I was feeling pretty discouraged this week. I got some photographer envy really bad. I was looking on another photographer's facebook. And her photos were good. Really good. Like her prices were triple mine, her followers were 12 times more than mine. She had her own studio at her own farm for Pete's sake. I could not be in the same league as her.
I have a little townhouse with two crazy kids and our house is always a mess. I can't afford to have a studio and I always have to compete with the other phtotogs in our area for public park space. It's the pits.
I saw her photos: the number of props she used in newborn shoots, the backdrops, her own stable with horses to do Easter shoots in. I was jealous!
But instead of getting down on myself. I thought about how in New York, or in D.C. where I am from, most photogs have to compete with others. Everyone could have very similar work since they all go to the same places, but everyone looks at the world differently.
I remember reading an article about one gentleman that went to one of Ansel Adam's favorite places to shoot and he took his camera. He set it up exactly in the spot that Ansel did. He shot with the same settings. But his photo turned out completely different in post.
Even though I live in a town that have over 60,000 people I have found that registered on facebook over 1,000 different photographers in my city alone. I am sure there are hundreds more!
I could get overwhelmed thinking, "Why would people want to work with me?" What do I have to offer? Well, no is is me. That's my best playing card. My story, might resonate with some specific people and not others.
When I moved to this town three years ago, I had to start from scratch. I didn't know anybody. I got involved in my church and soon my business cards were floating around. Now I get most of my business from my church. But I see that some people still go to their own photographers. Honestly, I get hurt when I see that. I mostly get hurt because I know that I can't provide those services. Mostly in-studio sessions with really cute backdrops. But what can I do? I can provide a great outdoor experience or on-site photography packages. I travel to them. That's pretty unique.
I know that in my business, I give 10% of my earnings away to build wells in India, or I give sessions away. That's a great way to tell my followers that I care about the community at large. And it opens up conversations about me and my personal beliefs. (You can give to our well building fund here: www.mygfa.org/waterlifelove)
I might not have the gear, the studio or the staff that other photographers have in this area, but I have drive to get business. I stay up late so that my customers can see sneek peaks the next day! I usually have all of my sessions edited within one day. I promise two weeks for weddings and sessions. I also do slideshows of sessions.
The number one compliment that I always get is how quickly I get the photos back to them. I also do really simple pricing (see it here) on my website, that is by time, not by print package. That way it's easier for everyone to add up the cost!
I am goofy, silly and I'll lay in the mud to get a great photo. One of my number one personality traits is the ability to make people smile and start up a conversation about them! I love learning about other people and telling stories during session.
I don't think that I would EVER outsource my editing to someone over the internet. I know that this is very popular now, so that photographer's can save time and energy and get more clients. But the editing room is where I can really show what I can do. I have a workflow that takes me only 6 hours to do a wedding from inserting my SD cards to blogging about it the next day! Now that's fast! I don't use photoshop, I streamline my time with LIGHTROOM. Therefore my edits are clean, fresh and easy. Even though I would love to see more dramatic things in my images, and more photoshopped skies, I just can't see the benefit of doing very difficult editing in the long run.
Even though there are so many photographers in my area, no one is going to be exactly where I am all the time. I'm at the local gym with my kids, the local parks, the children's museums, the aquariums. I'm in different places online too! I am constantly tagging photos with local attractions online or on instagram to get more followers who like my work.
These places are my market. Everywhere I go, I try to strike up conversations with people about what I do. Sometimes I hand out business cards, sometimes I just listen. The worst is when someone is marketing themselves all the time.
So don't be discouraged. No one can duplicate you!
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