How to Relocate Your Wedding Photography Business in 3 Steps

No one’s saying they’re easy steps, but we’re saying it’s definitely feasible to relocate your wedding photography business. Now, if you’re interested in wedding photography and the business aspects of this field, you already know that the issue of location is very important. It’s relevant for a wedding photographer’s digital marketing efforts (think location searches), for acquiring new business leads, for building a brand identity and for raising brand awareness. As such, with location being so inextricably connected with the very nature of the wedding photography business, how does one successfully transition from one location to another – without killing the business in the process? Check out our three helpful tips below, with input from real-life photographers.


1. Future-proof your business for location changes

This is one step to start working on as much ahead of the time when you actually relocate your wedding photography business as possible. Your plan should be to target global audiences, even before your physical move. If you do this successfully, you will have already built a bit of a reputation for yourself, by the time the move comes around. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But in the digital age of social networking, it’s not that difficult either. Update your website and/or blog regularly, announce your upcoming move via social media profiles and keep your online presence pleasant and likeable. The Internet basically works as a global market place, so drumming up a bit of hype before you relocate will allow you to step forward with that much more confidence.

2. Get to know your new market

This second step in your plan to relocate your wedding photography business is all about pricing. The thing about different markets is that… well, they are different, in terms of pricing, client expectations, and requirements. Get a feel of the market by gauging the experiences of local photographers. They’ll give you a fairly accurate and comprehensive idea on what to expect. Should you stay at the wedding until the very last guest has left? Are your current prices too high for a different market? Yes, bear in mind that you might have to lower your prices in order to penetrate a whole new market; however, it’s important to know what the local expectations are, as you don’t want to go too low. Once you get there, your mission will be to get as many weddings booked in as short a timeframe as possible. Since most weddings are booked for about a year in advance, you will probably have to sacrifice making a profit in the beginning, in order to build a locally relevant portfolio. If you play your cards right, though, this will only be temporary – so grin and bear it. It’s definitely worth it!

3. Network, network, network

The third and final step in your efforts to relocate your wedding photography business is also probably the most difficult one to complete. That’s because the effort of networking needs to be sustained and ongoing, in order for them to be efficient. Not to mention that having like-minded peers as friends in a new market is good for your mental health. It will make you focused, accountable for your work, and will also provide a regular dose of inspiration. A word of advice, though: you might be tempted to follow the big names, the big shots, the big leaguers in your new market. Don’t. Keep an eye on them, to stay in the loop, but spend most of your energy building genuine connections with people you respect and look up to. In the long-run, that’s where your support system and life-long friendships will come from. Also, chances are that’s where your referrals and gig leads will come from, too.

The Lowdown: What Are the Setup Costs of a Photography Startup?

Are you really a professional photographer, or are you a passionate amateur – but one who’s ultimately pretending to be a pro? Often enough, the one differentiator between pros and amateurs is working up the courage to start a legal photography business. It’s not enough to have a camera, website, Facebook page, and a couple of gigs here and there (either for money, or for ‘exposure’). The one essential ingredient you need is to take your photography business seriously – because, until you do, no one else is going to take it seriously either. Now, of course, before you decide on the matter, it’s only normal to want to figure out the setup costs of a photography startup. That’s where we come in, with today’s blog post: a rundown of all the major costs you are likely to face, in your quest to open a new photo biz.

The gear setup costs of a photography startupsetup-costs-for-a-photography-startup01

·         Cameras

Make no mistake, you’re going to need at least two of them, in order to be prepared to deal with camera malfunctions. The pros’ best recommendation for wedding photographers is the Nikon D610 ($2,000 a piece) – you’re going to need two bodies, sans the lens included in the full kit.

·         Lenses

One of the most important investments, in terms of setup costs of a photography startup, is that into lenses. Here’s the kit that the pros recommend: Nikon 35mm f/2.0 ($350), Nikon 50mm f/1.8 ($299), Nikon 85mm f/1.8 ($499) and the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 ($2,400). About that last lens: yes, it is expensive, but it’s absolutely essential for wedding photogs who often shoot in low light conditions, such as churches.

