Will low photography prices win you more work?

The majority of photographers have come under pressure to reduce photography prices and rates, and most have recently lost out on jobs, because their prices were too high.

So, the million dollar question – would dropping your prices mean that you work more days?

Following on from our photography prices and day rate survey earlier this year, we’ve been able to do some more analysis that looked at the average prices photographers charge, according to the number of days that they work, with some very interesting results.

The chart below comes from our recent presentation on the subject.

What’s behind these results?

Of course there isn’t just a simple relationship between charging cheap rates and working more. There will be a number of factors behind these figures, which will affect prices, for example photographers who are just starting a photography business, or semi professionals with other jobs will be charging lower entry prices and working less days. Whereas more experienced photographers will have built up a more stable client base which will bring them more working days on average per month, and probably charging at higher day rates than novice professionals.

Simple figures, complex issue

Whilst being able to see these comparative day rates, looking at such a simple set of figures shouldn’t be allowed to mask what we all know is a very complex issue.

Having data like this allows photographers to compare their own position against these averages, but the battle to protect prices is ongoing, which is why, against the backdrop of showing these figures, we should take the opportunitiy to look at strategies and tactics that photographers can use to justify the prices that they want to charge, and more importantly, to increase the chances of winning jobs with these prices.

The link between proposition and value

To be able to charge higher prices, clients need to recognise you to be a better photographer than your competitors, and the way a client will determine this won’t just be on the creative or aesthetic aspects of the images that you product. In fact the biggest factors that clients are looking for is evidence that your photography will help them acheive their business or commercial objectives.

So you need to pay attention to your proposition, and the way that you communicate the way that you’re clients will benefit from using you.

Webinar recording

This webinar talks in more detail about the relationship between prices and frequency of work. We also discuss how this impacts your photography marketing and the way photography business owners should position their services, by being aware of the importance of proposition.

We also show you ways that photographers can improve their proposition to create a business offer that gives clients more confidence in their ability to solve their business problems through their images. Which is an important tactic designed to help photographers win more work at the prices that they want to charge.

More from Eposure – The Hub

The Hub is the member-only zone of Eposure, containing essential photography business resources, including, how you can charge the photography prices you want, photography marketing best practice, image license payment strategies and many other tactics to make you stand out from the competition and be more appealing and relevant to the photography buyers you want to target

For more information and to join, please click here

Why you’re not winning new clients

Are you talking to businesses or consumers?

Whether you like marketing or not, most commercial photographers recognise that they need to spend some of their time marketing themselves and their business, if they want to win new clients and get more commissions.

The internet makes it easy for people who haven’t had any formal training in marketing to pick up some of the basics, and the fact that social media is such an important part of our own lives, means many of us can easily turn our hand to adapting that as a marketing tool.

Despite the fact that we are constantly told that marketing – and social media in particular – are effective and vital for us all to win more clients, many photographers remain cynical; they put many hours into their marketing and social media activity, but don’t actually see any reward. Yes, they may see healthy levels of traffic on their sites, but no bookings.

So, what’s the problem?

When you run a business, you become acutely aware of the massive amounts of stuff on the internet telling you all about marketing. However much effort you put in, its hard not to feel like a donkey with a carrot on a stick, there is always something else you should be doing or trying or testing, and you never feel like you are getting anywhere, and still your phones not ringing – apart from those old contacts you can always rely on.

In truth, there may be a range of reasons why your marketing activity may not be working for you, but there is one very big piece of the marketing jigsaw which is missing from many commercial photographers’ understanding of marketing.

Are you talking to people or businesses?

There are two types of marketing, the most popular by miles, and the most understood, is marketing to consumers. The second type is marketing to businesses.

If you’re Coke (or Tesco or a coffee shop on your local high street), you need to market to consumers – which includes all of us, just everyone going about their regular daily lives. If you are a wedding photographer, you should be marketing to consumers too. Twitter, facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, and so on; all the social media channels used heavily by consumers are great ways to reach the very people who will buy your product off you.

But, if you are a commercial photographer you’re selling a business product to a business audience, so you should be marketing to businesses not consumers, and this demands a completely different approach. Yes you can use social media, but in a selective and specific way. If all your current marketing is mainly reaching consumers (or just other photographers), the fact is you’re not going to get any photography commissions from it.

