Building a Profitable Portrait Studio

 

Building a Profitable Portrait Studio

 

Lesson Info

Marketing Concepts to Generate Business

If you do not create interesting photographs and create a new interesting experience, you can market your guts out and you're not going to get anywhere because it's not it's not it's what you say it's the way you say it it's the experience all of that is first and foremost in me creating a unique brand you see at the end of the day what I'm doing over there with that model ah yeah I enjoy it but it number one it's to get me noticed it's to get people interested in my door and I know that they're there that's the easiest market that do you realize how much that saves you in marketing costs? So in my mind I'm always looking for ways to be smart and practical I mean we all have a certain amount of disposable income and if you're if you're like most photographers you don't have a lot so you have to find ways to market and to separate yourself from the realm of mediocrity and maybe you have a really tight budget maybe you could only afford to spend five hundred or a thousand dollars for a y...

ear or maybe two thousand whatever on your marketing project well then you gotta think alternatively just like my house my first home in california, I could wine and gripe about the fact that I lived in a very blue collar neighborhood and it wasn't where I want to be or I could make the best of what I could and say okay, well, what can I do with what I've got? How can I maximize the experience so powerful e that they'll forget about everything that they saw, including my neighbour with this car parked in the yard? I mean, think about that's big pretty big or the oil refinery light three blocks down the street so that's the mindset that I want you to have every experience that you see for the next two days, especially this afternoon, I want you to think to yourself marketing, marketing, marketing because that's the bottom line because it's about bringing dollars in and while like this, this whole outfit that I created for this little girl this morning do you how much that cost me to make? Um, I tell you what, I'm gonna show you a little short video and you'll see exactly know and by the way, it didn't come from some fancy store you're probably wondering what I'm doing at a hardware store. Well, I'm in ames hardware and supply store in pleasant hill, california, and I have to tell you, this is one of my favorite places to find props for my studio first of all, thank you so much for letting me come here this evening now I will tell you we're going to have some fun I have purchased some wire what is this called peter aluminum screen thank you aluminum screen and then this is also screen but it's made out of what? Okay now you're probably wondering what in the world are we going to do with that well I'm gonna create a gown for my model to wear out of both of these things you see I believe that it's really important for us to learn to think outside the box and that creating a a beautiful gown out of something as crazy as windows screening or out of something made out of fiberglass it only has to look good on camera in fact I bet you anything there's all kinds of really cool things in here don't you carry garbage bags in here too don't you oh that would make an awesome the black garbage bags would make a fabulous ball gown and that and duct tape and what hardware store does not carry duct tape so I figured that within the confines of this hardware store we confined all kinds of really cool things so that we could create some garments for our clients to wear okay good this is perfect and then I saw something um you have over here um plastic sheeting what color is it basically they call it clear oh it's a little cloudy but they call it clear okay just the only other one is black you they make it in black this is um three mil black plastic comes in twenty foot by twenty five foot and this is for male plastic ok, so for those of us that are ignorant what is the difference what does that mean three million four mil three thousands of an instinct four thousand okay, so this is thinner than correct okay, well that's what we want is the thin stuff now this is really cool this black plastic it looks so much like black leather when you get it on a subject it is absolutely beautiful so we're gonna grab we're going to take one of these it's like twenty five years twenty five feet twenty twenty five feet oh, fantastic which is going to defend that would be really, really good. Okay, thank you. So now we have our wire and we've got our black plastic sheeting which is gonna be amazing for a black leather dress I think we're ready to go thanks. Okay, so the moral of the story is you can go to your local hardware store do you know much that it cost me to purchase the this window screening? It was fourteen dollars, folks okay, so how much it costs me fourteen dollars how much is that worth to me? How much will that product bring me back in revenue that's really the bottom line that's the big question of the day how much will it benefit me so from a marketing standpoint, I have a gal whether she whether it was something that was she would love to have the photograph perfect for her what about the experience? She will go home and she'll tell everybody but you cannot leave my studio without talking about it one way or the other right and in fact somebody was asking who is asking you are you asking me about the, um during about the you have a question you would ask me earlier about that? Okay, someone one of the students asked earlier about well, baby, you know, you know if you're going to do a session for a high school senior and you do this, you know, do you charge more for that? No, no, not at all that's absolutely part of my experience because teenagers talk, they are they're on facebook and there's nobody that is marketing for you better than a teenager, a high school senior oh my goodness that's what I want so I will have those images I'll show my client their pictures and that may be something I would post online of course given parent parental permission and that way they have their friends can go on and look and see if they picked the pictures and that is the greatest marketing tip of the day I will tell you it isn't a phenomenal way to generate people's interest in what you're doing and to see that you're doing something different and if you could do something different, I promise you you're going to be you're going to really help. So this is the first photograph I did this to the other day when I photographed sarah and I liked the design we did today even better so it never is the same you never create the same garment twice and actually, I think that's to your benefit because again, even if you have somebody who you've done that, you know beautiful dress for, you know and then she tells her friends and they said, well, baby, I want you to do that for me well, it's really difficult to do it the same way twice because today you feel one way emotionally and tomorrow you might feel something different on dh so if you want to, you can you can use it over and over and over again. What we do with her is would take it just we just unsafe, unstable it from the top. She could slip it over her head so it basically stays intact. Yes, what's awesome. Great about this is that you can mould it to fit and fatter anybody shape you are exactly right that's exactly right? Because you can mould it to fit any body shape, they don't have to be one particular size. I mean, this loop this is really the definition of one size fits all not only that, but also the little garments, the undergarments that I have, the girls wear, those little stretchy slips, I mean, you could buy one size and it'll fit a variety of women, so they don't. They're not exact sized things, and I think that's also important for you to its practical, my goal is for us to give you practical concepts that you can take to the bank tomorrow morning and that you can reinvent your business. My goal is that within a month that you're making more money than you are now, and that more importantly, you're making more money and you're making your being more profitable. You see that's the big thing you see you can be if you make more money, but you give it all away because you're spending thousands of dollars on expensive props and an expensive camera gear, and this is not the other thing, then really, all you're doing is treading water, so you have to think in terms of practicality and that's why every piece of furniture in my studio is multi purposed that's why even my garments might my garments it'll create for