11 Myths and misconceptions about the photography industry

The photography industry is riddled with more myths and misconceptions than the football (soccer) transfer deadline day.

Let’s have a can of reality juice and see how refreshing it is.


1. Everyone wants digital photographs

The word ‘everyone’ is a dangerous one. Everyone is different. Everyone doesn’t think the same. Everyone doesn’t think like you.

When I stopped doing a CD of all the photographs for my portrait sessions (I still do it for weddings) I thought I’d come up against a lot of resistance.

I didn’t.

Hardly any, actually.

I can count on one hand the number of enquiries I lost in the last year because I don’t have a ‘CD only’ option.

Don’t get me wrong, people often ask about CDs. But when I explain the benefits of professional printing and how CDs get left in a draw and get corrupted most people drop the issue completely.

I do include low resolution images for Facebook of any photographs they’ve had printed and I do sell digital files if they’ve already invested in a print of the same photograph, so I do have some flexibility.

Ultimately the only thing I won’t do is shoot and burn because the only way to compete with that market is on price.

And that’s a race to the bottom – a race I don’t want to win!


2. Everyone wants to see their wedding album design before your order it

I have shown a wedding client their album design before printing it. I’ve never had anyone ask me to show them either. I’ve also never had anyone complain about the design.

After showing my clients their photographs (I project them onto a screen in my home) I simply ask these questions

  • What photographs do you want for the front and back covers?
  • What wording do you want on the cover?
  • Which are your 12 favourite photographs that you want me to prioritise in the design?
  • Are there any other considerations you’d like me to accommodate?

Once I have the answers I simply say “Great, I’ll get your album created and I’ll let you know once it arrives.”

That’s it – done!

This speeds up the process and saves everyone time and stress.

We’ve all heard those stories about wedding couples who are waiting for their albums 6 months after the wedding. I feel it may sometimes be the fault of the couple taking ages to approve their albums, but of course it’s always the photographer who will get the bad name.

So, try it. You’ll save yourself a huge amount of time and backlogs.


3. You can live off referrals and posting on Facebook

I remember thinking that once I got a few weddings under my belt that my business would snowball because each wedding would yield another one or two weddings. I thought that as soon as 100 guests saw my photography and my charming personality that the rest would take care of itself.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, referrals are a wonderful source of new clients for me, but a healthy business needs to market itself effectively too.

For example, my website alone (www.danwaterscreative.com) gets me 250 enquiries a year.

Special promotions through business alliances are my next biggest source of leads.


4. No-one would pay more for photography than YOU would

I regularly have clients invest far more money in my photography than I would, or could. Conversely there are other people who don’t value photography at all. They’re happy with their camera phone snapshots, and that’s fine.

Our job as professionals is to find the people who DO care. You then out-compete your competitors on service rather than price so can take really good care of those clients.

Not sure how to compete on service?

Check out the free download on this page.


5. A £150 family portrait session means you’re making good money

That’s what I used to think for about 6 months at the beginning of my photography career.

Then reality kicked in.

Do you know how many sessions you’d need to do to make a living at that average?

Are you sure?

Do you know how much marketing you would need to do to get the quantity of clients that it would take?

The costs for a photographer are higher than you think. Check out the free download on this page that gives you an Excel spreadsheet of an entire year’s worth of income and expenditure.

I’ve learned to compete on service and charge more. It’s much more relaxing because I only need to photograph a handful of sessions per week.

It also means I’m prouder of my work because I’m able to take my time and do the best job I can.


6. Photography is an easy way to make money

Photography IS an easy way to make a little extra pocket money, but it’s challenging to make a good living from it. Most photographers – even ones who look busy – are struggling or part time.

The great thing is that most photographers don’t bother to study the business side. The ones who do are the ones who thrive. The photographers who copy everyone else or who make it up as they go are the ones who ultimately end up burning out or getting frustrated and giving up.

