Running a family owned photography studio that's been around for almost 50 years gives me a unique perspective on the photography business. Here are a few things I've learned through trial and error. Hopefully it will be beneficial and help increase your productivity and business.
In no particular order:
1 - I sell in person. I sell all family, children, senior, and portrait photography in person. The only thing I don't sell in person is the wedding photography because that is usually pre-sold as a package. Some find this time consuming, but it's one of the ways I can keep a full time studio running with much higher averages than my competitors. I have a 12x20 foot room with a projector, screen, and several chairs. Yes, it takes more time. It will also take some office space unless you are willing to travel to your clients homes (and I know a few who do that very successfully.) By projecting the images on an 8 ft screen I am able to sell true wall portraits. It is very rare that a client orders smaller than a 16x20 for their largest portraits. Most order at least a 20x24. I have found that people buy what they see. We tend to think that price plays the major role in buying, but people are willing to invest in items they truly love. When they see their favorite people in the world projected as an 8x10 they quickly realize that just won't do. The smallest pictures I have displayed in my viewing area are 11x14, and most of them are 24x30 and larger. There is no tricky sales pitch as people can see through that. I just help them buy what they really want and what they will truly be happy with in the long run. When I have to place the images online for out of state clients they usually order 30% less than those in person.
2 - I have LOTS of people that contact me to ask how much I charge for just a session and a CD of images. I politely tell them that I don't offer only a CD, but that I specialize in beautiful wall portraits that will make them smile every time they see them on the wall. I admit that it does cost me business, but it's business I can do without. I am happy to provide a CD of images once a substantial number of portraits have been ordered. I know of many photographers that only offer the CD, and they just can't seem to get out of the $200 price range no matter how hard they try. I have tried the CD only option several years ago when we switched to digital. I thought it would be great for my clients and save me a little in printing. What I really found out was that it destroyed my customer loyalty. Because there was no tangible reward for what they paid me for, they would easily switch to the next photographer that charged $10 less than I did. Even worse was seeing my beautiful images being printed at Costco:)
3 - I offer a wide range of products. All of my portraits are printed by Nichols Lab in Salt Lake City, Utah. I want them printed on the finest archival paper. I also offer canvas wraps, art papers, albums, Christmas cards and smaller gift ideas. I don't advertise for just Christmas cards because there just isn't enough profit in them. But I've found that my clients LOVE IT when I throw in 25 free cards with their large portrait order. With almost every order placed I add a couple extra 4x6's or 5x7's. It costs me a few dollars but my clients always appreciate it.
Robert Wood Photography was started by Robert in his basement apartment in Ogden, Utah in 1967. Robert retired several years ago, but not before passing on a lifetime of knowledge to his favorite (and only) son, Christian. Christian has loved photography since he almost failed the class in high school. Yes, we did say failed. He had a hard time focusing on the assignments and too much fun doing his own thing. He still loves the smell of darkroom chemicals and the magic of creating beautiful images. He is married to the ravishing Natalie Wood – not the star of West Side Story who drowned. Together they have 5 awesome kids, each one slightly better looking than the one before.