When do you have money burning a hole in your pocket? When do you save money just so you can spend it in one short period of time?
I learned how to tap into tourism and capture some of the billions of dollars that flow through the travel industry by treating my photography as a vacation activity instead of a traditional portrait session. Tourism exists in all 50 states and all over the world. Whether you’re in a tropical locale or next to a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon, there is a market for vacation portraits.
When I first moved to Maui and decided to start a photography business, I did an online search to see what was out there, and I found pages upon pages of photographers, almost all of them focused on wedding photography. At first I felt a little discouraged, then I decided to look at it with a different attitude.
If all these other photographers are focusing on weddings, what’s left on the table? More families, honeymooners and people celebrating anniversaries travel to my destination than wedding couples, so why not create a business that catered to people on vacation?
I figured that if I cornered this market, I could make as much or more income than the wedding photographers – and have hardly any competition at all!
Having a marketing and business background, and no experience running a traditional photography studio, I didn’t have preconceived notions about how a photography business SHOULD run. So, I approached building my new business from the ground up with the end client in mind –vacationers.
I was shooting full-time within six months and six years later, I have a booming business using the following strategy:
1. Get found online while clients are still planning their vacation
Portraits are rarely a spur-of-the-moment decision, so you need to get in front of clients when they’re researching fun things to do in your area. Partner with local travel sites and your regional tourism board.
2. Create an experience
Treat photography like an activity rather than a portrait session. Yes, you’ll be taking photos of clients, but you’re also taking them to some of your area’s beautiful locations. You’re a tour guide as well as their photographer. Your clients are on vacation to have fun and take a break from their everyday life. Take advantage of that by creating a fun and relaxing experience for your clients.
3. Make booking your portraits as easy as booking an activity.
This means online booking 24/7. Just having a booking form won’t cut it. You need to have your availability, photos of the locations you work in, well-designed packages with pricing and details listed, frequently asked questions and a way to collect a deposit.
Vacation portraits are still a relatively new concept, but it’s catching on fast! So, be the first photographer in your area to market to vacation visitors. That’s truly tapping into the multi-billion dollar travel industry!
About Karma Hill
I moved to Maui in 2006 and started my photography business shortly thereafter. We have expanded to bring on more photographers and staff and I am proud to have mentored other photographers in my state and around the world in creating their own vacation photography business. Although I do shoot weddings as well, vacation portraits are still a big part of my business and I am constantly trying to find new ways to make them more fun and exciting for my clients.