This is the place you can ask questions and get advice from a third year photographer and 8 year business entrepreneur. I am going to choose three questions per week to answer. This is going to get tough when more and more questions pour in and I must pick and choose. The great thing is that together we will build a stock pile of common and not-so-common photography business and shooting questions that you can refer back to! It’s Photography Mentoring without the price tag.
I want to keep this adventure a hobby and only do one session per week. How do I price these? I don’t want to price too little due to the efforts involved and want to attract those clients that value photography as an art. On the other hand, I don’t want to scare people away. Also, how do I grow my exposure/fan base without paying? (Kristen)
Session Pricing answer: Girl, I think you already know the answer. Wouldn’t the world be so much more fun if we could shoot for next to free and still have our bills paid? Who is going to pay for a new camera when yours is done or you drop it at a session? Ok, I know you might say insurance, but let’s face it the answer is never going to be a client. The point is, take a hard look at your numbers. There is a pricing calculator that Colorvale® created that works wonders for you to enter in all of your expenses and even how many sessions you want to do a month. At the end of the day, you have to at least charge the bare minimum it takes to pay for your expenses. You will then also be able to determine how much you want your time to be worth. If that end-number seems astronomical, ask yourself where you can cut expenses. Think outside of the box for some creative ideas as to what you can include in your package to gain clients. This will steer away the clients that want the bare minimum and may not value art. Oooh and also you could have a payment plan in place for those that just can’t afford it.
Working as a hobby also means less time you are spending on marketing. Consider setting aside a dedicated amount of time to market to potential and even past clients with reservicing them. I say this, because your marketing plan will be super important to make sure you are reaching people in numbers. The more no’s you get, the closer you are to your next yes. So it’s not always about pricing, it needs to be important part of your business that you are ensuring you are getting in front of new people.
Audience Growth: Did you know that you can schedule posts in Facebook for free? This would be a must whether working full or part time. I personally use Buffer, because it allows me to post to multiple platforms at once. Buffer has an ongoing, super amazing article about the Facebook algorithm. This will help you analyze your posts (though, don’t spend too much time here, because it’s ever-changing). Article: https://blog.bufferapp.com/facebook-marketing
Make sure you post strong photos on your personal FB page too. I see photographers that often rely on their pages, but not all of your friends follow your page. Don’t get too advertisey, but keep in front of them.
Once your social media calendar is full, then you will gain a ton of time to rock your business marketing elsewhere: submitting photos to vendors for expsosure, running a giveaway, blogging, making connections with vendors your target audience rolls with (if you are family photog, where do all the families hang in your community? If you are a wedding photographer, think wedding planning and vendors). Planning social media is time consuming up front, but I promise you gain time overall. I do this regularly! Try to incorporate lots of engagement text type posts such as, “Have you ever had any wardrobe mishaps on a session?” “Are you doing the cooking this Thanksgiving?” When people interact, they see more posts.
In a Family History Session, do you not guide them in any way? Don’t you need to prompt them sometimes? (Misty)
I really don’t about 90% of the time. The other 10% I might only if it’s something that has to do with light, an obstruction I can’t avoid (something tacky in the background), or if my subjects are clearly uncomfortable with the camera. In the pre-planning stages of the session, I really work hard with them to develop an activity to shoot. This way, they are moving constantly throughout the session. Through lots of practice, I’ve learned to observe people well. You can do it too, I swear. The big thing is to gauge how people are going to react when the session unfolds. If a kid is about to open a box of ornaments they haven’t seen since last year, you can bet they are going to look either beyond excited or very curious. I flip flop in my sessions between grabbing expressions and details. So in this example, I’d quickly grab the facial reaction and then start shooting the hands on the ornaments or even pivot to get mom or dad’s reaction to the kid’s reaction. Keeping them busy is what’s key.
Do you let the clients pick the photos that go into their book or do you design it without their approval? (Misty)
So far I’ve asked clients if they have any photos they don’t want included if it’s just a photo session since those are typically 100 or less images. Weddings I will have them give me a list of all the must-haves so I can work my best to fit them all. I state up front that they are allowed 3 revisions and then I charge a design rate per hour. So far it has seemed to work out well.