8 Things wedding and portrait photographers should know, but often don’t.

We all know there’s a photographer living on every street corner these days. The competition is fierce. But 90% of that competition is at the low end of the market. Once you’re able to differentiate yourself life becomes a lot easier.

Here are 7 things most photographers struggle with or don’t think about. If you can master these 8 things you’ll start to dominate your competition.

1. Lighting

Snoots, sync speed and slaves can all get a bit overwhelming if you don’t persevere. Many of the finest wedding and portrait photographers differentiate themselves from the masses using their consummate understanding of artificial light.

Buying all the gear can be expensive and there’s a steep learning curve, but that’s the point. Anyone less than 100% committed won’t invest the time or money. The harder you make it for beginners to compete with you and the more you differentiate yourself, the more difficult it becomes for them to reach your level.

Invest the time and money and it will pay you back, so long as you have a solid understanding of…

2. Marketing

I spend more time reading about photography marketing than I do about photography. A lot more!

Once you’re able to consistently create sellable photographs then marketing skills become far more important. There are lots of decent photographers in every neighbourhood, so it’s immensely difficult to stand out through the quality of your photographs alone.

My photography isn’t too shabby, but I don’t get many enquiries if I don’t do marketing.

Of course you should always be improving your photography, but it’s your marketing skills that will help you survive. That’s what we can help you with at Get Pro Photo Club.

3. Sales

Most photographers think selling is evil, manipulative and annoying. But that’s only when people are doing it wrong. Selling is really about asking questions, listening, building trust and helping people understand their options and the pros and cons of those options.

The trouble with plonking your photographs online and hoping for a decent order is people get confused, they don’t understand their options and you’re not there to help. I tripled my portrait sales overnight when I started presenting my clients their photographs in person. Check out our books on how to sell your photography in the Get Pro Photo Club store.

4. Photoshop

Learning how to use Photoshop can be just as daunting as learning how to use photography lighting. Most photographers know how to use the basics, but you should dig deeper. Get a profound understanding of layers, blending modes, actions, channels and masks and you’ll be able to create stunning photos that your clients can’t reproduce.

You see, that’s the trouble these days; everyone has a camera and most people, at one time or another, has taken a lovely photo. Therefore if you don’t show them images that are consistently better than their best ever photographs, then you’re going to struggle to impress them. Using Photoshop is a great way of producing something they can’t. It also helps make your photography look different from the low cost photographers who are competing on price.

5. Posing (I prefer to call it guiding!)

I wonder if all these wedding photographers that prefer reportage only prefer it because they don’t have the confidence and knowledge to pose people correctly. I put my own hands up here – this is an area I’m constantly trying to improve on. The amazing Dmitri Markine does a lot of posed wedding photography. Are they dull? Personally I think they’re spectacular, creative and ground breaking.

Photographers are losing the art of posing, so anyone who can create clever scenarios will do well. Part of the art of posing is having the confidence to entertain and relax people while they’re being guided into position.

6. Merchandising

Give a great deal of thought to how you present your photos. I know you’ve already got the sale at this point, but it overcomes ‘buyer’s remorse’. Buyer’s remorse is when a client buys something and then regrets it afterwards. If you present your products in an attractive way it shows you care and in the client’s mind it reinforces that you provide a quality service. It could be the difference between getting a referral, or not. In the UK I found it impossible to find decent packaging for my larger framed portraits, so I found Tyndell photographic who do fantastic portrait bags up to 46×36 inches.

7. Framing

Frames add value in the eyes of the client. I always quote prices including the frame. I found that when I quoted prices without the frame people would be more resistant to the price, even though the framed price was obviously higher.

I use One Vision Imaging in the UK who have a fantastic ‘Frame Builder’ service on their website. It enables you to quickly and easily build the finished product on their website – even multi-aperture frames. This helps avoid any misunderstandings or disappointment with the finished product because they can see exactly what they’ll be getting.

8. Customer service

One of my clients runs an accountancy firm. I recently proof read one of their blog posts which commented on the poor service they got when looking for wedding suppliers.

Here are some of his complaints:

“Nearly every company took longer than a day to respond to my email. Some never replied.”

“I have had to chase the information I’ve requested and even argue with them about what we want as “they know best”. I’ve even struggled to find out how to PAY them!”

In many cases it takes a matter of seconds to improve your service to each client:

People like to be kept informed. We all hate the builder who doesn’t tell you he’s had to change the spec, or the taxi driver who turns up late. Manage their expectations, acknowledge their comments and keep them in the loop.

I’ve emailed three framing companies this week. One emailed me back within hours and called me after my second email. The other two took two days to email me and didn’t respond to my question properly. Guess who I’ll be using! You snooze, you lose! You ignore, you bore! You vacillate, you irritate! You get the picture…

There are many other things we all need to improve, so let me know what you’d like to get better at. If I can help I might write a post about it.