0005-wedding-photography-training

The Loreal Effect in Photography

The Loreal Effect in Photography…

I’ve spent several years training & coaching & mentoring photographers (predominantly wedding photographers but with a smattering of baby, newborn, family, portrait photographers as well) and a trend seems to be coming out with some of the issues they have had.

I call that trend The Loreal Effect.

So what do I mean by the Loreal Effect in Photography? Simply put the way many “rock star” photographers push their branding and training offering amazing results if only you follow “the simple steps to success” or implement “the 5 things” etc etc and saying dumbshit things like…

“Just increase your prices…because you’re worth it”…or…

“Invest in yourself and your future and for your family because you’re worth it”…or…

“Just increase you cost of products by x4…because you know…you’re worth it” kind of crap.

And crap it is. The only one getting an amazing life and living the dream is the people pushing this crap at £99 a month for a 12 month programme who have 10’s of thousands of subscribers falling for it. Do the numbers…

5000 people buying into this programme at £99 a month = £5,940,000

Ok, so maybe they don’t have 5000 subscribers…it’s just a small thing…so only 1000.

1000 people buying into this programme at £99 a month = £1,188,000

And the programme will more than likely be automated emails sent out once per month or a couple of times per month saying the same thing to 1000 people. A video now and again perhaps. Not much, if any, in the real way or Return on Investment is offered.

And people are scammed by this. And yes I use the word scammed because 99% of the time it is a big con, a big scam.

There is NO get rich quick way of doing stuff or being successful. Honestly, there is no “living the dream” formula. There is no “5 steps to success” formula.

What there is is is bloody hard work and common business acumen.

So let’s look at the “raise your prices because you’re worth it” thing.

Sure I raise my prices then sit back and wait for the cash to roll in. Only it doesn’t And I’ve spent a shit load on a new website, on new leaflets, brochures etc. Because that’s all I was told to do. They (the clients) will come to me. CRAP

If you raise your prices you NEED to readjust your marketing and advertising and sales process. You NEED to reassess where you are getting your clients from and are you hitting your client’s hot points with regards to buying from you. What problem are you solving for them? Because if you are a £100 a session all in with digital files portrait photographer and suddenly go to £500 for a session fee including a 10″x8″ print you’ve just jumped massively into a different target market. All because some dope said, “increase your prices to what you think you are worth…”

You know what? I’m worth at least £2,500 for an 18 hour wedding day which includes an album and a pre-wedding shoot for my Bristol wedding photography. Doesn’t mean anybody will book me – but that’s what I think I’m worth!

So let’s look at the “just increase your prices by a factor of x4” thing

Oh jeez. Where do you the number 4 from? Why not 2 or 3 or 5? Why not 3.5 or 4.5? Or 4.184645637834547564875 or even 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 ;-(

No.

You increase your prices based on your target market, your ideal client profiles, your quality of work, the customer experience, your locale (the local area where you get your clients from) etc etc.

You increase your prices based on your cost of doing business (CODB).

Cost of a portrait session = £100. (Includes %ages towards insurance, kit, software license, travel etc etc)

Cost of a single 10″ x 8″ print = £15 (editing & printing the image)

Total cost of sales = £115

Now ask yourself this question-

“How good are you at sales?”

Because if you are really really good at sales then by all means at a multiple of x4 onto that £115 = £460. Why not add a multiple of 8 ‘cos you are really good? £920. Oh sod it, let’s make it an even multiple of 10! £1150

You have to be very very very good at sales to be able to justify £1150 for a single 10″ x 8″ print 😉 And the sad fact is that (probably) 99.999% of photographers are crap at sales.

So by all means add that x4 multiplier on – but expect to starve and your business to go bust.

You look at your pricing from a realistic numbers based position based on several things –

  1. What will the local area (your clientele) pay for YOUR work. Not what you want to charge, but what will THEY pay.
  2. How good are you at selling? Set your prices to be reasonable and people WILL buy from you.
  3. How easy a life do you want? Expensive prices mean you have to GO to people to convince them to buy from you. Reasonable prices mean people will buy FROM you.
  4. How much is enough? How much do you NEED to cover your personal costs & business costs? That amount is ALL you NEED to make. Nothing more.