There are fewer and fewer photographers servicing the higher end of the market because everyone thinks no-one values photography any more.

This is great for the photographers savvy enough to aim for the top because there’s less competition there.

Especially in the family portrait sector.


7. If you price your work a bit lower than the competition you’ll get all their clients

Being cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more clients. The people who want something really nice will actually be turned off by your prices if they’re too low.

There are lots of new photographers who promote free sessions and prints / files to try and build their portfolio and STILL find it hard to get people to book them.

There are so many little steps that go into finding and booking good clients. Price is one very small part of it.

My website has no prices on it and I’m still getting enquiries every day.

My prices are higher than 90% of photographers in my area, but I still book 89% of people who meet me.

Of course people also need to know you exist in the first place. Having your website that’s well ranked in Google is extremely effective at bringing in enquiries…

…but only if your website is effective at persuading people to give you a try.

Even when you get an enquiry it’s very easy to say or do the wrong thing and lose the booking.

That’s what Get Pro Photo Club is all about – we give you all the steps and help answer any questions you have along the way. We’re like the emergency services for photographers!


8. You should take any work that comes your way

I’d hate to think how many days of my life I’ve wasted doing photography jobs that I should never have tried to book.

I specialise in families, weddings and babies, so what on earth was I doing photographing drunken teens in nightclubs at midnight for a local news website?

It wasn’t as fun as it sounds. Well, sometimes it was…

Taking on work I wasn’t experienced in also lead to me doing a poor job on a few occasions.

It also lead to me spending a lot longer on some jobs than I anticipated because I wasn’t efficient at those types of photography (trying remove glare off mobile phone and TV photographs, for example).

Stick to what you specialise in and become a master at it – not a jack of all trades.

In those quieter times you should be working on your marketing, not wasting time on poorly paid jobs that don’t even add to your portfolio.


9. You can fix anything in Photoshop

Photoshop is wonderful and my style relies on Photoshop a lot. Most things (although not all) can be fixed in Photoshop. However, it can be a huge time suck. Why spend 20 minutes re-sculpting a client’s double chin in Photoshop when you could have changed your position or their pose to prevent the double chin in the first place?

With reportage wedding photography Photoshop is wonderful at saving images that had to be captured ‘on the fly’.

However, most of the time you’re in control of a situation. If you learn to light and pose people nicely and have tricks to bring out great expressions then you’ll save yourself some late nights swearing at Photoshop.


10. The customer is always right

There’s a balancing act here. You need to be like a circus trapeze artist and walk the tight rope carefully.

On the one hand you don’t want to be a belligerent old sod who comes across as awkward and stubborn.

But you also don’t want every client metaphorically pulling your pants down!

The solution is to set up your business the way you want it to run and then learn how to explain to people how your method benefits THEM.

I touched on how I handle people wanting a CD earlier. CDs get thrown in a drawer and corrupt. At best the client orders a few small prints from the local supermarket which will look dull and start fading in a few years.

That’s not a great reflection on your business either.

Everyone loses.

That’s why I prefer to help people get excited about professionally printed and framed portraits at decent sizes that they can enjoy every day for the rest of their lives.

I politely and subtly educate the client in a nice tone of voice.

Over the years I’ve learned how to explain every part of my service in a way that benefits the client and me.

Everyone wins.


11. Great photographs sell themselves

There are plenty of amazing photographers who struggle and average ones who thrive.

Great photographs are the least your clients expect anyway.

Sadly many clients can’t tell the difference between good and great anyway.

Plus, they’re often looking for different things in a photograph than you are. For example, they don’t care about the lighting and composition if they’re obsessing over their ‘sticky out ears’ in the photo. Or, their ‘huge bum’ which isn’t huge at all.

You should always be looking to improve, but once your photographs are consistent and people are prepared to pay for them the thing that separate you from the rabble is….

Marketing, selling, pricing and differentiating your service.

And we’re here to help our members every day, every step of the way.

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