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Old 10-13-2013   #11
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Default Re: How to attract customers

In a race to the bottom the winner is the first one to the top of the hill. There is no winning in that race all you can do is refuse to participate and place a fair market value on your work. Just charging or charging enough is not enough though you have to charge a rate that fits your quality. Charging $300 per hour will never work if you are still shooting in program mode with a pop up flash or on camera Speedlight and that is all you know how to do.

Learning what you are worth is a matter if introspective research within your personal market place. Separate yourself emotionally from your work, view it objectively through the eye of the client and compare it to the work of other professionals in your market and then value it accordingly.

Then when looking for work always aim just a little above your pay grade to challenge yourself to continue learning and growing at a logical and achievable pace without throwing yourself to the Wolves. Don't be afraid to reach a little but don't bite off more than you can chew. If an amazing high end opportunity comes along that you simply feel overwhelmed and under skilled for comes along do not panic and quote it low to get it and them come here and ask us how to do it. Instead pass it to a local pro you respect under the condition that you can assist on the session so that you can learn without contributing to the race to the bottom by under valuing the job because you are not qualified for it. there is an obvious and distinct difference between stretching oneself and undervaluing a job and doing damage to your local industry as well as your own reputation when the job is more than you are ready for.

Keep your expectations realistic.
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Old 10-14-2013   #12
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One of the problems with asking for advice on the web is that we know nothing about you, you work, your location, your business experience, etc. Sometimes they do matter. Sometimes they don't. If you live in a small town with 20 photographers, I doubt you could make a go if it UNLESS your work and/or business practices are far superior to those around you. This is reality my friend.

I'll be harsh and just ask. Why do you think YOU will be able to have a successful portrait business? Any person who starts a business does it for many reasons but one is that they fill a need. Do you photograph your babies in a way that is really different or superior to those in your market? If your work looks exactly like 10 other people near you, the only thing different IS price. I have seen a lot of baby portraits over the years. Most look a lot alike. A few do something to set them apart. This usually involves great knowledge of creative lighting, posing and backgrounds. Some, like an Anne Geddes, is a prime example. Anne Geddes | Baby pictures by Anne Geddes Anyone in your town create images like that? No? Well, now you have an idea of something that is different and will hopefully sell.

Then your sales skills have to kick in. How good of a salesperson are you? In the photography business, you have to be a great salesperson or hire someone who is or you will fail miserably. If you don't like doing sales, you are in the wrong business.

I hope you make a go of it. Just realize it's not as easy as just picking up a camera and charging a few bucks for a CD full of images. Actually, that's more of a recipe for disaster.
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Old 10-16-2013   #13
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Hi again fellow camels,
Thanks so much for all the great advice. I will definitely be using some of the ideas. as for charging $300.00 for a session, that wont happen in Florida but maybe $125.00 a session I could get. As for the free shoots it was a trade off that I shoot them for free and they allow me to use their photos as a portfolio builder. They in turn received 5 to 7 photos on CD. I also didn't advertise for the portfolio building on my website or facebook business page or I probably would have been shooting for free till next year. LOL
I do have a website, business cards, business plan and a facebook business page and recently have people coming to it and asking about photo shoots since doing the free ones. So, hopefully will get some business coming in.
If any of you would like you can check out my website at www.Photographybydeb.net or www.facebook.com/PhotographybyDeb
Please let me know what you think but don't slam too hard as I am still pretty new. At least now I get 10 to 15 good images out of 20 instead of 1 or 2 good ones out of 20.
I am consistently reading, watching youtube videos and shooting on a daily basis pretty much to try to improve and get better yet. I seem to eat, breathe and sleep photography but absolutely love doing it and love capturing memorable moments for my clients.
Thanks so much for any help and constructive criticism!
Debbie aka PhotoNana
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Old 10-16-2013   #14
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Just a few I have done this past week
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg IMG_3670.jpg (112.4 KB, 136 views)
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Old 10-16-2013   #15
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What do you know about lighting?
What do you know about exposure? what measurements do you do on your skin to know when you have it right?
What do you know about color balance?