the girls their multi purposed so that I can use them in a variety of ways who knows that that metal screening might become a hairpiece next it might become a hairpiece I don't know. Okay, so what does your ad say about you? What kind of pictures are you showing in your advertising? I mean all of us one way or the other I like to do a little creative advertising. Okay, now this is an advertisement that I made up only because I didn't want to piss off people and like like really like show their real ads that suck. Okay, but I want you to know the worst part about this advertisement is that I've seen it from a riel working photographer something that looked very similar to this so let's dissect this ad for a moment this is bunny stars photo world she's a character that I created the first thing what is the first thing that you come that comes to your mind when you see this ad andrea namath okay, what else? Cheap cheap what else? I wouldn't necessarily want someone to shoot a wedding like it was their first cause that's usually a pretty panicked frantic not prepared time. Yeah, exactly. So what was she thinking? Right? Okay, what do you think about the lovely fact that all of the type face in this is different, okay? It doesn't work, does it and what are they saying with the ad? You see the pictures only about this big in comparison to all of the written words this is important for you mail you gentlemen in the room because logical thinkers would so I say hey, I want to give them lots of information so that they can make a logical decision wrong we don't want you making a logical decision we want them making an emotional decision because you see an emotional decision gets them to hire me you see an emotional decision is the kind of decision that despite oh you don't you don't want the cheapest you want because it's special tell me give me an example of experiences that are motion driven how about weddings? Is that a logical is that a logical driven experience? No way it is absolutely emotion driven in fact it's so much an emotional driven experience we even get guys to get down on their knees and do all that romantic stuff or they go right in the sky with, you know, with the planes and all of that stuff because they understand that if they said to us if they walked up just said, hey honey, I won't meet some kids let's go get hitched and yours haul her off to the courthouse first of all there are some women that are logical like that I don't want that client she's not mine okay that's not the client I want right I want that girl that's been wearing a bath tell on her hit since she was five years old I want that young lady that has dreamt about this that that when she got engaged first thing she did was go out and get that good a bride's magazine and picture herself that's my client again this is good marketing it makes sense so if you want them to buy from you emotionally what do you have to do heather he had two cells it emotionally you need to make that picture big and it needs to be an emotional picture that that's right way use this picture why not what's what's wrong with money she's a leading down what's wrong with that there's nothing that you know you need like the father giving away the bride or you know the the groom looking at his wife for the first time something that draws you emotionally that's right you want them crying about your work in a good way even before they've seen your pricing before they've seen your work and if you can get them to buy from you emotionally then you have mom doing this oh honey but it's her wedding you know my husband and I we only have one child or it was our son cameron and so what he was getting married I want you to know if he had decided to alone we want to personally both wanted got not killed him we would've just beat the crap out of him because we were gonna have a wedding okay we really wanted to have a wedding that means our only shot right and so thankfully my beautiful daughter in law you'll get to meet her this afternoon she's one of our models she was we were able to get way you know they will have this beautiful wedding and I had a ball I actually had the most wonderful time I've ever had in my whole life my son get this he is my clone by the way he's my mini me when he was fourteen years old he walked into my living in one day he said hey mom come here I want to show you something okay and this was in the time when you had tape decks you know eight you have four tracker the small cassettes they pop this cassette into the tape player says I want to hear something and he turned on the tape machine just says this is the song that you and I are going to dance too on my wedding day it was boys two man mama I want you to know you're not wanting to cry right now I am because it still makes me get choked up okay why did I tell you that story did it not draw you in and yet it's the truth it's an absolute truth but you see that's what we're doing when we're talking to the bride's at a bridal show or you know we have mother's coming in they're bringing are there babies in find a common ground one that he's emotion driven and then they quit looking at your price list like well, your eight by tens or two hundred twenty five dollars oh my goodness wow and I could go to costco and print that for for two dollars and ninety five cents you see you take the logic out of it and it becomes more of an emotion driven biz uh experience and I don't think that's manipulative I think that's true I don't consider it manipulation I don't manipulate people I'm honest with them and you see I really believe with every fiber of my being that photographers that we that we really produce very important entity for people we give we give them history, we share history with them and they have history because of what we produce off their children and their grandchildren and their great grandchildren and as much as they love those pictures now you just wait five years from now or when that baby is taking its first step and we've recorded that on for them those become very special things and those are the kind of pictures you want to have those kind of pictures that when they look at your work that they see themselves in your imagery and that's why you can't just take one kind of photograph that's why I'm gonna show crazy stuff like you see that we did this morning but I'm also going to show them beautiful normal very pretty family pictures because I want them to have a variety the wacky stuff brings him in my door and then they go home and they buy all that crazy normal stuff but they still want the other the other things too I think it's again it's a way to keep them coming back so when we look at this advertisement it's it's really just a horrible at isn't unlimited photography rehearsal ceremony and bridle engagement photo sessions with prince loner frames and easels for porch it's because you obviously can't afford to buy your own or wrentham, right? So the whole advertising says I'm too cheap I'm cheap and I know it and I can't afford anything and we don't want that kind of advertising because a subliminal message in that is I'm selling eggs I'm not selling the emotional experience and that's what we you and I must sell to be in business in this not two thousand thirteen we must sell emotion that's gotta be happening do we have questions that people are asking about this see um I have a comment? Yeah thinking about the emotional connection I found recently with some of the sessions that I've done after the fact when I see these people there's like a friendship there, that wasn't there before, which is really cool, you know, and that's really an important point because we really need to build relationships and that's what keeps them coming back? We're going to talk to you more about the about the building of relationships and how that builds your business tomorrow. But almost every one of the girls that's here today actually all accept my daughter in law letha are girls that I photograph their wedding, and so I've built relationships with them. I have clients that have photographed their weddings, and now I'm photographing their high school senior children. I think about the time their kids get married, I'm gonna be with my little walker, but I can promise you won't be having my little walker with a little my little camera mounted on the front of it. Um, yeah, you know, I think so too, and actually, they're times right now, so, you know, you have we do have a question from jodi mcnary, wondering if you consider yourself a boutique photo studio and what that implies. That's a great question, yes, I am a boutique photo studio, I sure am, I