What Photography Task Are You Doing Every Day?

18 05 2011

So you want to be a full time photographer – what have you done in the past week?

Human nature has us doing the things we love, and avoiding the things we don’t.

If we hate sales, we’ll let the customer control the entire buying process.

If we hate networking, we’ll wait around for the phone to ring.

The trouble is, as a business owner, you can’t wait for things to happen, or you won’t be in business for very long. You have to control the situation, and make sure everything comes to you.

So my question to you is, “what have you done in the past week?”

To find out, take out a notebook and record everything you do this coming week. Don’t leave anything out. Even if it seems trivial, write it down. You may find things like:

  • answering email – 30 minutes
  • shopping for camera equipment – 60 minutes
  • surfing websites – 60 minutes
  • photoshopping sample photographs – 50 minutes
  • talking on phone – 45 minutes
  • buying office supplies – 50 minutes

· and so on

Now that you have your list, what does it say about your business? Are you doing things to grow your business, or just plain busy work?

While you do have to spend time on the above mentioned items, if your entire week looks like that, you’re not accomplishing goals that will grow your business. You should have things like:

  • networking function – 90 minutes
  • mailing postcards – 45 minutes
  • cold calling – 30 minutes
  • blogging and Twittering – 30 minutes per day
  • trade show booth – 1 day

Most of your time should be devoted to revenue earning tasks – or your business will no longer exist in a mere few months.

Now that you’ve seen what you’ve been doing with your week, try and write goals for the following week. Change your tasks to revenue tasks – and stick with it. Your business will thank you.





5 Questions That Will Make You A Successful Photographer In 2011

14 12 2010

Thinking about the New Year? I know I am. I’ve been making plans for weeks now, and already have several great ideas lined up for the first couple of months.

Success doesn’t just happen; it’s created. And the more you plan for it, the more likely success will find you. Whether you have or have not started making plans for 2011, take a look at these 5 questions, and use it to move your business one step closer to success.

What do I want to accomplish in 2011?

If you’ve found yourself asking this question, writing down goals, and planning your first promotion for the New Year, you’re well on your way to success. You’re making plans instead of waiting for things to happen to you. If not, its time to do exactly that. Sit down and make your list of goals today.

How can I make 2011 better than 2010?

No matter how good (or bad) business was in 2010, there are always ways to improve. What would make your 2011 better? Would you move from part time to full time? Would you increase your sales by 20 percent? Would you book an additional 5 weddings? Stretch your mind, and take your goals as far as you can.

How can I improve my photography in 2011?

Planning on going to any conventions in 2011? WPPI will be coming up in a few short weeks – we’ve attended that one for years. Do a quick search online and you’ll find dozens of different training possibilities to help you improve your photography skills. And whether you’ve been photographing for 1 month or 50 years, there is always something new you can learn that will give you a new way to look through the lens of your camera.

How can I improve my business in 2011?

If you have your own studio, it isn’t enough to be great at photography. You also have to be great at business. Don’t just take in what you learn at a photography convention, open up to possibilities beyond photography. Can you take a marketing class from a marketing guru? How about read a book from a social media expert? Business rules don’t hold true within one industry; they can be used across the board in all fields. And it may give you an idea that no one else is using within the photographic community.

What can I do to help someone in a new way in 2011?

It’s the ol’ “givers gain” philosophy. The more you give, the more you get. Ask anyone that is truly successful how they give back and they will provide a host of ways they participate in the givers gain philosophy. They may tithe 10 percent of their income. They may belong to a charity and participate frequently. The important thing is they recognize that to be well rounded, and truly successful in every way, you have to share what you have in some way.

Helping your photography business, how to start a photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.

 





Does Your Studio Need A Newsletter?

18 11 2010

Photography businesses have an advantage over most other businesses: they have amazing images that everyone is interested in and loves to look at.

So why not put those images to good use, and have them bring in business?

In today’s world, small business owners always talk about “cheap” or “free”. I’m a small business owner, and I too love tools I can use for free. But because most small businesses are resorting to using free tools, we’re also seeing a ton of opportunity in more traditional areas. And that includes newsletters.