The above pictures won't set you above the average photographer. That may seem harsh, but it is the truth, and if you look around the Camel Forum you will find out what others are doing, and what they do that is better. Check out the Portraits/people forum, and dig thru the posts with lots of feedback on them.
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Old 10-16-2013   #16
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Check out the tutorial section as well as there's tons of good stuff in there on posing and lighting.
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Old 10-16-2013   #17
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Quote:
Originally Posted by photolando View Post
Do you photograph your babies in a way that is really different or superior to those in your market? If your work looks exactly like 10 other people near you, the only thing different IS price. I have seen a lot of baby portraits over the years. Most look a lot alike. A few do something to set them apart. This usually involves great knowledge of creative lighting, posing and backgrounds. Some, like an Anne Geddes, is a prime example. Anne Geddes | Baby pictures by Anne Geddes Anyone in your town create images like that? No? Well, now you have an idea of something that is different and will hopefully sell.

How good of a salesperson are you? If you don't like doing sales, you are in the wrong business.

Just realize it's not as easy as just picking up a camera and charging a few bucks for a CD full of images. Actually, that's more of a recipe for disaster.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksgal View Post
The above pictures won't set you above the average photographer. That may seem harsh, but it is the truth.
These extreme edits of quotes by others is the best advice. Business is matter-of-fact and sometimes giving business advice requires being brutally honest.

If you want to be a $25 per session disc burner there is a market for that. It isn't a profitable market and it is crowded. If you don't want to be that photographer, don't do what that photographer does. Go look at what the highly profitable photographer does and do that. Lowering prices doesn't really set anyone apart, lots of people are doing that. Elevate your quality and your prices, that will set you apart. Find that a lot of these faux pros don't take their business seriously, don't have regular hours, don't respond to customer concerns as if that customer is top priority? Be the opposite.

Attract customers? It's like fishing. You first have to know what customer you want. Just like fishing, a top water lure won't catch many deep water fish. What ever bait you use for fishing has to match the fish you want and where you cast that bait is everything. If you don't know the habitat and feeding habits of those fish you can't know. You can probably put out about any bait on a good day and catch a fish of some kind. You've got to know what customer you're fishing for, what his desires are and where to find him in order to market to him. When you know the habits of your customer and what he'll bite you'll know where to fish for him and what bait to use. You also have to be ready to reel him in, getting the bite doesn't mean landing the trophy. The work is never really over, you just move from one chore to the next. PS, don't fish for bottom feeders.
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Old 10-16-2013   #18
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I'll tell ya Deb, in this business you have to be your absolute own best and worst critic. You have to be really hard on yourself. Analyzing your own work and deciding what's really good and terrible and why.

And when you show your work to people, you have to take risks. When they're through telling you what they love about the work (sometimes just to be polite) you have to ask them what they don't like about it while keeping an open mind rather than becoming defensive. That's one of the ways we learn and keep learning, I guess. You have to do the same for yourself. Be tough.

When I looked at Anne Gedde's work, a photographer I never heard of until today, my initial reaction was that she's a head case and a victim of her own publicist and copywriter. One of the first rules in this business is "Never believe your own press releases." As I looked at what I presume is some of her best work, I wondered why a parent would want a pix of their screaming infant in a scale filled with flowers lifted off the ground. Or why a parent would like a shot of their kid who, looks like a sack of potatoes on top of a huge pumpkin about to roll over on the kid. And the shot of the kid being swallowed up by a plant. Nice. (not really in my view anyway).

When I do portraiture, I don't use gimmicks to get a viewer's attention. The subject is literally my focus. I engage them. I connect with them. I work with them on one or multiple levels while move around them using my camera like a sketch pad. Whether it's an adult or a kid or even the rare times I've photographed infants. Kids have personalities as do infants. In my view, as portrait shooters, our role is to produce a unique view of the subject, attempting to engage and record one or more of those moods that make up their personalities at that particular moment. Look for example at Annie Leibovitz's work here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmast...to-gallery/19/ and look at this shot of the "Child with the handGrenade in Central Park by Diane Arbus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ch...dianearbus.jpg

I also agree with what Steven said above. While I know fishing is both a science and a craft onto itself as is marketing, I perceive marketing a lot like portraiture. You need to connect with your potential audience. If you can't do that to sell them the shoot, then it's going to be really tough to produce the results they trust you to produce when you photograph them.

