But many photography businesses around the world may be coming to an abrupt end.
In the last 12 months I have seen so many photographers walk away from their dreams as their photography businesses have collapsed around them.
The causes have been many, including the breaking down of family relationships, lack of customers, getting sick of the struggle, bad sales, or they simply ran out of ideas to keep their business afloat.
So the burning question is, how do some photographers thrive while others don’t survive?
I have thought long and hard about discovering the answer to this question.
Answer…..an unmovable VISION and a strong BELIEF.
Those photographers who have great photography businesses believe that they are going to succeed, they believe that what they do is valuable, they believe in the value of their work, they believe in their role to supply their customers with lifetime memories, and they believe and search for people to help them on their journey.
They have a vision in their head of what their business will look like each time they decide to grow it.
One such photographer is Murielle Sassine.
Based in a low demographic outer suburb, Murielle’s success is mind blowing!
She shows her images on a 34 inch TV screen, doesn’t use ProSelect, and yet sells heaps of wall prints.
She also works from home in a converted single garage.
She has sold over $37,449 worth of products in a single month.Pretty good for someone that runs her photography business without any staff to help her.
Yep, she does it ALL by herself.
Check out this video where Murielle tells how she does it…
Bernie Griffiths is certain the service he offers to wedding, portrait and family photographers is unique, with no one else in the world doing it quite like he does.
Bernie (pictured right) operates a photography coaching business with an emphasis on marketing strategies and creating successful business models. But what separates him from the touring seminars and other business coaches is that he corresponds one-on-one on a weekly basis with all his clients, and tailors the coaching program around photographers and their businesses.
‘The way I do the coaching is one-on-one. I don’t do group coaching or send a bunch of generic videos to clients. It’s a weekly, one-on-one ‘face-to-face’ Skype session,’ he told ProCounter. ‘What I offer is quite unique within the industry.
Photographers running marketing seminars only teach others based on their own business and what has worked for them.
‘But every photographer comes from a different place, has different clientele, style, skill, and expectations. So I extract information and implement a pricing, selling, and photography structure for that particular business.’
Bernie opened his first and only wedding and portrait studio in Melbourne back in 1969 when he was 23, only to sell it three years ago when he decided a career change was in order. He doesn’t claim to have been overly skilled with a camera, but was in tune with how to market and promote his business.
That’s what he sees as an art.
Because Kodak and other industry-related businesses sponsored his seminars during his photography career, becoming a full-time photography business coach seemed like a natural next step. And given his business was successful for a long timer, he figured a few tricks he learned along the way could be shared to help others make more money.
The vast majority of the 65 clients he has coached in the last three years are from Australia and New Zealand. Some are masters of photography looking to freshen up their business whereas others are completely new to the industry.
In total he estimates well over $1 million in profit has been generated for clients with his assistance.
The coaching is done in either a six or 12-month program which involve a weekly hour-long session. Specific tasks for the photographer are set, and those taking the top end 12-month program have a personal visit from Bernie – be it in a studio, or a desk and chair crammed in the corner of a home office.
Given Bernie believes no two businesses are the same, it can be difficult for him to be specific about challenges wedding and portrait photographers face. However he’s noticed a few areas where photographers can improve.
‘New photographers generally fall short because of their ‘non-actions,’ he said.
‘They have to learn a lot of new skills – as I did when I became a full-time coach.
First and foremost they have to know how to use their camera and post-processing software, but there is also an art in learning how to market, and sometimes I find they don’t follow through with actions.’
What he means is that photographers aren’t reading the ‘business manual’. Instead, and like many of us, they just hastily rip open the box, throw the instruction manual aside and try to figure it out on their own. Only later, after a few mistakes, will they come back to it and take the time to learn how to run a business.
Bernie makes photographers accountable for their business, he said. Here he is with Fi Mims at her studio in St. Kilda, Melbourne.
Spending less is more When it comes to marketing, Bernie recommends spending as little money as possible. The best way to do this is by posting consistently on social media to draw attention to the brand. It’s cost-effective but obviously has limited reach and, frankly, everyone does it.
But marketing can also be a little more creative.
‘Starting a third party alliance with a business or organization can be really handy and cheap, and I’ve noticed a lot of the successful, big studios do this. Let’s use car dealerships as an example,’ he said.
‘Make an agreement where each time the local dealership sells a car, have them send the customer a letter saying “As a thank-you we’ve organized a family portrait session with the area’s leading portrait photographer, with a print included at the value of $600”.’
But strategically targeting the right market is important. A photographer at the high-end of the market will yield better results by partnering with a Mercedes or Lexus dealership than, say, a Holden or Toyota dealership.
