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The Profitable Studio Newsletter
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I'm the BEST wedding photographer.....EVER!!
Here's what I noticed about that list. All of them are famous within the industry. They are known names and well respected with their peers. I know most of those names, have the utmost respect for them and their work. I hope they used this publicity for maximum impact, since that could make a great story.
Or would it? Would a potential client look at a photographers' credentials and, upon seeing that he or she was elected one of the 'Top Ten' photographers, stop and think: "yea, that's important to me."
Would it? I don't know, but I think it's a valid question. I'm going to take a stab at what a prospective bride would find very important in hiring a wedding photographer. Here's my quick and dirty "I'm not really jealous" list of what a bride, and groom, would find very important in their wedding photographer: (In order of importance)
*They capture great, dynamic weddings images that have a natural, easy-going, fun, creative, STORY TELLING aspect to them. The many, many samples they show me show this.
*They are fun, outgoing, confident, enthusiastic, likeable and don't smell bad, give me the creeps, swear, burp, smell like booze, cigars, garlic or pepperoni, or have huge over-inflated, unbearable egos. I get a 'good' feeling around them.
*Their prices are high, but not outrageous. Maybe the highest in my area but considering what I'm getting, it's actually a good investment. But it's not outrageous, not the 'can't justify spending as much on wedding photographs as a new car' range.
That's it. There ain't no more, is there? Maybe I'm wrong, but in 25+ years of shooting and booking weddings, and growing up with four hip and worldly-wise sisters, I always thought I had an idea of what woman want. ( I can't believe I just said that. Fer' crying out loud, that sort of claim puts me on par with Jesus:)....please, no hate mail. That was a joke!!)
I'm guessing here, maybe many brides, if she saw this claim, the 'chosen in the Top Ten thing', would say: 'Oh, oh, he/she's gonna be expensive.' Maybe not. Maybe in many high end markets it's all about what you can afford. It ain't so in my area. And, I'm guessing here, but that likely applies to about 99% of photographers out there.
So, who would this list matter to then? Well, maybe to other photographers. It's in the 'mine is bigger than yours' arena. We're bad for that. Actually, in most industries, there are stars, celebs and prima-donas that no one else knows about, except in their circles (or actually would even care about). Until this kind of news gets out to the general public, which it rarely does.
It's like saying the guy who won the Top Award for a hair styling show is actually the best. Or, the dog that took top ribbons at a show is acually the best dog. Is there such a thing? No. There isn't. It's all the same internal, incestuous, pedestalyzing (is that a word?) bull cr*p (that's a word) that goes on. Why?
I went to my website, looked at my wedding images. I do that once in a while. Makes me feel good when I feel lower than a worm for not making the top ten list. Here's a few samples from one of my layout sample pages:
I look at my images, I look at theirs. I look at many other photogs that I know, and you know what? There ain't a huge difference between my wedding images, the guys I personally know, and the Top Ten Dudes. Go see for yourself. Here's an older page that I put up.
Okay, you might see 'some' diference. Maybe. But would a bride?
So why do I feel bad? Here's why. It's called a shortcoming, and it's a false urge. It's okay if we feel inspired because of our jealousy, anger, hatred, or whatever negative emotions might pop up, as long as we use that energy and convert it to something positive and innovative in our lives. Know what I mean?
But to compare to others, or some 'list', and let it hold us back, is potentially destructive. What really matters is the relationship you have with the brides in your area, including all the future brides. That relationship not only includes the financial transaction, but to her, the fact that you have made her soooo happy with her wedding memories.
There is no real top ten list. It only exists in the magazines and industry vehicles that help propel some to recognition within the industry, making them celebs within the industry, and making me of us jealous, eager to be like them and anxious to copy the work (this I call cannabilism- or in-breeding; leads to stupidity)). There are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of photographers who shoot weddings and matter most to their clients. In other words, the list has very little co-relation to reality. Again, it's what happens in so many industries, photography not excluded.
But I'm still jealous.
Gary was a genius. And he appreciated simple fundamentals and sound ideas, such as one of his quotes: "a client is a precious thing." He quickly grasped the power of the internet too, and using age-old strategies grew an online business. Check out some of his videos.
One of the best copy writers today wrote this about Gary.
I had a blast in Winnipeg at the PPOC national convention a few weeks ago. Sat through many seminars and took copious quantities of notes.
I do have a major rant however, and this applies to most all seminars and workshops I've been attending the last few years. There's this trend towards turning all the lights off in the room as we sit in complete darkness, trying to follow a faint outline of the speaker, as they are slightly light by the reflection from the screen, and we stare, often for twenties minutes at a time, at the same screen and powerpoint bullets.
It's crazy! Besides, I can't see what I'm writing, so I'm often the one to go complain to the 'light guy'. Does this make any sense? Do we need all that darkness? Am I the only lonely voice in the night here? C'mon folks, we're there to learn! What's with the movie theatre approach. Next thing well be getting 3D glasses and popcorn.
