Thursday, June 01, 2006

Photography Tip- Business Practices for Photographers

By Kenneth C. Hoffman

There must be as many business policies as there are photographers

in business. Through the years I have learned by my mistakes and
by observing other successful photography business. Here are some
policies that have added to the success of my business.

Concerning weddings, require the full payment for the basic package that
the bride and groom order. Extras must be paid at the time of the final
order. The argument that no goods are in the hands of the buyer must be
politely put aside.

If actual proofs are supplied for perusal, one successful photographer I
know actually supplies these proofs (over 300 3x5s) to the bride and groom
free of charge. The theory is (and it works) that more people over a longer period of time will see the pictures and place more orders. These proofs are too
small to use as gifts or for display and their gratitude for the free gift is
wonderful for word-of-mouth advertising. I suggest that the proofs be
heavily textured to prevent illegal digital scanning.

I believe that a full guarantee of customer satisfaction be a major policy of
the professional photographer. The consumer is entitled to be happy with
their purchase, even though some criterions are subjective and not the fault
of the photographer. No customer should be left with a bad taste in their
mouth when they leave the studio. You will reap the rewards in additional
referrals and increased orders.

Offer as many free retakes of sessions that have gone wrong for one reason
or another. I know that this policy represents additional costs to the studio
but the clients have no fault when the two year old won’t sit or grandmother
gets sick. Some clients might try to take advantage of this policy by trying
to get free sessions for individuals in a group picture, but the rules must be
stated clearly and posted in the studio for the customers to see.

Some photographers expand the price list lower and higher, quoting higher
and lower levels of quality. I know that the reason is to present more choices
in cost to the customer, but the down side is that the cheaper products will
not represent your best work and the customer may feel cheated. All your
work must be of the finest quality you can produce. Lower prices can only
reflect smaller sizes or fewer quantities.

Promise a realistic date for the work to be completed and make sure that the
work is ready on time. A variable date for completion only serves to undermine
the customer’s faith in your efficiency and good work habits. Reminder calls
are a good idea if the work is not picked up within a reasonable time period.

Assuage the customer’s important concerns and fears early on in your relationship.
Some clients are reluctant to bring up their fears and end up not booking if those
concerns are not addressed.

Never offer any extra pictures you have at no charge to the customer. For some
reason, this never works in favor of the photographer. Be meticulous in preparing
the exact sizes and amounts of their order. On the other hand, you may include a small
(non photographic) gift for their continued support of your services.

Generally, your prices should be commensurate with your major competition, using your
expertise and talent as the reason your customers are satisfied and return for more business.
Bi-annual reappraisal of your price list should be a regular habit. Everything goes up and
you should be no different. Photographers are a dime a dozen but good, successful
photographers are rare.

I was a portrait and wedding photographer for 40 years and enjoyed every minute.

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