This post is Day 20 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.
What makes event photography different than other types of photography? What does it mean to be an event photographer?
It simply means you specialize in capturing images at special occasions. It can mean:
- Corporate functions
- Bar/bat mitzvahs
- Birthday parties
- Sporting events
- Horse shows
- And everything in between
Even within the few items I’ve mentioned above, you can start seeing a ton of possibilities. Hopefully you’re also seeing a wide variety of different types of clientele; which means even in event photography, you can specialize.
Over the past few days, we’ve been covering the idea of specializing, and why it’s so important to really focus on what you want to do. This post is in my 30 Ways series because when people mentioned event photography, it was usually associated with one thing.
One reader mentioned she’s done a few Quinceaneras and would love to do more of them within her family portrait business. One reader mentioned her love of horses and her desire to spend more time within that community. Still another talked about his love for weddings, and his desire to take it to an entirely different level.
While you may love working events, there is a huge difference between working with horse shows, and photographing weddings. Different clientele. Different vendor sources. So specializing is just as important here as it is overall.
Find The Resources
Like every niche, it’s important to pinpoint the right resources for you.
If you want to focus on horse shows, what shows are in your area? What stores cater to horse ranchers? What schools are training tomorrow’s stars?
In today’s world, you have one invaluable research tool at your disposal – the Internet. Spend a half day researching all you can within your community and within your specialty. Then start visiting your resources.
If there is a local magazine that is delivered to ranchers, get a copy. If there is a horse show coming up, visit. And if there is a school nearby, request a meeting with one of the directors. Learn all you can and store your information for future use.
Also realize that even with one type of event photography area, there can be many options.
For example, if you have a desire to photograph weddings, do you prefer the David’s Bridal mentality, or the Vera Wang? I talk about this in detail in a recent post Ways To Control The Wedding – A Photographers Guide To Becoming A Wedding Planner. Different ends of the spectrum, and you need to approach each in an entirely different way.
Target Your Marketing
Keep in mind that some communities are very tight knit, and they rely strictly on referrals. It may take time to get in “the circle”, but once you do you have a wealth of opportunity. Don’t give up easily. It took us years to break into certain groups. But if you’ll be doing this for the next 10 to 15 years, what is a couple of years to get in with the right group?
We found that to be true with the high end wedding market, and with the bar/bat mitzvah market. Because of their personal needs and desires, both groups rarely went looking for the right vendor. Instead, they relied on one main source – the planner – to make the right choices for them. So the goal became to get in with the right planners, and leave the rest to fall in line.
While it’s important to have a dynamic web presence, it’s also important to have other collateral as well. However I can’t tell you how many boxes of business cards and brochures we’ve thrown away as our ideas change with time.
After several years of throwing away boxes, I found a simple solution.
I began building folders for my portfolio and marketing kit, and personalizing them for each client.
I started by selecting my favorite images showcasing a variety of ideas, and created a series of professional postcards. By creating postcards, you can use them for many things, including marketing kit material, and as greeting and thank you cards.
Then I would print off price lists, client referrals, service and package materials right before I met with a client, and weave them into the folder. With a variety of postcards to choose from, I could select the most relevant to the incoming client, and include that in their package.
This worked great as we built up our portfolio. A bride would love it if she saw a beautiful image located in the same reception site she was considering. It gave her ideas, and motivated her to want to use us as her wedding photographers.
People love experience, and they love suggestions. If they know you are the expert, and you’ve handled situations just like they are considering, you slide quickly to the top of their list.
Ask For Referrals
Even though people love experience, they also realize you have to start somewhere. If you are new to event photography, passion will help you create your business.
Start with your first resource, and ask them to give you a chance. Instead of doing a large, expensive event, is there something you can do that’s lower key to prove your expertise?
While a once a year rodeo that makes a million dollars for charity may not be a viable first choice, chances are there is a smaller horse event for young children at your local ranch. If you’ve met with the owners/managers, will they give you a try?
Create flyers for the parents, and advertise as much as possible. Then go above and beyond, building for your portfolio.
Don’t forget to thank the owners – provide them with a selection of images either mounted and framed or in an album.
Instead of focusing in on the end purchaser – a mom that buys a few images at her child’s event – focus on your referral source. A child may move on from a horse show to soccer to dance over a few year period. But the horse trainer or riding school will be in business long term, gaining new client after new client.
They are the one’s that will help keep your calendar filled.
And they are the one’s that can help you bring in thousands of dollars, especially over months or even years.
So that’s where you put your time and energy.
Keep your clients happy, and your referral sources ecstatic. And your business will thrive.