Every few months I go out for a few drinks with my photography competitors.
We have a Facebook group of around 20 of the leading photographers in the area.
We share wedding leads when we’re already booked.
We share advice.
We share stories.
Here are a few of the random things that came up…
Specialising in a niche has pros and cons.
Two of the photographers who specialise in weddings were complaining that they were getting a bit fed up, tired and stale.
They both photograph a whopping 50 weddings a year.
It was getting repetitive for them and they were losing inspiration.
On the plus side they had lots of business because they were specialists.
Specialists almost always beat generalists because everything they do is focused on growing the one business.
I’m a generalist (I do weddings, families, headshots and babies) so if I photograph a family is doesn’t help my wedding business at all.
I’m effectively spreading my time between 4 businesses.
So I’m an idiot right?
But I’ve made this sacrifice on purpose.
The benefit to my approach is I don’t get burned out because every week is different.
On the podcast we’re initially making Mari a baby photography specialist so she can focus her limited time on that one area. As she grows she may add other genres to help her sanity.
One of my photographer friends (let’s call him Bert) had finally decided to put his prices up and the other one (let’s call him Ernie) was scared to.
Bert said he was still booking at the same rate but making more money.
Ernie is just as talented and just as popular but was finding it harder to charge his worth.
So yeah – even photographers doing 50 weddings a year are scared to put their prices up.
The battle is generally within our own heads.
Myself included. Very much so!
A third photographer (let’s call him Elmo) had been the catalyst in persuading Bert to put his prices up.
However he always complains he never makes enough money from his sessions.
Because he doesn’t take his own advice and put his prices up.
He also seems baffled that I can make money from family photography.
“Hasn’t that side of the industry been killed by smart phones?…. I never get any family enquiries and hardly any photographers I know do families now.” he said.
My response was…
“I know, it’s great, the fact that photographers think family photography is dying means I get to pick up the pieces and serve the people who still value it. Plus, the reason you don’t get any family enquiries is you only post photographs of models on Facebook. You sell what you show” I said.
“I guess you’re right” he said. “I do only show model photographs so that’s what I always book. And they don’t pay very well!”
The model photographer (Elmo) is incredibly skilled and experienced and knows more about photography than any of us, but he’s struggling the most.
He doesn’t think about his business. He just keeps doing the same thing and getting the same results.
He actually said “I really need to look into the business side at some point.”
Understanding business is the hardest part of running a business.
A great chef won’t always run a successful restaurant.
The best musicians don’t always make the charts.
Eventually you need to decide if you want to be…
Elmo, bumbling along doing the same thing month after month wondering why nothing changes…
…Ernie, who knows what he needs to do but just can’t summon up the courage.
…Or Bert, who was scared but had the conviction to do what he knew was right.
And as we staggered out the bar I slurred…
“Hey, do you know what? We all have our own niches; Elmo’s the lighting guy, Ernie’s the nature guy, Bert’s the ‘alternative’ guy and I’m… I’m the idiot!”
“Quirky Dan, you’re the quirky one” said Elmo.
Someone once told me I look like Elmo from Sesame Street, but that’s another story.
Are any of you friends with your competitors? Try it – it’s very therapeutic.