But I want to attract high paying clients…

Don’t we all! But you have to do it from a position of grounded thinking. Not pie in the sky Loreal “I’m worth it” crap.

IF your work is good enough then people will buy it. And they will see the value in the work. They will appreciate the effort you put in to achieve that work. They will come back for more.

So you start off small, charging reasonable prices. You build a reputation for good quality consistent work. Slowly increase your profit margin (not just add some random multiplier on!) and at the same time adapt your marketing & advertising and sales process to reflect the increase in prices and change in the ideal client profile.

We cannot just raise our prices willy nilly and expect people to come to us.

0004-wedding-photography-training

Hashtag Business Hashtag TrueColour

Strange name for a blog post about a recent workshop I ran…so let me explain…

#business

If you are going to make money from your photography (and in my delegates cases wedding photography) then you NEED to understand how to run a business correctly and legally. It’s that simple. Always amazes me when new wedding photographers only investment in training is in the photography skills set when in reality it’s the business skill set that will give them the longevity of business, the bookings and ultimately the profit margin to have a lifestyle they want. It’s not easy money, despite what some “rock star” photographers may say. It’s not “living the dream” with an IG image of a MacBook Pro & a coffee that seems to the default setting for non photography photographer post.

It is long nights, early mornings, time away from the kids, the family, the loved ones, giving up on the holidays, the luxury items. it’s time spent in front of a computer editing constantly, playing around with sliders and layers and curves to find and nail a consistent style. It’s watching countless YouTube videos trying to think how you could use that technique successfully in your own work, it’s trying to make you stand out from an incredibly crowded market place (see below re #TrueColour). It’s working your bolloxs / tits off (gender neutral on this site folks!!) for a lifestyle you want and putting the hard work and effort in NOW to get the future you want. That is not “living the dream”!!

So, in this workshop, we covered upselling and how putting thought into your branding from the very start will help you achieve your goals. We discussed pricing sensibly and not arrogantly. We talked about shooting specifically for a wedding album and why you NEED to include wedding albums in every wedding collection you offer. We chatted about the different sales techniques (Aggressive, Transactional, Consultative & Collaborative). Additionally, we talked about why I offer a same day slideshow and why I post authentically (very!) on my social media channels and my website.

During lunch we completed a Myers Briggs Type indicator (MBTi) assessment and after lunch I talked through the various profiles and explained why some people act in the way they do and why you want to look for clients that are like you in personality…because you will “click” better. We talked about some of the potential issues surrounding the profiles and how if left unchecked they could be harming to business and an individual.

We did lots of shooting…and off course we used off camera flash. Lots of basic outdoors stuff to make the colours pop and give you the tools to cope in any lighting situation. This is where #TrueColour comes into it.

We also spent a lot of time indoors (even though the weather outside was amazing!) and played with creating some amazing scenes use just two normal speedlights and grids. This is particularly useful when it’s raining outside but you still need to get those WOW shots.

#TrueColour

So, this hashtag. Well this is the hashtag I use to describe MY photography.

I’m not a fan, in fact, I detest / hate, the current trend for dark muted wedding photographs, no colour, all brown tones, dark shadows, skin tones bordering on the orange. That is not how the human eye sees the world. In 20 years time, your kids are going to look at those wedding photographs and think “WTF!”… in the same light, we now look at the cheesy bride in a wine glass photograph from 20 years ago.

To enable a full wide range of bright bold vibrant colours that the human eye sees, especially outdoors, I use off camera flash. This allows me to correctly expose for a background (usually a nice bright blue sky with those fluffy white clouds) AND correctly expose the subject.

So we practised this simple technique a lot during the workshop. Proving that to get those bright bold skies you really can’t shoot in natural light only.

We also looked at editing and my workflow and how I can get a same day slideshow sorted out for the couple during their wedding breakfast. A fast efficient workflow is KEY to saving time. We chatted about which plugins I use…and yes some of them are expensive…but how much is your time worth?!