Don't lower yourself to other people's standards by trolling at the shallow end of the marketing/gene pool. As I said earlier, raise your rates when others around you are dropping prices to compete. Give value to yourself and your work. Don't sell yourself short or compromise yourself especially for the sake of competing with others who chose to dabble in this profession. If you can't do that, practice more until you feel really comfortable doing what you're trying to accomplish. I hate to tell you, but those images you posted above, while sort of cute, tell me that you were uncomfortable making them. It seems to show on the faces of your subjects. The boy appears to be forcing a smile and the girl appears quite nervous, even uncomfortable.

Practice practice and practice more. Learn lighting techniques including available lighting, fill flash, portable lighting and study websites like Strobist: Welcome to Strobist. and Dave Hobby's Strobist free video lessons pages here: Training, tutorials & online classes by expert David Hobby and his lighting 101 lessons here:
Strobist: Lighting 101 noting the pix of the kid on that page.

Be it a hobby or a profession to you, enjoy the process of getting to where you want to be in your craft and once there, keep reaching for higher levels. You don't need to charge to do that. Just enjoy it, think outside the box, develop your style and share it. Above all else, live, laugh, love, dance and photograph. Not necessarily in that order. ;>)
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Old 10-18-2013   #19
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoNana View Post
Hi again fellow camels,
Thanks so much for all the great advice. I will definitely be using some of the ideas. as for charging $300.00 for a session, that wont happen in Florida but maybe $125.00 a session I could get. As for the free shoots it was a trade off that I shoot them for free and they allow me to use their photos as a portfolio builder. They in turn received 5 to 7 photos on CD. I also didn't advertise for the portfolio building on my website or facebook business page or I probably would have been shooting for free till next year. LOL
I do have a website, business cards, business plan and a facebook business page and recently have people coming to it and asking about photo shoots since doing the free ones. So, hopefully will get some business coming in.
If any of you would like you can check out my website at www.Photographybydeb.net or www.facebook.com/PhotographybyDeb
Please let me know what you think but don't slam too hard as I am still pretty new. At least now I get 10 to 15 good images out of 20 instead of 1 or 2 good ones out of 20.
I am consistently reading, watching youtube videos and shooting on a daily basis pretty much to try to improve and get better yet. I seem to eat, breathe and sleep photography but absolutely love doing it and love capturing memorable moments for my clients.
Thanks so much for any help and constructive criticism!
Debbie aka PhotoNana

I promise you that there are indeed many photographers in Florida that are charging $300 session fees and there are many charging even higher fees.

Fees should be commensurate to your level of experience. If you can produce $300 per session work then you should charge $300 per session. However the session fee is only the beginning of the financial investment for the client. Prints, books, frames, specialty print products, social media files etc. these are all revenue sources that as a successful photography business you should be selling. Simply shooting and handing off a disc is the way of the GWC or MWC.

As Steve said if you don't want to be that photographer don't do what he does.

Of the list of things you have that make YP a business you left out some pretty important information.

Having a camera, some lights, a website, Facebook and a business card does not make you a professional photographer. The things you are lacking include a business license, tax license, liability insurance, filing and paying paying state and federal business and income tax from the revenue generated, property tax on your business property, cameras, lights, computers, desks ect. Legitimate businesses have and pay all these things every year.

So while you are off to an ok start just having a plan does not make you a business and operating a business without the legal aspects being cared for is a sure way to find your local and state governments knocking at your door with court orders, subpoenas and seizure orders. Think it can't or won't happen to you, think again there are people within your community for whom finding unlicensed businesses is their only job and there are licensed professionals in every community that won't hesitate to drop a dime on you if they feel you are impacting their legitimate business. So while you are busy learning the technical craft be sure to take the time to learn the legal and business aspects of the craft as well.
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Old 10-18-2013   #20
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Default Re: How to attract customers

In reading these comments which offer a wealth of good information I did notice something that I use on a regular basis. That would be 30 sec. radio spots. It may sound off the wall but a heck of a lot of businesses have radios playing all day long and some even into the wee hours. I will never get rich from these but they serve an important function in that it spreads your name around and can return big on occasion. The largest furniture catalog that I have ever done on a regular basis resulted from one of these. That relationship resulted in updates every six months for 12 years. I also garnered a complete real wood office/waiting room by doing a simple trade. As the saying goes don't be afraid to try some things. Not too many photographers names are heard on radio which is a big plus as well. Good luck in your endeavors.


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