photography marketing tips

Top Tip 13: What’s the Best Camera to Buy

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This is a question I get asked a lot by new clients starting on their photography careers, even when I’m photographing at a wedding or an event there's always somebody coming up to ask me what camera I use or what I would recommend.

The difference between a successful photographer who makes a lot of money, one that turns their hobby into a very profitable profession and one that fails has nothing to do with their camera equipment. It’s all down to marketing your business correctly, building a great name for your brand and becoming a likable and followable person on social media and your blogs.

No matter what camera you have if you don’t set goals and you aren’t consistent with your business marketing then you are very likely to fail and a top of the range Canon or Nikon will not make a difference to your success.
 

***THE BEST CAMERA FOR A PRO PHOTOGRAPHER?***

I'll probably upset a few photographers by saying this, but I believe it doesn’t make a difference what model or brand of camera you choose but obviously a Digital SLR is the preferred choice - on that, I would agree with most photographers. I personally use Canon and have done for over 25 years going all the way back to my Canon A1 film camera, that was my first serious SLR. However, during my time serving as a Royal Navy Photographer, we were all issued with Nikon Kit and Hasselbalds.

These days cameras are changing so fast it’s impossible to keep up with the latest models but to be honest I truly believe you don’t have too. I’ve personally photographed over 750 weddings to date plus around 10,000 portraits, not to mention the 100s of nurseries and schools I’ve photographed over the years.

When my business entered its second year and I turned over £100,000 from my wedding photography alone, did I go out and buy a top of the range Canon camera? No, I certainly didn’t! However, I did invest in some really good Canon lenses and today still have them in my camera bag. To be honest they are pretty much the same price now as I paid for them 12 years ago because you’re paying for the quality of the optics and that’s the business end of the camera. By contrast, if you go out and buy the best DSLR on the market today in 12 – 18 months it will have lost half it's valued and be outdated by an even bigger megapixel monster that you really don’t need.

Last year I took some portraits of two little girls at their home, they were the daughters of a bride whose wedding I’d photographed 11 years ago. After the shoot, we had a coffee and a catch-up and she brought out her wedding album. “Remember this Jeff?” she said. I did because it was one of my first digital printed albums I’d sold for £1895, that was 11 years ago. Now looking through it the quality was perfect and the photos looked as good to me now as they did then but more importantly the bride still loved it. Those images were taken on my first DSLR, a Canon 10d, which I’m sure at the time was only a 5-megapixel camera, my mobile phone has more megapixels now.

My point is, that was 11 years ago and the images were good enough then to charge £1895 for my work and the bride, and many more brides like her, still love their albums. So, is there really any need to spend £3,000 or £5,000 on a camera when a sub £1,000 body will do just a good a job for you? You can even pick up some great second-hand bargains with warranties too.

If you’re just starting out my advice is don’t go for the top of the range, you don’t need it. That money would be much better invested in marketing your business. When you start thinking of marketing as an investment, not an expense then you’ll realize that’s how you’ll make big money out of photography.

I’d much rather have two £800 camera bodies in my bag than just one £3000 model. If you’re serious about photography and making money from it make sure you have at least two full sets of equipment because one day out of the blue your camera will just stop working. It’s happened to me on several occasions but each time I’ve been fortunate enough to have a spare set in my bag all loaded up and ready to go - panic over! Imagine if you just had your one all singing all dancing top of the range model at a wedding, then suddenly it stopped working….it doesn’t bear thinking about.

I used to do a lot of trout fishing years ago and there was a saying about fishing tackle shops, they sell more equipment to catch the fishermen than they do to catch the fish - very true! The same applies to photography. If like myself, you’ve done very well out of photography and really do want the latest top of the range camera then great that’s your preference and you’ve earned it.

Remember your clients look at photographs differently than you do, they don’t see the little flaws that we obsess over. Make getting a top of the range camera your goal as a reward when your business has achieved a certain point and you’ve crossed off a few of those important goals. Invest your spare money in marketing, building your brand with great and powerful design and grow your social media presence with paid ads and you’ll see the investment pay off.

