

I am just now catching up from my trip to SanMarcos, Texas to attend and speak at Photogenesis 2015. 2014 was my year to start this blog, and begin connecting with photographers and photography entrepreneurs around the world. And now… 2015 is my year to start speaking. Photogenesis was a great place to get my feet wet, since they needed speakers for walkup workshops. I did my 2015 Success Roadmap class, and it was so fun! There were several other walkup workshops happening simultaneously at Photogenesis, so I didn’t have a ton of people. But that was ok with me ’cause I had more time to spend with each photographer personally. If you were able to attend Photogenesis and see my class, thanks for attending! It’s wonderful to have attentive excited photographers listening to grab a bit of inspiration. If you weren’t able to be there… never fear. While getting your 2015 plan done in January is always ideal… February is a great time to put new systems in place as well. And I am going to videotape my presentation from Photogenesis (obviously I won’t actually BE at Photogenesis, but it will be that presentation) and put it up here on my blog. Anyone who wasn’t able to attend will have the opportunity to get a plan into action for 2015, and if you were lucky enough to have joined me, and hundreds of other photographers, at Photogenesis 2015, then you can watch the video and get a refresher.

This video will be packed with the big picture for your business for the year. This is the best place to start from… what you want your business to be, do and stand for. And it will get down to the details of your strategies and tactics for creating your vision in the real world. It’s going to be exciting, so stay tuned.

Happy New Year everybody!

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Photography Business Tips Blog – Feedback Wanted!

August 1, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

Thank you everyone for being patient with me. I had intended to take one week off from video blogging in order to provide some time for reflection and planning to determine the direction of the blog from here on out. That one week turned into almost two, as a health issue I have recently been dealing with took over most of my time and energy the last two weeks. So… I apologize for being gone so long.

My blog’s new direction is still coming together, as much of my energy is still being directed toward resolving the migraines that have crept into my life the last three months. The problem isn’t that I can’t figure out what to do or how to do it… but that I have so many ideas, I am running into difficulty deciding which ones to do, and what to do first. (The fact that my head is constantly pounding isn’t making the decision-making process any easier). I even tried to create an update video yesterday, but the lights were so bright that I couldn’t concentrate well enough to put two sentences together.

Don’t worry… the blog is not going away. I will be back recording more videos as soon as I am able. And, in the meantime, I will write until I can stand the bright lights without  getting that piercing icepick feeling where I feel like I’m going to pass out.

A couple of decisions have been made. The first is that I will be doing less video blogging. It has come to my attention that daily posts are not the best way to provide value for you. So I will be doing only one or two videos per week instead of 5. This change should make it easier for you to tune in to each one of them, and not have you feeling guilty if you simply don’t have the time to watch 5 videos every week. We are all overloaded with information these days, and I don’t want to be part of the problem… I want to be part of the solution.

Secondly… I am going to continue to do some photography and business tips, but I am going to change things up a bit. Every other week there will be a tip. And on the following week I am considering creating a sort of reality show of my own businesses. What does that mean?… you ask. Well… I have studied many many people in both business and photography for more than 25 years now, in hopes of gleaning the information that could help me to excel in my own life and business. I have learned a ton of information from the books, classes, online courses and interactions I have had with these successful men and women. And… I realized that I don’t really read blogs very much myself… especially photography blogs. They pretty much bore me. Why? Because most of the ones I have seen either post “Rah Rah… look at how great I am” or offer information that is so technical that it would put an engineer to sleep.

So, I spent some time thinking about what I would want to read or watch on a blog about photography and business. I asked some coaching clients, and I talked to some friends. What I decided was that I would want to know what it’s really like for successful photographers to run their businesses. I know what they tell me it is like in their classes, but I would want to know how they really work with real clients and how they really do their marketing on a daily basis. I would want to know what they are thinking about the industry and where it’s heading. Now… maybe the reason I don’t see blogs like this is that it’s not good for business to be so completely transparent. Maybe it’s totally freaking SCARY to bare it all in such a public way. Actually, just thinking about doing this is kind of freaking me out. Maybe it’s just too much to expect that blogs tell us the truth… not just about the successes, but also about the failures. But, that is what I would want to see, and that’s what I am looking to create. I am going to tell you what we struggle with, and I am going to tell you what we are doing right now in our business to overcome challenges. I am going to give you real numbers… real sessions… real sales averages… real actions for today. NOT the photography business tips that served us 15 years ago, the stuff that we are doing TODAY. And I am going to share with you the results of our efforts. I am going to seek out successful photographers to interview to get the “up to date skinny” on what is really working RIGHT NOW!

What I haven’t yet decided is how the format is going to work. Will it be a membership site, like an exclusive tv channel for my coaching clients and followers? Will I charge for it? Maybe I could do the Creative Live type model, where it’s free for a limited period of time and then goes into an archived system for members. I don’t know yet. I haven’t worked out the details. And, I don’t know how much time and effort is going to needed to be put into it to set this whole thing up. So, before I do set this whole crazy thing up… I have a favor to ask. Please tell me what you think of my idea. Would you rather that I just continue to give you isolated tips on photography and business, or would you like more detailed information? What do you think of following me around via video camera in my own business? Is that just ridiculous, or do you LOVE  IT? If you have been in the photography business for any length of time you already know that it takes about 10 times longer to implement something than originally planned, so I don’t want to create a whole new format if it isn’t going to serve you. I want the process to be fulfilling for me, and I want it to be valuable for you. So… Please, Please, Please give me your opinions. Even if you’ve never left a comment before… please do so. Even if you think it’s a terrible idea… heck… especially if you think it’s a terrible idea. Because if I’m going to risk falling flat on my face in front of everyone, then I want it to at least be worth it. 🙂

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Free Photography Business Coaching Sessions still available

July 18, 2014 in Business Tips, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

I still have a couple of free photography business coaching sessions left, but they are almost gone, so click on the mini coaching session button the right to register and claim yours today!

