Building Blocks: Great Seasonality Doesn’t Happen by Itself

Building Blocks: Great Seasonality Doesn’t Happen by Itself

Building Blocks: Great Seasonality Doesn’t Happen by Itself with Skip Cohen

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the February issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

It’s February, one of the three times of year you don’t have to do much to attract customers. Love is in the air thanks to Hallmark, American Greetings, Godiva and the rose industry. The demand for photography under the love umbrella is stable and the need for engagement, wedding and boudoir images is high.

If you’re reading this and didn’t do much to promote your business in February, it’s too late, but there’s another round of great seasonality coming in the spring. Most of you will now turn your thoughts and energy toward Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduations starting in May.

But here’s the point I want to hit hardest this month: What about the times between holidays? The times when you’ve got to stand on your own without help from society? Most of you simply kick back and wait for the Seasonality Fairy to sprinkle business on your doorstep.

Nothing happens during all those other days of the year unless you get creative and aggressively go after the business. You’ve got to create your own seasonality.

Here are some ideas to get you out of your complacency. You have so much control if you make an effort and go after the business that’s out there.

Your Blog

There it is again, that four-letter word that haunts you. Build a stash of content so you can be sharing something fresh at least twice a week consistently.

Not sure what to write about? Think about the value of photographs. Remember, your target audience is Mom, and her kids are growing up way too fast. Share an image with lots of emotion and write about the value of stopping time for a memory. Share a few photo tips for better images. Share some great locations in your community for backgrounds. Share articles about things to do with images—from frames to slide shows, to some of the novelty items every lab offers.

Create Your Own Events

You don’t have to wait for Hallmark to put the word out. Create your own.

Children’s photographer Vicki Taufer has been doing it for years, and I’m stealing a few ideas from her playbook.

She sent me one of her holiday cards years ago whose impact I’ve never forgotten. It was a four-panel accordion style. On one of the panels was her calendar for the year. Remember, she’s one of the most talented children’s photographers in the industry, and knew she just needed to support Mom’s need to capture memories. First she created a product she called “Limited Edition Prints,” which she described as “very special portrait sessions offered by V Gallery. We photograph each themed session at certain times during the year, which makes them very exclusive. Our extensive investment in props and accessories makes these portraits one of a kind.”

Next, she created one theme after another with incredible “Mom Appeal.” Here are a few examples:


2nd – 12th: Children’s Formals and Shabby Chic

16th – 19th: Grandparents’ Special

23rd – 26th: Funny Faces Week


13th – 16th: Best Friends

20th – 30th: Baseball Dreams


4th – 7th: Little Flyers

11th – 21st: Once Upon a Time

25th – 28th: In the Garden

Before the new year even started, she built her own seasonality by creating opportunities for images that no mom could turn down, but that was only part of Vicki’s marketing.

Use a Few Adjectives

You’re artists, not writers, but think about how you describe your work. Are you selling an album or the “first heirloom of a new family”? Are you offering a print or creating “a tangible fine-art memory to share with future generations”?

Most of us rarely paid attention in English class, but here’s where it all pays off. Don’t just describe your products with all the excitement of a chemist in the lab. Let a little romance in. Spice things up. If you’re stuck because you hate to write and you cut most of those English classes, it’s time to go back to school.

Relax. Go to a local high school and find yourself a senior who loves to write, or, for that matter, an underpaid English teacher who’d like to work part time for you.

Seasonality in Every Specialty

Children’s photography might be one of the easiest to talk about, but there are opportunities in virtually every specialty. For example, in the pets arena, Vicki Taufer, in another moment of brilliance, did the original “Dog Days of Summer.”

She knew there was a correlation between pet owners and family, so she launched a program for a free 5×7 pet portrait to kick it off. This was cause-related marketing, with a requirement to make a food donation to an animal shelter. She had a few partners in the community to help promote the event.

When the day of free 5×7’s ended, Vicki and her staff had photographed 120 pets with 40 on the waiting list. It eventually established V Gallery as the number-one pet studio in the area.

Utilize Your Data Base

Before you start worrying about where to find new customers, what are you doing with your old ones? Let’s use wedding photographers as a perfect example.

After couples start families, there are endless opportunities for portraits. It’s not just the bride and groom any longer, but a constant stream of potential memory makers as the kids grow and the family dynamics keep changing. Mom and Dad are typically missing a little romance. Life, kids, responsibilities get in the way.

Here’s your chance to be a hero in your community.

On the family side, do a direct mail piece to all your past clients. It can be as simple as a personalized letter. Remind them of your skill set and let’s get you in there to help capture those memories of the family changing and the kids growing up. Before you roll your eyes and tell me you’re not a children’s photographer, if you don’t want to build out your skill set, then build a relationship with another photographer. Find an artist who specializes in children’s and family portraiture.

On the romance side, launch a program reminding Mom that’s it’s been too long since you did their engagement portrait. I love the concept of date night, and it’s so easy to make it fit into your business.

Date night starts with you reminding Mom, “When was the last time you and your husband got out for a night without the kids?” Next, go to work with a local restaurant and get a discounted gift certificate for a romantic dinner for two. The components of the package can also include a short portrait session loaded with the same fun you put into the couple’s original engagement session. It’s all included in one package price. They’ve got to get the sitter, but you’re there to capture another memory.

There’s so much more I could write about, but here’s the bottom line. You don’t have to wait for society to give you reasons to capture images. Building a business doesn’t happen by accident; it’s the result of planning and an incredible series of efforts all built on your passion for being the best.

If you’re stuck, email me. Most of you know how much I love this stuff. Sometimes the biggest challenge is being too close to your own business.

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the February issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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