A high end photographer would be best suited with a Maserati, Mercedes, BMW or a Ferrari dealer – ‘targeting is everything’.
For photographers in regional areas of Australia in particular, these strategies can prove hugely successful once word-of-mouth spreads.
New and up-and-coming wedding photographers often base their pricing off what others are doing – but that’s not always a wise strategy!
Perceived value creates opportunities Pricing is another area Bernie finds photographers struggle with because, again, many base it on what other photographers recommend.
He suggests to clients that they adopt a system of collections or packages, ‘perceived value is very important and creates opportunities to upsell’.
‘One of my client’s wedding packages averages around $10,000. He does this because he only does albums – no shoot-and-burn coverages. His incoming price is around $3000, but when the clients come in for the album design he sells about $7000 more. He uses the files at a lever to encourage clients to go with the upgrade.’
Given customers cannot resist the temptation of digital files, making the more expensive packages the ones with digital files can push a client to spend more.
‘It’s common for clients to specifically want digital files rather than prints. It’s a product that they want,’ he said. ‘So knowing that, perhaps offer prints in the cheaper collections, and then offer some files in the slightly more expensive collection. And the fourth collection – the most expensive – offer all the files. We know what the consumer wants, and if that’s files, we can encourage them up the ladder so they spend more money.’
Resist the trends! Lastly he thinks too many photographers – particularly those entering the industry as part-time professionals – tend to copy or mimic other photographers, rather than testing out what works for them.
When it comes to things like shooting style and locations, too many photographers follow the leader, making it harder for potential clients to differentiate one from the other. Ultimately they start making decisions based on prices.
Far fewer professional portrait photographers operate from their own studio these days.
At the moment the trend (latest fad?) among portrait photographers he’s noticed is to shoot at a client’s home with a documentary, black-and-white style. (Possibly because fewer photographers have their own studio and this keeps overheads low.)
Throughout his career Bernie said that when a trend emerged he’d resist it – when the majority started shooting portraits in the outdoors, he put more focus on the studio.
Bernie said he is currently running at 90 percent capacity with his photography business coaching. For the next month any photographers interested in his coaching but unsure whether to commit can try a two week ‘A Taste of Success’ program for $97.
Bernie first appeared on ProCounter’s radar earlier this year when he was interviewed about National Family Portrait Month, a charity-based event he organised with the aim of raising the profile of professional family portraiture in Australia. (And… possibly his own business!)
Are Your Prices Too Cheap?Living in New York I had the opportunity to go to a rare Bradford Rowley seminar evening.Held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square it was an easy 15 minute walk from my apartment off 6th Avenue.Bradford is known as “The Millionaire Photographer” and his 3 studios in the U.S. I believe, turn over more than 3 million dollars a year.That is one very successful photographer!Bradford has a very simple price list and only sells to types of canvas finishes in sizes and prices ranging from 10×8 inches at $1,000 to 72 x 50 inches at $50,000.All prints are plus frames.Working out pricing for a photography business can be a difficult thing to do.There is heaps of online advice, and of course your photography friends always like to give you their opinion.
Here is an email I came across last week from Amy Fraughton from Photo Business Tools.
“I talk to photographers literally every working day of the month, and the one common thread that always comes up is their pricing…
And so in case we haven’t talked yet, the answer is YES, you are priced too low…
And not just because you have to figure in your expenses.
Not just because you want to value your time more.
One of the biggest reasons you need to raise your prices, is because your prices are telling your clients you are not that good… and in some cases, that you really stink!
I always use this comparison – if you went to buy a pair of jeans and there were 2 stores right next to each other that sold similar jeans, but one was priced at $20 and the other at $250, what would you think about the $250 pair of jeans?
They are definitely the jeans everyone wants to buy.
They are better quality.
They will last longer.
They will make you look amazing.
But do we really know if the thread is thicker, the fabric stronger? No, but we assume so because of the price.
It’s the same with everything from ketchup to diamonds… the price tells us whether it’s good or faulty.
I don’t know about you, but I want my clients to know my pictures are good. In fact, amazing!
If you are priced too low right now, I promise there are clients out there looking for a photographer in a higher price range, but when they see your prices, they don’t call you because it’s too low, and your low price is telling them you don’t have good work, don’t have good products, and your customer service is lacking.
So… be brutally honest with yourself… what are your prices telling your potential clients?
Are they telling them you are amazing?
Are they telling them you are so so?
Or are they telling them that you kinda stink?