We will be taking next week off to implement on some things for the new blog direction. We are very excited about where we are going, and we hope it is going to be hugely transformative for your photography businesses as well.

If you came to see a photography or business tip, we have lots of previous blogs still posted that you can review by just scrolling down. 🙂

If you registered to receive a coaching session, but didn’t receive the phone number to book your appointment, feel free to contact me at our studio @ 512-997-7429.

See you in about a week!

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Cha, cha, cha, Changes

July 15, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

Changes are coming to my photography and business tips blog. Exactly what that looks like is still being created, so I can’t tell you what is going to happen, but I can tell you why things will be changing.

Providing value is only possible when the provider understands what the providee wants and needs. With so many different photography business models and specialties, it has been a challenge to provide photography and business tips on a daily basis that will be relevant to everyone. For example… I can give you the tip to set up profitable pricing, but without knowing your level of experience, your comfort level with sales, your market, your financial goals, your Cost of goods, I cannot, in good conscience, offer you a detailed pricing model.

One of the most powerful things about having a coach is that they know you, your business and your goals, and that makes it really easy for the two participants… the photography business owner and the coach… to design a plan of attack that will create the biggest change in the shortest amount of time. Up until now, I have tried to provide pretty general photography and business tips without getting into much detail. My hope was that the tips would be valuable to most photographers who found my blog. But I am finding that sharing the “what to do” is less empowering than sharing the “how to do it”… which is what I provide as a coach. And… to do that I need to understand where each person is coming from.
So how do I do that on a large scale? That is the question that I am struggling to answer, and I would appreciate any feedback that you can give me while I look at how to improve my blog for the benefit of my subscribers. What type of programs appeal most to you? Do you prefer webinars, one on one phone calls, mastermind groups? Would you rather pay an hourly rate to get expert one on one assistance or would you like a small monthly fee to have access to a membership site that includes lots of programs to help with specific topics? What are your biggest struggles right now in your business? And what would it be worth to you on a monthly basis to solve those challenges? I want to know more about you guys and your businesses, so that I can find the best ways to help you succeed.

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Photography Lighting Tip – Look for light in the environment

July 11, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

Todays’ photography tip is to look for the light that is naturally occurring in your environment, and find creative ways to use that light. Leave all your flashes, strobes and reflectors at home, and go find creative ways to use the naturally reflective and subtractive surfaces in your environment to create the lighting you desire. The more you can practice being resourceful as a professional photographer, the better you will perform when you are under pressure in difficult photographic situations. So practice finding the light. It’s good to know that you can always add light if you need it, but you can leave those flashes in the car from time to time, and push yourself to create what you want with what is already there.

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Photography Tip – Switch to In Person Sales

July 9, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

If you are experiencing issues with low sales or other problems related to online sales, the solution to your problem is In Person Sales. Get your photographs off of the web! You will never be able to do your client or your work justice by selling them in an online portrait gallery. You are the expert as the professional photographer, and most, if not all, of your clients are not knowledgeable enough or skilled enough to plan out an appropriate display of their photographs. Most of them cannot visualize how amazing a 30×40 or beautiful series of three 20×20 framed museum matted portraits would look on their wall. Most of them would have no idea how to pick an appropriate size or frame for their images. And, even if they do, there is hardly anyone who has the courage to order a large framed wall portrait without the support of a professional telling them that it’s going to look great. Online photo galleries take all of the emotion out of the purchase, and emotion is what sells portraits. It’s the emotional connection that they get from seeing the images for the first time, and being excited by how fabulous they are going to look on their walls. When you put those same images online… they lose something. Now your client can look at them everyday. It’s like my momma used to say “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” They have no motivation to purchase, and to create any motivation, you have to give them a deadline, which makes you the psychological bad guy… not to mention all that time it takes for you to repeatedly follow up with them. Do yourself and your clients a huge favor and spend the time to take them through the process. Help them make their selections. You know the best way to display the images you have worked so hard to create for your clients, so don’t leave them out on a limb to purchase them by themselves online. And… that doesn’t even cover the other major issue online… copyright infringement. All I have to say about that is… if the photographs aren’t online… they can’t steal them.
As a caveat to my entire rant… let me add that even with a topic like this that I feel passionately about… there are always exceptions to the rule. When we photograph graduations, if we are unable to convince our clients in the value of delivering those photographs onsite, then we will upload them to a web site gallery. Disseminating 400 5×7’s to 1200 family members in the 30 minutes between the end of graduation and the time the venue closes is not my idea of a fun evening. So, even though we always make considerably more and run into far less customer service concerns, when we deliver onsite, in these type of events, we do upload to an online gallery. But NEVER for a single family. That family is going to get my full attention, and they are going to know that in that moment, they are the most important client in the world to me. I am going to be present, and I am going to do everything that I can to use my expertise to their benefit. I want those portraits to be a source of pride and joy for their family for many years, and I know that isn’t going to happen if they order two 5×7’s and 8 wallets from my web site.

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