How much junk mail comes to your home and/or studio these days?

For me, it’s diminished considerably. I love going through junk mail, and have found some great ideas by looking at other marketing campaigns. I even have a basket filled with junk mail – if it’s a great idea, I hang on to it so I can use it myself someday. But over the past 1-2 years, I’ve added very little to my basket.

So this screams of opportunity.

A newsletter isn’t something you mail in bulk to a mailing list. Instead, its something you send out to people that have a true interest.

  • Clients
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Members of your church
  • Vendors you work with
  • Prospects that call or email for more information
  • Lists of people that attend a charity event you participate in

Think about the newsletter you get from your local realtor. (I’m pretty sure you get something from a realtor – I get several myself.) They include a calendar with the local team’s schedule, tips on remodeling your home, and seasonal tips for keeping your home value up to date. You may even see neighborhood homes that recently sold, and what the value is. None of its personal, but it does give you good quality information that you can use.

Online Newsletter Resource

Use that same philosophy. Create a newsletter that People can use. Include fun tips about photography, or about your local area. Make it pertinent to your community. Then add the photographs. If you photograph weddings, load it up with your favorite images. If you shoot real estate, showcase your best work. Maybe even have a contest and show off the winner. Give a small prize to the winner, and you’ll have an even better promotion.

Still like the idea of going green? Give people that option. Put your same newsletter on your website, and email it out as well. Or change it up and put different information out online. Give them a reason for both.

The idea is to promote your business to the people that already love you – your clients and the people that know you best. Just by putting your information in front of them once in a while, you’re sure to get a whole new influx of business.

image source

Helping your photography business, how to start a photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.





Want To Improve Your Flash Photography Skills?

4 06 2010

“How do I use flash on outdoor portraits and still have my portraits look natural?”

“How do I light up the dance floor in a dark reception hall?”

“How do I use off camera flash?”

I receive questions like these almost daily. Flash is definitively one area that can make or break a photographer. Knowing how to use flash can improve your photography, and if your clients see the difference, they will be willing to pay for the difference.

There are two ways to learn about lighting.

1. You can buy several types of flash units, and keep trying. Experiment with the lighting in different situations, and see what you get. Keep experimenting until you get the results you are looking for, and can achieve the same results time and again.

2. Learn from a professional. A professional can give you a ton of advice in a short period of time, offering you tips and tricks along the way.

Are you ready to shortcut your learning curve, and improve your flash photography skills today?

I found a great resource this week that I think you’re going to love. Edward Verosky just released a new ebook called Flash Photography: How To Get Amazing light In Any Improve Your Flash Photography SkillsSituation. I’ve had a chance to go through it, and the advice is right on target. He keeps it simple, and shows you exactly what to do in many situations using photographs, diagrams, and step by step advice.

What makes this a great resource is how he presents the material. He shares ideas by actually showing you photographs he’s taken within his own studio. He gives you a diagram to show you exactly how he set up the image (where he set the subject, how the flash units were set up around the subject, where the camera angle was, etc) and shares his camera and flash settings. By seeing both the diagram and the final image, along with the description of how the final result was achieved, its easy to set up your own subject in a similar manner.

Whether you keep this as an ebook on your computer, put it on your iPad for bringing with you, or print it off for a handy field guide, this is one resource you’re going to love having. If flash has ever raised a question in your mind, grab this up. For only $9.95 a copy, you can’t go wrong.

Buy Flash Photography: How To Get Amazing light In Any Situation Now>>





How To Use Facebook To Promote Your Photography Business

5 05 2010

Let me ask you a question. Are you using Facebook for your business?

If you are like most people I speak with, you would answer like this:

“I have a profile and I have around 50 friends, mostly personal friends.”

or

“I’ve set up a page for my business, but I really don’t know what to do with it.”