don't do huge numbers of portrait's a month. I'm not going to do, you know, thirty or forty sessions a month. I don't do them every day. I probably do portrait sessions, maybe four times, three times a week. S o, we're not a high volume studio, we are a high dollar studio, so we are definitely a boutique studio, but I didn't I wasn't always that way, and you can go from one to the other and I gotta tell you, it's a whole lot more fun being a boutique studio than it is being the olin mills, and I'm not saying that that's, not there's, not a place for that, but I don't want to do sixty sessions a week when I look at, you know, charging thirty five dollars for a portrait session, you could do six of those a day, I started doing the math on that, and this really upset me when I saw this pricing, because I'm thinking about the poor photographer who's going to be killing themselves, and they give the digital files with it, really, for thirty five bucks, I mean, you might as well just be writing them a check because you're not going to be in business, and so I think, it's important for all of us to have the boutique mentality, maybe you wanted photographs. Twenty five or thirty sessions a week or a month or whatever I'm not saying don't do that but you can still have the boutique mentality which is more of a of an exclusive kind of mentality and that's really what I want is I want to become the louis vuitton of the photo world and I'm gonna talk to you about that a little bit more as we go on go on you're talking about how like you show those kind of wow pictures kind of bring people in and we were talking about this a little bit last night um there's so much about like you have to have a niche and you've choosen itch and like what is your specialty? And then I feel like I I like to shoot portrait's and I you know, I like shoot children and I love to do engagement couples and then it's like ho and I need to build my website but wait do I want to put children or get it and I don't know like I don't want to pigeonhole myself what do you know? So how do you I mean clearly I've seen the pictures in your studio I've seen your picture online you khun do fashion, you do weddings, you do family, you do all of it and you do it so well how do you you know what's like your suggestion that's an excellent excellent observation, because so many photographers they tried to do the same thing with me, usually to me, it's people who don't really know what they're doing. Or maybe they knew what they're doing. But they have their point of view. And I don't think I agree with it because you know what? I am a specialist. I specialize and photographing people, whether she's wearing a wedding gown or not, who cares? It's a baby that's. Only just a girl that just has grown up to be a bride. Yet the same concepts that I used to photograph a bride I used for babies, the same concepts for little babies getting distracted. Hey, that work, some rides beautifully. So it's all the same. And so I absolutely do portrait. And I am very proud of the fact that I have a full service studio. I like the variety. It would bore me to tears just doing one thing all the time. I love flying by the seat of my pants with little kids and not knowing what you're going to get from them. But the same thing happens with brides. So when people always is, they would say, well, bambi, you know, they used to tell me that especially in my early career, well, what's your specialty and I used to let that intimidate me I go well, you know I fuck are families and kids and I do weddings too and they go well you need to specialize you need to pick one and just do that I'm think well wait a minute uh photograph people and I think that that's really what so that's my specialty I'm not all that great at landscape I'll tell you that I can photograph horses but not anything else so so I think that's all in the way that you look at it again I think that there's there's a lot of varying degrees a lot of people have different points of view it doesn't mean that they're wrong it just is different and I choose to look at everything positively and I go today I feel like photographing families on I feel like photographing weddings maybe next week I might say you know I don't really want to photograph any weddings anymore I think I just want to photograph pets you know? I don't know but at least if I if I have the way my businesses run today I can continue in a niche I love doing boudoir but I don't do it all the time I don't do it every single day I do it as part of my my experience and I like that and mike and here's the other side of that coin to that I think is important you see, if you only do one thing, then where is that other business going? And I mean, thinking. And you know how I came to this opinion because when I hired michael, I hired him originally to photograph weddings for me. And I was not interested in photographing children. I would rather have a root canal that photograph kids. I had one, but it's not like I loved. I never dreamt about photographing little kids. They they kind of made me have breakout in sweat, scared the heck out of me, okay? And then I hired michael, and then I started thinking about it went, okay, I'm gonna I'm going to build a relationship with this client that's bride, and then I'm going to say when she has when she's pregnant. Oh, by the way, go see my friend john doe so that she can continue a long term relationship with a competitive er, what in the world is wrong with that picture? That was wrong. So I decided, well, if I'm not good at something, I'm gonna get somebody in who's really good. And so I hired when when I saw that michael's ability was with children I thought, hey, you know what? He can interact with them and I'll photograph I can use the same techniques that I use on brides and he will draw them right to my lens and so it's been a beautiful relationship, so whatever it is you're shot good at find somebody who's good at that and then have them help you in that endeavor. Does that help? Okay. All right. Here is my contract from nineteen ninety one and as you can see, wedding photography contract very, very simple this one provided one hundred fifty photographs to choose from. They could have thirty six eight by tens or a combination of eight by tens five by sevens and five by five fill the thirty six sides of their leather craftsman album. Do you guys have any idea how expensive leather craftsmen album is ok? And for that joy I was going to charge nine ninety five or what it's under nine ninety five a thousand less than a thousand dollars to do that. What does that mean to you? What it means today is that every one of you are going to go home and you're going to start calculating what it cost you to do the job you know it is an eye opening experience when you open that priceless and you look at that wedding album because what have we done this is what you did trust me. I know, because I did the same thing you go, I don't want to think about birthing no babies. So I'm going to be just call all my friends to pretend to be a bride and I'll get their price list and I'll just make up my own or I'll go a little bit less than them and then I'll be the cheapest photographer in town. Hey, guess what, you're preaching to the choir. I did the same thing when I started in my career in my early days. That's what I did, I just call up the my little my friend photographers. Hi, I'm joan and getting mary, could I have one of your price list and then alright have my little spies at a bridal fair? My little spice would go to the during the show. They would go all to all my competitors and they go oh, I'm getting married. Could I have one of your priceless? And they take all those priceless they'd bring him back to me and we'd sit giggling all the way back to the studio thinking now I know the secret to my success, I'm gonna undercut every one of them. The problem is, is that nobody actually sat down, including them or myself, because we were too dog on lazy and actually figured out, well, what if I give them a leather craftsman book? Or what if I give them that beautiful epic album or or any of the other gorgeous album companies that are out there? Uh, and we don't think about what it cost for the product you see, photographers are artist, so we don't like to talk about money. We don't like to talk about numbers, I mean, I have a two point o g p a there's a reason for that way don't like talking about algebra never took cause I didn't have to thank goodness. So the moral of the story is this that you must sit down at some point and calculate what it is you want to give a client what it is that you