What now?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Soocom1, Jul 14, 2006.

  1. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    Ok folks. A while back I complained that the gas prices were killing any buisness that I was hoping for. From that last post to now, I have had a grand total of 0, zip, nada in the way of buisness. From that last post to now, I had two people inquire about work (one jewelry, one a wedding) and both squirreled out. So now I am going to again claim $0 on my quarterly taxes.

    The claim (including the latest two and follow up phone calls to previous perspectives has been "gas prices."

    At the time of this post, Israel and Hezbolla are now throwing blows, oil hit over $78 a barrel, gas prices are hitting $3.05 locally, and no end is in sight. This is obviously going to kill anything in the way of buisness.

    With all that said, the question is two part:

    1: Should I now consider a different form of photography, (gallery work, house calls, other events, etc), or call it quits?

    2: Wait it out and hope for the best?

    What ever you all say is appreciated.
     
  2. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    what were you trying before..
     
  3. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    It's interesting that the 90's had lower gas prices than the 50's after being adjusted for inflation. That lasted up until last year. Now things are getting close to the peak of the early 80's.

    http://oregonstate.edu/Dept/pol_sci/fac/sahr/gasol.htm

    But as far as your business goes, I'm with MS and don't quite understand what you are doing now.
     
  4. Philip Weir

    Philip Weir TPF Noob!

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    Maybe you need some critical advice on your photography and/or your marketing. Post some images of the work you have done and I'm sure after we view it, we can advise you to stick to photography or be a car salesman. Philip.

    www.philipweirphotography.com
     
  5. JodieO

    JodieO TPF Noob!

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    I hope this doesn't come out as harsh...

    Honestly? I think that you can't blame it on gas prices, to be honest. I don't think it is about gas prices but about marketing.

    Personally, I'm raising my prices agan in September, so I am working on coming up with something new. I do portraits... I'm not sure what you do, so I'm not sure if this will work for you or not. I factor in the gas money into a print credit. If I want my session fee to be $200, I will increase it to $300 with $100 print credit. When people spend that additional $100, it is money already spent, but in their eyes, they view it as saving on their prints, but in reality, they end up forgeting about that money because it was already spent, so they still spend enough on the prints. That $100 up front covers my gas (well, more than covers it), and when applied to prints, that is two 8x10s which cost me about $4. So in reality, am I losing anything? Well, I'm losing $4. No biggie. Does that make sense? When I find that my expenses are increasing, I find a way to work them into the print prices or the session fee. I can spread them out certain ways to make them more absorbable...
     
  6. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    First my apologies for not filling in the entire story of what has been happening. In my haste, and frustration, I left out a few (uh hum) details.

    So here they are:

    The buisness is geared toward the rural customer. (people who do not have large incomes to spend on thier daughter's weddings, local events etc.) This was my original customer base.

    When I started, I had inquiries numbering in 2-3 a week. A total of four jobs in the first six months of operation. (Keep in mind that this was not meant to be a full time operation at first.) The concept here was to be a part timer at first, establishing contacts, etc. (Yes I have a full time job.)
    Then weene myself off of the full time job into this.

    As time passed, I found a number of jobs taking photo of Indian jewelry for jewelers who were interring items into contests, galleries etc.
    unbenounced to me, non of this work was publicly displaced, only used to get into the door. (OK fine I can handle that as long as I get the contract closed and payed).

    In Jan of '05 gas prices were at $1.70. By March it was at $2.30, by Sept. $3.05. I opened in Aug. of 05.

    I had Nothing for two months. When gas prices eased, I started getting calls.

    In Dec.-Jan. of '05-'06 I had 6 people lined up for various work. Including 3 jewelry, 2 weddings, and 1 Family portrait.
    all work was to commence in Feb. '06, except the family portrait which was a March job.

    ALL canceled as the gas prices shot up and gave me the same info each time. Gas prices, gas prices, gas prices. (Here in NM in Dec. 05 gas prices were at $2.24, by mid. Jan prices rose up 20 cents, and everyone thought we would be back at $3.05 by March. We are now in July and are now hitting that $3.00 mark.

    I have made a series of return phone calls, and all have told me the same thing. They have to use the money they were going to spend on my services to buy gas. One of the weddings was now going to be shot by a cousin who will bring thier own camera.