Facebook only starts to work for your business if you commit to using it for business, and work to grow it. Correctly. Because of Facebook’s strong Terms and Policies, making sure you do things the right with is hugely important. The last thing you want is to build up a big following, and be shut down because you aren’t using it correctly.

facebooklogo

First, learn the difference between Facebook’s three tools: Profiles, Pages and Groups.

Facebook Profiles
When you first sign up with Facebook, you’ll start with a profile. Your profile is all about you; not your business, your product, or your service. Your profile is created by using your real first and last name. Then you fill your profile with your personal information. Add as much or as little as you like. But remember your profile is your window to the world. If someone is deciding on whether to do business with you, this helps break the ice and gives the opportunity to find something in common.

Facebook Page
A Facebook Page, also called a Fan Page, is for businesses, brands, organizations, or celebrity/public figure. Your page is all about business, and is the one place you can actively promote what Read the rest of this entry »





How To Take Better Pictures

14 05 2009

Have you ever wished you could take better pictures?

As a photographer, I know you love taking photographs. You probably bring your camera everywhere, ready to snap the candids every chance you have. But what about posing people for a more professional portrait. Can you easily jump in and set up groups easily? Or does it put a touch of fear into your heart?

Andrew and I have been busy creating a wonderful new program for everyone that nodded their heads when they read that last question.

We both understand that feeling well. When we first started out, posing was hard. When you have a group of people looking to you for guidance, where do you start? And before you ever get started, where do you meet them? Can you really find places right around your studio that will create great backgrounds?

That’s the idea behind 9to5PhotoTips.com Head over and watch our first few videos. We take the complex and break it down into very simple steps. We want you to be able to take one idea, learn a little about it, head out into the field and apply it immediately.

9to5phototips

Head over to 9to5PhotoTips.com and watch the videos. Then leave me a comment or send me an email – I’d love to know what you think.





Celebrating Earth Day Through Photographs

22 04 2009

Happy Earth Day! As a way of celebrating Earth Day, I decided to share photograph tips, sites, and strategies that have caught my eye this week. Enjoy! earth

Earth: From A Different Point Of View
Think its hard taking photographs here on earth? Try taking them from space. Not only does this post have amazing images taken from space, you even get a tutorial on how it was done.

Kodak and Earth Day
What is Kodak doing to make planet Earth a better place to live? Find out how Kodak is focusing on environmental issues.

2009 Earth Day Photo Contest For Students
Have a child in grades 5-8? Have them create a photograph showing our changing world. They may win a digital camera.

Earth Day Photo Project
Have a Flickr account? Join the EPA in putting together a photo project showcasing the many aspects of Earth Day.

Earth Mosaic
What are you doing today? Now imagine one large photograph showing what everyone in the world is doing in honor of Earth Day. That’s the premise behind Earth Mosaic.

Photojojo – Recycled seat Belt Camera Straps
I love this place – where do they find those funky ideas? Check out these recycled seat belt camera straps, an interesting idea.

image source sachyn





Wanted: Wedding Photographer with The Credentials of Annie Leibovitz and the Price Tag Of Wal-Mart

6 04 2009

wedding photography 1Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work was the title of the section on photographers in a newly released wedding planning book I found on the shelves of my local library. I picked up the book, well, just out of curiosity. Being in the wedding industry for as long as I have, I still pick up a ton of wedding resources, just to see what people are talking about and to find new and interesting resources.

Anyway, I read the section on photographers. And the more I read, the angrier I became.

Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work
If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding. If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece. If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files. You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.

I won’t mention what book this came from, because it could be from a variety of sources. I’ve read things like this more than once.

As a wedding photographer that easily commanded five figure prices, I can tell you wedding photography is one of the most difficult forms of photography.

  • You’re dealing with dozens of personalities, all on a frenzied day.
  • You’re dealing with a ton of vendors all with a different purpose in mind.
  • You’re dealing with a ton of family that all have their own idea of a perfect photograph.
  • You have to create a perfect photograph in a hundred different locations. (From the back of a hairdressing studio, to a small dressing room with 25 females trying to get ready, to the great outdoors under blaring sunlight, to a dark dance floor with one spotlight.)