Finally we went out for sunset shots!

Phew…10 hours of learning & development crammed into one day.

…and the final team shot at sunset…

AMP34270

By the way… I do like to ensure people learn on my wedding photography workshops, and especially on the flash side (Otherwise, where is your Return on Investment?!). I grabbed both of the delegates cameras, changed the settings, changed the flash power on the trigger and changed the distance of the flash. Both delegates (Claire & Bobbie) got a sunset photograph of me within 48 seconds. THAT is learning!

Next wedding workshop is in Birmingham 20th & 21st July and you still have time to get the early bird discount for booking!

Using Off-Camera Flash

The easiest way to think about using off-camera flash is to think about light. Light is something that all photographers should be used to working with, and when using flash the first thought should be to the creative possibilities of what you want to achieve. What “look” do you want to go for etc?

So you look at the scene you have and think where is the natural / ambient light coming from? How can I use that to add shape / texture / drama to my image or how can I add flash to that scene to add a little bit more light and make a better well balanced image?

Note – I’m not going into using flash modifiers on this blog!

Getting Started with Off Camera Flash

So the first two images below…my thought process…

  1. Position the couple where I want them. I don’t worry about posing couples by the way. I just ask them to cuddle or if they are Welsh cwtch!
  2. I loved the sky. Clouds are fab for me, I love drama in the clouds. So my thought process was to first expose for the sky to ensure the clouds would be good. (Tip – switch the camera to P mode and take a shot of the sky. Then remember the settings and enter them into the camera when you are on M mode!).
  3. Once I have a decent exposure of the clouds I think about how much flash I need to add to the subjects. I’m pretty good at this now, but, seriously, I have spent hours and hours and hours in my garden with a fake rubber head on a light stand and a flash on another stand testing the light output at various distances.
  4. So, for your starter for 10 put the light stand at 6ft away from your subjects and set the flash power to 1/8 power. (Check the manual if you are now scratching your head 😉 ). The flash should be at roughly head height for now.
  5. Take a test shot and see what the subjects look like. Your sky will have the same exposure by the way – we are ONLY looking at the subjects.
  6. If the flash is too bright, turn the power down.
  7. If the flash is too dark, turn the power up.
  8. How much you turn the power up is, well experience! Hence spending time in the garden.
  9. When you have a shot you like do a happy dance!

Notice the sky in the images below are exactly the same exposure. Only the couples exposure has changed.

Kit used…

  • Godox v860ii
  • Godox XPro
  • Neewer light stand
  • Fuji Xt3
  • Fuji 16-55mm f2.8

Camera ssettings

ISO 80, 16mm, f.8, 1/250

f8 because I wanted the background to be sharp to show it off

Two Lights

The next couple of images were with two lights. Same technique as above though.

The first shot was with the light (Godox v8601ii) to camera right and then I added a second light (Godox v860ii) to camera left. I like the shadows in images, they don’t bother me too much. They add depth to the shot and give it a more 3D feel.

Same kit as above.

Camera Settings

ISO 80, 24.2mm, f3.2, 1/250

F3.2 because I wanted the background to be sharp but not overly distracting.

The Business of Wedding Photography 10

Copyright Theft

There seems to be a past of posts on FB lately about people receiving letters from companies regarding copyright theft and demanding money for the use of the images as well as the removal of the images.


I’m not 100% sure why this should be happening, especially in an age where Google makes it easy to find copyright owners or where Shutterstock and Getty etc make it easy to purchase stock images.


Put simply if you do not own the image copyright or do not have a license to use the image you are committing copyright theft.  Just because it is on the internet does not mean it is open and fair for people to take it.


This is the same as if you went into Waitrose and walked out with a basket of food without paying – it is theft.  Just because it is on the shelves doesn’t mean it is ok for you to take it.


If you use images commercially you HAVE to pay for their use.

If you use images personally you don’t.


If you want images for commercial use, pay for them.  Pay Shutterstock or such.  Hire a professional photographer to do your own images (more personalised and on brand.)


Asking for advice once you have been found it is too late.  Be proactive, search your blogs and websites and check the copyright/licenses are in order.  If not remove the image immediately from your website as well as the archives.