want them to have at the end of the day and then calculate what it cost you put to produce that the average wedding out wedding album today to produce is about around between six hundred thousand dollars for a good a nice, beautiful book, not the cheapo kind that you know that really el cheapo wants so a thousand dollars. And yet the average price of a photographer today for shooting weddings there's still photographers out there that are charging a thousand dollars to photograph a wedding? I don't care, even if you're giving them just the digital files let's talk about that for a second what is that doing to you as thie artist as the photographer when you just give them unedited un retouched picture you know and you think there's not a reason why there's lots of amateurs saying hey, I've got a good camera well maybe it's because the professionals aren't doing anything different their pictures look just as bad or just a cz good depending on the way you look at it so why hire a pro heck I wouldn't I wouldn't hire one if they're pictures looked just like the amateurs that why bother so maybe it comes down to the craft and the way that you present them and then you need to be thinking about helping them to appreciate the value of the printed product and so for albums you must calculate that into your cost to sit down and say okay well what is my dream where what do I want to produce for a client what do I want to give them and then figure out how much it costs for you to produce that so that you can deliver a product to a client that you could be proud of and one that is not going to break the bank and many of our industry that's one of the reasons that's one of the biggest reasons that were starving to death is that many photographers don't do that okay what not todo you have to admit that's a face only a mother could love huh? Um what not to do here are some some tips for if you're creating those marketing pieces you don't want to do um textures are wonderful and there are some beautiful textures out there as I said graphic authority makes them amazing textures and if you look at that book then you saw how beautiful they look but that face doesn't go with those textures you see that that's just so wrong on so many levels it's just not even funny so you want to think about that and here's another tip if you're not one of those people who are really good with that kind of thing I learned to network there's a there's a reason why all these hairdressers are here in these makeup arts are here today because I believe it's important to network with people who know what they're doing in their field I'm not a graphic artist however I have collaborated with a lot of graphic art so I know now a lot more about graphic arts so learn to embrace other people and their strengths and if you're not good at that as I said if you're not an artist hangout with artist you'll become a lot more artistic so that kind of philosophy will help you to create things that have good taste go shopping I love shopping because it teaches me so much and that's why I brought this slide back I wanted to spend a bit more time on louis vuitton because it's not about a purse this is about a concept that is really why I'm here today you know I have to tell you back in the early nineties in nineteen ninety one I was sitting in the parking lot at the elks lodge in walnut creek, california and I was thinking to myself why am I here? Why am I photographing wedding receptions at the elks lodge in walnut creek? Not that it's a bad place but I really want to be photographing at the ritz carlton where the bride's had all that spent all the money on this beautiful dresses it's a lot easier to photograph a very expensive wedding then it is a really inexpensive wedding it is a lot easier trust me I've done both and so as I sat there that day I remember thinking well, I've got to reinvent myself and you see I believe you can too you can reinvent yourself if you were at the bottom of the food chain today you absolutely within one year can reinvent yourself and become somebody who has a boutique studio and make a great living at your craft you can but you have to think smartly and one of the things that you have to do is you have to study things that draw people in and so I decided, well, you know what? I can't afford to go back to school, or I don't want to go back to school because I can't learn from a book anyway. So what do I do? Well, I thought, you know what? These guys spend billions and billions and billions of dollars trying to attract who? Same client I want it want to only rich women by luton now, no, and you know how I know that's? True, because they wouldn't have canal street in new york city, where they have all the fake louis vuitton and think about this if on ly rich women bought louis vuitton um, why do all these other gals there's like me? Why do we have him? And we're not buying the fake ones? Not necessarily. I mean, I don't buy fake, so think about it. Why does anybody buy that kind of purse? It's? Because it makes them feel good, and there are times in our life when we give ourselves permission to spend money, what is the time when we give our spells sells permission? Give me an example of a time when we give ourselves permission to spend money that we don't have when we're feeling bad when we're feeling bad, what else, birthday, yep, what else, christmas oh yeah christmas is a big one, right? How many of you spent and many many people spend thousands of dollars that they don't have on christmas right? And you think when we had the recession that nobody would have gone to the shopping mode no, you don't have any money what do we do? Buy lasting most people do right? So the moral of the story is I'm not the person police it's not my job to say oh honey, you can't afford me, so I'm not gonna charge that much think about that I mean think about it the louis vuitton store says, you know what? You know nobody in pleasant hill california could afford to spend twelve hundred dollars in a bag, so we're going on lee we're going to have still have luton there, but we're gonna charge four hundred dollars think about that that's stupid no, they're not going to do that and the way that you have to look at this as I believe that you have to look at it from the standpoint that we don't do it routinely, but there were times when we give ourselves permission. So how can you use that concept photographically? Well, how about when you want to do family portrait at special occasions you know, for a wedding that's is definitely a time when people will spend money that they don't have I wanted to spend it on my services on my wedding services. What about when you have when a baby's born that's a time when emotion rains high, so so don't allow yourself to buy into the thinking that well, nobody could afford me because nobody in my town has ever charge that much. That's that's ridiculous. That's like the mercedes deal are saying, you know, nobody here in columbus, georgia, could afford to buy a new mercedes. And yet they could they'll go. So were not going well. Charge half price for them. That's, stupid that's. Just dunk. Know the price of that product if you want it is such. And you know what car dealers have learned. They get it. How did they sell a car? It's? Not based on what? That what? It's? Not based on logic, is it it's? Yeah. That's, right. It's abs and the more expensive the car, them or emotion that they put into it. The real el cheapo cars. You know those second? Hey, this one's going to get, you know, ten miles to a gallon twenty five hundred miles to a gallon. The higher you go up in the food chain on the cars, the mauritz where they showing that sexy, cute little model with her hand on the car with the older gentleman here who's there little she's a little trophy girlfriend of every life right because they know that they have to deal emotionally get this people to buy so how can we use this information now for us well when I saw this this store window in home in hawaii I was absolutely fascinated with one person a window one little piece so how do I translate that to my business that big wall piece that you see on the wall is my interpretation of that you see it's a way to take something that's a photograph something and make it look special make it look like a piece of artwork and that's why that's there and that's why they have one person that window so that's what the picture looks up looks like close and you notice there's by the way here's one more thing that's really important about this do you notice why do you think there's any thought that went around them having yellow uh yellow um uh