We read so much about businesses flocking to social media channels chasing after their customers, because they know that’s where their customers are. But when we’re rushing to copy their tactics, we often overlook the fact that their customers are consumers, but as commercial photographers, our customers are businesses.

So you need to recognise that you are in the business to business market and you have to be very selective about targeting and reaching the right people with your marketing to make sure your precious time and effort is being spent only on trying to connect with people who are likely to commission photography.

We’ve experienced a number of social media experts first hand who recommend spending hours building your twitter follower base, and promote the idea that the more followers you have the ‘better and more credible you look.’ They suggest that the more followers you have, the more traffic you’ll get and the more work you’ll get, and then recommended you pretty much follow the world and his dog. Similarly, I’ve worked with SEO experts who recommend building as many links as possible because that’s the only way I’ll get ranked by Google.

If your customer are consumers, this is good advice, but it’s not such good advice for the commercial photography sector. Classic business to business marketing is about building smaller audiences which are very highly targeted, but these principles have been largely forgotten in the age of social media and our desire for quick wins. I’d even go so far as to say that many or these business to business principles aren’t even known by many self-proclaimed social media experts. So if you’re tempted to focus on quantity you’ll only end up speaking to the wrong people and your efforts won’t result in any paid work.

Commercial photographers need spend their marketing time on quality; finding and building contacts and dialogues with other business who use and commission commercial photography. Yes it will feel slow at times and you won’t get the rush you get when you see you’ve added 100 followers in 3 days or had 500 hits to your website, but if you can stick it out and stay focused and consistent with your approach, you’re likely to be more successful more quickly than by taking the volume route. So be brave and go against the ‘consumer’ trend and go where your clients are.

How you can reach businesses

There are lots of ways you can research and find businesses that you want to work with and approach them with messages that show that you can offer them something useful too.

You can still use twitter, but remember you’re looking for businesses. Smaller businesses and business owners will use twitter, but many of the larger companies will employ a junior or a PR team to run their twitter activity, so check out the details of the person running the account before you follow them. Use your time wisely by keeping your tweeting geared towards creating conversations with businesses,

Use linked in – that has a strong business audience but it’s more about words than pictures, you’ll need to add content into the forums or your page that drives people to your website

Research businesses in your local area and create your own database. Make sure you find names and get email addresses, there’s no point sending anything without a name on. Send them emails, mailers, phone calls, link in with them. You don’t need to stalk them, but you do need to contact them regularly if you want to get a job out of them. They won’t react after one mailer or email.

Consider networking events – there are lots of them out there with different models and styles. You need to try a few out to see if any suit you, or you get a positive feel for them.

Get in touch with your local media, magazines, newspapers and websites and see if you can create a story for them. There are some good local business websites which are very cheap to advertise on and connect with other businesses. See what there is in your area that you can tap into.

Why the commercial photography sector is set to grow

We’ve just seen some research that forecasts that Global commercial photography is expected to be worth almost $11 billion by 2015, (Source: Global Industry Analysts) and this figure is driven by the fragmented markets of advertising, digital photography and social networking. The suggestion is that the commercial photography industry will continue to grow as more and more companies turn to the industry to promote their businesses.

With the migration of business into social media, previously consumer-only environments, businesses themselves face increasingly fragmented marketing strategies and, more importantly for photographers, they face the challenge of creating new content for channels that demand high levels of new material to make them work by driving traffic and customers to their own websites and social media channels.

This surely creates a powerful reason for commercial photographers to embrace social media channels – to understand how images and other content work in these areas you first need to understand the channels – by being active within them. Businesses in the very near future will be keen to commission suppliers who are active in, and therefore understand the channels – how can someone who has no working knowledge of social media produce suitable images for it?

Clients who are commissioning images, will increasingly look for suppliers via these channels. They’ll judge a photographer, not just on the quality of their work, but also at how well they themselves utilise these channels for their own marketing purposes. The next generation of commercial photographers (and never forget the amateurs) will emerge into the scene with an instinctive knowledge of these channels, as they’ve grown up with them as the norm. The people who may possibly struggle, will be the 30 somethings, who have gained their experience from a totally different set of marketing channels, and who have to work harder to get that instinctive feel for the new ways of marketing.

