Targeted Marketing

On The Tube in London, and other city undergrounds you will see adverts pasted inside the trains. Adverts for:

  • Headache relief
  • Hair loss
  • Holidays
  • Flu & Cold Remedies

There are more than just the above categories of adverts of course, but isn’t that list above some of the most targeted marketing available?

Thousands of people commute via the tube each and every day. The commute can be long, hot and cramped. It can be exhausting, it can give people headaches and stress people out. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. It’s enough to make you think ‘I need a holiday‘ – the solutions to all of these things are advertised mere feet away from the people in need of them. The adverts are placed strategically knowing that people will need them, or, at least be open to suggestion when they see a solution to a headache.

When thinking about marketing are you trying to get your brand in front of as many people as possible or are you targeting your advertising to your future clients? The positioning of the marketing is arguably more important than the reach of the marketing.

Give that some thought get the next time you post fliers around your local area, or the next time you take out an ad in a local shop. Perhaps try looking at the most affluent area available near you, perhaps look at advertising in baby and children’s magazines (if that’s your thing).

Think specific. Then perhaps you’ll have less of that ‘they’re not my kinda client’ thing going on if you’re marketing to ‘your kinda client’.

Where do you market yourself and what have you found successful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Photographers: Are you Investing or just Spending

Originally featured over on Michael Rammell’s blog. You can check out the original post right here: http://www.michaelrammell.com/blog/spending-or-investing


Part of the journey of becoming a photographer nearly always includes buying way too much gear, spending too much money and then realising you need a whole different set of equipment and then buying it all again. It just seems to be one of those check boxes people tick first when they’re on their way.

However, this process of replacing all our gear all too often becomes a cycle: We upgrade from our mid-range DSLR to a top of the range DSLR. Then from there we add more new lenses. Then a new model of our camera is released and so we ‘upgrade’ yet again. This goes on and on. This of course isn’t just something that happens in the world of photography though, I’m sure chef’s, cyclists, car lovers and so many other markets have the same cycle too. It’s all a result of great marketing by those companies: to drive desire for their products and to create a perception of need. This is especially the case in the world of photography though. We all want to be better photographers and make photographs that our clients AND our fellow photographers will admire and one of the ways these companies convince us we can do that is by spending more money on their products.

Whilst this is all good and we are all welcome to spend our own money on whatever we want, what I see missing in some people is the business-mindset: are you running your photography as a business? Or are you just spending money on stuff and telling others and yourself it’s all for the business

Those constant upgrades may make you happy, but are they good for business? Do they bring in more profit? It’s time to curb the gear lust and think about whether that new mark 2 body or macro lens is really good for business.

Are you spending money or investing money?

It’s completely up to us as photographers what we spend our money on. It’s not my place to tell you that the third camera body is not an investment and it’s certainly not up to me to stop you from spending money. The idea of this post today is urge you think more like a business (if you are in the business of photography) and to consider whether that thing you’re about to buy is worth it.

So, why is it that photographers spend so much on gear? Why is it that we believe that spending that extra £1,000 on something will make us immeasurably or even noticeably different? More importantly though the questions any working photographer should be asking themselves when buying new gear are:

  1. “Will it earn me more money?”
  2. “Will the client notice the difference between now and with the new thingy”
  3. (“Will the client pay more when I use the new thingy?”)
  4. “Will it make my job faster, thus saving me money?”
  5. “Will it add a unique selling point to me, my business or my work that no other photographer has?”

When it comes to lenses and camera bodies, the answer in most cases to all of the above questions is simple: No.

That upgrade for the 70-200 is not likely to actually make you more money next year vs the amount you could make with your existing 70-200. Furthermore, I doubt the client will notice the difference between the two lenses either on the day when you’re using them, or, in the resulting photographs.

Now, there is of course another question and that is “Will this purchase make me happy?” and the answer to that question is almost always ‘Yes’, at least to begin with. Then that piece of gear becomes a part of the bag and then settles into it’s place as ‘Just another piece of gear’. Often this is where we fall down, we have those 5 logical questions I mention above, but we disregard them all and place the purchase of that new shiny thing under the ‘It will make me happy’ category.

