Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/53878168@N02/4986343202
When I started my wedding and portrait photography business I roamed the internet like a lost puppy trying to get advice on marketing, selling and pricing.
One thing that bugged me is almost every photography business mentor out there is American.
Don’t get me wrong, I love America and Americans! Also, many of the strategies and tactics work the world over, but there are some critical differences between the US and the UK.
The obvious one is our currency. One American mentor says your family portrait averages should be at least $1600, but how does that translate to the UK? Is it as simple as converting the currency, or is it more complicated? Do the British spend less on family portraits than Americans?
Our cultures are hugely different.
American’s are a more openly proud nation
One of the things I love about America and Americans is they’re so demonstrative. They openly love their country, their family, their home town, and their home. They’re a passionate bunch. Conversely, many of us Brits are a little more reserved… …bordering on cynical and sarcastic!
This translates into your average British family being less inclined to have decent sized family portraits in their home. Of course some do, after all that’s a huge part of my business. But in America it’s more of an institution, a bit like having senior portraits… …another thing the British don’t do.
In researching this blog post I found it very hard to find many high end family portrait photographers in the UK, particularly up north.
Julia Boggio is one of our most celebrated portrait photographers, but she’s based in West London where the roads are paved with crushed Rolexes. And even she’s cheap compared with her American equivalent Bradford Rowley.
Personally, I’m in the photographic trenches in Peterborough. We’re a low income city without the cultural finesse of Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, York or Winchester.
In fact I believe it was the Beverly Hills wedding photographer Joe Buissink who said something along the lines of “If you want to find high end clients then move house!”
Thanks, but that’s not always practical or possible. My Peterborough home would buy me little more than a dog kennel in West London.
This is why Get Pro Photo Club is so helpful to British photographers. We’re one of the few websites that shares photography business information from a British perspective.
Property, food and petrol are all significantly cheaper in the US than the UK so their money goes further.
I know an American photographer based in a small town who gets around 80 family portrait clients a year purely from donating to large charity auctions. I follow his exact same system in my larger city of 250,000 but I tend to only get 10 family portraits a year from auctions because we have less of a culture of doing them.
That said, us Brits are extremely generous towards worthy causes and I heartily recommend you work closely with charities in your business. After all, auctions aren’t the only method of working with them. It’s just we don’t tend to have as many large and lavish events as our American cousins.
We all know that the photography industry can be a little slow in the winter months. My American mentors suggest photographing family portrait clients in their home because their home then becomes an extra character in the photograph.
That’s a good idea, but the room sizes in the UK are significantly smaller than in the US. We’re more crowded so land prices are at a premium. Therefore we tend to build upwards and each room is often too small for portrait photography.
Try photographing a family with a wide angle lens… …the people on each side of the group are made to look wider than they really are. It doesn’t go down too well!
The good news is that next week we’re doing a webinar on ‘How Photographers Can Survive and Thrive in the Winter Months’. Although the webinar is only for our members you can become a member now and get your money back any time in the next 2 months! All the information I share will be perfectly applicable to the UK and the US. You’ll also be able to watch all our previous webinar recordings including:
- How to get wedding venues, bridal stores and florists to recommend you immediately – even if they’ve never heard of you before.
- How to triple your family portrait income without raising your prices
- How to go from part-time to full time photography
- How I book 89% of wedding couples who meet me
- Live roleplays on how to handle the tricky questions and issues that clients throw up
- How to compete with cheap portrait photographers without lowering your prices
- How to price your photography for maximum profits
- The ‘NO BS’ way to get your website ranked well on Google
- And many more.
There is some good news for British photographers though…
The famous British ‘reserve’ means our clients are less likely to give us an earful, or sue us if they’re unhappy about something. Of course that same reserve can mean we have to work a little harder to coax out those natural smiles.
Americans are more business savvy
America was built on the entrepreneurial spirit. On average, they’re inherently better at marketing and selling than we are, in my experience. Clever, unique and downright funky business ideas are the norm in the US.
American restaurants come in a myriad of styles, flavours and personalities.
In the UK it’s Curry, Chinese, Pizza or Fish and Chips. Or the pub. It drives my Malaysian wife bonkers!
However, this is good news for British photographers. We have less competition. Less clever, unique and funky competition anyway. If you aim to attract higher end clients in the UK it’s easier than the US, because there are fewer photographers here who understand how to reach that market.
Again, that’s why we’re so helpful to you.
Have a peek inside our membership site and start getting in touch with your ‘Inner American’!
You’ve got nothing to lose, because if you don’t love what you discover then just ping us an email within 60 days and get your money back.
I hope to see y’all on the other side! 😉