When you attend a seminar, go with the right attitude. You are there to learn, grow and absorb as many ideas as is possible. I know a lot of fun is to be had, and it's totally great to hang with other like-minded people, but the life blood are the speakers. That's why we're there. To be mentored. To get behind the eyes of others who have taken paths that may inspired, lead and coach us on our paths. NOT to be entertained.
Jeff & Julie Woods were great. Julie is a master sales person, and may very well be the engine behind their success. Lori Nordstrom was amazing too. It's so cool t see o many woman photographers exemplify success in their photography and their marketing. Joyce Wilson gave a great presentation as well. I saw her back in 1993, and she's still a vibrant, dynamic and creative force.
My favorite speaker was Sandra Puc though. Honestly, I walked in with the "I ain't buying anything" attitude bouncing around in my head. I had already spent a small fortune. She got major brownie points when not once, not twice, but THREE times she suggested we TURN THE LIGHTS UP!!!! (when I speak at seminars, I'm way bolder however. I track down the 'light guy', and strap him to a chair with duct tape, and make an example for all to see what happens when they touch the lights!!! I need to see and connect with my audience....)
Wow. Was she reading my mind? AND, she said to turn them up so we can TAKE NOTES, (I love her already) because what she was about to tell us was very important and was going to make us very successful. She delivered. So, I bought EVERYTHING she had. How could I resist?
And I've been studying and borrowing and getting inspired since I acquired her stuff. She's a dynamo, and it's so cool to see her, and others, use direct mail. She creates so many specials and mails to her database of previous clients (which is the single MOST VALUABLE ASSET in your photography business). That's how I built my business up. That, and affiliations. Sandy also does amazing dislays at doctors offices and hospitals, in the baby ward section. Her target market happens to congegrate there.
That's a grab shot I had taken of her and I above. We're wearing 'nerd' glasses. I had four pair with me. Don't ask. I handed her a pair and asked for a quick pic.
James Hodgins received his Craftman of Photographic Arts and took top honors n the Best Industrial Image Category. yea James!!! (there's those nerd glasses again) Next year he qualifies t o receive his Masters of Photographic Arts. Talk about fast tracking to success. James also did something almost unheard of. He submitted to SIX categories in six accreditations, AND, got ALL SIX accepted. geeezzzz, first time I submitted I entered one category (ten images each category by the way), and got 9 out of 10 images rejected. ouch!!
Here's a few samples from recent shoots:
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Referrals and word of mouth are the best was to get new business. If you have a satisfied client, they will tell dozens and dozens within their circle of influence. Assuming she's a good client, and you want more just like her, do whatever you can to make the experience and results so grand she can't help herself but tell everyone. This is what Disney does, and it works.
I recently interviewed Jodi Fitzhugh for our monthly interview at the Inner Circle Members photography forum, and in it she opened up and chatted very candidly about her success with her growing photography business. She's been photographing babies and children very successfully and within the last year has made some very strong headway into the senior market. All by word of mouth, with the latest addition of web slide shows to drive even more trafiic from within her client base.
The words she used to describe the typical phrase that her clients would use to a potential new one is something like this: "she's an awesome photographer and fun to work with." What does this tell you? It tells me I should be an awesome photographer, and fun to work with. In other words, if my photography looks like it did in the 80's, or if I am very serious and all technical during the shoot or the booking/consultation, I am very likely NOT creating that rapport and relationship building experience that is so vital to starting the 'word-of'mouth' effect.
We try hard to do this in our studio. There are dozens
and dozens, maybe hundreds of little things that all total create that
experience for clients. Here's my quick list, from the top of my head,
of what you outta do to stimulate word-of-mouth:
There is so much more, but these are some key points to consider for your photography business. Rob
"Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible,
Are you a sponge? I am. I look everywhere for ideas. My shelves are filled with books, tapes, DVD's, newsletters and manuals on success, marketing, selling, photography, carpet cleaning and restaurant marketing. UH? Carpet cleaning and restaurant marketing you say?
YES. I am always exploring new industries to see what they are doing. Listen, get close. I wanna tell you a huge secret. Understand this and you will be set for life. Lean in, get closer. Shhh. listen....here it is: 'all marketing strategies and fundamentals are transferrable and timeless'. Unless you think it not so, then that becomes a fact for you and you've just limited the possiblities. What goes on between your ears is where it all starts. Rob
"And I want you to remember this - any media sales person,
any ad agency person, any consultant, anyone in
Robin says...."I've had it! Enough with the
whining all ready. I talked to two photographers on the same day
last week, I heard nothing but "Business is soooo bad",
"I'm starving, so and so is starving", "can't pay
the rent", "I'm thinking of closing up, so and so has
closed up". OK I get it, times are tough for many photographers,
well I no longer care.
As usual, well said. Thanks 'Rogue Master Robin'. I hope the readers listen up and 'get' what you're trying to say. Rob
That's it for now folks! hope you enjoyed my monthly rant.
Hold on to your hats and take names! I will tell all! Muchos gracias!
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Thanks! Robert Provencher