Much of the cynicism about the role and value of social media for photographers – and its ability to convert into paid commissions, is because of the volume of personal, trivial, and non business related content mixed in with the corporate stuff. It’s easy to chat, but not everyone has got the knack of being able to make the right contacts through these channels, and how to get the conversation off-line. But avoid it at your peril. Because it does work, and if this prediction is to be believed, it will be an increasingly lucrative channel for those who have got their heads round it.

No doubt, these social media channel orientated marketing strategies will create new demands on photographers. We’re already hearing of clients demanding lower budget work, but the upside – and yes there is one this time, is that overall the budgets are not being reduced, and are sometimes even increasing, because the frequency of commissions is increasing, because in these channels, new content drives traffic, has a very short lifespan and wears out very quickly.

There will be real opportunities for the forward thinking, future facing photographers, who can work with a client adding value to the relationship from a position of knowledge, by advising which types of photographic approaches and budget levels are suitable for which channel, providing images and content which is sensitive to the clients marketing approach.

Image provided by eposure member Rob Tomlin

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Why social media is worth the effort for photographers

I’m sure that most people reading this will already be using social media in some form, twitter, facebook or linked in, so this article is designed to reflect on what can really be achieved with photographer’s social media strategies, so you can re-evaluate how it is working for you.

Social media is often something that people can do themselves, which means you don’t have to pay for it. But remember your time has a value and, if like many photographers you are self-employed, you have to be mindful of how effectively you spend your time, because chances are you don’t have much to spare!

What can social media do for you?

Marketing experts agree that social media is a powerful tool and, if used well, can help you achieve the following:

1. Build brand awareness (yes, you and your particular skill or specialism is a brand)

2. Connect you with new customers

3. Drive traffic to your website/portfolio site

Social media works more effectively when it’s combined with the marketing activities that photographers have been doing for years, such as sending out printed mailings, networking and getting in front of people with your portfolio. So make sure you balance your time with activity in these areas too.

Work out your strategy

Anyone with an ambition to use social media effectively as a new business or marketing tool needs to have a strategy in place first, to be clear about what they are trying to achieve. So lets look at some successful strategy ideas, which may be relevant for you:

1. Help people get to know more about you

Social media can be a great way to let people know more about you and understand your particular experience & specialisms, It can explain how you work or approach projects for example. It can tell people where you are based, where you are available to work and give insights into how you might work with them, and what you would be able to bring to a project. It gives people an insight into your personality, they feel like they know a bit more about you on a personal level which in turn strengthens their opinion about you. For clients who are also using social media, it can be a great way to keep in touch with them and keep them informed about what you are up to. For people to remember you, you need to stay top of mind, and regular postings or tweets are a great way to keep reminding people that you are there.

2. Join the conversation

Social media works best when it is a two way street. It is a great way to share ideas and information, to get feedback and opinion about ideas, images, projects etc.., and you can stay informed in real time about what’s happening in the areas of your interest, and by adding your own contributions, show you are involved and aware of what’s going on.

3. Promote yourself

You can use social media to promote yourself, and it is perfectly acceptable to mix personal and business messages. The watchword here though is balance. Social media is about sharing – contributing to and participating in two way conversations – promotional messages are really only a one way deal, so getting the balance of promotional messages to personal messages right is important, and the emphasis should always be on the personal messages. You need to use social media to get conversations going or to drive traffic to your website, and then find the right time to turn the chat into something more business specific.

4. Improve your SEO & site traffic

If you share, you will be shared. The more active you are, the more you will see your SEO and site traffic increase. The major search engines index tweets and display them on the first page of search results, and social media experts agree that social media participation is an increasingly important factor when defining search results. Don’t underestimate the power of this. When we share content about our members we can see traffic spikes within seconds – literally! And we know it’s from the social networks we are active on, because Google analytics shows us the source.

