Cheap Photographers are undercutting the price in our local area.

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by photobusiness, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. photobusiness

    photobusiness TPF Noob!

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    Hello!

    I'm posting this on behalf of my wife. She has been a photographer for several years now, specializing in pet photography.

    Up until now, she has seen success in maintaining a blog and a Facebook group. There have been a few new photographers pop up over the years so the market is tight.

    Cheap Competitors are undercutting the price in our local area.

    So that's what I'm stuck. She could be the best photographer in the city skill-wise, but if potential clients can't find her, it means nothing.

    What are your suggestions on promoting the photography business as a personal brand based upon the current situation of the over-saturated market?


     
  2. Original katomi

    Original katomi TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Hiya, in the forums there is a business section, you may want to read and maybe re post there
    You have posted in the beginners section. A moderator may move it for you if you ask, sorry I am unable to help
     
  3. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Become a better salesperson. Emphasize the quality of your work, your existing results, your willingness to work with customers, and your devotion to staying in business long-term.

    If you're constantly dealing with low-price tire kickers, your marketing is not working.
     
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  4. TWX

    TWX No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Honestly my suggestion with any business, not just yours, is to first consider how potential customers find businesses, and then evaluate the effort and costs associated with placing one's self in that line. Unfortunately, creative arts may be vulnerable to rapid changes in this arena as both popular tastes and the knowledge and experiences of the customers themselves vary. Up until my teenage years, the yellow pages was probably the most effective way for business to list itself, supported by the occasional newspaper ad, but it's been at least fifteen years since that's been truly effective.

    Determining how your potential customers go forth to find potential professionals will dictate where you should focus your efforts, but additionally you cannot rest-easy even if you find something that works for you, as it probably won't be long until the market shifts. I also expect it will be necessary to include a decent portfolio of work, with the risks associated with copyright infringement, so that customers see the quality of the work and can evaluate if they are in the market for those kinds of results.

    In my area there's an animal rescue entity that pairs-up with a TV station's weekend local-interest show, featuring animals available for adoption. I couldn't tell you what sponsorship-rates for blurbs or even thirty-second ad spots cost, but it may be worth your interest to see if such a thing exists in your area, it might be the last place that traditional advertising still works.
     
  5. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If she really is the best photographer in the city, raise your prices.

    Raise your prices, and offer an outstanding product. Develop some "package deals" that include multiple prints in different sizes (some framed), some photo postcards, special event photographs, such as pet birthday parties, holiday themes, and anything else you can think of.

    Let the bottom feeders have what's left.
     
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  6. photobusiness

    photobusiness TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the valuable insights and knowledge. This is gonna help us a lot.
     
  7. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is no different than in many other industries.
    I've seen a particular computer consulting niche where the rates used to be $300+ per hour, DROP to $35 per hour.
    The problem is once the market price has dropped that much, it is VERY HARD to get it back up. Companies see that they can get it for CHEAP, and they don't want to pay more for quality.​
    Camera stores closing down because of cheaper internet prices.
    I've seen people challenge the local stores to match Amazon or other internet prices.
    Then they complain when the store closes down.​
    Portrait studios, which used to be very common, are now rare.
    VERY few people have the skills to do portrait photography WELL.
    Everyone has a camera, so why should they pay someone to take the family portrait?
    The annual family portrait is a thing of the past, unlikely to ever return.​

    She has to market to make a difference.
    IOW, she has to make it clear WHY she is better, and why it is worth paying more for her, than the low-ballers.
    She has to find a niche that the low-ballers are not working. One that requires the skills that the low-ballers do not have.

    She has to make a business plan, and work it.
    And, have a "Plan B," when to shut down.
     
  8. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    That, and the unwashed masses have been trained to accept sub-par work.
     
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  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    In my area one can get a haircut that ranges in price from $17 at Supercuts, to well over $100 at the high-end boutiques, and around $50 at a couple of downtown Portland high-end barber shops, where a shave is $25. I would not imagine that the customers for the $125 high-end cuts are the same as the customers for the $17 Supercuts haircut. Periodically Supercuts sends out coupons for a haircut for $6.99. And yet they manage to stay in business, and so do the high-end shops.
     
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  10. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Like the chain portrait shops, that use a single fixed umbrella for EVERYTHING.
    All the guy does is seat you and press the shutter.

    Or, my iPhone 15, or my $3,000 Super dSLR will take great pictures, why should I pay some to do it for me.

    The other is indeed that they have been conditioned to accept sub-par work. Because they have not been exposed to GOOD work.

    As in @Derrel 's example, you have a range of prices. And it is matching to the needs of the customer.
    If I were a poor college student, I would take the $7 hair cut.
    If I were a prominent attorney, I would pay the $100, so that I look successful to my clients, that I am billing $400 an hour.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
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  11. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You've gotten some good business advice. Now let me offer some advice specific to pet photography. It's definitely a niche. So she wants to look for niche marketing strategies.

    I don't see where you and your wife are located. But if she doesn't shoot any any of the local agility trials (or other canine sports events in your area), she needs to get hooked up to them. I know of two pet (primarily dog) photographers here on the East Coast. For one, that is all she does. And agility trials are her bread and butter. Basically, people who take their pets seriously, they invest huge chunks of money on breeders, on health, on training--for them blowing a couple of hundred dollars to commemorate an AKC or USDAA title is a drop in the bucket. I imagine even more so for horses. Or show/conformance trials. Anything that issues titles in some form of competition, your wife needs to be at.

    In addition, if your wife is going to be the high-end photographer, then it's probably not enough to just offer really good photos (because people underestimate what it takes to produce that, they often think it's about the camera. Or they don't know enough about composition to know what went in to the photo. I'm not arguing you need to go out and spend a gazillion bucks here. But there are a number of things that might be useful things to have that the cheap competition "here, let me take your pictures at the park" won't have. Think about a portable gazebo (one dog photographer I know has one) that your wife takes to trials. It will allow for an on-site studio setting and will be excellent for controlling light (plus, if your wife is going to be sitting at an agility trial for a day, it provides a comfortable place to hang out AND is marketing).

    Think about a couple of props to shoot with that you can store in a basement that can produce some unique portraits: a couple of giant fake boulders (so the handler and critter can pose on--if you don't want to buy the styrofoam ones you can make them out of paper mâché). Or a bird bath with a water feature (that can add a unique background). Or a large tandem swing bench. Or a tiny Japanese bridge. Build a small artificial pool of water (I know a shooter who did this for models) and use it to shoot reflection shots. A small Christmas setup (a fake tree with a few gifts, then some Santa Hats) and tell families they can shoot their family Christmas portrait with Fido or Fifi in July and get it done with ahead of time. Or invest in a couple of props that are funny (some torn up pillows with lots of stuffing to pose next to an innocent looking puppy. Or a large doll house for a puppy or kitten to wander in. Or a Christmas stocking you put a cat or puppy in). But the point is: having a couple of things like this that allow for really unique photos (because of the background or props) are things that the cheap photographers won't invest in or won't have the space to do. Your wife wouldn't want to do ALL of what I've suggested. But if she produces the best photos AND many of her photos have some unique settings or props then it gives her an edge over the competition--and allows her to easily justify why she charges more.
     
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  12. Fujidave

    Fujidave Blue eyed and Beautiful

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    To get her name out there for pet photography, get a Portfolio up and running plus make sure it can be found on the internet easy then get flyers put out too.
    All of the above with a contact number and some images to show what she can do.
     

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