    As for advertising, I have made pull tab type fliers, left business cards, handed out brochures, etc. Advertising on my budget is cost prohibitive in the local rags so I have relied on other factors. Word of mouth etc.

    I know the biggest handicap I have is the fact that I am in a rural area, and many of these folks just cannot afford luxuries like photographers with the cost of living shooting up like they are. In the mean time, established photographers seem to be doing just fine. So perhaps I am digging in the wrong field. I will reconsider what hand how I am doing things.

    Thanks to all.
     
  7. JodieO

    JodieO TPF Noob!

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    I'm living totally rural... all that is around me is cornfields and rolling hills but I travel outside of that. My area isn't necessarily my target market.

    While I totally understand what you are saying, and while it is "noble" in a sense to cater to the lower income, bottom line is, to have a succesful business, it is about doing what is right for your business and to keep it afloat. Personally, I don't cater to lower income. I feel that hiring a pro photographer is a luxury. Some people can afford it, some people can't, so I need to market to those who can afford it.

    In other words, I would love to have the top of the line BMW... but I cannot afford it, so I'm not going to go out and shop for a top of the line BMW... instead, I drive a Ford. Is there anything wrong with that? no, not really, but I'm not going to be who BMW is going to market to, right?

    I hope that makes sense. Bottom line is you have to be selfish to an extent, you have to worry about your business and do what is going to keep your business afloat. But then again, is it really being selfish? Your customers don't really care if your business stays afloat or not, they are only worried about their own budgets - so you have to worry about yours, because no one else is looking out for you but you.
     
  8. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    See now you are in a ballpark we can talk about. I grew up in a cotton mill village in north carolina. None of the people I knew in my youth could have afforded the price of a big time studio. Maybe for one picture at the studio during their whole lifetime.

    Everybody got past that but the memory stayed with me. I decided when I couldn't make it as an art photographer, I would work for people who would really apprecaite it. Of course I wanted to make a living to. I managed to do both, but it took some real hard work and some real tough decission making.

    Now with digital the world is turned upside down. It costs no more to shoot two hundred pictures as to shoot twenty. So it is just a matter of knowing what you are doing in order to shoot a competant job for "your Customers."

    What to do....

    1) if you haven't already, bite the bullet and do a yellow page advertisement in the local phone company's book. Dont waste your time on the others. In you adv, direct people to the web page and invite them to call for a quote.

    2) since cost is a factor take your samples to them. Get a small car even if it is only to drive to customer shoots if gas it that big a problem.

    3) Build enough sets that you can take to your client's home or office for the jewelry shoots.

    4) charge a fair price.

    Remember the rule of my jeweler friend. "Never make your customers step up to get to you." In other words make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy from you. Just factor in the cost of showing your samples. Try to get them to the web to see them first so that when you make the trip it is to sign contracts.

    If they are rural I would bet there are suitable sites to shoot the bridal portrait within a short drive of the brides house.

    Remember one more things buyers are liers... If they don't buy they are even worse liers. I have had brides call to tell me someone was sick in the family and they couldn't make it for their appointment. Then when I asked "Was their anything i could do for them." The bride came apart she hadn't rehearsed that part of her story. It might not be the gas price it might just be inconvenient. These days, I can't imagine anyone with a digital point and shoot camera hiring anyone else to shoot jewelry but perhaps they do.

    If you really think gas prices are your problem always offer to go to them.

    Just suggestions that sometimes helped me, and sometimes didn't. Since your real job is financing the start up just stay with it as long as you can. Remember a business is built on being there year after year. Going out of business and coming back in is probably the worst thing you can do. That I can speak to from experience.
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Ih I get it now. It's not that they can't afford the gas involved in the photography, it's that the money spent on gas in general is taken from what they would be spending on photography.

    I agree with Jodie. You have to market your services to people who can afford it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If you want to volunteer some pro-bono work in addition, or just a few low cost jobs, that's cool, but you have to support yourself.
     
  10. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I totally missed the point. Your customers are heavy gasoline users. I would still tough it out, but don't try to market to the farmers exclusively. How are you marketing yourself now?
     

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