It’s quite possible that your low prices are actually deflecting your ideal client…
It’s time to change that.
Make sure your prices are telling your clients that they are going to get amazing products with an amazing service!
And start attracting the right clients!”
What About Alternative Pricing?
There are a lot of good points in Amy’s article.
BUT, in my opinion as a photography business coach, it is not just about simply raising your prices.
In my role as a photography business coach, the photographers that I coach come from various levels of expertise, quality and experience, and so after a lot of “test and measure,” I have devised three different price structures, and we select the structure that suits the photographer the best.
Structure one is what I consider the “old way” and is based on the primary premise of selling various sizes of images. This is a simple structure that does restrict high sales, and is used by the majority of photographers in the marketplace. Expect your average sale to be around $600 with this price list.
My second structure is based on having four collections as it’s base, which gives the client a choice of prints and files, with additional extras like wall art, print boxes, and digital file collections also available. Average sales are generally $1,000 plus.
The third price structure is for a higher end photographer who looks for an average sale of $2,500 plus.The emphasis here is on wall art in all of it’s forms…canvas, acrylic, matted and framed, etc. To encourage high sales it also has a bonus gift incentive that gives the client a high perceived value gift if they purchase two or more of the higher priced items. This price list structure has led to two of my clients doing individual sales of over $9,000 in the past week.
When you revisit your pricing try and think a little more strategically and see if you can can come up with a structure it to encourage your customers to purchase more.
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all your help this year.
We had another record month for December with 32 sessions booked in for next year.
I also wanted to tell you, I used your suggestion of a baby plan with newborn clients. I charged them $25 to add a 6 month and 1 year session after doing the newborn session. One family today came in and spent $3,090 for the 6 month session, so it is definitely working.”Kate & Chris Beuchner Uber Photography
I wrote this article a few years ago and put it as a Blog on my studio website. It was intended to give my potential clients a better insight into the photography industry and to show them why photographers prices vary so much.
So How Much Do Photographs Cost?
Just because someone owns a camera doesn’t mean they know how to use it.
In the digital age, where anyone with an iPhone and a Facebook page can market himself or herself as a photographer, it is important to find a photographer that you can trust to capture your memories. After all, those precious moments disappear in a flash.
When considering a photographer, it is a good idea for you to find out about the photographer, their experience, reputation, and business policies.
Photographers’ prices tend to be based on an industry standard equivalent to their skill and experience.
Photography Techniques You May Not Know.
Good Professional photographers do a lot more than point and shoot, hoping to get a great image.
If you are looking for experts in the field of photography, they have the knowledge, expertise and equipment to produce high-quality images that produce creative, perfectly printed portraits.
General-use cameras continue to improve, and so does the equipment used by professionals.
If you want images to frame and put on your wall, quality albums or even digital files to do it all yourself, be aware that a professional-quality printing service can provide much better prints than those you might get at the local discount store.
Archival Photographs Or Digital Files?
Professional cameras produce images of much higher resolution than standard cameras, and professional lighting techniques, and understanding of light, can make the difference between a so-so image and an image that can “pop” off your wall.
Using more flattering angles and unique perspectives and settings, clearly separate “real” photographers apart from their amateur or part time counterparts.
Professional photographers use refined editing techniques to clear up imperfections and provide controlled contrast and colour balance.
Professional printing companies have the right equipment and correction services and supply a range of archival photography materials such as metallic and art papers, Italian canvas, acrylic, and more.
If your prints from a discount store fade over a short period of time, don’t be surprised, as only a professional photographer will supply you with your photographs on lifetime archival paper.
The Hidden Risk You Take
Good full time professional photographers have strong reputations, since what they do is both personal and creative, and image-based. Their work is easy to check out on their website or Facebook page, and look for a photographer that specialises in the particular genre that you want photographed.
Do your research to find a professional who works in the style you want for a price that you are willing to pay.
Set up a consultation appointment with those whose work seems to be what you like. Use this initial meeting to find out more about the photography experience, products and pricing.
When looking at the work, take note of the style and variety of images, and how that matches your personal preferences. Pay attention to poses, angles, lighting and other techniques.
Check a photographer’s Facebook reviews, references, and written testimonials.
Being a member of a professional photography organization shows a level of commitment to grow a photography business and keep skills current.
The photographer is also bound by a set of professional rules of practice, a code of ethics, and adequate public liability insurance. The organization also certifies photographers, which involves submitting photos and reaching a certain high standard. It’s like the difference between being an accountant and a CPA.
How To Get The Best From Your Photography Session
You will find that most part time inexperienced photographers offer very little customer service, and so will put your images on an online gallery for you to make your selections.