eros what was the thought process you got it color contrast is really important and the fact that they chose to put red behind the yellow they're opposites on the color wheel if these air all concepts that go into creating your marketing material that you use for your studio this is also the same concept that you use when you decorate your studio the way that you create like in my case, I chose all warm tones, just soft graze and just to keep the palate the underlying palate neutral so that I could pop color against it and really make something stand out. When I chose this color of grey, my first thought was I want to have lime green in some way have a pop of lime green because it would really create it, make it and pull it from being soft and and neutral to being young and trendy and s so I'd like to create a variety of looks we're going to talk about this on sunday a little bit more questions do have any questions from the audience always do? Bambi on one moment by the way, I just want to give a shout out to mark wallace, who is in the chat rooms and saying hi and watching and enjoying right? Tell mark I said, hi, I will, we will so people always are, you know, it's tough to accept kind of some of the things that you're saying. Tammy twelve is saying in my area there are so many photographers and each one offers a different array of pricing all well below fifty dollars a session, plus digital images how can you go above that and try to real people in when the clientele seemed to flock towards cheaper photographers who give all the images on a disk well, you know that is a very, very good question and you think that they have mohr photographers per capital that we have here in the bay area probably not you know, it's this is a common problem everywhere, so unless you want to be that person unless you want to be that studio that's doing real inexpensive you know that it's an expensive market if that's where you want to go there's always going to be somebody cheaper than you that's what you have to remember is that I don't care what you charge there's somebody who's less than you and and you know what things have aren't all that different than they were when I shot film back in the olden days when I photographed with film you'd hear photographers griping and going, oh well there's someone so is cheaper and and he's given all of the negatives away oh my gosh you know and so it's not a new thing no I personally just choose to concentrate on where I want to go I don't care what they do what I will have are a group of people who will hire me year after year after year and continue to hire me and I will be a boutique studio which means I'm not going to go after the masses what you have to do if you want to go and you want to be that person that's different absolutely start with taking pictures different communicating different what are they doing? You don't want to do that's my point you don't want to do what they're doing so you look at the kind of photography they're doing you say well what could I do differently what can I do that would really set me apart? Well one of the first things that you can do this has been my experience absolutely the first year that I tried this is that tripled my rates and you know, the craziest thing that happened is I was twice as busy as my rates triple the cost than I was when I was the same as everybody else because here's the flip side of that the cheaper you are there's always going to somebody less the more expensive you are guess what happens you become sought after because you're a designer label like our luton see louis vuitton this is why I think luton is such an important and also the other designers like gucci and armani and why they're still around because they recognize that it's not about being the cheapest that sometimes that it's about being more expensive that makes you more valuable you see louis vuitton you could buy a fake blue baton in new york city for twelve dollars go to canal street buying for twelve bucks why is there a real louie vuitton store in new york city? What nora would go in there why would you go and that is my wrong why is that a different scenario than us it's not any different it's just they're selling purses were selling photography it's the same and so and in fact when I walked in new york city new york city with my favorite city in the world the diamond district blows me away tiffany's you go to tiffany's in new york city you could buy a half a carat diamond in tiffany's for five thousand dollars. Okay? It seems like a lot why would anybody ever buy anything in tiffany's do you realize that the diamond district of new york the whole new york is two blocks down the street forty seventh and seventh avenue trust me I know I've been there and I love the diamond district do I buy from the diamond district? No, not necessarily. You know why? Because it makes me uncomfortable and here's the scenario okay, tiffany's when you walk into that store do you honestly think you have any doubt as to whether that's a real diamond in there? No. You know if when you see ladies when you see that little blue box of that white bo does your heart not skipped a little beat you he got me something special if he handed you your press and he bought you a diamond ring and it came in a little plastic bag with a star on the front what would you think you are something else or another insignia? That but it's in a plastic bag, you might go. Oh, that's. Nice, but you wouldn't. But you don't even have to see the word tiffany on that bag, you know, that's going to be a home run, right? Ok, so I'm in new york city and I go and I go to the tiffany store. They have this fabulous guard and he's gotten white glove on, and he opens the door it's just beautiful. Which leads me to the harry winston store in las vegas, nevada, which is this store right here in this window, they have again, they have that beautiful guard that stands right outside. Well, they have a harry winston in new york city to, and he stands ready, opens the door and you go in and then they have this beautiful sales person that comes up and helps you. They don't have every piece of jewelry in the entire store in the window, do they? You're not going to see the sea of jewelry because what happens if you see the sea of jewelry with thousands of diamonds in everything? You can't see any of it, you can't get emotional, but it's, so overloading on you, you can't see anything. So these guys figured out a way to make their product look exclusive and special for that special occasion. So harry winston, they said, hey, let's, make it look like a flower and there is that beautiful jewelry right here. Is this too little pair of earrings and a ring? How expensive is that real estate? But you see, they know that some because it looks like it's got the little butterfly with a net. It's captivating. Interesting imagery is captivating. So it draws you in, and then then they can grab you emotionally. That's the kiev to the photographer who starting low and they want to move up the food chain is they must start by producing imagery that he's, emotion invoking and that is packaged uniquely. Maybe it's your website, maybe it's through the marketing materials you have. And that was the most important lesson I ever learned. The first couple of years I was actually a first year, I was in business. I was so cheap, I could afford to hire myself. And let me tell you, when you're so cheap, you can afford to hire yourself. You really are not gonna make any money. And after that, when I was sitting in that parking lot of the elks lodge that day, I'll never forget it, because literally. Within one year I changed my life. I changed the course of my life, so I said to myself, ok, I can go back to to get to school and get a degree in marketing or what else could I do? I chose I said, you know what? I'm going to go get a ph d in attracting my client, so I went to nordstrom's that day I went to nordstrom's and I went to the second floor where they carried the designer labels. I went to the couture department, which is where they have armani and gucci, and I couldn't afford to buy any of that stuff, but I started studying the way they had that department laid out. I studied the photographs that they had on the walls. I started studying the the the color schemes that they had, and I came to a really brilliant observation. First of all, they had life style photography on the walls. It was not just snore mel's pictures that you could see anywhere. They also had very few pieces of merchandise on the shelves. They didn't have, like shelves and shelves and shelves and shelves. Full of stuff all over