If you want to make more money as a photographer you need to increase your prices, be more profitable or shoot for more clients (all of those can work in combination too of course) so if that is the ultimate goal; if we are looking to build a sustainable livelihood and pay our bills, we need to be serious and responsible with our spending and think with our business heads, not our gear-lusting hearts. Sure, on occasion it will get the better of us and we’ll buy something we don’t necessarily need but have wanted, but that’s the nature of being in the world of photography: we’re attracted to tech, gadgets, glass and all that other stuff.

Diminishing Returns

Now, all of this said there will be purchases and upgrades that solve our problems and enable us to better realise our creativity, and that’s fine also, but the best way I’ve ever heard this put was by David DuChemin, who talks about upgrades as ‘Diminishing Returns’ – the idea that the huge outlay you’re about to make for an upgrade, will get you a very small and disproportionate improvement. David and I spoke about this for Ready Steady Pro Episode 16 and David also spoke about this extensively in what was one of his favourite blog posts, titled ‘Towards Mastery, Again’.

David Says:

But isn’t it possible we’ve passed the point of diminishing returns and our hunger for gear is outpacing our hunger for beauty, compelling stories, great light, and amazing moments?

So, whilst I don’t want to offer any strict ‘advice’ with this post, or guidelines or suggestions for that matter, all I want to do is get you to think about whether that new camera, lens, tripod etc is actually solving a problem for you. Will it help you to produce noticeably better photographs to those who pay you? Are you investing money in your photography business for the benefit of your product? (your photographs) or are you just lusting over gear and using being a professional photographer as a cover to justify the purchase?

Either way is fine, but please give it some thought.

As always, comments, criticism, thoughts and feedback welcome. You know what to do: just leave a comment below

The Best Way To Improve Your Photography. Period.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to learning photography. Practise, reading and studying are all ways you can improve your craft and become a better photographer.

However, if you ask me there is one, single sure fire way you can dramatically and quickly improve your photography: Critique.

This applies to every photographer, no matter how raw or how advanced you are. As I’ve always said: “You can’t learn everything through your own experiences”.

Feedback from an Artisan

In early June I spent a day with Neil Buchan-Grant. A student of photography – a real craftsman with an eye for detail. After the interview Neil and I went out with the cameras and talked about all things photography and later, over dinner Neil was kind enough to cast his eye over my street photography portfolio. I urged Neil to be honest, harsh and not to hold back and tell me what he really thought of my work.

Whilst Neil was (I believe) very kind and diplomatic to me he did offer some honest feedback. It stung! Neil wasn’t horrible about my work at all, but with apparent ease he pointed out many things that were wrong with a number of the photographs and offered ways in which the photographs could be easily improved with a little post-processing alone. Following Neil’s feedback all that was wrong with my photographs became clear to me!

I just thought “Damn!”, but more than anything it made me determined to go out and make better photographs next time based on the feedback I was given.

I feel like I’ve come a long way photographically so I was gutted to hear the flaws in my work being highlighted. I personally love my own street photography work, my portraits in particular. Whilst that may sound vein, it is of course because I was there. I remember the moments I made those photographs and the moments that were behind them. I am emotionally invested in my work. Neil is not. So, with a fresh and unbiased pair of eyes Neil was able to offer so much value to my photographs because he is skilled, practised and honest. All components needed to make successful photographs.

My Guide to Critique

Although I already knew and appreciated the value of harsh, honest and open minded critique, I hadn’t really had a session with a photographer who’s work I adored like I do Neil’s. So on that drive home from Winchester I thought a lot about the process of critique and the benefits it holds. This blog post is borne out of that experience and these are my views on critique…

Seek Critique from a Photographer you Respect and Whose Work You Admire

The first thing I would suggest, if you don’t already, is to start making use of bookmarks in your browser, or at least use a notepad: make a list (or a folder of bookmarks) of all of those photographers you respect. By this, I mean photographers whose blogs you read and content you like. If you like their perspective on photography and that photographer resonates with you, great. But also, ensure you truly admire their work. Critique can sometimes be given excellently by people who aren’t necessarily the greatest of photographers themselves, but knowing that the person who is critiquing your photographs can actually produce the level of work you aspire to, goes a long way to giving their feedback some conviction.

So, like the person, enjoy their work, seek their feedback. Keep in mind though that you shouldn’t expect a response from everyone you approach. Be prepared for that.

