Q&A: Tips for your photography business

Dec 20, 2012

Topic: Business, General Legal
Time Investment: 7 Minutes
Suggested Product:  BizRevamp®

Recently, we gathered questions that photographers often ask. Read on for some tips that can help you in your own business!


Q: After you get your branding figured out, your website all set to go, etc, how do you actually get yourself out there? How do you advertise yourself?

A: Sit down and draft a marketing plan. Look at where you want to be in 12 months. I break my plans into quarters and plan around upcoming events (Valentines, Christmas, being in a military community if there are deployments/homecoming). Examine who my target client is. If I were them, where should I shop. What places would I frequent? Those are the places you need to be. Get in their path. Such as, for me, mine frequent spas, salons, and gyms, so I build business relationships with those type of places.  We work in a symbiotic relationship to push each other. We are both small businesses; I make sure the relationship is a two way street, not just one pushing the other with no return. Also, encouraging word of mouth. I encourage my clients to talk about me through incentives and gifts.


Q: Which expo disc do you use? Neutral or portrait?

A: I use neutral


Q: Any ideas to prepare a couple’s mini session? I want to do one for Valentine’s Day.

A: Send them some tips about what to wear and not to stress. Remind them that you are the one there to work; they are to have fun. Let them know (especially the guys) that you know it’s vulnerable to be in front of camera, but you’ll do your best to make THEM look their best. As you get closer, send a reminder with a note about how excited you are. When you get there, take a minute or two to get to know them! You can also do this in email leading up to the session so you know about them some to chit chat. Also, store those away in your mind for your follow up emails and thank you notes!


Q: I’m looking for unique ways to package my bigger canvases any ideas?

A: Mine isn’t really unique, I buy up grey wrapping paper after Christmas (saving those pennies!). And just wrap it with wrapping paper. I spent forever trying to find bags, but I gave up trying to figure it out because sizes vary. Sometimes, if it’s a smaller one I will get a bag- the problem is the bags may not be sturdy enough to carry them. And then I wrap with my ribbon!


Q: How do you please those clients who are just impossible!!??? When no matter what you do, it won’t be right?!! Lol I have a few of those!

A: I’ve been so very lucky to have good clients. I would examine what you can do to appease them, but don’t give away the farm. This is a tricky question because everyone is different. Sometimes, they are difficult and don’t realize it; sometimes, they know it. Sorry, I don’t have a better answer for that!


Q: What’s the best way to utilize free advertising? Facebook is not doing it for me, and I don’t have it in the budget for any paid advertising.

A: I actually have an entire social media plan coming to the blog in January. But basically use pictures, call to actions on each post, and keep it fresh. Also look at the business info I provided above about getting in with local businesses – you’d have to pay for materials themselves though. I also leave business cards around town like it’s going out of style. I snag them when they are on sale. You can also just point blank ask friends to see if anyone needs pics. No shame!


Q: Who are your favorite developing labs?

A: ProDPI for ornaments, books, prints
Miller’s Professional Imaging for albums, soft cover albums (like for my client guide) and prints


Q: What lens do you use the most?

A: 85 1.4 I love that baby!!!  See why here!


Q: Where did you get your Rachel Brenke flash drives?

A: PhotoFlashDrive.

Q: Any companies you recommend in Texas (I live in Houston) for liability insurance for photogs and for tax help?

A: I actually have a CPA who works virtually that can help (CPAs can work from out of state). I send her everything virtually. If you want her info, I can provide it. As far as liability insurance, there’s a great amount out there. I use the one through PPA. For other recommendations for attorneys, CPAs, and different business tools, check out the TheLawTog’s recommendation list.


Q: What kind of lighting do you use?

A: It’s all in here on TheLawTog’s recommendation list…just scroll down to Equipment & Processing and click on the What’s in my Bag tab!

Q:How to keep the clients you have (that maybe can’t afford to pay more) after business revamp. Higher prices and a min print & product order before digital images are sold at a nice chunk.

A: First, make sure your customer service was in line, so they will remember that over prices. Keep in mind, and it is hard, that if you do increase and they leave, then they aren’t the client for you. It may end up being nit-picking on their part if they do stay because they are paying more. You can incentivize with “returning client” incentives. I always suggest not jumping too high in pricing. Do it in a stair step fashion so you retain and people hardly notice.


Q: What is your most effective advertising method. I know this maybe different for different areas, but I’m interested to know what worked best for you?

A: Word of mouth. Giving a great experience and encouraging them to talk about me. Giving clients the tools to market FOR me. Blog posts, fb previews (allowing tagging and sharing), websized files. I follow up with emails, cards and see how they are doing as people. Not clients.


Q: How can two photographers collaborate their businesses together successfully? One strictly newborn, the other kids.

A: Look at the best business structure for both parties (partnership, LLC together or are you merely referring back and forth to each other), outline responsibilities, investment and debts between both parties. Who will be responsible for what. Set up manuals outlining all this and contract.


Q: Should you take the logo off your pictures when you give it to your customers???

A: I think if they are paying for high resolution images, they should not have logo. IF they are paying for websharing low resolution, then yes. I am including websharing watermarked files for my clients to upload for free marketing.


Q: How do I take time off? I’ve been averaging 20-25 sessions a week for the last 2 years and usually work 7 days a week. Every time I try to take a couple days off, I have mad customers…I just can’t get away from it and don’t know how to retrain customers.

A: Just do it. Set office hours. Tell them you only have office hours and work only certain days. Put up an auto responder. IF they get mad, then you probably don’t want to work with them anyways. But remember, when you publish office hours you need to work and respond quickly in there so they don’t feel put off.


Q: Im looking for new and fun products to offer for portraits. Any recommedations?
A: Hmmm..I just did ornaments from ProDPI for Christmas gifts and the response is phenomenal. I’ve also started offering flash drives that allow incentives for clients to come back and get a discount in the future if they bring the drive. I found these awesome small canvases that stand up like picture frames from Artsy Couture that I am IN LOVE with.
Q: Do you use a bamboo tablet and if so do you recommend or not for someone wanting to get into more digital manipulation?

A: I like the Wacom Bamboo tablet! Here's the link for those that don’t know what it is! http://amzn.to/R7bjUE


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