Making it work for you

1. Don’t do everything!

Pick a couple of channels and dedicate regular time to working those. Start with ones that you enjoy or find easy at first, you need to really stick with this and that will make it easier. Trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming, time consuming and unproductive. Once you have got into a routine with a couple of channels, you can always start to add a few more.

2. Decide on a strategy

What do you want to get out of each of the channels that you use? Different social media channels have different strengths, so match your strategy to the social media channel you choose. Again, to start off with, stay in your comfort zone. Twitter is quick and easy (but addictive!), and can be a great way to have conversations with other photographers for example if you are looking to network, canvas opinion or stay up to date with what’s going on in the photography scene.

3. Don’t forget to write!

It is easy for photographers to rely on their images when they are sharing content on social media. Writing isn’t always a photographer’s favourite pastime, but people are often very interested in knowing more about photographers and their work, so writing is important. Remember that your business prospects aren’t photographers, so they will respond well to any insight or explanation you can give to your images.

We hope you found this article useful. We’ll be adding to this very soon, so keep checking back on the blog.

Don’t forget, Eposure is now free to join so if you are a professional commercial photographer then why not sign up? For more information please visit the membership page on the site.

Why photography is better value than video

Photography is more effective than video.

We had a meeting with a online retailer last week and refreshingly, they described their photography as ‘our shop window’ and said that customer research repeatedly told them how important photography was to them, which meant that they, as a business, held photography in high regard.

They didn’t have any video on their site at all, which is interesting considering all the editorial hype about video being such a huge sales driver that we’ve all been listening to over the years.

The truth about how effective video that is created to sell something really is, can be seen clearly on YouTube, and it’s very easy to find examples of videos that businesses and retailers have created that have only managed a handful of viewings – surely the main way to measure the effectiveness of a video?

Whilst it’s true that we love video – after all YouTube is one of the biggest search engines on the planet, this love afair with video doesn’t guarantee that the minute a business puts video on its website everyone will want to watch. The reality instead is that these videos will get little more than a handful of views, and most of those will be from the team that helped to make them!

This is something that UK fashion retailers like Next and Asos have experienced – we’ve noticed they appear to be scaling back their use and investment in video as a tool to sell individual product lines.

Video can have a role to play in a commercial website, but to get it right, video’s role needs to be considered alongside all the other content options, of which images are one of the most important.

When customers are shopping for products or information online, its all about speed; they want to understand a business quickly and they want to be able to find the information or the products that they want to buy, quickly and effeciently.

And this is where photography comes into its own – because of photography’s inherant ability to convey and deliver instant information and messages. Photography on a website can give an instant impression about a business, it can help customers’ intuative ability to navigate themselves to the place they are trying to get to, and if products are being sold, then the images depicting them have a huge impact on whether the customer decides to buy or not.

Also, because customers don’t have the option to choose to view an image, as they do with video, this means that 100% of the people who land on a site, or on pages that feature images, will see those pictures. So there is brilliant value to be gained from images in terms of their use.

Again, we were talking to a huge UK internet retailer a few months ago, who proudly told us that 20% of their customers watched their videos online. Which of course meant 80% of their customers didn’t! As this business was an online retailer, images were used for each product on sale, and this meant that 5 x more customers were looking at their photography than their videos, yet they pay very little attention to their photography (which shows), and have very likely disproportionately invested in video over the past few years in relation to what influences the most sales.

To work out if video will actually add value to a business, it’s important to recognise first that photography takes the leading role to make the first impression on a customer and is a key factor in their decision to go the place where they can make the transaction. This is then where video can be an option to give more information about something, such as a product or a service, but even here, don’t overlook the fact that photography may well do a better job.

For example, many retailers might offer a video about key features of a product. But photography can do this brilliantly; give a customer a series of the right images and they can scroll through them very quickly, and this makes for a strong customer experience, because speed is vital to internet shoppers. An internet shopper will be much more likely to first view a selection of images that they can process in a few seconds than watch a video that is going to take them 2 minutes.

As photographers, we need to keep pushing these messages about the effectiveness of photography into the market so that businesses, retailers and all photography clients are all reminded about the importance of photography in the digital age, and how brilliantly it fits with giving impatient and information-hungry customers access to immediate information about products and services these businesses are trying to sell.

