I love featuring other photographers who also do in person sales. I think it helps inspire other photographers and it's also interesting to learn what methods others use as well. In today's blog we're featuring Kim, of Kim Forrester Photography.
Where are you located? What is your area like?
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, which is a 35 minute drive outside of Vancouver. Greater Vancouver has the third largest population in Canada, and Vancouver is our country’s most densely populated city. It is ethnically and linguistically diverse, ranked as one of the world’s most well-living cities, and is Canada’s most expensive city to live in. It is also a very green city, and as “Hollywood North” a great appreciation for the arts. Consumers value quality, sustainability, and quality over quantity, however it can be hard to market to them since disposable income is often low due to the high cost of living.
A lot of people think that people won’t pay more than $500 for photography or that their area has only shoot and burners and no one would ever pay that much. What do you say to those photographers?
Regardless of where you live, there are always people who value the art of photography and a full service experience. It is impossible to compete on price, as there will always be someone cheaper. Instead, compete on the value you provide to those you serve. Remember that plenty of consumers see a lower price and think “they’re cheap, they must not be that good”. I’d much rather compete on value and compete with a handful of photographers than compete with dozens of lower priced photographers who are all offering the same thing.
What are your average sales? $250 session fee + $1800 image sale is the average. My collections start at $850, and some clients spend as much as $4-5K, so there is quite a range for different budgets and needs.
Why did you switch? I was a “shoot-and-burner” (ie. burn all the digital images to a disc and onto the next client) for only a few months into starting my business. It saddened me to see clients hanging up shiny, orange 4x6s from their local lab of the stunning images we had created from their photo shoot. I thought “what a waste of their photography investment”. Or worse, they never printed them and the images were forgotten about on their phones.
So I did the research on labs that work directly with photographers to provide the best quality images, and settled on a lab that provides the most stunning fine art prints with a 200-year archival life. Not only do the prints make the images look even more beautiful, but they can be handed down for generations. I decided to provide the digital file with each print, to get around those asking for “only the digital files”. I also keep my print package pricing very close to digital-only pricing, so it is very rare that a client opts for digital-only.
I decided to try out a session where I’d show the edited proofs before asking for any payment from the family. The family fell in love with the prints and ordered an album from me as well. Their order came to $2550 and the family was absolutely thrilled with everything, and hired me again a year later! I knew right then and there that I had been missing an opportunity to provide an incredible value to my clients.
What software do you use for IPS? Fundy Designer has been a game changer for me! During our Zoom image reveal & ordering session, I’m able to screen share various wall mockups I’ve created and even import photos of the client’s actual space to see how the prints will look on their wall. I also use the program to design slideshows and albums.
What would you give to your old shoot and burn self? Don’t wait to start, run your cost of doing business, do not price yourself based on your competitors’ prices, provide quality over quantity, figure out your ideal client and put your energy into marketing to them instead of the whole world. Also, let go of that FEAR… the fear that tells you you’re not good enough, or that you need more experience.
What advice would you give someone thinking of doing IPS? Give it a try, and don’t wait. Just try it for your next booking! I hear so many people saying “I’m planning on doing it after I get a bit more experience” or “I need to study it for awhile/get the materials/build my portfolio”. It’s a misconception that you need experience, or sales skills, a studio, a lot of “things”, or a lot of time to do IPS. I started with just a few print samples and an old laptop that I brought to my client’s home, and I have a lot more free time now with IPS than I did before. IPS makes everything easier, for your clients and yourself.
What do you think is the key to IPS? I try not to think of it as sales at all. You are simply providing something your clients want. Establish the key benefits of what you’re providing, communicate them clearly, and deliver on them. Any time you feel intimidated by the pricing you need to charge to run your business successfully, remember what people pay for their cars, homes, furniture, clothing, jewelry, vacations… and still, are any of these as meaningful as photography?
What is the worst thing someone could do in IPS? Marketing to a broad audience, instead of targeting your ideal client. Let go of the desire to please everyone, and focus on those who can see the value in what you offer. Some will not initially see the value, but will be open to learning about it. Give them the opportunity to be educated, but don’t take it personally if they don’t.
My clients almost always rave about how relaxing their experience was, they are often emotional when they see their beautiful prints, and they value small collection of prints so much more than a USB drive full of 50+ similar photos.
With 2020 having totally changing so many businesses, how has your business changed? Have your prices changed? Are you worse or better off? Tell us about it!
My business grinded to a halt with the first wave of Covid-19. I immediately jumped to action by updating my Health & Safety Plan, updating my client contract, and marketing socially distanced and hands-off lifestyle newborn sessions. Over the winter, my bookings actually tripled over the previous year!
Clients felt more comfortable hiring me than going to a studio, since I come to their home and communicated such a strict Health & Safety Plan. I had to raise my prices in 2021 to match my increased cost of doing business due to Covid-19. Many photographers didn’t raise their prices as they wanted to “remain affordable” to the population who is struggling financially, but I have to ask, are YOU able to afford to keep running at lower prices?
We spend so much more time on safe execution of photography, we have increased costs (ex. cleaning supplies, masks), we’ve had to update our contracts, and for many of us, supplier costs have gone up. There is still a large population who was not affected by Covid-19, and many who want to support their local small businesses more than ever through this time.
Now, I have a small team of a few contractors that help me with various aspects of the business from running my digital marketing, to managing my social media, editing, and assisting on photo shoots.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim is passionate about supporting fellow photographers on their IPS journey, and offers 1:1 mentoring via Zoom for anyone interested in getting started but uncertain on the first steps to take.
Find out more about her mentoring sessions here: Business and Photography Mentoring — Newborn Photography Vancouver BC | Maternity & Baby Mobile Studio (kimforresterphotography.com)