Yet again, thanks to books like this, brides head out into the ranks of their family and friends, trying to cut corners and hire a person with a camera who’s taken a few photographs.

Let’s actually analyze what this “bridal expert” said.

If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding.
I know there are a ton of people out there that have bad photography from their weddings. I run across them every day. Whenever I mention my background, the stories begin. No matter what they say, it’s always focused around the photography. Is the purpose really to save money? Or maybe most people have been over-exposed to amateur photography and at this point can’t tell the difference.

If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece.
Again, the complete focus is on price. When it comes down to price, people can’t see professionalism. They see average pictures, and don’t want to pay a big price for something they can get from a family member. They need to see a difference to pay the difference.

If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files.
Two issues here. First, if you are a true professional, do you really need a list? Don’t you know to take a photo of the bride with her mom? The only list we ever asked for was for unique photographs to the bride and groom (i.e. the bride’s nanny flew in from London just for her special day). And second, rights to the images? Sure, the bride and groom should have access to as many photographs as they want. But the only reason someone says they want rights is so they can take the image files down to Wal-Mart and print them up. If a photographer is to remain a professional, he or she has to charge professional prices. It’s not the cost of the final product, it’s the education and commitment that built up to giving the photographer the talent to create that special image.

You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.
Again, I see the lack of talent and originality shining through. If people can’t see the difference between what their friends produce, and what you as a professional produce, there is no way to charge a fair price.

As a photographer, if you snap a few photographs, and hand over the digital files to the bride, you’re not providing a full service. The more photographers shoot and promote themselves this way, the more it’s to be expected. The only way to change it around is to change the way we present it to potential clients.

Wedding photography has to be centered around a complete experience. From beginning to end, you have to be in control over everything. It’s not just about the photography. It’s about the show you put on as a professional photographer.

Even when we were shooting with film, a ton of guests would come up to us telling us how great our images were. AND THEY HADN’T SEEN ONE IMAGE YET! It was all the appearance, and how we were perceived as photographers.

Photography matters because it’s the only source we have to create and maintain our memories.

But really, the low image of a wedding photographer isn’t the fault of the wedding planners, wedding experts, and authors of bridal guides. It’s the fault of us, the photographers.

A bride doesn’t hire a photographer for a few photographs. She hires a photographer to enhance the memories of her entire day. You have to photograph it as such. And you have to sell it as such.

image source Ryan Brenizer

Helping your photography business, how to start a digital wedding photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.





Top 10 Ways To Fail As A Photographer

2 02 2009

Every once in awhile I find something while out searching that gives me inspiration to write a photographernew blog post. Today was one of those days. While I would never name names, I decided to give photographers some ideas on how to change their business around. 

I just read that under normal times, the 80/20 rule applies. So in normal times, 20 percent of businesses will thrive and prosper, and 80 percent will hold steady or slowly go into decline.

But in today’s economic times, we move to a 95/5 rule. Meaning only 5 percent of businesses will thrive and prosper, and 95 percent will hold steady or slowly go into decline or failure.

And I know why.

You can’t give up; you have to work a little harder.

You can’t quit marketing; you have to market more efficiently.

You can’t do what everyone else is doing; you have to clear your own path.

So with those thoughts in mind, let’s discuss the 10 ways you can currently fail as a photographer, and hopefully you’ll see some ideas that can help turn around your own business.

1. Create a website like your competition. A ton of photographers use Flash presentation sites where they can input a little content and a selection of their favorite photographs. And yes, I’ve been to multiple sites that look exactly alike – the colors, photos and logo change, but they’re all so similar, they immediately lose their impact. Do something new and fresh. Make them say wow. Create a web presence that knocks the socks off of your prospects.

2. Charge what your competition charges. How did you figure your pricing structure? Did you look at other studios, and lower your prices because you’re newer at the game? That’s how today’s prices got so low. You have to charge what you’re worth. Great artists charge for their years of experience and training. They charge for their talent. And they charge for their expenses.