·         Other gear

A couple of flashes are mandatory and, if you go for the Nikon D610, you might want to opt for two Nikon SB-700 flashes ($329 a pop). Additionally, the rest of the accoutrements: camera bags, memory cards, stands for lights, flash triggers, reflectors, etc. Be prepared to spend at least $500 on them (though $1,000 sounds like a more realistic amount).

Business setup costs

setup-costs-for-a-photography-startup02Let’s get down to the pure business setup costs of a photography startup now. First off, you’re going to have to pay $125 for incorporating your business. Then, you’re going to want to have that business insured, for roughly $600. The services of an accountant will cost you about $300 per year, and a money and client manager to keep track of your finances will add an extra $130, let’s say, to the total tally. A showcase of product samples can cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000.

Then comes the issue of legal fees – you’re going to want your contracts to be completely in order. Ideally, you should seek out a lawyer with previous experience in the field of photography, or one who’s a photographer themselves. Hourly fees are about $400 to $2,000, but you can also purchase ready-made contracts online ($55 to $450) and have your lawyer review them.

Computer & online costs

As far as IT and tech setup costs for photography startups go, you know that there’s no way you can survive without an iMac, and that’s at least $1,299 right there. Then, you will want to invest in a color calibration tool for your screen, a couple of backup hard drives, and licenses to use Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop suites. All in all, these items are going to cost you an extra $450, with the amendment that software licenses need to be renewed each year. And since we’re on the topic of yearly costs, also add yearly hosting and domain name costs for your website (about $70/year), plus a website theme (a good one shouldn’t cost more than $50).

Of course, you might want to invest in some training and business streamlining tools, such as a pricing guide workbook ($150 to $250), a marketing course (about $800), a sales guide ($250). These are optional, but, chances are, they will help you make a lot more money faster, once you invest. So, once you draw the line, expect to put in about $15,000 in your wedding photography business right from the get-go. How does this amount sound for you?

Survivor’s Guide: How to Sell Your Photography in the Digital Age

sell-your-photography-in-the-digital-ageIf you’ve been in the pro photography business for at least a decade (or even several years), it most definitely hasn’t escaped you how much the business, industry, and, ultimately, the art of taking pictures, have changed during this time. Hark back in time some more, if you will, and you’ll note that the changes that photography has undergone over the past century are unlike those of any other medium. Back in the early 20th century, having your picture taken was a rare and momentous occasion; nowadays, everyone and their grandma is packing enough technology in their pocket as to take a photo anywhere, at any time. So, can you still sell your photography in the digital age?

The short answer is “more so than ever”. The long one is, of course, more complicated. On the one hand, with the multitude of apps and digital editing software available out there for one and all, the pro photographer nowadays is almost obligated to keep up with the digital Joneses. On the other hand, it is this very evolution of the digital realm that has brought up a whole new world of opportunity for professional photographers. To this end, in the following we’re listing some good tips to sell your photography in the digital age.

Know how to price yourself

It’s easy to fall into the trap of devaluing yourself, on today’s competitive digital photography business scene. However, it does a lot of harm to sell yourself short, both to yourself, as well as to your fellow photographers. Set your prices, make them reasonable but sustainable, and make sure you stay firm for the long run. Like with everything else, if the work you put out there is good enough, then pricing issues will become secondary for the buyer of your services.

Sell your photography in the digital age as art

You may be a wedding photographer, a travel photographer, or just about any other kind of photographer – the important thing to remember is that you are, first and foremost, an artist. It doesn’t matter that others out there are choosing to market their technical skills. If you genuinely want to sell your photography in the digital age, you will quickly come to the realization that it’s not the technical skills that will help you sell. That’s because those skills are finite: you can only improve them so much. But your ‘voice’, your own unique visual style, your trademark and signature, is something that will help you position, market, and ultimately sell yourself.

Improve your skill

That being said, don’t rest on the laurels of your career years past. In this field, much like in any other one that has anything to do with art, it’s important to stay in the loop. This is all the more true nowadays, with the digitally native generation of photogs coming up fast from behind. That being said, there are plenty of workshops out there from which you can benefit – at the very least, by learning from those more accomplished than you, you’ll also get the opportunity to network with them. At the same time, you’ll meet up-and-coming new talent and learn about new techniques you might not have been previously exposed to.