Stick a photo of your dream camera on the wall next to your desk and every time you receive a booking transfer 10% to your dream camera fund. That’s an incentive to crack your marketing and smash your goals in record time and it's proportional too, the more money you save the better your business is performing.

Hope you’ve found this post useful, I know a lot of people may disagree with me and try to argue the toss that a particular camera is better than another, this may be the case but it won’t make you more money and in 18 months time they’ll be arguing that another camera is better again.

In reality, our skill is in the art of taking photographs, it’s how we tell a story in images, it’s how we compose and arrange our subjects for a shoot, how we control and work with light to our advantage. We could probably get some amazing results on our camera phones if we had to because it’s our keen eye and attention to detail that clients are paying us for. To me, my money has been better invested in marketing my businesses than upgrading my kit every year and my investment in marketing has paid off hugely allowing me to grow 5 successful photography companies. If you are just starting out I can’t stipulate enough how important it is to invest in your marketing as well as having a good back up camera system in your bag.

Hope this helps, Jeff

Top Tip 11: Use Tags to Build Relationships

WEDDING AND EVENT PHOTOGRAPHERS - ARE YOU TAGGING EVERY TIME?

Wedding and Event Photographers you need to use the power of the TAG in ALL your Facebook and Social Media posts to get the maximum benefit from your content.

Top Tip 11 (Use Tags to Build Relationships)

When you upload photos from live events or a wedding make sure you ask your followers to tag themselves. This gets your photos in front of your fans, their friends and family too, massively extending your visibility and reach.

For example; if you've photographed a wedding party of 50 people, ask the bride to tag her friends and family in the group shot. That way your photo will appear on the profile of everyone who's tagged. You could reach thousands this way!

When I upload photos like this from a wedding I always say "Please feel free to TAG & SHARE with your friends, all I ask is you LIKE my page in return, thank you Jeff ".

You should also mention and tag the venue and any other vendors that were involved in the wedding. It is always a good idea to try and nurture friendly and professional relationships with others in the industry, that way you can recommend each other's services to potential clients.

Take a photo of the happy couple outside the venue next to their wedding car, compliment the awesome venue in your post and also say something like “beautiful Rolls Royce supplied by the fantastic ***** Wedding Cars” and tag in the company’s Facebook Page.

The chances are many vendors will connect with you to ask your permission to use the photograph in their marketing, this opens the door to possible joint ventures and commission-based referral schemes with everyone from bridal shops to cake suppliers.

Think about various stages of the wedding day and how you can tag in vendors, for example; the bride by herself looking like a million dollars and a post saying dress supplied by and tag in the bridal shop, the couple cutting the cake again tag in the cake supplier.

Always give images freely to other vendors, don’t hold onto copyright for the sake of one or two images this will only make you look like you’re only after money. The key to building great relationships is giving without expecting in return, be genuine and you’ll soon start to build solid joint ventures.

Another great idea is to have Facebook Invite cards made up. These are just smaller than postcard size and on the front have the "Like Us on Facebook Logo" with your Facebook URL, then underneath say something like ‘I hope you've had a fantastic day, I'll be uploading weddings images for everyone to see in the next few days, be sure to like my page so you don't miss them’. Then on the reverse you can include a little advert for your business. I always ask the bride to give these cards to the venue to place on the tables at the reception.

One last tip; once your post starts getting plenty of Likes, Tags and Shares be sure to click on the like button next to the post to see who's liked it then invite everyone individually to like your page if they haven't already. You'll see an "Invite” button next to their name if they don't already like your page.

Hope you guys have found this useful. As always, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me a message if you'd like to know more about my Photography Marketing & Mentoring Program.

Remember you'll only ever hit that 6 figure turnover if your marketing is up to scratch, you can be the best photographer in the world but if you can't market your work you'll never make the big money!!

Thank You, Jeff

Top Tip 7: SET YOUR GOALS

START SETTING GOALS, DON’T PUT IT OFF!

How often do you hear yourself say, “I’m going to do that one day” or “I’ve always wanted to do that”.  The problem is there are 2 major factors that stop you achieving your goals but these are both under your control and you can change that today.  The two major factors are YOU and LIFE.