Personally (Bristol wedding photography) I check a wide variety of current and older images once per month via Google to check for online copyright theft.  I don’t mind people using my images – as long as they ask first.  If they don’t ask and use them they get a polite letter and an invoice for the use. If they pay the invoice I send the money to a military charity.  If they don’t pay the invoice and start to be arsey about it then the Small Claims Court comes into it.


It. Is. That. Simple.

Training, Coaching or Mentoring; What’s the difference.

So, it’s pretty well known that I offer a mentoring service to new/existing photographers via the Welsh Government Business Wales mentoring Scheme (that’s a mouthful!).

I don’t get paid anything for that – I do it free. I give my time freely to help others in the industry either get started to get some third-party help, support and advice. Once again – I DO NOT GET PAID for this. I don’t even chargeback expenses as the paperwork to do that would take me longer to fill in than the cost of the coffee in the first place.

Some people are confused as to what exactly mentoring is, and to a lesser or greater extent what the difference between Training, Coaching or Mentoring. So this little ole blog post is MY take on the matter…

Training, Coaching or Mentoring; What’s the difference

Coaching

I provide business coaching. I run a photography business, specialising in wedding photography, so it makes sense to do business coaching. I’m also a qualified coach (Institute of Leadership & Management, Level 7; the equivalent of a Masters Degree.)

Essentially a coach, a Business Coach or Executive Coach, helps their clients advance towards specific professionals goals. I do this through insightful questioning of you and your business model and lead you to conclusions that you can take ownership for and implement. I am there to support and guide you along the right path. I am NOT there to do it for you.

I am able to utilise a lot of tools to do this; by virtue of also being qualified to use a wide variety of psychometric tools to study and enhance your individual performance and thus your business.

Research studies suggest that executive coaching has positive effects on workplace performance with some differences in the impact of internal and external coaches. Reference to a 2015 study here.

Mentoring

It is often said that a mentor has walked in your shoes first and knows the pitfalls to avoid and can tell you the path to take.

Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but he or she must have a certain area of expertise.

In my experience that expertise is in running a successful wedding photography for 13 years and a successful management development consultancy for 16 years. I’ve been there, done it, got the t-shirt, wasted the money and learn the lessons.

The mentoring I provide is essentially me TELLING you what you should do to avoid the same issues I have had.

As mentioned at the top, I am a Business Mentor for Business Wales, freely giving my time (and thus money) to help others.

If you choose not to take the advice; fine. Just don’t come crying when you fall down the very same hole I did but I then told you not to do.

FYI the same Coaching qualification (see above) also included Mentoring.

Training

Ahh – training. This is what ALL photographers seem to like to do as long as it is training with a camera or camera related kit. What they seem to hate doing is anything else associated with running their business!

So, what is training? To me, training is being shown what to do. How to actually do something for yourself. How to set up lights for Off-Camera Flash, how to shoot newborns, how to pose couples, how to use a camera correctly, how to do anything so you don’t have to pay someone to do it for you essentially.

Also included in this list are things like running a business…how to handle your tax self-assessment, how to run your accounts legally, how to market yourself, how to price your goods, products and services so you make money, how to communicate with people, how to use social media for your business, how to set up and write your own website, how to utilise SEO techniques etc etc.

The paragraph above is what I teach (mostly) on my 2-day The Business of Wedding Photography training course. I do not cover the photography side in depth. Being the world’s best wedding photographer will not pay the mortgage unless you have the right business acumen.

I don’t guide you in doing stuff. I don’t tell you to do stuff. I show you how to do it for yourself.

And yes, I hold a professional degree level adult training qualification (Distinction) from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development as well as others from my time in the military.

“Give a man a fish and he’ll feed himself for a day. Give him a fishing rod and show him how to fish and he’ll feed himself forever” kind of thing.