Positive Feedback is Half as Valuable as Constructive Criticism

Be selective about where you choose to seek critique. Places such as Flickr, in my opinion, are wonderful places to get eyes on your photographs and people are very willing to also drop kind comments on your photographs too. However, kind comments are not always what you want. “Well done!”, “Great Shot!”, “Love This!” don’t offer any real value other than to let you know that the person in question likes the photograph you’ve posted. You don’t know why they like it. It is nice to get a pat on the back for the work you produce, sure, but instead why not look for the feedback where people point out what is wrong with the photograph in a constructive and helpful manner. Only then will you learn what you need to improve upon.

I’m not suggesting you seek out negativity, but just look to gain something more than confirmation that someone likes the photograph you’ve uploaded.

Take it on Board

It’s one thing to seek the feedback and then get it, but another to actually implement changes based on that feedback, or be conscious of what you’re doing when you’re next on a shoot. Rather than just seeking critique, actually take the critique on board. Consider what it is that person has pointed out or told you and then consider whether you want to implement a change, or research a method of how to improve that weakness in your photographic skill set.

Basically, listen to the critique and then apply it to improve. It sounds simple, but without this element the whole critique process falls down. What’s the point in listening if you’re not going to use what you’ve been told?

Have an Open Mind

Furthering the idea of taking the critique on board, you also have to have an open mind when seeking critique. Obviously, you’re not always going to agree with what people have to say, even if it is valid. Stubbornness can sometimes be a good thing, but other times it’s a good idea to listen to what others have to say with an open mind. If you’re not prepared to listen to the feedback of others, you’re not going to learn.

If you do decide that the way you’ve shot or processed an image is better or preferable to what someone says in a comment, that’s fine, but still give some thought to what the other person is saying, at least. After all, they have taken the time to write their thoughts down for your benefit. It would be courtesy to consider what they’re saying.

Be Selective

Taking one step back to the subject of stubbornness: sometimes, you may get critique, and it may well be very valid and fair, but you may still not agree with it. Your photographs are your work, you blood, sweat and tears. You have invested in making your photographs with your energy, early mornings and late nights – You do have the right to be single minded about your work and continue pushing on with a style of your own, even if others don’t agree. I’m not giving you the green light to ignore everyone’s critique, but I am saying you can leave the door open to sometimes not agree with someone’s feedback: perhaps that person’s feedback is based on their own preferences and styles. Maybe I’m repeating my previous point, but again remember people are taking time to offer feedback. They’re doing you the favour.

Don’t Take It Personally

We all know that when sitting behind a keyboard people are more bold and will often say things they may not say if they were sitting across a table from you. People can be more ballsy and more blunt. Perhaps more than they would ever be in the real world when talking face to face.

But that can be a good thing…

Having that filter removed is a double-edged sword: it may invite trolls – those people who are just rude and offer criticism (not critique), These people you can choose to ignore. But, having no filter as such also allows certain people to come along and offer feedback in a harsh and honest way – which whilst it may sting a little will certainly offer lots of value.

Ignore The Negative Comments (Trolls)

Further to the above of not taking it personally – even from the trolls. It’s in some people’s nature to jump on board and slate your work. Let them do it. Just ignore the comments and don’t get involved, otherwise you’ll just end up arguing with someone who is well versed at over-the-internet debates. Remember that your aim was to seek helpful, constructive and honest feedback – not spend your time getting involved in debates with people on the other side of the planet whose work you’ve never seen and are unlikely to ever meet.

So be ready to take the rough with the smooth!

Your Style & Approach Will Evolve Over Time

Some people are at different stages in their relationship with photography. Others may have just started, whilst others may have been around the block a few times so to speak. So when someone suggests that a selective colour version of your photograph may look great, don’t judge them. They may not know they’re committing a faux pas. Remember, that in the same way your photography style has evolved and your knowledge has grown – everyone else is on the same path as well.

If you’re not putting your work out there for critique because you think you’re not good enough yet, or because you’re not ready to do so, then when will you be ready? My answer to that would be never! The sooner you seek critique and start actioning it, the faster you’ll develop. Don’t wait until you’re better. Go and get better!

Think about a band or a musician you’re a fan of: over the years how have their albums changed? Their breakthrough album may have sounded ‘fresh’ and new at the time, but a few albums and a few years later I’m sure you’ll agree that their later work is more polished and has a larger production, making their earlier work maybe sound a little more ‘raw’. Well, it’s the same with us photographers and creatives.