Obviously when they do this you will be unable to ask them any relevant questions about the images like cropping, removing unwanted facial blemishes, making the images black and white etc.
Personal “one on one” purchasing sessions is the way that the better photographers will help, guide and advise you on getting the best from your images.
Let’s face it, the only time that you can decide on what you want, is when you see the photographs that your photographer has taken.
So keep an open mind on how much you intend to spend. Most people tend to spend a lot more than they had anticipated once they see their photographs.
You Want A Guarantee Don’t You?
Most photographers charge a fee of around $95-$250 for the photography session, at their studio or at an outdoor location. Newborn sessions usually take a lot longer, so expect these fees to be higher.
Individual small print and digital file prices can vary from as little as $35 each for the part time hobbyist photographer to $195 and above for an experience award winning Master Photographer.
If you are looking for a photographer to produce stunning décor photographs for your wall to add that warm personal touch to your surroundings, choose a photographer who specialises in wall art, and shows examples on their website.
Expect prices from $1,000 and upwards. It is common for some clients of the top photographers to spend upwards of $5,000 and more on photographs for their wall. Make sure that any wall products that you order come with at least a 10 year guarantee. This is normal procedure with full time photographers, but you are unlikely to get this with a part time one.
Purchasing wall art is like buying furniture for your home. Quality always comes at a higher price.
Connecting By Phone Is The Key
You should definitely shop around and find a photographer whose work you really like, rather than simply making your decision based on the cheapest price.
If you do go with a lower rate, make sure the photographer you hire has the skills and experience you are seeking and produces a reasonable quality of work.
There is a price to be paid for a good professional photographer, and as the old saying goes you almost always “get what you pay for”.
Beautiful lasting memories on your wall don’t happen by chance, they happen with an appointment.
Calling the photographer and having a 5 minute chat is the quickest way to have all of your questions answered, and to find out if they are the right “mix” to preserve your priceless memories.”
Article by Bernie Griffiths from Advanced Success for Wedding and Portrait Photographers.
I have spoken to many photographers since arriving in New York, and many of them feel that running a sustainable and profitable photography business is getting harder and harder, with so many photographers out their charging ridiculously low prices for their images.
With over 40 years as a photography business owner, I can tell you that running a business has always had it’s challenges, and dirt cheap non -profit making photographers have always been around.BUT……there are thousands of photographers around the world making big money.
So it can be done!
Have faith if you are just starting a photography business or if you are going through a down turn in your business.
You CAN turn things around!
Check out this video of one of my clients with the finished products he has waiting for client collection…..how exciting !!!!
In my experience some photographers do not enjoy the selling part of their photography business.
But of course if you do not sell images in print or digital form, your business life will be very short.
You need to get that mental attitude of realising that the only reason that you are photographing is to sell the images.
It was certainly the only reason I photographed.
I was in it for the money.
The photography (which I loved) was just a vehicle to enable me to earn a great income and have a fantastic lifestyle.
I guess that’s what you want too as a professional photographer.
Your client is coming to you because they want to buy heaps of images.
But what about the client that I have pulled in via a Facebook ad and have offered a free photography session and a free print you say.
But you have spoken to them on the phone and told them that when they come to view the photographs they may really like some of them, and you are going to ask them if they would like the opportunity of purchasing some, right ?And you tell them that some of your clients that love their photos when they see them, and often buy something for the wall, or digital files, or an album of their favourite images, spending sometimes a $1,000 or more.
You also have told them that of course, the only time that they can decide is when they see their photographs. Right?
You don’t have to feel like you’re selling something to them that they don’t want.
They are there at the purchasing session looking at the photographs taking up the opportunity you gave them, to spend as much money with you as they want.
You should not prevent them from doing this.
Ask any successful photographer and they will tell you that it is a fact that the more money your clients spend, the happier they are.
More and more I see on the internet unrealistic, attention grabbing and super cheap
photography businesses courses, weekly let’s get together chat Facebook groups,
articles on how to get rich quick in your photography business, and a myriad of other
simple ways to make heaps of money out of your photography.
All great for those who are just playing the photography game, but certainly not
applicable to those of you out there who are serious about making real money from
2019 sees 50 years of my being in the photography industry, as a Wedding/Portrait
studio owner, a seminar presenter, and photography business coach.
Over those years I made millions of dollars in my own business, and millions of dollars
for the photographers that I have mentored or coached.
So for 50 years I have never had a boss, and have had to create and overcome my
own challenges.Many things have changed over the years and I have seen many photographers come
into the photography business, and many more have hang up their camera and looked for
easier ways of earning an income.