It is precisely this immediacy that means businesses who are reliant on photography need to really pay attention to their images, and invest in producing them properly by using expert commercial photographers, who can create and fine-tune those images so they give their customers exactly the right messages that encourage them to buy.

More strategies & insight from Eposure

Get more ways to get useful insight and ideas like these from the Guide to Growing a Photography Business. For more details click here

Why commercial photographers are worth the money

Photographers are artists and will interpret your ideas into reality through imagery. Professional photographers have extensive knowledge in showcasing brands and products, and consistently delivering to the very highest standards.

But before any magic happens, there is a small matter of money and how much you have to spend on photography. It’s a dirty word to some, but money makes the world go round. Like you and your client, photographers are in a business; it just so happens it’s a job they have absolute passion for, living and breathing it every waking minute (sometimes dreaming about it too) but this doesn’t mean they will just do it for the “love” of taking pictures.

As businesses they have their own overheads and their estimates will be broken down into a number of areas, such as:-

  • Their time taken
  • Post production
  • Travel expenses
  • Vehicle hire/purchase
  • Studio/hire studio overheads
  • Photographic consumables
  • Equipment hire/ purchase
  • Assistant’s fee
  • Specialist shoots resource e.g. hair & make-up, fashion stylist or food stylists
  • Insurance
  • Sustenance

…Just to name a few, so:

Time + expenses + specialist help + overheads = £Estimate

Photographers instinctively know what’s needed to deliver the job you have briefed them. They will go away getting their head around a brief, going through the whole project processes, deliberating on photographic techniques and sourcing appropriate resource. And only then, submitting an estimate to do a job which will do the brief justice. Estimates you will be happy with or not.

When photography is commissioned, it is usually one of a number of other elements that are being commissioned at the same time. Quite often, for some reason, photography budgets are a contentious area, and there is a lot of pressure to make savings in this area. Why is this the case – does the budget setter think that it is just a single individual doing the work and only factors in day rates because they aren’t aware of the real overheads? Does the budget reflect the shot count? Does the budget allow for the fact that commissioned images can have an impact on their customers’ perception of their brand and has a huge bearing on the perceived quality of the product?

Budget isn’t the only thing that affects the quality of an image. In our opinion, the planning and briefing of photography is often woefully neglected. A more collaborative relationship with your photographer – not just a request for a quote, will mean that you have the opportunity to get the planning and briefing right first, and this can lead to a high quality and cost-effective shoot.

Image kindly provided by Rob Tomlin

Don’t forget, Eposure is now free to join so if you are a professional commercial photographer then why not sign up? For more information please visit the membership page on the site.

Keep up to date with more blogs on this subject and many more, by signing up for our newsletter – see panel at the top right hand of this blog page.

What your website says about you

There’s much debate in the world of commercial photography, over what is or isn’t a good website, and much of the conversation centres on optimising image format and loading speeds, but there is considerably more at stake when getting into the actual detail of how your own website should work.

We spoke to Brendan MacNeill, an established commercial photographer based in Edinburgh about his new site launch for his business MacNeill, to understand more about why he felt he needed to relaunch his site and what impact it had had on his business, and, as we found out, there were a number of very important elements that went into his new site, all of which have made their own contribution to the final design and the site experience.

Brendan was very conscious of the high professional standards of his own clients, and wanted their experience of him and all elements of his business to have an equally professional feel. This started with the creation of a new logo as a brand for the business, MacNeill, which was then incorporated into stationery, business cards and even email footers – as well as all of his other marketing collateral, and was the starting point for the detail of the site design.

For Brendan, it was all about getting across the high service standards that he offered his clients, and the website design was the ultimate reflection of this. As Brendan himself explained, ‘We all know that commercial photography is a highly competitive marketplace, and given the economic climate, clients rightly expect their photography budgets to work hard for them. For me, value for money isn’t just the quality of the images that they receive at the end of a commission, its the attention to detail that is paid to the whole experience and the service they get from me personally, that really makes a difference for clients these days. This was my starting point for the new site, to make sure it captured the absolute professionalism that is the backbone of my business.’