Fashions, Trends and Style

Over the decades trends have changed. At the moment we’re apparently in the age of filters and effects. This point I’m making here is not a direct attack on filters and effects, but remember: just because it’s fashionable and popular, doesn’t mean you have to do it too. In fact, as I’ve said before being different is just as important as being the best (if not more important). So be wary if you decide to take part in fashions and trends. My advice would be to stick to what you enjoy doing and the way you like doing it, improving along the way.

Harsh and Honest Critique is the Best Critique

Don’t always seek validation from those you admire, but instead seek to please yourself

This may sound contradictory to what I said earlier, but there is a difference between seeking validation and seeking critique: yes, you should approach those whose work you admire for critique, but be careful not to get into the habit of just producing work to please those people. These people should be the ones helping you to define a style, carve out an approach and polish your products so to speak, but they’re not the people you need to make happy. If you shoot weddings, portraits, pets or any sort of photography where you have a client: it’s those people you need to make happy. It’s those people who need to love your work. Whilst they may appreciate the straight horizon and defined jaw lines, they may not necessarily care about a little bit of noise, or the bokeh or the extreme, fine details that the photographers you show your work to will point out.

Clients and photographers are very different audiences…which brings me to my next point:

Remember Who your Audience Is When It Comes To Your Photography

I’ve written about this subject already in a previous blog post. I want to urge you to remember who you’re shooting for. Are you shooting for clients, yourself or for other photographers? You need to know this and keep this in mind as it will impact the work you’re producing.

If you’re shooting for yourself it can be whatever you want. All that work has to do is please you.

If you’re shooting for other photographers then the chances are you’re going to be looking at producing the most technically perfect pictures you can.

If you’re shooting for clients however, then it’s a different game – Now you’re looking to make photographs that they’ll enjoy and as I mentioned before: they’re going to appreciate different aspects of a photograph to both you and other photographers. To a client the photographs are almost always about the moments, the expressions and the people. Not the technical elements.

Giving Critique As Well As Receiving Critique

Ghandi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Well, i would say that you should also give the critique you wish to receive.

Giving critique is also valuable. Stop to look at photographs. Inspect them. Don’t necessarily search for flaws, but instead look for what works in that photograph, look for the successful elements, the things that make the average photograph a great photograph. Then, tell the photographer who posted that picture what it is you love about it. Sure, mention the halo, or the aberration, or the wonky horizon, but be sure to be positive with your critique, be honest and be helpful. Don’t just beat people down. Be courteous.

What do you think?

No matter where you are with your photography I’m sure you’ve had someone criticise your work (not critique). When was the last time you received solid critique from a fellow photographer? Did you action or change anything as a result of that critique? Did that improve your photography.

I would love to hear your critique experiences – share them below.

Photographers – Who is Your Audience?

Something I’ve seen a lot recently is photographers blogging seemingly for the attention of other photographers. Whilst this would be fine on a photography news site or a photographic training site, I’d say that really it’s not ideal on a wedding or portrait website where non-photographer paying clients are looking.

An industry where debates are always had

Photography is no doubt an industry full of debates: Jpeg vs RAW, Full Frame vs ASPC, Canon vs Nikon and on and on the list goes. Because of this we all tend to choose sides and have opinions and that’s great. If everyone thought the same thing it’d be a very dull world indeed.

However, I just question whether the websites we’ve painstakingly taken the time to put together for the benefit and purpose of obtaining clients are the best places to voice our opinion on all things photographic?

It sometimes feels a little bit like publically airing your dirty laundry to me.

There are plenty of photographers out there now who have successfully transitioned into making a living from almost exclusively (sometimes completely exclusively) from teaching photography. So, it sometimes does happen that a photography teacher will have a balance opposite to most of us whereby they make most of their income from teaching, but still occasionally shoot for a client, so you may see a site hosting content for everyone. But what works for those photographers in those situations may not be right for you.

Take it elsewhere

Personally, I set up a completely separate site to allow me to talk about photography: www.michaelrammell.com. It’s there that I can talk about gear, write reviews, share personal work and my own thoughts on photography in general. To an extent that is also what Ready Steady Pro is for – this is an outlet for everything to do with the business of photography and things of that nature. These websites allows me to write posts just like this one: that are designed to make you consider for a moment whether your blog, where your potential paying clients may be looking, is the right place to add your own proverbial fuel to a particular photography-fire.