the place again you don't see thousands of pictures on my wall I want the boutique I want that experience I don't want the smorgasbord you know you could go to an all you can eat buffet for twelve dollars and ninety five cents and you can eat it all and then some right? Or you can go to that fancy restaurant and they give you a medallion of beef about the size of a quarter but it looks like a picasso painting right and it's it's one hundred twenty five dollars see it's not about the meat it's about the experience so if you start changing the way your facade looks change the way that you approach a client change the way your clothing looks make sure that you dress for success in that couture department in north since I can promise you they're not wearing, you know, just a a pair of ratty jeans and a t shirt they're dressed in the in the kind of clothing that they would expect that client to buy. Now you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to do that let's say you want that more beauty client learned to consign shop I love it, I'll tell you what it's a best thing that's what I did, I love good clothes I've got to tell him absolute clotheshorse I love them and I really like expensive things but I'm I'm very practical and in my scheme of my budget, I'm not going to spend a lot so but I will find I'll go I'll find a really nice a consignment store and I will go in and I'll buy beautiful armani jacket this is black label our money that I have on, but I won't pay twenty five hundred dollars for a jacket I'll pay maybe two hundred bucks that's and so I don't mind that and you know what? I'm not afraid to say that around the world? I mean, so what? You know who I am? I'm not here to impress anybody, but I am here to help you to see ways that you can improve who you are and what the way that you present your products, and I can't tell you how important the way that you dress and the kind of products that you offer the way that they look the way that your brochures look, that goes volumes into whether you're going to be able to charge more and get it. You can't hand them a piece of white copy paper with your pricing on it and expect to charge, you know, five thousand seven thousand or for a portrait session, you know, two hundred twenty five dollars for a sheet of copy paper, they're not going to do that because it's not it does it's not cohesive with the appearance of the product when you walk into that gucci store that louis vuitton store and you buy purse you think they put that in a plastic bag know how many women do you know throw away their luton bags at the purse came in no they keep them they keep them and they keep their value those persons keep their value so it's a real important thing and so that's why I decided to create a line of marketing materials is this one of my marketing pieces and the title of these marketing pieces is called focus on fabulous weddings and this is the two thousand thirteen collection why where do you think I got two thousand thirteen collection from how about designer labels noticed the harmony how all of the photographs are in harmony together I don't have like a black and white picture here that's got a blue tone and a bright orange picture here on the right I picked images that were harmonious together like that wall that we saw in that the luton star everything works together so that there's harmony to it I'm not showing tons and tons of pictures this is a trifle brochure by the way to five a five inch trifled brochure and so when you open it they'll be this picture is the front and then when you open on the other side will be the other and then the of the image on the back would be this particular photograph, so I've got three photographs in this brochure and then on the inside I'll have my beautiful pricing material um there's the platinum collection, the diamond collection and the gold collection let me read some of these two is going to read a little bit of this the platinum collection it's your wedding day, which means it's your time to shine and just like the sparkle on your finger this love is forever with world rep with world renowned photographer talents of blood love law on hand, your wedding day will be filled with memory she'll want to recall for a thousand forever's I love that were I think a thousand forever oh my god, it makes me wanna cry so and so and his team will be there to capture all of the moments that truly matter and then some. So what have we done? We've created a word picture, so it takes them from the logic driven mentality to an emotional place. So even the written words it's important that the written words be emotion invoking and then as you read further, I'll try get I provide the collections by the way, this is part of a new collection of products that I have their available to photographers said if there's a photographer that wants to reinvent themselves and they want to just drop in their prices hey, I've already done all the hard work you've just put your name and they're they're on they're layers so you can just put your own name where the blanks are you don't write it and you obviously type it and of course and then put your pricing at the bottom um the whole this is mine for focus on fabulous collection for portrait again notice that there's not a lot of there's not a ton of words and then we have addressed dress some of the interesting points are the points that are delicate this way scheduling your portrait sessions simply requires a retainer of what block which is applied one hundred percent is a photo credit for portrait sessions we do a photo credit and I love it because it means that they have they have a certain amount of money that is already in their little bank and they come in for a portrait session that's applied to whatever they want purchase money spent is money for gotten that's important that's really important and my goal is to have them spend as much as I can up front or early I want to get a little bit from that want to get something from them shows their commitment to me and then guess what the good thing is is it's going to be money that is forgotten when they want to purchase more product or more more different products and such the image premiere your image premier appointment allows for the display of images at the desired size on our sixty inch plasma monitor and usually takes about an hour and a half. Any who wish to be part of the decision making process should plan to attend to ensure our relaxing, enjoyable viewing experience. We suggest small children not be present. Uh, you should be there on dh. This is my favorite line in the entire and the entire piece. Please note we purge our system each month of unordinary photographs, so don't delay in placing your order for images so that when you have that person in that wants to look at every single picture twenty five times and then they want teo, they said, well, I got to go home and think about it, and then they never come back. You've wasted all that time we purge our system every month and that way, but by it's gone, and so we want them to be aware of that from the first day that we're not gonna hang, we're not going to be there, archivist. We're not gonna be there, archivist. Okay, you come in for a session, we wanna be able to create that do some images for your beautiful session, and then let's, make a decision and order our prince, my prince, aren't super inexpensive. So five hundred dollars doesn't go a long way on dad whatever you do whatever you charge make sure that that the amount that you're charging if you do that kind of pricing that there's a place there's lots of room for growth see if you give everything ahead of time then there's no room for them to grow and I want them to another was to buy more when they come back in does that make sense? Okay, this is the flip side of that brochure and as you can see on this piece it has one of my favorite things that has a guest a gift list um so for them to write another family friends that they want to maybe give gifts to on dh then there's a section in the middle for portrait albums we sell thousands of albums we love selling books because lots of today's young families hey, you can only put so many large wall torches on the wall with their kids. But guess what? Every family could come in once a year to archive their family history huge huge it's a great way to get families in every single year on then masterpiece wall fortresses well and against you see these air temple it'd so that you just drop in drag your own pricing in um okay, now this is my very, very, very favorite thing we're going to talk now about hair wars first of all do