Creating a brand for a photography business also makes sense in the commercial world, because brands are essentially commissioning the vast majority of commercial photography. For example advertising and PR agencies view themselves as brands, and they are working for other brands – they’re all active commissioners of photography; so a brand-led photography business dovetails well into the existing culture, and serves to further demonstrate MacNeill’s understanding of brand, and the role of photography in brand and marketing campaigns, which has a profound effect on how he approaches his projects and forges his relationships with his clients.

The finished design of the MacNeill site is actually simple in how it works, both in terms of the overall look and feel and the access to the information that is contained within the site. This was designed specifically to make a potential buyer’s experience of the site very strong, giving them high quality information very quickly. However this simplicity somewhat belies the detail that went into the planning of the site.

Social media integration was a key consideration, reflecting the importance Google is now placing on social media from an SEO perspective. An additional benefit was that integrating MacNeill’s own social media strategy into the site helped create a more streamlined approach for him – essential for any photography business that handles its own advertising and marketing.

Brendan wanted to make sure that the site could incorporate a wide portfolio, but was determined that this wouldn’t create any compromise in time efficiency. This allowed him to convey his photographic specialisms in ‘People & Place Photography’ with immediate clarity. Brendan has created a number of image journeys on the site to suit the mood and the time available to the viewer; in addition to his tiled pages, (which unusually scroll down to tap into a more intuitive user-response), he has also created a range of themed areas, such as Coffee Morning, Nude, and £3million House, to give viewers access to a story-based experience.

The site has been designed to be future facing, so getting the site to load properly on an ipad was a key challenge during the development, but was a canny move, reflecting the continuing trends and growth of tablet devices as an essential tool for business mobility.

Building such a considered website has demanded a clear vision and an unwavering attention to detail. Brendan is keen to point out the importance of forging good partnerships with site designers and builders and recognised the significant and valued contribution that his own team had made to the project; designer Oisin O’Malley, and Rick Anderson, who built the site.

But what now? Not surprisingly, with such a creative mind, Brendan has more ideas for the site, but more than that, he acknowledges that it has been a consolidation of his experience and business to date and has set the bar even higher in terms of his focus and immediate plans for MacNeill photography. He points out, ‘A new site almost has the same effect as moving into a bigger and better studio. It gives your business focus and determination a huge boost and has been a real catalyst for the planning behind the next phase of MacNeill’s growth.’

You can visit Brendan’s site here www.macneill.co.uk

Contact Brendan for more information on his work: 07774 806608

What lengths have you gone to getting the right shot? Prison?

I’m constantly asked what sets a professional photographer apart from the rest of the camera wielding public.

As part of my long winded reply, I often wax lyrical about a memorable story told to me by a photographer friend. Despite having a comical undertone, it encapsulates the efforts, attitude and consistency that photographic professionals instinctively offer – even in their sleep.

Names and details of the have been removed to protect those parties involved… The story reads as follows

“In my early years of career building and learning to succeed in the heady world of advertising photography I was fortunate enough to have a senior photographic position on a team that handled the above-the-line marketing campaign for a well-known European truck manufacturer.

The job meant both photographer and agency work in Europe for many months on end, both in the studio and on location. It was big!

I recall on one particular occasion the brief entailed a cover shot of a ‘soon to be launched’ new truck outside a spectacular façade.

We recced all over northern Europe, finally settling on a location we found around the Amsterdam area which produced favourable results – the World Trade Centre.

Relevant permissions were sought and a deal struck to return early AM the following Sunday when the car park would be empty allowing us the viewpoint required.

An equally young and eager Art Director was teamed with me; his concept was ‘moody and impressive’.

I immediately thought wide angle, low viewpoint and day for night lighting technique.

On the day of the shoot we arrived at 4.30am with plenty of time to spare before the truck arrived. We had favourable weather with the promise of nice sunrise in clear skies behind the building – gorgeous!

However what we found, in an otherwise deserted car park, was a Ford Sierra placed right where the truck needed to be to get the shot.

I freaked! These were pre-photoshop days, we were shooting 10X8 with no prospect of retouch – the car had to go…

The sign in the windscreen was written in Dutch but we reckoned it said words to the effect that it was broken down.