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You can of course write about what you like. This is, after all The Internet and your blog is of course your domain. I can’t tell you what you should and should not be writing about. I’m purely trying to get you thinking about whether your blog is the right place for some of these discussions.

Not everyone will agree, but my advice is this: stick to private groups and communities or start a separate website for that sort of chat. In short: your clients don’t need to see all of that. Put your best foot forward – that being your wonderful photographs, testimonials from previous clients and blog posts advising, helping and guiding your next clients. Show off what you can do for a client and do everything to get them to book you, not what you think about a particular camera or another photographer’s work. More often than not your opinion on cameras, tech specs or another photographers work is not why your clients are going to book you.

As was pointed out by Steve Saporito, David DuChemin and so many others – show what you sell.

What do you think?

What are you thoughts? Should we be keeping this side of the world of photography away from our clients, or, should our clients be made aware of what is happening in the photography industry? Post your comments below.

Measuring Success and your Meaning of it

The dictionary definition of success is:

“The accomplishment of an aim or purpose”

 

Success will be defined differently by different people. Of course as the dictionary definition says it’s about accomplishing an aim or a purpose. So, to further define our own success we have to determine what our aims are and what our purpose is, right?

I would go out on a limb and say that when most people talk about being successful, they’re referring to making lots of money, or at least a ‘decent’ amount by their standards. Some people would say that it’s not all about money and more about happiness.

So if we’re not all agreed on the definition of success, how do we measure it?

happiness

Many different successes in life

Okay, so if we’re going to view success as achieving something; a goal or a target, then one may say that in life you can have many different goals and targets. For example, get grades, get house, get car, find wife, have kids. They’re all various successes someone could have. But if someone achieves all those things where does that leave them? Does that mean they’ve achieved everything in life? Is that person successful?

I would argue it’s also a lot about how you go about your success and how happy your successes makes you. In fact I’d go as far as to say that happiness and fulfillment are measures of success that should not be forgotten about.

Different views of ‘Success’

Success, if you ask me, is an opinion. It’s a feeling. Sure If you want to measure success by how much money you’re making then perhaps it’s easier: you can set a target and work towards that amount. Success could be a target of £100,000 per year.

But success could also be in the way that you make your money, rather than just actually making it. Success will vary on grand scales for people. Perhaps you’ll have succeeded when your photography business pays your bills? Success for someone else could be as simple as earning enough from shooting weddings this year so that they can buy that 5D MkIII or Nikon D4s. To others though, success may be actually making some money from photography for a start.

Success will be determined by what is important to us in life, the stage of life we’re at and what we value most.

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Success will change as our aims and purposes change

I think my definition of success and as such happiness has evolved over the years. It initially was a materialistic measure, which I think children and young people are too often taught in school, sometimes at home and all too often by television. I started working in IT at a young age and there was one particular person I looked up to who was very materialistic at the time. Because I looked up to him in the early days I somewhat inherited his narrow view of success (in my opinion). At a very young age I was earning a good amount of money. I mortgaged my own house with my own money at just 22 years old. But that didn’t make me happy at all.

When I found photography I became more and more interested in spending time making photographs, sharing, discussing and experiencing photography and all it has to offer.

When I met my wife I was more interested in getting to know her and find out all about her and growing with her as a person. We experienced a lot together (and still are).

When I had children, I was mostly interested in spending time with them and making the best possible family I could. Photography was and still is a huge part of my life and I’m very distracted by it at all times. I say that I am distracted by it because at times life is about more than photography, it’s about all of those other things that I am now learning are part of what I’m calling my success.

As new things have come into my life and priorities have changed I’ve always found that the one component needed for me to make those new things fit and work in my life to a point where I can truly enjoy them, rather than make them feel like work, is TIME.

My own Definition of Happiness

I think my definition of happiness is having time and being in control of it. Making money, in whatever way that is, is a vehicle to buying time as far as I’m concerned. Obviously, having a hobby for photography like I do offers me an avenue to explore in terms of combining that and making the money I need to buy time. BUT, in the last few years I’ve realised that the finite amount of time I have in a day, or a week was being overly allocated to photography and taken away from my wife and children.

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I think having a balance of time, control and money is my definition of happiness. Having time to explore what I come across in life and take opportunities, having control of that time so I can do things when I want to do them, and having enough money to be able to afford all of that.

Time, for me is the most important thing, but time is dependant on other things. (Control and Money). That’s my ‘formula’ so far.

