September 18, 2020
At Focal, the frustrations I hear from photographers are often the same: ghosting clients, business woes, and hassles over pricing. I feel for them! Nobody gets into photography because they love emails or tracking invoices. We pick up a camera because of the feeling it gives us. We do it for the moments — the ones we'll never forget.
I had a conversation with a bright young photographer enrolled in our Focal Mentorship Program. She had built up a portfolio of portrait work and begun to land contracts for weddings. Her prices were clear and transparent, but she wasn’t happy with her website. She called it a “disaster.”
But here’s the thing… it was pretty good! And the fixes? Easy ones to make.
I see the same thing all the time.
It’s almost always the first question customers ask: how much do you charge, and for how many photos?
Like it or not, we’re a price-shopping bunch — and when we buy, we want to get the best deal. It’s the reason your local grocery store price matches, and why Jeff Bezos makes almost $150,000 a minute. (That, and two-day shipping.) Thing is, it’s a terrible approach for photography.
It’s just about reframing the conversation.
Photos by Marlboro Wang Photography
What I always tell photographers is you don’t want to just throw out your prices without conveying any additional value. You’re an artist, remember? How many people in the world could take the exact same photograph as you?
Your style is unique. One of one. But a price tag and list of shots doesn’t convey any part of what makes you special. And if that’s all your customer sees, then that’s all they have to compare you with the next photographer.
And to me, price is the least important aspect of booking a photographer.
I’ll never forget the first time I watched Christin at Ooh Ooh Darling Photography do a newborn shoot.
The first thing that struck me was the coziness of the studio — she keeps it at a balmy twenty-eight degrees to help the babies relax and fall asleep. When she takes the newborn from the parents, she has this magical ability to soothe them in mere moments. Somehow, in the midst of all of this, she takes the photos — all while coaching parents through poses and ensuring the baby’s safety.
If all you saw when you booked with Christin was a list of her prices, you’d miss out on what makes her such a tremendous photographer. That part doesn’t show up in a price tag or shot list. It’s up to you as a photographer to convey your worth. That way, when people browse through your packages, they see you — not just your prices. It’ll help them in booking the right photographer, and it’ll help you in conveying what your services are truly worth without any pressure to lower your prices.
Photos by Ooh Ooh Darling Photography
So, how do you focus on what makes you unique?
Maybe you know yourself supremely well. But what if you’re stuck? A good way to find out what differentiates you is by asking your past clients what they liked about shooting with you.
Do they talk about how much fun you were to shoot with? Do they talk about how good you were at making them comfortable? Do they mention the freezer full of ice cream sandwiches you provide at every family shoot? (Everyone’s got their thing.) Do they talk about how natural you are with kids, or how you made them feel like a star?
Whatever it is, that’ll help you in finding the core of what makes you stand out.
At Focal, we believe in putting the story first.
We designed our platform to make it easier than ever for you to create stunning portfolios and photo packages that enable you to tell your story. Not a wordsmith? We can help you in getting your Focal portfolio to shine — and, thanks to your listing on the Focal marketplace, you can start attracting more clients.
I’m biased, of course. But our Focal photographers can (and do!) vouch for the product we’ve put together.
With Focal, you can book clients through our e-commerce platform, manage jobs, and send invoices hassle-free. It’s something our team stands proudly behind — and the same reason we offer a free 30-day trial. Because really, what better way is there than to try it for yourself?