There was only one thing we could do. I set up while he checked out the car. I turned my back for a second to start unpacking the camera & flash and to power up the generator.

I turned round and saw the art director’s bulging veins in his neck as he attempted to push the car backwards out of the way. He had broken the car driver’s window and released the hand brake…! That’s when my adrenalin kicked in! Enthusiastically I joined the criminal fraternity and helped push the car out of the way. We had cleared the remaining broken glass off the floor just as the truck arrived.

The sun rose; I popped a bit of flash off on the front of the truck, underexposed the ambient: Very moody and impressive shot.

Afterwards we put the car back with a note on the windscreen giving the art directors contact number and apology for the broken driver’s window.

The phone rang that afternoon; the owner of the car was in fact an irate doctor who was on call. His window was immediately replaced using the agency’s credit card.

The Agency when told was furious, we got a huge bollocking and the Art Director nearly lost his job. The client however was delighted and the result spoke for itself. The agency continued to work for their client for many years completely oblivious to what happened that morning.”

Of course I’m not condoning the use of wanton vandalism. But between my friend and the Art Director they made a call to get the right shot.

Today photoshop could have moved the car from the view (or retouched the broken window!), but the guys in the story would STILL endeavour to move the car to get the right shot, because that is how much getting the shot that they wanted, meant to them.

As always we would love to hear from you if you have a similar experience of the lengths you went too to get the shot.

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Webinar Wednesday

Join us on Wednesday for a webinar special!

Throughout January we’ve run all of our webinars to give you the chance to get some great new ideas and advice for key areas of your photography business. This Wednesday, we’re holding two webinars. As always they will be hosted live by Tim & Gabrielle, each one lasts 30-40 minutes and we’ll hold a Q&A session at the end.

We’ve had over 200 photographers join in these webinars so far, and they are open to members and non-members of Eposure alike. The feedback we have has been brilliant. Photographers tell us that the advice is relevant and useful and the whole experience is a good opportunity for them to step away from the day to day and reflect on the bigger issues.

Webinar schedule – Wednesday 30th January

Is your website holding you back?

9:30am GMT, Weds 30th Jan

Register here

Photography quotes – be more than just a price

6:15pm GMT, Weds 30th Jan

Register here

For more details about what is covered during these sessions, we’ve included a brief overview for you:

How to quote photography jobs – be more than just a price

What are the tactics you can use to give you more confidence when you are quoting for commercial photography commissions? Do they help you get out of the mind-set of having to bow to the ever present pressure and preoccupation of deciding what is the lowest price that you’ll go to?

If you keep dropping your prices, then your long-term future could look bleak, so we check out the basics that you should be doing, and give you a bit more to think about by looking at steps you can take to help you stay out of the pricing mire, and get some focus and direction into your business to actually help your earnings increase over time.

Were repeating one of our most popular webinars which gives you tactics to use to , designed to help you work round this situation. and we’d like to invite you to join us for a presentation which will add an interesting dimension to the whole subject of quoting, including borrowing some of the tactics that are used by leading advertising agencies to make their quotes stand out above their competitors and – very importantly – make sure that their potential clients see that there is much more to them than just a price, which is a huge battle for many commercial photographers today.

This session includes information and advice which will be useful for all commercial photographers, whether you are an established business, a new start up, or even a bigger studio employing several photographers.

Is your website holding you back?

If you have a website to promote your commercial photography business, then it should be a source of clients and enquiries for you. If you’re not confident that your website is working for you, then our webinar could give you the insights you need to change it to make it work.

The webinar has been put together to give commercial photographers the knowledge to decide for themselves if their websites are holding them back from being a successful commercial photographer.

Our 40 minute session will give you the tools to appraise your own website and to decide if it is doing the following for you:-

  • Is it putting you and your skills in the best light for buyers?
  • Is it communicating your offer clearly enough to potential buyers?
  • Is it giving buyers the right type of information that they need to make a decision about whether to shortlist or contact you?

The ability to look at your own website with a fresh perspective will give you important information that you can use to make improvements to your own site, to improve the amount and type of commissions that you get.

Ways commercial photography studios can increase profit

Commercial photographers and studios servicing clients for marketing collateral don’t have an easy time.