Find your niche

There is absolutely no shame in being a niche photographer these days – quite the contrary. Haven’t you noticed how profitable a business stock photography is, for instance? The knack in this sense is to get a feel for what the audience wants, be it wedding photography, or any other segment, and to develop a sense of upcoming trends. As long as you get that down to pat, chances are you’ll do just fine and manage to sell your photography in the digital age.

Why The $99 Payment Plan Is The Future Of Photography

Your car is a few years old. So you head out to find a new one. Do you look at the price tag on the sticker? Of course not – what does that truly mean? Instead you look at the payment amount. Does $495 a month work for you? Can you negotiate it to a lower price – a price that fits more within your budget? How about $395 for 60 months? Sure, that works, sign me up.

In today’s society, we live by the payment plan.

Combine your phone, Internet and cable together in one easy payment plan – $129 a month.

Mobile technology? No problem. Add up to 5 mobile devices, unlimited data, 500 minutes and we’ll give it to you for $179 a month.

New house? Sure. With an ARM loan, we can get your payments down to a low $1,500 a month. Does that work for you?

The payment plan is now a part of just about every industry in existence. Furniture. Energy. Even my daughter’s college offers an interest free payment plan.

So why not photography?Why The $99 Payment Plan Is The Future Of Photography

Lets say you design a portrait opportunity with all the bells and whistles. They get a morning session with you, inside and outside portraiture, unlimited clothing changes, lots of poses and combinations that separate your family into groupings. You provide creative framing options, coffee table albums, lots of options when it comes to display. Sure they can ala carte it all out. But what if you offered one complete “package” that includes everything from the sitting fee to the final images – all for the unbelievably low price of $199 a month for six months – no interest payment plan of course. Doesn’t that sound more reasonable than a $1200 package? It does to your clients.

Have a wedding photography business? What is the average amount of time a bride and groom will be on your books before you shoot the wedding? 6 months? 12 months? 18 months? Instead of selling them $2,500, $3,500 or $5,000 packages, what if you created monthly payment packages instead?

Lets say you offer an all-inclusive wedding coverage. Unlimited time. Unlimited images. Albums. Framed prints. Extras. Whatever you choose to include in the “package” covers the entire event, beginning to end. Now lets give it a price tag of $5,000. Yes, a lot of brides and grooms will panic when they hear $5,000. But what if we changed it around?

We offer a 6 month, 12 month or 18 month wedding plan. A 6 month payment plan of $833 a month, a 12 month payment plan of $416 a month, or an 18 month payment plan of $278 a month.

All of a sudden the pricing seems a whole lot lower, right? And it does to your clients as well.

Plus you get the added benefit of guaranteed income in the coming months, which also means you won’t face the age-old photographers’ nightmare of high season and low season, feast or famine when it comes to incoming clients and payments.

Have you tried the payment plan? How is it working for you?

2 Types Of Pricing – Which Is Right For You?

In the world of photography, there are two ways to price what you do.

The first way is to package everything out. You charge a low sitting fee and rely on the customer to buy packages and/or extra prints in order to bring in enough sales to manage your business.

For example, a portrait photographer may charge $100 for a sitting fee and have a “popular” package for $500 that the majority of her clientele purchases – meaning her average sale is $600. Minus expenses, she knows exactly how much she’ll profit and how many clients she needs to bring in at this level in order to survive.2 Types Of Pricing Your Photography

The second way is to charge a high creation fee that covers your needed sales quota without needing additional sales in order to make your required limits.

In this example, the photographer would provide a photographic experience with her clients and charge a flat fee for that experience. In this case she might charge $1,000 for her time, energy and the overall experience. She then hands over the files, or they can come back to her for images, albums, frames, etc.

What’s the difference between the two? The level of confidence in the photographer.

When I explained this concept to one client, her response was “How can you charge that much for nothing?”

A creation fee isn’t “nothing” if you’re good.  If you have the expertise, the recognition, the following, and the rapport with your customers, a creation fee can be the best way you operate your business. If you have years of experience, the knowledge to do the best job possible every time, a certain style that is recognizable and not like everyone else, a creation fee can yield you a ton of profit.

