The way in which you sell any product gives a potential client a preview to the quality of product they are purchasing.  You don’t expect  jewelry you get from a street vendor to have the same quality as a jewelry store, right?  You don’t expect the same quality food from a restaurant that has a drive thru, as one that is elegantly decorated with a wait staff, correct?  If you are buying art pieces for your elegant home, you don’t go to Big-Lots do you?

In every market there are business people who find their niche, whether it is buying and selling the finest products or the cheapest products, potential clients select the business that fills the niche they are looking for.  Many photographers think every client is looking for the cheapest price.  I don’t have a daughter and even if I wasn’t a photographer, I would know not to go to the cheapest photographer for her wedding photos.  A once in a lifetime event and I am going to shop at the equivalent of the Big Lots Store, no way!  I would go to a photographer I knew would produce beautiful images of my little girls most important day and pay accordingly.

Without understanding business, this is the “vicious-circle” that young photographers get trapped in.  They can’t charge more because everything about their business says they are cheap, like selling a CD with the images on it.  Cheap photographers (in most cases) sell all the images on CD’s.  Potential clients expect to pay a certain amount of money for a CD of images, because those “cheap clients’ have called every photographer in town to see who is the cheapest.   Clients how will spend more don’t want a CD of images, they want portraits that are professional presented to them and wall portraits in frames so they can go home and enjoy the beautiful images they just purchased.  Nice restaurants don’t have a drive-thru and better photographers don’t sell CD’s.  You may argue, but this is view the buying public has and one of the main factors that determine the perceived value of the work you create.

To learn more about increasing your photography business join me on June 11th from 4pm to 9pm in Fresno, CA.  The cost for the workshop is $89, which you will make back many times over with the information you will receive!  See You There!  MORE INFORMATION


~ by jeffsmithbooks on June 5, 2012.


  1. There are 2 schools of marketing out there – the product orientation which focuses on the internal wants of the seller (photographer) as opposed to the desires and needs of the marketplace (client) and the market orientation that states the social and economic justification for an organizations existence relies on satisfying the end customers wants and needs.

    Photography is a service oriented business – by not providing your client with what they want, you are setting yourself up for failure. By NOT selling a DVD, you are relying on the product orientation philosophy – a surefire way to fail.

    In more layman terms – get your head out of your rear. Just because you are old school and being out-sold and out-booked by your newer competition does not mean that you are right. The old way is over. Not selling what your clients are asking for is just dumb business. There are plenty of amazing and successful photographers selling DVDs.

    • All I can say is Wow! First of all, intelligent people can disagree without becoming disagreeable! When someone says something in a post that you don’t like and you resort to making statements like pull your head out of your rear, you sound like an angry child. My old school ways, as you called it (you hip youngster you) have generated millions of dollars in sales in this amazing profession. Did I also mention that I have written 14 books on professional photography and photographers pay large sums of money to hear what I have to say about the photography industry?

      To run a business, you first have to know the amount of sales you need to generate every hour you work to pay all the bills and yourself a salary equal to that of lets say a UPS driver. There might be a photographer out there selling their DVDs for a thousand dollars or more, but I haven’t met them yet. You seem to be all about making your client happy no matter what the cost to your business. If you really want to make your clients happy, don’t charge them at all, they will love you! This is a business and in business you have to make a profit….period! You have some misguided notion that it us versus them….a pissing contest between the young and the established. We only have one profession and it will be as good or bad as we make it. You keep selling CD’s, but when you need photography to be a actual profession that pays you enough to make a living in, don’t complain when it doesn’t.

    • No ones getting rich selling DVD’s! We’re still talking about providing a quality image whether it be a DVD or print. So you think you can excuse Jeff’s comment as an old photographer that easy. Jeff has paid his dues to become a true photographer! You also believe that giving consumers a DVD is doing what they want. In reality, an experienced photog will provide either a printed image, a DVD or a web ready image. But like all professions, we make business decisions to earn a profit. Photography is creating technically correct images in a camera & providing a final quality image. The moment you hand a customer a disk, you’ve immediately lost control of that quality image. The majority will never print that image and the ones that do will choose the lowest price they can find without regard for quality. And then the photographers reputation is based on the look of that print out. So you believe the inexperienced photog with little to no business knowledge thinks they’re doing the consumer a favor. But in reality, you’re destroying a respected industry in the name of a DVD. Give us all a break. Learn how to be a real photographer. Learn what a return on investment means and run a business. Understand your best method of marketing yourself and shove the attitude up your rear!

  2. Do you ever have your workshops on video? I completely agree with your business first philosophy. I am in management in a different field however am attempting to train in whatever spare time I have in order to make the transition to photography, the field I love.

  3. Amen Amen

  4. The digital file business model doesn’t have to be done in a manner that is cheap. I have worked with hundreds of clients who find that quality *is* worth paying for, even if you want digital files. Some clients want to treasure their portraits in other manners than hanging them on their wall. They are savvy enough to understand how to order prints from their files (I do give suggestions on where to get prints made.)

    My goal, as a photographer, is to create beautiful portraits and put the right product in the hands of my clients – for some, that is digital files, for others, that is traditional print product and for some, it’s a combination of both.

    Bottom line – and over supply of CHEAP photography is hurting the industry. These “$100 for a session and CD” photographers are the same who would offer a $4 5×7 if they went with a traditional print business model.

  5. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it. Now you’ve made it clear. It’s all perception, and in this business we don’t have the luxury of being perceived as second best, even if we’re lower cost. I see now, no loving parent wants that for their child entering their rite of passage into the real world. It’s a small price to pay for the memories. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about business, just like love, it can easily blind us to the obvious. There’s really on one solution…. be the best. Thanks to you, I might just have a chance.
    Keep it comin’

  6. There are three things affluent people want (from “The No B.S. Guide to Marketing to the Affluent” by Dan Kennedy. 1) Make life easy, 2) Save me time, and 3) Don’t rip me off.

    Selling digital files to your clients violates principles 1 and 2, and we can probably debate about 3. A client that wants to spend money for family wall art will value it and will appreciate the service involved.

    An affluent person coming to a photographer will absolutely NOT want to have to print their images themselves to frame them. You can give them digital files for Facebook, if you wish, because all sorts of folks like sharing them, but as an end-product in itself, the CD does NOT provide a service. It’s a lazy, cheap way out.

    Tiffany is right about photography being a service industry but she has no clue about what customer service really is. Just because a customer says they want a CD doesn’t mean it will really meet their needs. It is OUR job to talk with the client, discern their real desires, and then meet those desires. When you do THAT, you will have a loyal, repeat client.

    • I agree that providing a cd with small files for Facebook or digital photo frames could be an acceptable option for giving clients something of value to them without greatly cutting into the quality of professionally controlled prints and hard earned profits.

  7. Meggan has the right approach – if a client INSISTS, give them a CD, but at the price that will sustain your business.

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