Whilst some people will still consider money to be their measure of success, others will insist that money doesn’t matter at all and that’s absolutely fine. In my opinion money is necessary, but it’s a small part that enables the other components that I define as success. Unfortunately being a photographer, whether professional or a hobbyist isn’t the cheapest of passions to pursue when you compare it to say playing Squash or running. So again, you do need money to enable you to pursue what makes you happy. (if your passion isn’t free of course)

What does any of this have to do with photography?

You may be asking why on earth I am talking about this subject on a photography blog? Well, I want to get you thinking about why you’re doing this in the first place? Why are you trying to make money from photography? What does it offer you that your day job or current pursuit doesn’t? The point is that we sometimes forget why we’re doing things when we become obsessed with them and I know full well how addictive photography can be.

Closing Question

So, now that I’ve shared my thoughts on what I call success, what does ‘Success’ look like to you? It doesn’t have to be the same as me. Success to some can be financial security, or travelling the world and of course earning money is a necessary part of those things.

What is success to you?

P.S: I remember when I was very young and there were a few times where I’d asked for a gadget, such as a Sony Walkman, or a toy such as an Action Man. Sometimes I wouldn’t get those things. However, what my brothers and I did have in our childhood were plenty of great times: Travelling down to the Isle of White or to the Hayling Island coast in the UK. Disney Land Paris, City Breaks with my mum and Brothers, holidays to Greece, driving down to the South of France that took 2 days, camping in the garden things like that. They weren’t tangible thingsThey weren’t the gadgets or toys I asked for as a young boy. But what they were, were great times and memories. Sure, I didn’t get the Action Man or the Sony Walkman, most likely because I was a horrible child most of the time or we didn’t have the money for much of my childhood, but if I did get those toys, I wouldn’t be sitting here now saying to you that “I had the greatest Mum because she bought me the Walkman and the Action Man“.

However I am saying that I had a cool Mum because she gave me experiences and memories that I still have today. I did get other toys and gadgets of course, but I don’t know where any of those are today. However,  I still remember those great times and today they still have value to me. It’s for reasons such as this that I believe my definition of success is less materialistic and more about time to enjoy happiness.

When I’m old and grey, will I remember the Sony Walkman? Or, will I remember the time my brother got stuck in a swing in the park that was clearly too small for him at Hayling Island?

Happiness to me is more than things and stuff and money.

Selling is not Evil

Photography is great fun. It can appeal to both the creative side of the brain and the technical side of the brain. It can be a real headache when things don’t go your way and a real joy when things go perfectly. Photography gives me a lot of pleasure and I know it’s the same for many other people. One thing I’ve found though is that there is a common path for many people who pick up a camera. Whilst some people just enjoy making photographs and don’t want to to go any further than that, others have a lightbulb go off: “I can become a photographer and make money from this”. The problem with this thinking is, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that being a working photographer means you’ll spend about 10% of your time actually shooting. The rest is about the business side of things.

So, here’s how I see the path for many photographers (and we can talk about some of these other stages another time):

A large proportion of photographers just starting out fall down the hole of thinking that having a great camera and being able to use it well is all you need to become a successful photographer making money.

Eventually though a number of these new photographers start to learn, either naturally or through their photography communities, that success in the industry has a lot to do with marketing & advertising too. You know: SEO, Facebook Ad’s, Google Adwords, flyers, business cards in florists & bridal shops. etc. Getting your name and brand out there.

So now they havea  camera and they’re telling and showing people what they can do. Good start!

Then (and this step can sometimes come before the realisation of the importance of marketing), I find that a smaller number of these photographers find that socialising & networking is also an important part of this process to start monetising their skills. Things like wedding Fayre’s and the like: Face to face interaction.

So now they’re making photographs, sharing them and they’re getting out there and meeting people. Good!

For most of those photographers who have got this far their learning about business ends there: They’ve got the camera and they know how to use it. (check!) They’re putting business cards in shops and flyers through doors (check!), they’ve possibly even got a website (Check) and a Facebook Business page too (Check). The result of all of this is that a very small number can end up with a slightly successful ‘business’ or one that is exhausting to run (most likely both). These photographers run out of steam, get bored and some even give it all up. It can just seem as if there is no money in photography or as though it isn’t worth the effort you put in. This can feel very true for even the most successful of photographers at times, I’m sure.

