Conquering Covid: How to book more small photoshoots and grow your revenue by up to $10,000 a year

May 28, 2020

With the COVID pandemic having such a profound impact on this year’s wedding season, we see photographers all over trying to find new ways to generate revenue to make up for lost income. While selling prints or teaching an online course are great ways to try and diversify your photography business - at Focal we’ve had a lot of success helping our photographers grow their business through booking more small shoots. In 2019, our top photographer grew their income by just over $10,000!

Why small shoots?

Small shoots are the untapped potential for many photographers. This is because as photographers, you are already doing them! You just need a bit of marketing to help you do a LOT more. Furthermore, small shoots can supplement your income without cannibalizing your main wedding income because you can focus on them in the off season or days when you don’t have bigger shoots.

The way the photography industry currently operates makes it particularly difficult for customers looking to book small shoots. Think about it this way:

It’s your mom’s 70th birthday next weekend and the whole family is going to be in town to celebrate with a big outdoor picnic. You realize that it’s a great opportunity to hire a photographer to come and capture the celebration and get some priceless photos of the whole family together. So you go on google and search for “family event photographers near me”. You click on the first couple links and it takes you to a photographers’ website. The problem is that the website has nothing to do with photographing a family event. It’s filled with wedding photos and a biography about themselves. Now you have to email that photographer through their contact form to ask them if they even do family events, what their prices are and if they are even available. Compound this situation with the last minute nature of your family event and you can see the problem.

Customers don’t want to have to spend hours researching and contacting photographers in order to book them for a small shoot. With things like weddings, it makes a lot more sense to spend hours - even days researching your purchase. But for smaller shoots, customers simply don’t have the time or energy. They want it easy. They want to know how much it costs, that you’re available and that you can do what they want well! After that they’re all ready to book.

How to position yourself to earn more small bookings

Imagine for a second that you’re walking down the street and you see a shop with the sign “shoe store”. The sign spurs your memory and you’re reminded that you could really use a new pair of runners, so you walk into the store - only to find out that all the shelves are empty except for one. The shelf that’s full only has high end designer shoes. Confused, you go up to the shopkeeper and ask “do you have any runners”? The shopkeeper says: “Sure I do, what size are you, what brand do you want and what’s your budget?”. You then have to explain that you’re a size 7, you’re looking for Nikes and preferably white. The shopkeeper has to go into the back and bring out a couple pairs that they think fit. This goes on until they bring you the right pair.

While silly, this “shoe shop analogy” is how a lot of photographers run their websites. They stock the designer shoes shelf with weddings because they are the biggest earners but leave all the other ones empty. When a customer comes into the store looking for a photographer to cover their family event, it’s nowhere to be found so they have to ask for it! From a business standpoint, this makes absolutely no sense. You want customers to be able to see what you offer, otherwise you run the risk of them leaving because they don’t know that you have what they need. Just stock the shelves and you’ll have customers bringing the pair they want up to the counter and paying!

How do I stock my shelves as a photographer?

It’s really not that hard, all you have to do is make it easy for customers to understand what you offer. Here are some suggestions: 

  1. Create a page for each small shoot that you offer. Make that page specifically about that shoot and nothing else. This makes your package digestible and like a real product. 
  2. Include sample photos that you’ve taken from the same type of shoot. When a customer sees a family event photos vs. a normal family shoot they will know that is what they want. 
  3. Be transparent about pricing. It’s more professional to set a value on your work. Customers will appreciate you for it and it will make it a lot easier for them to make a purchasing decision without having to ask you.
  4. Detail What’s Included. This is the boring “number of photos, hours of coverage”. Customers need to know tangibly what they’re getting so be sure to cover this. However, it’s also a great place to highlight any extra things you do that are valuable. Maybe it’s being willing to travel X KMs, offering a video/phone consultation before the shoot etc. Highlighting these things will convey your professionality to the customer and they will factor these things in as “value added”.
  5. Tell them What to Expect. Give them a rundown of the experience they’re buying. After all they aren't just buying “100 photos”, they are hiring you to make them comfortable in front of the camera, bring their vision to life etc. At Focal we like to detail the timeline of events from after booking to during the shoot to post-shoot. Tell them how you’ll have a consultation to talk about their vision, you’ll arrive at the family event a little bit early to get setup. You’ll capture some formal shots of the whole family and then work on getting some candids of everyone enjoying their time together. Describe your proofing/editing process and when the photos will be delivered. The closer the customer can imagine the experience that they’re buying, the more comfortable they will be and the more aligned their expectations will be.
  6. List the fine print. Things like cancellations, weather, licencing etc. aren’t problems until they are. Be sure to list them on your package page so that there is common ground if any of these things arise.
  7. Call to action. After customers have all the information and are ready to book, make it easy for them. Include a call to action button on your page so customers know how to move forward. 

Ideas for small shoots to offer

Corporate Event Photography

Office Branding Photography

Retail/Store Photography

Food Photography


Family Event Photography

Graduation Photography

Product Photography

Pet Photography

Now let them know!

Don't forget to put your packages out there! Whether on your own website or on Focal, we think you should be proud to show what amazing photoshoots you’re offering. You never know who might be planning their next family event, needing headshots or trying to brand their business. More than ever, our communities are coming together to support local businesses. Go out, build some amazing small shoot packages and share them!

Here are some channel ideas for sharing your packages

E-commercifying your photography business is easy with Focal

With Focal waiving subscriptions fees for photographers. There’s no better time to join our community and try out our closed beta. We are working extremely closely with our photographers to build a platform that serves them as much as it serves our customers. If you’re interested, we are slowly opening up the platform across Canada. Feel free to get in touch and our team would be happy to meet you and figure out how we can work together.

Easily Build Photoshoots Packages That Increase Bookings

Customers are accustomed to online shopping, so why not let them shop photoshoots? With Focal’s photographer portfolios, you can easily create tangible photoshoot packages by adding photos, detailing what to expect, what’s included and setting things like cancellation, weather or payment policies. After you’ve built a portfolio and packages, you can easily share them with customers by sending them a link. Plus, your portfolio and packages are beautifully optimized for mobile!

Take Bookings Seamlessly

With Focal’s booking platform, you can easily attach your photoshoot packages to an invoice, add line items like add-ons or discounts and then send it to your customer by email. You can also designate a meetup location, time and any instructions for that particular booking. After the customer pays securely through the Focal platform they can easily reference their online booking anytime by using their email link. If it’s a bigger booking, easily split the payment into a 50% deposit and then a remaining balance due at your designated date. Focal’s booking and payment system makes it seamless to book shoots and take payments. 

Full Ownership

At Focal, our goal has always been to empower photographers which is why we designed our platform to give photographers full autonomy over what goes up on the platform. This means things like getting to put your logo front and centre so you can build your brand, setting your own prices and having full management over your portfolio and packages.

Apply or just reach out for a chat!

We're so happy you took the time read our post, so thank you very much. We hope that we were able to give you a bit of inspiration on how to grow your photography business. If you're interested in applying for Focal, you can use the form here. But, if you're not quite ready for that just yet, feel free to just drop us a line with any questions you may have at! Whether it's getting a bit more info about Focal, or even passing on some suggestions from your years of experience in the industry, we're always just happy to chat and hear from all you amazing photographers out there.

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