Clients are under constant pressure to increase the value they get from their suppliers, which can lead to a long term decline in prices, and subsequently your revenue – without any guarantee of any future work or retainers.

This hand to mouth situation makes it very hard for studios to look at long term investment and development, which often just exacerbates the situation.

So how do you break the cycle and create real growth? Here are a few tips to help maintain and improve your profit.

Know how much each job is costing you

If you do nothing else, you have to do this. No employee likes filling in time sheets, but it is the only way you can truly evaluate profitability on a job by job level. You can create your own method for collecting this data, or you can buy online packages offering ready-made systems. Whichever way you go, it needs policing because no-one will stick to it of their own accord.

Once in place you need to analyse this information. It’s much more than a measure of profit; it’s an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your business – and your clients.

  • Understanding if the briefing process is lacking and impacting the delivery cost, e.g. re-shoot
  • Realising that clients are taking too long to approve shots
  • Seeing that clients are making more changes than quoted for

Where we have evaluated jobs that haven’t hit profit targets, we’ve gained a clear understanding of why it happened, and been able to take action to resolve the issue, and able to make successful cases to clients to pay more for the job.

This monitoring has to be constant. If you only check at the end of the job, then how can you make any changes when the project is in progress to turn things around?

Don’t sell yourself short

Putting quotes together is a minefield; you’re under pressure with competitors and often hours are underestimated and rates get reduced to land the job. There are ways that you can approach your quoting productively:-

  • Can you use the quote to get in front of the client and get a dialogue going to build a relationship and to get more understanding of the job – and the client’s knowledge of photography?
  • The more information you put into the quote the better.
  • Be clear about what is and what isn’t included.
  • Show your respect for the client by breaking the job down into as much detail as possible. Include detail about your processes and the service levels that you will give your client.

Estimates without the detail, the clients natural reaction is to wonder how their budget is being spent.

Remember, the way you present your quotes are an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition, and give clients confidence they are going to be well looked after.

Tighten up production process

Lack of processes, or processes that are self-managed reduce profitability. Ask yourself these questions:

  • If you have processes in place, how are they policed?
  • How is their effectiveness measured?
  • How often are they reviewed?
  • Are your employees trained and appraised on their own use and adherence to the processes?

The idea of policing production processes may seem draconian to those businesses preferring a more fluid approach. In our experience, employees often work well within structured environments. Lack of process and structure can be demoralising, as employees don’t feel clear on what they are doing and find it difficult to assess their own performance.

Go back to your client for more money – if they are moving the goal posts

Why not? Often this doesn’t happen, and certainly it is tricky, but it can be handled sensitively and constructively.

Photographers can feel defenceless against a client’s effort to negotiate the price, and then add more onto the job spec. But don’t assume this is all a deliberate tactic to get more for their money. In some cases, the client genuinely doesn’t understand what they need until the job starts.

You have to be transparent with this for it to work, but at the core of this approach is clarity of what you are selling (or not selling) and have a clear process in place:

  • Support your client by making it clear what is involved in the process and what they are buying at what stage
  • Tell them about your processes and how they benefit them (for example reassure them they will never go over budget without signing off extra spend)
  • Implement real-time job monitoring to check when extras are being requested or the job is going off brief
  • Immediately communicate and additional costs to the client, in a way that is clear and gives them control over the decision to spend any more.

You will make the commercial decisions about what you want to charge for, and what you will add for free. But don’t expect the client to know this. Give yourself credit for the extra mile you have gone, and in doing that, manage the clients expectations about whether this is a one off (say, for a first job), or whether you will always give them more than they have paid for.

Keep checking back

It’s always worth taking a step back for a minute and having another look. These things have a natural tendency to start to slip after a while, so this is an opportunity to re-evaluate how it’s working. Regular reviews of all of these issues are always wise – it allows you to refine your processes and your approach, by understanding what has been effective and what hasn’t.

Blog image kindly provided by eposure member Malcolm Birkett

If you have any questions on any of the detail of this post, then please contact us. If you feel you need more help, then we can offer you more specific and tailored support too on a consultancy basis. Drop us a line at support@eposure.com

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