Firstly, YOU are the only person who puts limitations on yourself.  Once you start removing these self-imposed limitations from your thinking then you are free to start taking the steps towards achieving your goals.

Secondly, LIFE gets in the way, that’s another great excuse.  Ok, I guess its valid to a point but in the same context it’s also a load of bullshit, pardon the French.  Does life get in the way of you eating, breathing, sleeping, watching TV or playing on your phone?  Of course not, we all do it some more than others but these are habits and actions we still make time to do.

In order to make a big change today I want you to list your 10 business goals that you’d like to achieve by 12 months from today’s date.  Write them down on a piece of paper or print them out and next to each goal I want you to place 10 tick-off boxes horizontally.  Each one of these boxes represents a 10% completion of your business goal, 10 boxes = 100%.

Stick your goals to your desk or where you can see it each day and every week do an action that brings you closer to completing each goal.  Even if its just an email or a phone call, you are still taking action towards your goals.

We all have dreams and we all have goals but if you don’t take action then dreams are all they will remain.  So now look at that goal list and change the completion date from 12 months time to 3 months time and here’s why.

For over 3 years I’ve wanted to write a book but my limiting belief that being dyslexic and that I did not have the time, stopped me from taking action.  However, when I added it to my goal chart and made the point of writing just 1000 words per week, I had a book finished, published and into the Best Sellers chart in only 4 months.

Another idea on my goal chart was to set up an international joint venture program, running my workshops and seminars overseas.  Again, I added this to my goal chart and started the slow process of sending out a load of emails and connections requests on LinkedIn.  Out of all my goals for 2018 I thought this one would be the last to come off.  Within 3 weeks of taking just a few little steps towards it I connected with Dan M Lee, an award wining New York photographer, its now taken us less than 6 weeks to form SuccessfulphotographyUSA.com and launch our first seminar date for New York this September.


The one BIG point to take away from this is start taking action NOW.  Don’t put off your dreams because you think they are too big to take shape, put them on your list and start moving towards them.  When the momentum hits and things start to kick in, your dreams can become reality pretty damn fast.

Now just to share another quick one with you, the Six Steps to Success Program was put together in one weekend and all because I told a little white lie and said I had such a program in place.  A photography marketing course supplier in India asked me to get him the details over in an email, so I had to frantically piece together all the individual training programs into one complete course in just a weekend.  AND SO…the 6 Steps to Success was born which has now gone on to help 1000s of photographers around the world.

What’s going on your goal list, I’d love to hear?  Drop me a message and I’ll send you my goal tracking and time management sheets, they are a huge help. 

Check out my You Tube Video below for even more top tips and don't forget to subscribe to my channel for regular free marketing hacks and advice.

Top Tip 4: WHAT WE PUT OFF

ARE YOU PUTTING OFF SUCCESS

I work with photographers around the world from all walks of life and all photography backgrounds, from commercial to weddings, portrait to fine art and we are all guilty of doing, or should I say NOT doing, the same thing.

As photographers we will happily sit for hours and hours endlessly editing photographs, often spending far too long over editing the final product in our strive for perfection.  But who are we editing for, is it ourselves?  Because I can bet you now that 9 times out of 10 the client probably would have been happy with the original or a very lightly edited and cropped version of it.  We spend hours of our precious time correcting what we imagine to be faults when in our clients’ eyes these faults are quite simply invisible.

Time is our most precious resource, the less time we spend editing the more time we can be shooting jobs and marketing our business.  However for one reason or another to most photographers marketing is probably one of the most complicated and uninteresting tasks on the planet, but without marketing and without a brand you’ll never truly succeed.

Marketing doesn’t need to be complicated but it does need to be consistent, if you aren’t posting on social media daily, if you aren’t uploading images and telling stories that engage with your fans and followers then you are losing out massively.

As part of my 6 Steps to Success Program I teach photographers how to really manage their time effectively, you can actually get more done in less time and still market your business every single day.

When you know exactly what to post, when and how to post it on social media then you’ll realise that just 45 minutes a day spent getting out your message and building your brand can totally transform your business in a matter of months.  I’ve had clients make tens of thousands in just a matter of 4 to 6 weeks and all it took was putting out the right message to the right people on a daily basis. 