3. Give the same items in your packages as everyone else. “I give away the complete digital files because everyone else does.” If that’s your attitude, you’ll be in the 95 percent group very quickly. People start comparing when you’re just like your competition. If everything stands equal, it comes down to price. So give them something so unique, they’ll never be able to compare.

4. Photograph just like everyone else. Where’s your flare? What’s your style? Sure, everyone starts out at the bottom, and spends years working on their talent. But eventually you come up with your own style, and you become recognizable.

5. Work at your pace and on your time. Do you work at the convenience of your clients, or for you? While everyone needs to set boundaries, its important that you meet your customers expectations as well. Being available by cell phone 7am to 11pm 7 days of the week is not necessary, and it also shows you’re clients you’re willing to be manipulated. But being available Wednesday nights until 9, and all day Saturday from 9am until 5 pm gives flexibility. Make sure they know when they can reach you – and when they can’t.

6. Give average customer service. Photography is a service business. Depending on your focus, you probably don’t have more than a handful of customers per day (on the high side). How much time does it take to give a little extra?

7. Charge for the extras. You do need to get paid for what you do. But do you really need to charge for little things? Incorporate them into your fees, and become an easy business to do business with. If you charge $1500 for a wedding, do you really need to charge $100 extra for weddings 50 miles or beyond from your studio? Instead, raise your fees to $1600 for everyone, and it will all average out.

8. Keep your fees low. It’s not about what you charge. It’s about what you provide. People want value, not low prices. Everyone has a different threshold in mind. You can’t be in charge of their pocketbooks. You simply have to charge what you need to build the business of your dreams. And there’s no way you can ever do that on your own charging $500 for an all-day wedding. (There simply isn’t enough weekends in the year to help you get to a full time income.)

9. Market in the same ways. If you’ve always advertised in the phone book or the local wedding guide, stop. Is it bringing in a full time business? If not, its time to change. Try a new website. Try creating a blog. Try networking with a new group. There’s a ton of opportunity – many for very low fees.

10. Complain. What do you say when you’re out networking, or meeting with potential clients? Do you say things like, “business is rough” or “I haven’t had a new client in a month” or “the one business that referred me just shut their doors”. Would you want to work with someone that constantly complains? Or would you rather be around someone that’s always looking at it positively. Attitude is everything in this business.

One of my favorite sayings is “fake it till you make it”. Even if you’re not at the Six Figure level yet, there’s no reason you can’t act like you’re there.

image source mikebaird





Connect With Online Digital Photo Communities

22 12 2008

Online communities are a way to build relationships and trust. As photographers, we have an amazing tool for this arena at their disposal, images. Images are very powerful and can generate large amounts of interest. If your have a portfolio of images that share a theme or unique value, from creative talent to amazing viewpoints, share them online to start a following of your own branding. Dock in the bay

We put together a list of image social sites where you can add images, socialize online, communicate within groups or just show off your images. To ensure that you generate interest toward your brand or style of images, modify your profile to include information about you and your website. Be sure and add your interaction by providing insight through comments on image postings. Connections are made, with a little interaction, you will see how establishing online relations will build a better following.

JPG shares with the visitor’s images and stories. Themed selections separate images into sorted groupings. JPG has a cool feature for working multiple shots and combining text that adds a story to your images.

Flickr is the king of image communities. Large amounts of digital images flow onto Flickr everyday. Flickr allows you to start your own themed group where you can specify what is allowed. Imagine if you had a group with only red squares. Make it unique and they will follow.

Photobucket – one of the most popular image hosting services around, favorite amongst MySpace users. Group albums, to let you collaborate together with friends and families in a single group album of photos and videos. Built-in searching to find the latest and best photos, images and videos to suit your mood, or entertain your friends in Photobucket’s huge online library.

SlideShare – SlideShare is a content sharing site where you can host and display presentations. SlideShare is the best way to share and find presentations. Share publicly or privately. Add audio to make a webinar. Embed slideshows into your own blog or website and join groups to connect with SlideShare members who share your interests

Helping your photography business, how to start a digital wedding photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.








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