we have any questions about anything we've discussed so far? We should ask some questions we do uh judy bee photography specifically talking about wanting to raise prices or or how how to charge what you're worth says would you price high from the start or work your way up to high end? We have a lot of people out there who are just starting their business right? And I really by the way I have great respect for that I was one of them I was a mom die I really get that and being a new person this is what I would say to that I would say make sure that your profit that you have a large profit whatever you charge so in other words I'm not saying you have to charge thousands of dollars to produce a product there was an article in people magazine professional photographers of caliph are of of america last month about pricing and the professional photographers of america recommends twenty five percent that your cost of goods be no more than that I think about what that means that means that you you've got you can't just be charging ten dollars for a print you need to charge you need to make sure that you're profitable they said that studios that will be profitable that their cost of goods to produce another ways to produce that product is not going to any more than twenty five percent and what could go into that is your retouching if you have something that works for you that does retouching what else could go into that would be somebody who if you have anybody do your artwork or your would be retesting what it bam any of those other those things that go into it maybe it's broke the brochures of the books that you put him in it might be like we use beautiful mats we mount all of our photographs in beautiful are acid free mats you see there's much more than just the picture there's just more than just the picture involved how do you present it? You see, if you want to move up the food chain the first thing in the most important thing in my opinion besides raising the price is the way you presented you must present it in a way that makes people stop and go. Wow that that makes me feel good that one time I bought a pair of gucci sunglasses and as I was buying these sunglasses and I don't buy like designer sunglasses all the time but this one period just had to have this for, like five years ago, okay, which I've probably lost after a month and a half so so I mean she's rapid she's putting these she's, you know, signing I'm signing my my card to buy these sunglasses and she goes, by the way, is this a gift? And I went yes it's a gift and I watched this woman wrapped my para gucci sunglasses that right there was worth the three hundred bucks that I paid you would not believe how much she validated the cost of those sun glasses by the way that they were packaged beautifully I mean absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous chocolate brown bags with gross green ribbon on them with that gorgeous name gucci in boston, the backside, whatever you get a designer product, you don't throw those bags away because they're beautiful, they're just really and they're very well made and so it makes you feel special again, it goes back to making the client feel special, so what we chose to do in our studio, we want them because we realize they could go so anywhere to get a portrait done, but you know what? They can't get a bambi can trump portrait anywhere they can only get that if they come here, which means that we have to do something different. So I tryto package in a way that they know really validates the price of that of what they're doing, so the first thing is is I would say make sure that you are what you're what it's costing you to do the job and then just raise them and just just do it I mean, raise them to a point that you feel good about and here's how you do it. This is the sneaky and not sneaking, but this is the way to do it. And this is how I did it, especially for weddings. One year I went from charging five thousand dollars for my top wedding coverage, and my prices were down from there to charging fifteen thousand dollars for my top coverage in one year. You know how I did it? I put a one in front of the five I'm not joking, I'm not embellishing, I'm not lying ask anybody many of my photography, but he's the first trade show a bridal fair in january we have our big your bridal shows on camera, so and of course all they're spies come up and take your pricing. And so during the middle of trade show, one of the guys comes with his so they've you're charging fifteen thousand dollars shoot a winning a woo, aren't you just, you know, nobody in our town is ever going to be able to pay that much? Well, you know what I said it's not in there to be bought first of all it's a piece of paper, for goodness sakes, if they don't buy that coverage and we're going to get cancer what's gonna happen? I'm going to hell for that. You know, I probably not. So what happens? It's? A piece of paper. So you make one. Whatever it is that you provide, make one collection or oneness segment of something that you offer really special and it's for the person who has to have the very best because there are some people who will not hire you not because your prices are too high, but because they're too low. And I am here to tell you there are some people who would not they would even dream of it. Do you think that that oprah winfrey is gonna hire some really inexpensive photographer to photograph an event for no? Because it's gonna make her feel like, oh, no, my orders were gonna cost more than you, and I'm living proof of that with might with a number of clients. I had a client that I shot a very, very afloat wedding for they are extremely billionaire wealthy, and I was thinking when when they had the little wedding favors, they were sterling silver pieces, those pieces costume or, you know, they could have cost more if I was in an expensive photographer than what I charge think about that they're not gonna hire you so I would have won coverage collection for poor portrait's havea booty collection that's that's for the client who wants something special for the very special occasion maybe it's for a husband to give his wife a special boutique thing and then make that your way of taking baby steps and once you've booked that product once that product is sold twice you have to raise the bar because it's no longer unattainable it's not about whether it's bought it's because it is unattainable and you know it's interesting because louis vuitton and those those stores and gucci and so forth you know they have a boutique line I mean they have other lines that are a little bit more affordable donna karen hello decay and why so but they still follow the same pattern of of of trying to appeal to a client and then you'll notice that you don't get the same in your in your deke and why it's not the same as donna karen the bags they're different all the whole experience is different yet they're probably manufactured side by side so I hope that answer the question uh one more question for you move on all right sound couple sounds great let's say so so part of that I think it's kind of following up on what you've just been talking about and from nicole be was I started out with just giving the digital negatives but now she is in a place where she feels like she has built up her part folio and wants to sell different products and prince and in addition to charging mohr so is there a natural evolution with again what you're what you're selling that goes along with that reason you're well, I think there is a natural progression and and I'm not saying not to give them ever the digital files we give our client a digital file wait all of our clients when they buy a print, they get the corresponding digital file with it, but it comes with a print a hard print because I wanted to see what beautiful printing looks like they need to see the difference between that of course I was going to tell you my price is for my portrait are are very, you know are quite, you know, a nice chunk of change, so they've earned the right to have that digital file I don't want to make their christmas card I mean there's no profit in that I mean, what are they? Thirty dollars for christmas card, sixty hundred bucks that doesn't that's not it's way more like work to me and so I am I make sure that whenever they purchase an image that they purchased the picture and I really believe with every fiber of my being that it is extremely important for us is photographers to help people in this regard because many, many, many families are no longer having photographs printed there just putting them on their computer and that is bad