Where the problem comes in is mixing the two types of pricing up. And there are two ways in which this happens.

Charges little for everything

In this case a photographer mixes up the two ways of pricing. He decides to charge one fee and hand over the files. But instead of developing his style, his expertise and his experience, he shoots an average portrait, sells it for a low creation fee – $100 – and then wonders why the client never buys anything else. This photographer always needs a second job for income, and will never create a full time business.

Charges a huge creation fee without the experience

This type of photographer goes in with a high creation fee – $1,000 for example – yet gives an average experience. He shoots on boring backgrounds without exciting props. He takes them to the local park instead of creating an entire experience. His work isn’t recognizable and looks like everyone else in the marketplace. He has trouble finding clients willing to pay his fee because they don’t see a difference in what he has to offer.

Can you make money using either of the methods? Can you create a full time business using either of the pricing system? You bet. But which ever way you choose, you have to be the best you can possibly be. You have to charge your prices for a reason – a well defined reason that allow you to know exactly what profits you’ll make. You have to set up your business explaining this to the customer. And you have to be true to your business model, no matter what it is.

The 3 Pricing Strategies Few Photographers Understand

Take a look at your prices and your packages. How did you come up with them?

I took an average of what other photographers online were charging and charge less.”

“I just pulled some numbers that felt right.”

“I charge what I would be willing to pay.”

Do you see yourself in any of these statements? That’s the way many photographers settle into a pricing structure.

Pricing Photography Strategies

Is it the right way to do it? Definitely not. Yet for better or worse, that’s the way many photographers create their pricing structures.

And if you just “settle in” to your numbers, chances are you don’t understand the dynamics behind the psychology of making people comfortable paying your prices.

Value Pricing

What’s the difference between a black and white photograph created by your 7 year old daughter and a black and white image created by Ansel Adams?

The difference is in the value.

The image created by your 7 year old may be beautiful, but there’s nothing that stands behind it. There isn’t a name recognition associated with it. There is no expertise built into mastery of the image. In other words, it’s a lucky shot.

What makes an image valuable isn’t just the paper its printed on or the location the image was taken; it comes from the expertise behind the lens … the person taking the photograph. The more time that person puts into building a name for themselves, the more they will be rewarded for their expertise.

And you can charge four figures, five figures, six figures or more for your work. [Read more…]

People Will Spend Thousands On Your Photography, If …

My typical morning starts out getting up early, and reviewing my social accounts. I also head over to my Google Reader, and check out new posts on some of my favorite blogs.

Right now I have over 200 feeds into my Reader. Yep, a lot, and I don’t look at all of them every day. Instead, I have categorized the blogs, and I usually head to a category, depending on what I feel like that day.

Today I visited a blog I hadn’t been to in awhile – Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He always has a wealth of information, a lot of great ideas, and many things that will make you think. I started reading his post 5 fascinating perspectives on money, and loved the different articles and links. But one really caught my eye – his link to an article about lavish spending by blogger Jesse Mecham.

In it he talks about spending $9 on a bag of chips, and loving them so much he’d be willing to spend $20 or more on them too. Sounds a bit extreme, right? Until you read his lesson:

Spend lavishly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.

Great advice. Yet very difficult. Most people don’t think about what they spend, and make the distinction so they can cut where they need to, and still save money overall.

As I read further, another paragraph caught my eye.

I’m remembering the example Ramit gave about having a newborn baby where you’re picking between two photographers. One takes pictures of everything (and does a great job). But this other photographer, his whole site has great pictures of newborns. Every single line of copy on his site talks about photographing newborns — about the different nuances taken into account…all of the details he mentions (that you didn’t know you cared about until now)…

The specialized photographer makes the sale nine out of ten times. And you know that’s true!

So…with the photographer pricing for people that know they really, really want his service. Or for the bag of chips that is remarkably delicious… doesn’t price become basically moot?

Yep. Every time. Whether it’s a great economy, and money is flowing freely. Or we’re in a deep recession, and every topic in the news is on cutting spending.

We find what we love, and we’re willing to spend anything on it … if we feel it’s worth it.

