Profitable Outdoor Sessions means Making the Outdoors Your Studio!

For many years I have talked the need to change the way in which the average photographer photographs at outdoor locations. We started making blocks of times at outdoor locations so we would have an entire morning, afternoon or day of one client showing up after another. This meant we could charge the same sitting fee for outdoor sessions as those done in the studio.  With the higher sales average of portraits taken on location, this has always been a very profitable idea.

Today, with the state of economy and our profession having so many wannabees wandering around the parks and outdoor locations, it’s no longer a good idea to make your appointments this way, it is a necessary idea.  Think about this from the client’s perspective.  You have heard of some photographers, mentioned by friends, but you have never hired a photographer to photograph a (baby, family, senior, etc.)  Like everyone else, your questions center around price: “how much is an 8×10?” and “how much is Your Sitting Fee”.

As professional photographers we have all learned how to deal with the questions on price, explaining about the quality of the images, the style of the photography, etc.  These tactics have always work in the past for two reasons.  First it separated out the bargain shoppers from those clients wanting something nice (your clients).  Second there wasn’t that much of difference between one studio/photographer’s session fee and another.  On the low-end, outdoor sessions used to be $35 to $40 and on the high-end $150.  Although this seem like a huge difference, it is a difference that the average consumer can get their minds around.  I would gladly pay 3 to 4 times as much for a product I love, as opposed to saving the money to get a product I dislike or is marginal, I do it all the time. My cigars, my cars and motorcycle, my home, my clothing, my cologne and just about everything in my life I willing pay 3 to 4 times more for the brand I want compared to the cheapest product I could buy (a Viper, BMW and hand rolled Cubans (don’t worry, these are legal), don’t come cheap!).

The problem we now have is the economy has made the average consumer very price/value conscious. They still want quality, but a higher fee must have a much higher value to justify spending the extra money.  At the same time consumers are price conscious, we have every village-idiot that has a digital camera for over a week, thinking they are a professional photographer and not charging a sitting fee to get clients.  The average consumers is more confused than ever.  While you can sell a potential client a price difference of 2 to even 4 times over the phone, very few sales people are good enough to book a session when the consumer just had three photographers tell them they don’t charge a sitting fee and now you quote $150.  This is more than the average consumer can comprehend, at least without them seeing their actual images presented to them.

In this economy, in our professional crisis, clients and potential clients will still spend $1000, $2000 even $3000 on portraits, but they won’t do it over the phone!  For the average consumer to make a serious investment they have to actually SEE why it’s worth the additional money spent.  Basically, in good times you make your money on the phone, with higher sitting fees, minimum orders/purchases and large packages, in bad time you make your money in the sales room.

This change in the average consumer is killing many boutique and exclusive studios who for years have charged high prices to weed out the “Riff-Raff” and quoted high minimum orders to qualify clients.  Outdoor sessions in many high-end studios are a thing of the past, because they keep doing what they have always done.  A client can not justify a $150 to $200 sitting fee when so many are offering it for free!

We have, to date, done more outdoor sessions this year than we ever have before in 25 years of business.  Outdoor photography is being seen as the popular thing to do, mainly caused by the fact that the majority of younger photographers don’t have a studio space to work in.  It’s what clients see the most so it’s what clients want and at the same time many studios are completely out of the game because they take one session at a time outdoors and charge and arm and leg.

I have learned to shoot sessions all day long, working with the mid-day light and produce beautiful outdoor portraits. Just about every outdoor image in my books were taken between the hours of 10am to 4pm, because quite frankly I don’t like waking up too early or being away from my family at night and truthfully neither do my clients!  My New DVD is done at 5 different locations in the middle of the day.  You want to know how to work outdoors, profitably?  You need to get this DVD.  I planned and designed this DVD to be complete, everything from natural light to using reflectors, posing, working with clients, selecting locations and how to make a profit in times like these and unlike many DVD’s that give theories these are the practices we use everyday of the week! ORDER NOW…ONLY $59.95 normally $89.95


~ by jeffsmithbooks on August 16, 2010.

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