“I’m going to lower my prices,” a Charlotte, North Carolina based photographer said to me.
“Why?” I responded.
“It’s just not happening for me. I know other photographers who are booked solid and I’m not. I’m just as good or better than those guys. You know that.”
“Yes, you are an incredible photographer. But before you make a move on prices, tell me a about your last five photo shoots.”
“Well, you know the Wilson’s?” he began. “I did their son’s senior shots. My neighbors rescue these dogs and I did some cool shots of some of their dogs. And I did the game for Hough high.”
“Okay, I got it,” I jumped in. “The problem is not your prices, it’s your focus.”
He stared at me for a moment and said, “I don’t know. I think it’s my prices.”
Imagine for a moment that a friend is getting married and she, of course, needs a photographer. Her wedding day, along with her graduation and birth of a child will be one of the most important days of her life. So, capturing the day is a big deal. A really big deal.
Now, let’s assume that she has been planning this day for years. As such, she has set aside the financial resources for a good photographer.
So, now, what does she do?
She consults with her friends, visits a few web sites and makes a few phone calls. She eventually invites three photographers to share their portfolios with her.
Photographer one is like my friend. He has incredible work but no wedding photos. However, his prices are really good. He rises to the top of her heap.
The next photographer’s work is okay, but her portfolio is mostly weddings. So, she gains her attention too. Her prices are roughly $300 higher than the first photographer’s.
Then there is the third photographer. He hands her a business card with a couple he shot on the back. Then he shows her his portfolio. It is composed entirely of wedding photos. His work? On par with the first photographer but not necessarily better. But he has one thing the first doesn’t - creative wedding shots that she has always dreamed of. She’s sold even though his prices are $800 higher than the first. “Besides,” she wonders, “this first guy can’t be a good wedding photographer if he’s that cheap. Why is he so cheap?”
Prices communicate. They tell a story. They say who you are and who you’re not.
Imagine, for example, someone walking up to you and offering you a fully-loaded 2012 S-series Mercedes for $25,000. Yeah, you would immediately know that it was stolen or some other scam was at play.
But higher prices also come with focus. This fact is made much clearer when you think about medicine. A brain surgeon is paid substantially more than a general surgeon. A cardiologist (a heart doctor) is paid substantially more than an internal medicine doc (a physician who sees adults for pretty much everything).
A gentleman came to one of my A Second Cup of Life workshops hoping to transition from a banker to a photographer. His passion? The history of buildings built before 1965. After a brief conversation, it became clear to me what he needed to do next.
Well, today he is fast becoming the go-to photographer for architects, remodeling companies, municipalities and publishers for period architecture. He is focused and his prices reflect that fact. Because he is one of only a few who specialize in such photography, he can practically name his price. And he does.
So, as you make your transition to doing the work that makes you happy, remember to focus. Pick a niche and get rich.