For others, and this one isn’t too uncommon, the belief is that to make more money they have to make even better photographs. Whilst this is completely true to an extent, the next mistake I often see that the misconception that to make this progress to take them to the next level they need to buy even more gear to replace what they have: a better camera, more lenses, lights and modifiers etc. They can end up in debt with too much gear, most of which is never used and again, some end up bored and give it all up. So even if they do start making a regular income much of it is eaten away by the debt they’ve incurred to get to where they are in the first place.

Whilst this isn’t always the case, it’s one I see far too often.

However, even for those who continued on in their pursuit of a career in photography after buying more gear and then started to make some respectable money the missing component and the forgotten element in their business skill set is usually one of a few things. Quite often: Sales.

And that’s it. people spend thousands and thousands to get all the gear they’ve got. Some people invest in training (well done to those people. Great investment!). But if you’re marketing and shooting well, but you can’t then sell what you’re producing, it can be hard to make money!

So you’ve got someone interested. They’ve got your business card or your flyer and they’ve seen your work and they’ve got in touch. They may have even booked you. But without wanting to sound too harsh or too corporate – how do you ensure you sell to that person as much as possible? How do you up-sell? How do you maximize revenue? You may be asking yourself; “Maximise revenue? This is photography, this is not a call centre or car sales!” Well, I believe that sales is the step that many people fail at because they say things like “I’m an artist, not a salesperson” or because “I’m a photographer, not a businessman” or because they believe that they let their work and products do the talking for them.

Well, artists as they may be, we all need to remember we are in business and that selling and the art of sales is not a criminal activity. Making more money from a client is not evil and selling is part of the process of being profitable. Selling is part of being in business. Sales is a requisite of making money. Making money is required to make profit. If you’ve got bills to pay then all this is true.

The final stage that many photographers seem to fail to get to is to realise that they’re not JUST photographers: They also need to be businessmen & businesswomen. As well as making good photographs and marketing those photographs to people looking for your services – you then have to sell to those people too. More pages in the album. Larger prints, more premium frames, a better quality canvas, more hours of your time on the wedding day. Sales is not evil. It’s part of business.

You are in the business of photography, right?

If you’re uncomfortable with selling, or you don’t believe you have ‘the knack’ for it, don’t give up. Go on training, speak to other photographers who are good at training. Do some research. Selling can be the key to success. If you work out that you need to shoot 55 weddings per year at your current average booking fee…perhaps try selling more during client meetings to increase that average. Sure, work harder and work smarter; sell more.

Sales is something discussed regularly over in the Ready Steady Pro Facebook Community. Come ask us a questions about anything and join the great group we’ve got going on.

Podcast 7 – An Interview with Rob Grimes

Episode 7 see’s us interviewing Rob Grimes – a member of the British Army and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent years Rob has found a deep and addicting passion for photography and is now following that passion.

Back in 2010 Rob was asked by a friend in the military to photograph a wedding. Since then, as they say, the rest is history. Rob as since photographed many more weddings, second shot for other photographers, has declined a book deal (listen to find out more) and has been on shooting assignments in Paris and Barcelona.
Something you often hear about with Rob is his Social Media Presence. People have said that they almost feel as if they know Rob, even if they’ve never met him before. Rob’s way of sharing his life and what he’s up to on Social Media is a real insight into the daily life of a man planning a career in photography for when he retires from the army in or around 2017.

Rob is an extremely friendly guy and a rare breed in that he seizes opportunities when they come his way. Rob is humble, intelligent, driven and disciplined. Add to that a very talented and fun photographer and you’ve got a perfect formula for success in the wedding photography industry.

So, sit back and enjoy this interview, with Rob Grimes.

Rob Grimes needs YOU!

Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.


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This weeks Topic

An Interview with UK Wedding Photographer (and Soldier of the British Army) Rob Grimes


Today’s Little Gems

  • Rob’s Gem today is a twist on Brett Florens’ ‘KISS’ approach. Rob Tells us ‘KISSES’: Keep It Simple, Stylish, Exciting, Sexy.
  • Michael’s Gem for this episode was The Guild of Photographers – A UK-Based Photography Association where

Show Notes / Links

Rob Grimes Wesbite
Project Afghan
Rob Grimes Facebook
Rob Grimes Twitter
Guild of Photographers
The London Photo walk that Michael organised for the Guild of Photographers
Aspire Training


This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Rob Grimes