Updated: Jun 14
Every conversation with photographers about in-person sales (IPS) always turns into reasons they personally cannot do IPS. I live in a town with 2 military bases and 100s of the shoot and burn photographers and yet I can still make a living and sell myself.
Is my photography amazingly different than the photographer down the road? No. I just set myself apart.
No one will pay that in my area
You're underestimating your area and your fellow community members. My husband thinks people paying more than maybe $200 for photography is crazy.
Do you know what he loves? All that extra money I make. He does NOT value photography. I find that men are not my target audience, they don't value photography as much as women typically.
But moms, single moms, grandmas, they value photography and they want those images. I have had women tell me not to email them a receipt because they don't want their spouses to know how much they spent. It was something they valued. Just like their husband valued lots of expensive fishing gear they didn't understand or think was necessary.
I can't afford photography
I wouldn't pay $100+ for a purse, but others do all the time. Some people buy the latest iPhone for $1,000+ every time it comes out. I can't "afford" that. The truth is, I don't want that, I don't VALUE having a new phone every year.
You're a photographer, you can do photography, of course, you wouldn't want to pay someone else what you can do.
It's liking hiring a mechanic or IT professional. They wouldn't pay someone else to fix their computer or car because they can do it themselves.
I read somewhere that if you can't afford your prices then you are priced correctly.
Everyone else is selling all the digitals for $100
I'm in the Facebook mom's groups, within 10 minutes of anyone asking for a photographer at least 50 posts have been made, all with cheap photographers. It can be heartbreaking. Not only because that poster will likely not book me but also that all those photographers are not understanding their value.
But I still book.
Here's the thing, I don't need to do 10 photoshoots a week. I'm good with two. I work less and make more.
Just because everyone else is charging little doesn't make it ok or means you can't make a living. Cheap photographers are going to have a hard time surviving in the long run. If you were constantly making less than min. wage and away from your family all the time and arranging childcare would you be able to survive doing photography?
Let's say a photographer charges $250 for a session with digitals. According to an article I saw at PPA, a photographer who is really good with their expenses is bringing home around 30%. So IF you aren't going crazy on props and such, you might bring home $75 from that shoot. Let's say it takes you an hour of emails, prep and drive time. One-two hours for the shoot and then 2-3 hours for editing. You're looking at 4-6 hours easily for that one shoot.
If you drop a lens, you'll need to pay at least a $200 deductible--there went that money.
Did you pay a babysitter?
It all adds up. Just because someone charges $100 for a photoshoot, doesn't mean they can survive on that. They probably haven't properly done their cost of doing business.
I'm already charging too much
I find that most people who have this problem are really priced between two price points OR need to reevaluate their pricing system and what they are giving.
Some photographers switch to IPS and jump to like $600 for a session with a print credit and then have a hard time booking clients. (Some photographers make the jump and have no issues, it really depends on your area and your clientele.)
For example, for me, when I was a shoot and burn photographer, I charged $300 and they got everything. When I switched to IPS, I charged $300 also. But this time, I included $100 in print credit. That print credit gets them one 8x10 mounted print. They are going to spend about $500-$3000 in products after their session. Having that lower price point opened the doors for me without scaring away too many of my existing clients.
For some people, they may charge a price that confuses clients. For example, $200 may be priced in between $100 shoot and burners and the more expensive photographers. You may need to play with what you are offering and your price point. The ones that are willing to pay may think you are too cheap to be good. And the cheap clients may think you are too expensive.
Sometimes price, psychologically, tells a client your level of service and product. I know it's crazy, but it's true. Think about the old saying, "you get what you pay for." IPS photographers are taking their clients' experience to the next level and helping them all the way.
I'm not good enough yet
If you really think you aren't good enough, try this....
Set your product pricing much higher, like say $99 for a 5x7 or 8x10 print. Then your session could be free. Charge, say $100 as a retainer to ensure against no-shows. Let your clients know that they will get that money back if they don't like their images or they can use it towards their products and digitals.
Also remember, we as photographers are really hard on ourselves. If you are getting clients, I'd imagine you are better than you think. Also, images that technically aren't perfect to us, maybe perfect to our clients. A client wants images of their children smiling, interacting, etc. That is important and means the world to them.
Your job is to make images that are perfect for the client. Get past your own self-conscious issues and you can do it!
I don't have enough time
I hate this excuse. I make as much doing a portrait session (approx 5 hours total between shooting and editing and ordering) that I used to do at a wedding (at least 15-40 hours of work).
Let’s just say you are making $350-$500 for each shoot and burn session. On a typical session, you’d shoot, edit and deliver, which is at least 3-6 hours of work, if not more.
For me, I shoot, cull, soft proof (basic adjustments) and that’s it. I’m not typically removing zits, boogers, and spots until a client orders their favorites.
My Ordering Appointment takes 2 hours max. It’s usually around the 45min-60min mark, but it just depends on the client. Some clients know exactly what they want and they come in and can spend close to $3K in an hour, every sales session is different.
They leave; I edit only the images they ordered and then order the products. In total, I spend maybe 4-5 hours on a regular client. The financial return for a little more time doing IPS far outweighs the shoot and burn business model.
For a regular session, the shoot and burn photographer would have to find and book 2-8 clients to make up for the one client I booked doing IPS. How long does it take you to even find 2, let alone 8 clients? Not to mention all the shooting and editing that goes along with it.
I don't know where to get started
You're already off to a good start by even reading and learning! So good for you!
You need to decide what products you want, what software to use, etc. If you are feeling overwhelmed, I highly recommend my IPS ebook that walks you through EVERYTHING.
A SAMPLE OF SOME OF THE SECTIONS IN THE BOOK:
What is in Person Sales?
Shoot and Burn vs. IPS
Figuring Out YOUR Pricing
Pricing Your Products
The Ordering Appointment
c. Upselling & Bonuses
d. Payment Plans
g. The Reveal Wall
h. Virtual Ordering Appointment
Studio vs. No Studio
Colors & Branding
Where to Buy Supplies
The Ideal Client
The E-book also includes templates for your products with my pricing. You can leave those prices or adjust it for your own needs.
I also have a template for my Bonus Card, which is how I get clients to spend $2,000 more via incentives.
If you have started with IPS but just need some help with templates and pricing, I would suggest the E-book and/or checking out our In-Person Sales section at Cracked Egg.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christy Whitehead is a photographer and writer in North Florida who does IPS and is available for mentoring. She is married with two children and enjoys cruising around town in a '66 Ford Mustang convertible.