You can be the best photographer in the world, with the best kit and beautifully edited photographs but if your phone’s not ringing and the email bookings aren’t coming in then what is the point.

Don’t think of it as marketing, think of it as telling your story or better still telling your clients’ story.  Get posting daily, upload stories, ring clients for testimonials and spread them everywhere, let the words and stories of others really sell your services because believe me this shit really does work.

Do your posting first thing on a morning, don’t even check your message, keep away from your email because its full of distractions.  Post to social media first, make your connections on LinkedIn, upload your short videos to You Tube and Facebook then you’ve done your marketing for the day.

If you take one thing away from this article, start to form a habit of doing your social media marketing first before anything else and its done.  Because if you don’t you’ll get too taken in with editing photographs, answering emails and doing the tasks that really could be left until later.

Form this habit and do it right and I guarantee the magic will happen, be consistent and do it every day - NO EXCUSES.

If you’d like me to review your website and social media drop me a message I’d be only to happy to give you a few pointers in the right direction.

Check out my You Tube Video below for even more top tips and don't forget to subscribe to my channel for regular free marketing hacks and advice.

Top Tip 3: PEOPLE BUY EMOTION

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STOP TRYING TO SELL PHOTOGRAPHS

People just don’t buy photographs on price, they buy images for a reason and that’s your major key to SUCCESS.

There are two typical reasons for a photographic purchase, either as a solution or as an emotional response.
 So, for example, a restaurant hiring a photographer to take photographs of various dishes on their menu are doing so for an answer to a problem.  The photograph is a solution to getting more clients through the door and more bums on seats in the restaurant.  People viewing the images on social media are enticed to come down and try the new dishes because the image really sells the food.  Try selling the restaurant your photography as a solution to their needs and you’re onto a winner.

For weddings and portraits its slightly different, people are making the purchase for an emotional reason.  The more you can strengthen the value of this emotional connection, the bigger your sale will become and the less objection to the purchase you’ll have.

Take for example a family portrait with both parents and their two teenage sons.  This could be the last time for years that the family has a chance to create such a portrait.  Soon their sons will be off to college or university and the possibilities of getting the family together for a shoot will become less and less.

Now in a few years time that one portrait will be looked upon as priceless and from each year forward it will only increase in emotional value becoming a more and more treasured investment to the family.

The same can be said for wedding photography.  Often this is one very rare occasion when the whole family and extended family are together.  Wedding photography is not just a collection of photographs, its all the romance and emotion, the tears and the laughter, the joy and the happiness, captured in a moment that will never be repeated.

The key to any form of emotional selling is to ask questions then shut up and listen to the answers.  Ask the future bride and groom their reasons for booking a photographer, what’s important to them in a photograph, how do they imagine their wedding photographs and who are the most important people they want captured in them.  Listen to their response and turn this around in your sales pitch using the information they have supplied you with.

If they have told you they want a lot of natural images and plenty taken with their young daughter then explain how your style is free-flowing and unobtrusive allowing all the romantic and emotional moments of the day to unfold without interference.  Explain how you’ll be there to capture those special moments on the wedding morning as their daughter (and be sure to use her name often in your pitch) gets ready with her Mam both looking beautiful together in their fabulous dresses.

Remember if a bride and groom or a family contact you, are interested in your services and they have just come from your social media pages or website then it’s a given fact that they like your work.  It’s up to you to build that emotional connection and personalise your pitch to them.  Forget price, people only buy on price if they are cheap skates, bargain hunters or Groupon Freebie followers and these are NOT your clients.

NLP (Nuro Linguistic Programming) is part of my 6 Steps to Success Program, it’s all about creating a desire for your products and services.  Like it or not we are all sales people but remember we are not forcing a sale we are creating a desire for our services and ultimately giving the client exactly what THEY want, not what we think they should have.  Ask questions, find out what drives your clients and the sale will close itself.

Hope this got you thinking.  If you do have any questions please comment or drop me a message, always happy to help. 

Check out my You Tube Video below for even more top tips and don't forget to subscribe to my channel for regular free marketing hacks and advice.