Photography – Moving Forward – Where Do We Go From Here?

11 02 2011

This post is Day 30 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

The questions raised by today’s photographers make you wonder what’s happening to the photographic industry. And rightfully so. Is there a future for photography? Can you still make a decent living as a photographer?

Huge amounts of photographers are coming on board because of digital cameras. It’s easy to buy one, easy to understand and process an image, so it’s easy to announce you are becoming a “professional”.

With so many newbies on board, they take the easiest way possible to make a few bucks. They shoot, give the images on a CD, and then wonder why sales are diminished.

Over the past few years, clients have come to expect the files because of the trend to supply a CD. “Whose photos are they anyway? Why should I pay more than the going price at the big box development center?” Clients ask; photographers give in; sales are lowered; and the possibility of surviving as a full time photographer shrink to nothing.

What’s a photographer to do?

It’s time to rethink the business path of a photographer. Learning to stand out from the crowd is more imperative than ever, especially as we move forward into a technical savvy environment. Right now:

More than 50 percent of cell phone users will convert to smart phone technology in 2011 – this means more people than ever will be accessing the online world from their mobile devices.
Tablet development has increased the use of smart technology. We work, read and play anywhere, any time. We love our apps, and want even more in the future.
People want it easy. They want information, they want entertainment, and they don’t want a difficult path to get there. Should you really be expected to remember a URL from a sign or brochure? No way. There must be a better way, right?

Yes, if you want to succeed in photography THIS YEAR, its time to choose a different path. But what is that path, and how do you find it?

3 Rules To Marketing in 2011

Things are changing. And it’s easy to see that we as business owners need to change with it. We’ve talked a lot about the new forms of marketing throughout this series, and its something that each of us needs to spend time on. If you want to succeed, you have to find a new way to do business. You have to use the new rules of marketing – building relationships, not hard selling. Hard selling simply doesn’t work anymore. But what does? What does it take to move forward into the business world? I’ve personally incorporated 3 rules into my business and marketing plans.

1. Be creative
2. Be original
3. Be innovative

Be creative
A standard business card. An ad in the bridal guide. Nope, I don’t think so. Today’s consumer is unique and trend setting, and doesn’t want to be “just like everyone else.” You have to nave a new approach to engage your customers, and win them over as clients.

What can you do that makes you unique? What makes your prospects look to you as an expert? What can you specialize in that makes you stand out from the crowd?

Be original
Why would you ever hire a photographer that addresses you as “Dear Friend”? People have names, they have likes and interests, and they want you to recognize them. They want something that is developed just for them. Anything else just won’t cut it.

In this highly specialized world, people love originality. They love the experience, and the way they feel when they’ve done something “no one else has done”. What can you do to make each client feel special? What can you do to make them feel like they are the only people in the world that has access to your service?

Be innovative
Being innovative means doing things very few are doing. It means being at the top of the pack, moving into a new direction that people have never seen before. It means following the trends, and using brand new technology BEFORE anyone else is. You’re the innovator, not the follower.

What can you do to be innovative? How can you reach clients in a way that makes them say WOW?

That’s why it’s beneficial to pay attention to where we are heading. What is in the future and what does it look like? How can you grab something new and use it to jump ahead of your competition?

What’s in the future?

Right now, we’re seeing the future in mobile format. People love their mobile devices, carry them everywhere, and use them from the moment they get up to the moment they head back to bed. The Internet is accessed five times more often through a mobile device then it is in the standard desktop computer. So the easiest way to standout in the future is to use this trend. Photographers will create apps for a variety of things; from showcasing their photography in gallery format, to creating special apps for individual clients.

Or maybe we’ll join in to the digital revolution instead of fighting it. People don’t want photographs to hang on their walls. They want the files. So what about handing over files in 50 inch format? If you haven’t heard of IPTV now, you will. I found this article that explains it well. With IPTV, you can take professional quality images and broadcast them to your clients. You create your own “channel” and give your clients rights to your “channel” providing they pay the price. Photographers will send clients to portfolios on TV and retain the rights. And because most consumer grade cameras can’t hold up to the 50 inch size, it brings on a world of opportunity to the innovative photographer.

Or maybe we’ll start creating exclusive content for our prospects and clients, and direct them wherever we want them to go with a QR code. Not sure what a QR code is? It’s simply a bar code that you can scan with your mobile device, and use it to direct your clients and prospects anywhere. All you need is a bar code reader on your smart phone, and you can scan in anything. Do a simple search in your app store, and you should quickly find one. [Try it out with this special QR code I’ve made for you.]

I read posts daily by photographers that talk about the future, and what it holds for our industry. Some say its doomed – we’ll never see the “good ol’ days” where you can make six, even seven figures a year from photography. I disagree. I think the industry is changing – DRASTICALLY – and the photographer of the future won’t look like they did in the past. They won’t be a staff photographer with a local newspaper; they’ll run their own specialized stock house that caters to a distinct industry. They won’t be a general portrait photographer; they’ll specialize in one distinct market, and offer amazing products that fit in with our digital lifestyle.

Opportunity is there; you just have to know how to look. And I’d love to hear where you are finding it.

Author’s Note: This concludes the 30 Ways in 30 Days series. Still have a question or problem that wasn’t addressed here? I would love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment on any of the 30 days posts, or email me directly at lori@virtualphotographystudio.com. I look forward to hearing how this series helped you grow as a photographer.

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