There is no greater necessity than change. This year has brought about a lot of change for the photography industry. What was said to be a record year for many photography studios was completely upended by a worldwide pandemic that nobody could have ever predicted. If you read my article in last month’s Shutter Magazine, you will know how important it is to take action to mitigate disruption in your business.
Stay motivated and be persistent by continuing to satisfy not only yourself but your client. “Fame and fortune” will come in its own package designed especially for you. Ease into this process of your photography business and know that every mentor or professional in the industry may not be for you. Their vision should not necessarily be your vision, but you can watch at a distance and create your own.
Maternity photography intimidates many. Feeling foreign in the approach, whether it is in the posing, sales structure, or client interactions, is enough to prevent people from taking hold of the huge advantages that offering maternity services could provide. And really, for most wedding shooters, family photographers, or even seasoned high school senior photographers, maternity is not that far of a leap. And even if you are just starting out brand new as a portrait photographer, there is no need to be overwhelmed or scared to shoot maternity. I am going to lay out 3 key elements for you to follow that will take you from a beginner maternity photographer to a master in no time.
Magazine publishers will have you know that print as a medium is changing: there are more localized and niche magazines than ever. If you are paying close attention to your market, you'll see that while the industry has changed to accommodate the growth of online journalism and other publications, it isn't gone! Don't give up on the possibility of being published, but also don't discount highly-popular blogs, online magazines, and other publications. They vary in their reach and shelf life, but there’s no reason to ignore the power of print.
Because I loved the magic and storytelling of child portraits, I decided to focus on that genre as a specialty. I began to focus on creating a story within my images, and I quickly realized that the more I focused on building that story by supplying the wardrobe, building a set, and focusing on a theme, the more interest I received for my sessions. This was a win-win for me! I was able to create what I wanted to for my creative soul, all the while having parents pay top dollar for it.
At the start of my journey, I stumbled and made mistakes as we all do… but those mistakes were all part of a steep learning curve. For the first 10 years of my career, I exclusively did private portrait commissions. That experience was invaluable in that it taught me how to deal with children of all ages. It’s difficult at the best of times to connect with a child who considers you a stranger, and to draw out the uniqueness in each child within a very limited time puts huge extra pressure on that connection.
Out of nowhere, our country was hit with the largest pandemic in over 100 years. The state of California ordered nonessential businesses to shut down, all while encouraging us to maintain our staff. As we went through late March and early April, weddings on our calendar began to eviscerate. Concerned couples started postponing their weddings or canceling altogether. We were prepared for a record year, and a record year is what we are going to get. However, this is likely going to be a record low as opposed to the record high. So with that being said, how does a business immediately shift gears? We have had to deal with ups and downs before, but never a down that was so severe that it literally prohibited the main service that we provide to our clients.
As a wedding photographer with a young family, my weekends are sacred to me. I always knew I never wanted to be “high volume,” but of course I wanted to make as much as possible per client to scale my business. Over the years I’ve learned a number of ways you can increase your client accounts while receiving raving reviews and not giving up more weekends! Hint: if your clients are spending more with you, it doesn’t mean they’re unhappy clients. The experience and value you provide just needs to match the price.
By transforming our business from a shoot and burn model to a full service IPS photography studio, we took our income from a yearly average of $70K to $195K in one year. I’m not going to lie to you—it was hard work. We revamped our logo, our website, thought about what we could do to elevate our client experience, and most importantly, added IPS. We realized we were leaving so much money on the table and we weren’t helping our clients where they needed it most. Here are 6 actions we took to get the ball rolling.
This is the point in your business when you probably begin to ask yourself, “Is it time to hire some help?” When you get to that point, it’s usually already too late. Now I want to start by letting you all know that I understand your reservations about hiring employees. No matter how much money you spend on equipment in a year, it will probably never be close to what you invest in an employee. People are inherently expensive, and the workload involved in having employees is also very stressful at times. However, no empires have ever been built by an individual, and if you want to continue to grow your business, you will need the help of other people.