Let me give you a hint, it’s NOT pictures! GASP! (I know). It’s obvious that this generation, the most photographed generation in history, has the least appreciation for photos. That appreciation seems to decrease by the day. Have we, as a society cheapened the professional photo? Maybe so! But, we are here to tell you, in today’s blog article, that you CAN still make a living as a photographer if only you understand what you are really selling as a photographer.
Is the photography industry dying a slow painful death?
NO! With the question listed above I felt the need to answer that really fast but read on.
So no matter what phase of business you are in a professional photographer you have heard the groaning of the more seasoned photographers: “This business just isn’t what it used to be.” And they are NOT wrong. But fortunately enough for you, even in that truth there can be a win.
In the day of selfies and vlogs, professional photos still very much have their place and photographers still CAN make a living. But before we tell you the secret (it’s not the dew of the universe btw), we need to explore WHY the nature of photographs themselves are changing and HOW to market yourself to this evolution. If you have not already, go back and read last week’s article and then fast forward to the paragraph below….. (insert elevator music here)
So now… you get that the definition of photograph is changing. And WHY it is changing.
But WHY is the photography INDUSTRY changing?
The digital revolution is increasing long and strong. At the same time the cost of entry level cameras and their crappy 18-55 lenses decreases, the flood of “pics” from people of all ages increases and combined these factors drive the market. Much like the ratio of F-stop to ISO and everything in between.
Many would say it drives the market down, I just think it drives it differently.
What is apparent is that there is a great divide separating “photographers” who are successful and thriving, and those who are barely making it and that gap is widening by the day.
In my observation, in my geographic area, the average lifetime of a wedding photographer was 2 years at the onset of digital photography, 10-15 years ago (in the year 2000…. said in my best La Bamba voice…).
NOW, these “pros” are barely making it 12-18 months before they become so frustrated that they quit. This is stark contrast to the many photographers who spent their entire lifetime, 15, 20, 30 years, creating memories. When I entered the professional level, these were the people who mentored me, they cheered for me, they helped me, they chastised me if necessary but they GREW me as a professional. Now, it’s hard to find these guys.
How to market yourself to the evolution of photographic customers?
We have heard it over and over again since we began into business. USP. Unique Selling Position. If you do not know what this is… then I have a webinar to sell you. Honestly you should have known this long before you started your business, but this is what sets you apart from your competitors. Are you selling beautiful, heirloom artwork or just gigabytes on a jump drive? The difference is truly important! You CAN give your clients what they want, while teaching them to appreciate the profession and the art.
Even if the perception of photography’s value may change, you can stay consistent in your quest to make a living. Here is the key… and this is going to be earth shattering….. get ready for it.
Seriously? I know all that build up for something you hear people say all the time. But when they say it, do you LISTEN? Really HEAR this statement… BE DIFFERENT! Approach you clients differently, have different business practices, find different ways of making your photography stand out.
But what about the saying “There is nothing new under the sun.” This is true but there are plenty of ideas that most have never even thought of yet!
Here is what we don’t need to do as photographers.
We do NOT need to go to another webinar, mentoring program or convention, listen to all the inspiring successful people and then come home and try to duplicate what they do. DON’T do that. That is not being different… that is being them. And there is only ONE them.
The secret to finding what you do different is to realize all the things you REALLY do as a photographer. I know for a fact that wedding photographers wear 100 hats on a wedding day, so exploit those perk benefits that people don’t even realize they are going to get when hiring you. Market those things.
Secondly, HELP your clients. It’s an honest thing to do but it truly makes you valuable. Help people find other vendors, shop for the perfect outfit for their session, find a hair and makeup artist or location. Do all the things you normally do, but tell people you are going to do them, then do them better than anyone else!
We know there is a movement of photographer who are becoming everything from therapists to their clients to interior designers helping them design around wall portraits or canvases.
Whatever it is you decide to be… just be it the best way you can. Have a plan. Market yourself and the word will spread quickly! So it’s time to help your fellow photographers out… WHAT do you do, offer, give, how do you help your clients, in a way that makes YOU valuable, as a human, not just as a photographer?