Do You Sell Photographs, the Image You Create or the Experience of Being Photographed?

The answer you pick could very well determine the lifestyle you enjoy or endure.  And of course, if you want to be prickly we sell all three whether we think we do or not, but what is the primary reason why someone picks up the phone to call you for your services?  If you sell photographs, you are in a huge and competitive group of camera owners that represent the bottom of the economic scale in photography and work with those clients that place the highest value on the size and quantity of the paper, rather than the quality of image that is on that paper or the experience associated with the creation of the images. I just had one of those clients the other day. She said she wanted to cancel her session because there was a photographer that advertise a session and a package for a low price.  My studio staff member asked if she had seen the photographer’s work and the lady said she saw the image on the ad “and it was ok!”  The staff person thanked her for calling and cancel her appointment.  This lady had identified herself as someone who values the amount of paper she gets for her money more than the image on the paper or the experience of the session.  This woman was definitely not our client and should have just waited for Wal-Mart to have a photo-package sale and went there, because when she sees a cheaper price than this photographers charges she will cancel with him or her because it all about price and paper!

Moving up the food chain are those that associate with image on the piece of paper and photographers that focus on creating professional quality portraiture with professional lighting, posing and coordination of all the elements within the frame. Photographers that focus on the image, tend to refer to themselves as artists.  As artists these photographers think no one in the world could do as good of a job as they do, so these photographers have an almost arrogant nature in their approach to the sessions and try to do every part of the photographic process themselves, which leads to over work and increases their sometimes unpleasant nature. The clients of these photographers are sold on the quality of the portrait and/or the mystique surrounding “the artist” enough to pay more for their services, but many clients tire of the difficulty of doing business with the “artist” and move on.

At the highest point on economic scale are those photographers that realize they do sell portraits with exception quality, but realize that people want an exception experience to go with an exceptional product if they are going to be spending a premium amount.  A client will buy more and spread the word about you faster if they have a fun and exciting experience in addition to beautiful portrait of themselves.  We book many sessions of the senior’s mom that want to do a session for no other reason that it looks fun and exciting and they see the way in which we do our sessions make their daughter feel.  The main difference between the “artist” who sells images and the talented photographer that sells the experience is that photographer selling images, it all about them (the photographer) while the photographer at the highest economic level has realized it’s not about us (the photographer), it about them (the client).  While you can always become a more masterful photographer, many photographers find the last step in the evolutionary process the hardest for it means you have to care as much about each client as you do yourself!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on November 1, 2010.

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