So as a photographer, your goal isn’t to shoot like everyone else, present like everyone else, and charge like everyone else.

Your job as a photographer is to find your niche. Find what you love, and do it so well people start talking about you. They can’t believe what you cost, but you must be worth it because so many people trust you and use your services. They save for you. They splurge on you. And they talk about you to everyone in their circle of friends and family.

The Value Of Your Photography

Who’s value system are you selling by?

One of the biggest reasons photographers fail at business is because they never learn the golden rule of a photography business.

Price it at its true value.

I’ve heard all kinds of excuses.

“Money isn’t important; I just love to shoot.”

“I pay $xx for an 8×10, how can I charge my client THAT much?”

“I hate sales.”
You probably have said something similar along the way.

Last night I was watching a travel show on Tokyo. One of the highlights was on the new malls being built throughout the city. They showcased a variety of products being sold to consumers, including fruit picked at the peak of perfection – and being sold for hundreds of U.S. dollars. A cantaloupe with perfect skin with zero flaws or marks, and just the right amount of sugar density was on display – and of course could be yours for several hundred dollars. Really?
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Are You Pricing Your Photography To Stay In Business?

“I’m new at my photography business. A friend asked me to photograph her wedding. Because I didn’t know what to charge, I found a few sites online and used their packages to build mine. Then I lowballed it because they have been at it longer and have portfolios in place, plus a website and other marketing. So I have a couple of packages in place, but I’m not sure if this is the best method. What else should I do to come up with my pricing?”

I get questions like this all the time.

When you head into a store to buy a new pair of shoes, the store doesn’t guess at its price. The price is established by looking at: materials, expenses, production, marketing, and business expenses. It’s a refined process to make sure that every time a pair of shoes sells, all costs are covered AND the store makes a healthy profit as well.

Without a profit, there is no way a business can stay in business. And if you don’t plan for it upfront, you’re on the road to failure.

Guessing or using another photographers numbers won’t work because you don’t have the same variables as that photographer. You have to take into account many things, including:

  • Where you are located
  • What your competition is doing
  • What your clients expect
  • What you expect

You see, everyone has a different purpose for running a photography business.

Some people want to make a little extra cash to pay for a new lens, and bring the family out to dinner on Friday night.

Some people want to replace the income they lost when they faced a layoff from their companies.

Some people want to be incredibly successful, and be one of the best photographers in the world.

Each of these people will have different goals and structures to their business models. And they will approach their photography in many different ways.

So the only way to truly price your photography is by knowing up front what you hope to accomplish with your business.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

If you’ve always struggled with how to price your photography, you’re going to be excited by my latest guide, Pricing Your Photography: How To Set Your Prices To Build  A Six Figure Business. I’ve kept this guide short and easy to read, yet powerful to walk you through an easy way to determine exactly what you should be charging for your weddings and portraits. I cover:

  • How much you should truly make as a professional photographer
  • Determining what the right price really is
  • Creating packages that sell
  • Setting up wedding packages
  • Setting up portrait packages

And a whole lot more.

My goal has always been to help 1,000 photographers break into a six figure income level. Now with Pricing Your Photography to help you develop the perfect package for your business, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your goals too.

Visit Pricing Your Photography: How To Set Your Prices To Build  A Six Figure Business today.

How Much Do I Charge For A Second Photographer?

Every morning I sit down at my computer and spend the first hour or so out on social sites answering questions and sharing information with my followers.

Today as I was out on one of the many photography forums I visit, I started answering a question:

If I add a wedding package that has a second shooter, how much should I charge the client?

There are actually several issues to this question.

First, there is a big difference between an assistant and a second photographer.  

An assistant is your “gofor” – they go for this and go for that. In other words, they are there to carry your bags, make sure your cameras are ready for you, help set up the family shots, gather groups for photos, etc. They may shoot, but only as an added bonus. And only if things are slow and it’s the best use of their time.

A second photographer should be capable of shooting the entire wedding by him or her self. You should be able to leave them specific duties, knowing full well their images will match your quality.  You can place them in an album next to yours, and the client will never know which photographer took the image.

[Read more…]