As I consult and talk with many photographers around the world, I’m surprised at how many
of them play roulette with the money that they cannot really afford to gamble.
Too many of them don’t have any solid marketing strategies, and are just throwing
money into different forms of advertising and hoping. Fingers crossed.
This practice is far too common. Passionate photographers starting out in business are
vulnerable, and are targeted by various large companies who find it easy, with their well
rehearsed sales skills, to extract long term dollars from virgin professional photographers.
We are all too busy, and often distracted by family or a new piece of photographic software.
We get so “busy” that we forget that the most important aspect of financial success is in
being aggressive in our marketing programs.
No program? No customers, no sales.
Get your Marketing wrong and you will suffer the consequences.
I know that it is easy to work in our business playing at a computer, rather than working
on our business, and working hard on creating new customers.
I have the same goal for you as you have for yourselves.
I want your business to grow every year.
The number one priority of businesses around the world, whether it be large or small, is
in GETTING MORE CUSTOMERS.
The purpose of business is to CREATE customers.
If you want to grow your business, then you had better put this up as a big banner in your
head, and repeat it to yourself constantly every day.
Then ACT on it.
Why not set aside just one hour a day, for two days a week and see what marketing and
promotional ideas you can create. What have you got to lose? What have you got to gain?
“There is nothing that is a certain sign of insanity, than to do the same thing over and over
again and expect the results to be different”. Einstein.
Grab my revised E-Book “7 Ways To Market Your Portrait Photography.”
For all of you that have a photography business, I hope you have had a great year!
Being a photography business coach when I work with my clients, we set goals.
We set financial goals for monthly, yearly, and average sales.
We leave the year of 2018 with lots of big sales targets smashed.
Clients Mark, Helen, Murielle, and Amy have been many years in business, but have had their best year EVER in 2018! Marcus in just the second year of his photography business had a $32,000 month in November.
The average sale for the majority of my clients is $1,500 for portrait sales.
I believe that Success is possible for anyone, and these examples of my client’s successes, show that financial growth in your photography business is possible, once you learn what you have to change to make it happen.
If you are serious about making your photography business happen in 2019, then get serious.
You cannot “fluff” around and be semi-committed.
Ever tried to lose a bit of weight?
I bet you didn’t lose any until you fully committed, and started eating the right food and did all the hard exercise, without compromise.
Draw a line in the sand in 2019 and say “I am going to do whatever it takes!”
The only thing stopping you from having an amazingly successful 2019 is you!
Here are my Top12 Tips to help you plan your success journey in 2019.
1.Get help and find a coach or mentor, just as you would find a personal trainer if you wanted to get really fit.
2.Learn only from those who have had at least 10 years doing what you want to do.
3.If the going gets tough as it may, hang on in there for success could be just around the corner.
4.Embrace the changes you need to make with a positive attitude.
5.Keep the focus on your written financial goals, and don’t get side tracked.
6.Keep doing the things that work, and recreate or stop doing the things that aren’t.
7.Have a bigger vision than you think is achievable.
8.Don’t wait, start now with one small step.
9.Look at your written goals at least twice a day.
10.Understand that Marketing is everything.
11.Don’t buy any online courses unless they have a “one on one “ component.
12.Persistence always wins…never give up.
May Peace, Joy and Happiness walk with you this Christmas.
“If you’d like to make pictures AND make money, bring Bernie into your business.
Bernie and Wendy will waste no time getting to the bottom of what doesn’t work and introducing an understanding of how your business can make more money. Expect a straight talking, no frills, tailored and expert approach.
They understand that no business is the same and they have an individual approach knowingthat all of us have our own niche and style of photography business.
For us, we needed to realise that it wasn’t our images that held us back, not our team or our albums, it was our intense focus on all these things instead of the business of running a profitable business.
The post course contact ensures that we always have the support we need as new situations arise”. Best regards Sarah
“I put off calling Bernie for months and months. I was frustrated and stuck.
Within one phone call the fog lifted, he had simplified the way I was working, put plans in place and I finally had a direction which made sense and got me excited building my business again.
I just wish I had called Bernie months before. His systems just work.
Call Bernie right now.
Don’t wait and think it over like I did. It will be the best thing you will do for both you and your business.” Jenny
“Bernie has been an inspiration, he has taken my business from a small, just surviving home business into a full-time boutique studio. I have also seen my personal photography style grown and mature and am now attracting the kind of clients I want. I cannot thank Bernie enough for all of his time and effort and I am looking forward to working with him in the future.” Cheers Kim