The photography business is a very competitive one. Once a friend told me that the clients can't tell the difference between good and bad photography. Wow! That really hurt my feelings. But it got me thinking....... Why are some mediocre photographers successful while some fabulous photographers can't make a living?
It's all about customer service. Portrait photographers - You know you should show your clients their images via a projector. For the last 20+ years, photography business coaches have been telling you to do that (Charles Lewis, Bruce Hudson). The new, young and hip business coaches are telling you to do that (Sarah Petty, Lori Nordstrom, Sandy Puc). Your local friends at the professional photographers guild are telling you to do that. The Professional Photographers of America statistics say you will make twice the money. Many of you have taken our course at Understand Photography "The Business of Making Money at Portrait Photography".
So what stops you?
This is my current set up for our client preview sessions. But you don't need a studio or a screen, a wall will do!
1. You think the client will feel pressured and not like the idea. This was my thought. I thought the clients would think it was some high pressured sales session and wouldn't like it. I am not good at all at the sales techniques that the slick sales type of people tell you to do and say. And I was afraid! I never want to do anything to make my clients uncomfortable!
I bit the bullet and started showing my clients their images via my computer screen. At the time (12+ years ago), I couldn't seem to scrape up the $1000 I needed to buy a projector. I was amazed and surprised by my clients' response. THEY LOVED IT! It was so much better for them to see the pictures up close.
When I moved, I dedicated my dining room to projection sessions (also called previews, premieres, sales sessions). The clients absolutely LOVE seeing their images on the big screen (aka my wall). I can show them the different finishes (canvas, metallic, metal, traditional, etc.). I now use Proselect software to show collections (aka collages of their images), show them their portraits on their own walls (this is an awesome feature of Proselect), show exact sizes of their images and more.
The customers love it! They can't always visualize how their pictures will look. They don't understand the difference between a canvas gallery wrap and a canvas on matboard. A preview session gives them the opportunity to see and touch their choices!
2. You are not confident in your photography skills. Here is a suggestion: have a very small session fee (say $100), but keep your print prices average (please don't price an 8x10 any less than $75 - you truly are losing money if you do). Let your client decide if your photography is worth it. If you had a good consultation, they will not be surprised by your prices and will expect to spend money. Also - offer a money back guarantee. If they are not completely satisfied, refund their session fee.
Of course, the best way to gain confidence is to improve your photography! Take lots of classes! For those reading this in SW Florida, take the hands-on classes that Understand Photography offers! Our classes are affordable and right here! Many are taught by Master photographers. You should be at every class!
Clients love when you can show them examples of how their pictures will look.
A second benefit is that all the established photographers come to us for recommendations when they are looking for new photographers to work with them. Even with the proliferation of photographers, it's really tough to find photographers who know how to light and pose.
3. You don't own a projector. When I started showing the clients on the computer screen, my average sale jumped from $600 to $1500 almost immediately. It only took two sessions to make enough money to buy a projector.
The formula has been the same for decades: Have a good consultation, Take great photographs, Project.
When you combine those three things, you will almost never see a sale less than $1000, and often 4-5 times that much! If you are taking great pictures and giving the clients a great experience, you will start to see the $2000, $3000 and even occasionally $10,000 sales. There is no greater art than beautiful images of your own family!
As I mentioned, I am not a slick, fast talking salesperson. But I do have solid technical skills (take LOTS of classes) and give good customer service. Believe it or not, your clients want you to be successful!
4. You think it's too much work. Well, yes, it is more work! Giving great customer service always is. However, if your average sale doubles, isn't it worth it? If you are just starting out, you probably don't have enough clients as it is. When you make a client feel special and show them what they can do with their images, they will love both their photographs and YOU. Word of mouth travels quickly. So not only is projecting a great way to pamper your clients, it's also a good marketing technique.
We offer a workshop called "The Business of Making Money in Portrait Photography" at Understand Photography. Instructor Peggy Farren has been a professional portrait and wedding photographer for 15 years in Southwest Florida. You'll love her fun and easy to understand teaching style! Check our calendar for the next session or email us at NaplesPortraits@gmail.com for private mentoring in person or via the internet.
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Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, instructor, writer and speaker.
With over 17 years as a full-time professional photographer, Peggy offers photography training through her training center, “Understand Photography”.
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