… and how you can do the same (no matter what country you are in)!
A little backstory: I have been a full time professional photographer for close to 9 years. My passion is weddings – I have done more than a 100 weddings, and I still cry when they say yes. For the first 7 years of my carrier I was a starving artist. I did lots of weddings (and families, and children, and events, and corporate, anything that came my way, really) – I worked worked and worked – always trying to book the next client – my portfolio was full, my calendar was full, I was a popular choice when people got married, had babies or having their family portraits done.
The truth is, however, I would have made more money working the cashier at the local fast food joint – and would even have worked less! So I decided I needed a change – I needed a fair pay for my work, I am a damn good photographer, why shouldn’t I get paid for my time and talent? So I started reading and stumbled across “In Person Sales” (IPS) for photographers. I saw people writing about making thousands – on a single client. I didn’t really believe in it – and yeah, maybe it worked in America – but here, in Denmark? No way! Everyone wants the CD (or if you are really trendy, the USB). I believed the same lie I have been telling clients for years; “You want the CD right?” WRONG!
We (as an industry) has been telling clients, for a decade, when you go to the photographer, you get a CD (USB / link to download) – and after that, our job is done. We have been lazy – and not giving our clients the service they deserve (and are willing to pay for!).
When I tell colleagues that my clients do not get files – they tell me “but the client wants files” – well mine don’t. So do I have magical clients? Or only the rich and famous? The answer is no – my clients are regular people, with regular income. But the difference is that my clients value high service – and photography.
What does my clients get then? They get my time, talent and knowledge. Besides have their gorgeous portraits taken, they get designs: Design of album, design of thank you notes, design of wall collections. They get guidance from a professional, on how their portraits will fit best into their home and style – sizes and materials, they get a beautiful album that will last them a lifetime. With the timeline and highlights from the day. They are so happy when the leave my reveal party (where they see their portraits for their first time) and even more happy when they pick up their products – and even more happy one year later, when the CD isn’t just tucked away in a drawer, but their gorgeous wall art is right there on their wall – and the coffee-table album is… well, on the coffee-table.
I started making the change late 2013 – 2014 I went full in – and I more than doubled how much money my company made. By the first 8 months in 2015, I more than doubled what I made in the same months in 2014. So I am finally getting paid (4-5 times more than before) for doing what I do best – and best of all, my clients are a lot happier!
To all of my fellow photographers out there: Get paid! And sell to your clients, they want to buy from you! Show them what your portraits are meant to be – pieces of art on a wall – not hidden on a disc somewhere.