YOUR Mindset

Photography is a hard game to be in and an even harder one to make work. Every Tom, Dick and Harriet has a camera and has a Facebook or SquareSpace or Wix website site and are therefore a “wedding photographer”. Everyone seems to be looking for the instant win. The instant gratification of Likes or Hearts or Followers or (ego stroking at its worst). The “if I buy this bit of camera kit I’ll really make some money and be famous” marketing (ProFoto are very good at this by the way!!) hype.

All of that is the WRONG MINDSET. IF THAT IS YOU DON’T GET IN TOUCH.

If you want to make your business successful and want to run a business the right way, get the same corporate level training & development that you would get in the big corporates and don’t mind the hard work and long hours that goes with it then by all means get in touch.

YOU NEED to have the correct mindset to be successful. I will support you in the journey, I’ll be there late at night chatting via FB if you want support or advice, or meeting when you need the face to face support. Without the right mindset of being successful in business, you will get nowhere.

You will find me supportive to the extreme to help you make your business work.

Finally

If you want to come on my training courses, great. Pay me. Prices vary.

If you want coaching, great. Pay me. £150 for 2 hours.

If you want to take advantage of Business Wales for free mentoring, great, as long as you are in Wales! I’ll do it for free. But don’t expect me to coach/train you during those sessions 😉 I have a mortgage to pay.

What’s behind the price.

Think first…

This blog has been a bloody long time coming. And no, it’s not an in-depth rant about why photography is going down the pan because of cheap photographers etc.  It’s a rant about why other photographers can’t see beyond the headline “price” of competitors when it comes to comparing work instead of comparing value and understanding the reasoning behind business decisions.  i.e. if you are cheap you are low quality.

So, take two photographers. Both been in business 10 years.  Both have a similar style of work, use the same Adobe Lightroom pre-sets so it’s hard to really distinguish one work from another.  Both have similar business costs with regards to hourly rate etc.

Photographer A charges £1000 and gives a USB in a box with some straw in it.

Photographer B charges £1000 and gives a wedding album and the digital images via an online gallery.

Photographer A lives in Bristol and has a mortgage.  Photographer B lives in Wales and doesn’t have a mortgage or pay rent (lucky guy!)

Photographer B is obviously not good enough, is too cheap, is low quality etc etc because they are including an album, and no one can make money giving an album at that price.

Bolloxs.

For a start the cost difference, using the company I do for my albums, between the USB and the album is £56.  That’s all.  The album in question is an 8”x8” album with 20 pages and comes with a presentation case – no straw.

Ok, so it takes a little while longer to design the album and deliver it to clients, so let’s call the difference £150 all in.

And the USB has to be downloaded to and delivered as well, so let’s call that £75 all in.

I’ll make the numbers and the business stuff easy here.

Both photographers want a turnover of at least £50,000 so both photograph 50 weddings a year.

Photographer A has a profit after the USB of £46,250 for 50 weddings

Photographer B has a profit after the album of £42,500 for 50 weddings

That is a difference of only £3,750 a year between the two of them.

Out of that £46,250 Photographer A has to pay for a mortgage in Bristol and that is maybe £600 a month or £7,200 a year so after mortgage payments A has £39,050. 

Photographer B has no mortgage and is already taking home more in his pocket at £42,500.

To get almost the same take home money Photograph A has to shoot 57 weddings!

Photographer B designs their albums so that there isn’t enough pages for all great photographs they take at a wedding and so 90% of the time upsells more pages.  And 50% of the time upsells to a larger album as well, taking the take home money way higher.  Or photographs less weddings 😉

Photographer A meanwhile barely manages to upsell anything as they market to clients who ONLY want a USB, whereas Photographer B markets to clients who want an album and value prints to start with.

So, it’s NOT about price.  Unless you KNOW what costs the other photographers have price is totally and utterly irrelevant.  Unless you KNOW what upsell that photographer does on the base price, price is totally and utterly irrelevant.

What YOU and your clients should be looking at is what is the perceived value those collections look like? 

Are you as the wedding photographer offering what I call a WVP – a “WOW! Value proposition”?

p.s. yeah, price does come into it somewhat further down the food chain.  We all know that you can’t make money from selling your work at £399 all in including 10 6”x4” prints, a canvas, a slate engraving and a cuddly toy.