thing because data dies computers change the cds will be gone before you know it and all of those amazing images are going to disappear you don't hear people complaining about their pictures that are printed they don't they don't think about it they're printed there in a beautiful album it's there for history forever for one hundred million years or however long you know and they have them but it's something that they have to continue to think about if they only produce a digital file so we require that persons have to buy when they when they purchased their not purchasing a file, their purchasing a print and oh by the way it comes with a small file if you'd like if you'd like to have that right now the question from cook esquire is how do I replicate the advertising of big companies who cared to the clients that I want when I don't have a studio or a big ad budget in this came up when they're looking at louis vuitton okay, you don't need to have a big budget you really don't what you have to do is you have to use the budget you have wisely you need to quit buying more cameras and binds let them not single by a camera if you need one if you need to rent it but don't not a camera what about those competition? Prince, I'm not saying don't ever compete in competition. I can't even tell you how many people that I know of photographers that will spend two or three thousand dollars on entering competition on having their competition prints, and then they will hand somebody a piece of white copy paper with their pricing on it. That is so wrong. I'm not saying don't enter those competitions, but you got to get the cart before the horse. You need teo to create the brand and then if you want to compete, compete but you could don't compete first. In my thirty years in the photography industry, I have never, ever had a single client asked me. Are you a master photographer? Can I see your rewards? I've never had a single one you don't ever see me wear them. I have some of them over on the little table over behind there, and they're hidden. I mean, you'd have to look for my my little awards because that's not why they're coming here it's, not about that, and I'm not saying that those aren't important. They're great for us together. But that's, if you got to spend your money, spend it wisely on other things first. Where do you spend your money? You spend it on beautiful promotional literature if you're not good at creating a promo piece you want to hire somebody that's that's a pretty affordable to do is to create is to have somebody design your marketing materials, find somebody another photographer or somebody else that you like like a like a hair designer or a a non artist artist or go online and look at some of these websites say who designed this for you? This is really beautiful and get your beautiful marketing done first and it doesn't have to cost you thousands of dollars it can literally cost you five hundred dollars if somebody designed a card for you or find somebody like mind that has, you know, little templates that make it easier for you to rebrand yourself quickly on dh I'm not saying that I'm not trying to sell but you just you know, you know what I mean? So it is important for us to be able to think about where we spend the money that we have right now because many times we think, oh, I have to have two cameras and I've gotta have twelve lenses when really all you need is one really good big body that's really reliable and then rent the second one to measure backup if you need it borrowed lenses dot coms around for a reason they're really relatively inexpensive and then get baby steps on your lenses and then spend more of your dollars on your marketing budget when you look at louis vuitton and those guys the concept that I want these kids to really get is that it's a concept I'm not telling you to do exactly what louis vuitton does what do they do? They found a way the concept is that they found a way to make their product look special so for us, how does that translate into you and I it means my pictures need to be different looking so how do you do here's your baby steps for that photographer baby step number one next week you're going to go out and you're going to find some some fun people that you want to photograph you're going to give them pictures in exchange you're going to call a fun hair stylist to say, hey look, I'd like to collaborate let's have a play barbie day you know and that's what I called hair wars or playing barbies ok um and so that's what that's the first step so you organize with them and then you have some really fun couples to work with that you know that that have lots of energy and that are that are their energetic on camera okay um and I got to say unfortunately they need to be attractive it's sad but they do you cannot use everyday people like myself in in your marketing materials, because beauty cells and if you don't believe that is true, then you show me a magazine, pick up any magazine, vogue magazine, you're not going to see average joe, you're going to see people that are interesting looking. They may not be gorgeous, but they are very interesting. They have really unique faces are very, very interesting people, so that's, the kind of thing that's step one, and then to create the kind of images that are very different and fun and energetic, and that our emotion invoking step two is to create some simple marketing pieces, and you could do that through a variety of cos I know simply color has fabulous, fabulous marketing pieces that are very, very affordable, so you can just create some, you know, police, little market pieces, and you don't have to buy thousands of them. You can buy a small quantity, like I think they come in and packs of twenty five so it allows you you can tweak it and say, okay, do I like this? Okay, this worked good, maybe I'll tweak it the next time, so you don't have to buy thousands and thousand remember that cute cells, so when you do a business card, maybe you'll make a business card that's a cute size. Maybe it's a square card instead of the traditional rectangular card that everybody in their universe has make. If you're going to put pictures in your business cards, remember that if it is it's a wedding picture and guess what, then you're going to be having to do weddings, because if you hand that to a corporate guy he's going, look, I don't need wedding shot a shed, head shots done. So think about that when it comes to creating those kinds of marketing pieces and then think carefully about what you want to offer people when it comes to your products that you give them so that its products that are important to them, not to you women love tactile things. And remember, most importantly, who your client is, it is not a logical man, it is women, you know, could acted research a number of years ago, and they found that something like I want to say, like ninety two percent of all the photography and the world is purchased by women. Think about that ninety two percent of all of the photography in the world, not in california but in the world is purchased by women. What does that tell you? Then you'd better be thinking about creating something emotion driven, which is why you want to go shopping to louis vuitton, and you want to go to the gucci store and study. What are they even around? What do they do to it? How do I feel when I walk in there store what you know, what are the signals? What are the color tones that they use what's, the difference in the color tones in a lie, louis vuitton store and maybe a kmart, or, or, you know, a quick, you know, a story like, you know, are a favorite target or something. What is the difference in the emotional experience, those kinds of questions you wanna ask yourself? I hope that helped.

Class Description

Are you thinking about creating, revamping or maximizing your home or studio space? In this creativeLIVE photography course, Bambi Cantrell shows you how to take everyday materials to design stunning shooting spaces, and how to use available areas such as doors and windows for special effects. You'll discover how to use your marketing money in the most efficient way, including strategically working with local businesses, auctions and bridal fairs, as well as how to create a strong marketing brand. You'll come away from this photography course with everything you need to identify and create inventive shooting spaces, a strong marketing plan, and a new look for your business!

In this in-depth look inside Bambi's studio, you'll see all of the materials and processes she uses, including how she scours thrift shops for props and sets up her award-winning shoots.