How busy are you in the winter months?


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Aug 29, 2015
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Hi All,

I've only just started working for myself as a prof. photographer over the last 4-5 months. Initially it went well, and I did about 20+ sessions in that time as a family photographer. However, I've had just two in january and none this month :frown: I don't know what to expect in terms of how booked up people get in winter. I suspected people would be too busy in December and that was the case, skint in January, but hopefully better off and freer after that.

Perhaps it would be better if my business was more established rather than new, so I don't know how much to put down to that or other factors.

I'd appreciate your input and experiences. How long did it take you to build up your business?

Thanks! :)
If you're a professor (prof.) of photography I wouldn't worry about it to much.
If you're a self-employed retail photographer that wants to eat once in a while it's worth your while to type the entire word professional or self-employed to avoid confusion.

Yes. Retail photography is seasonal. You have no location info in your profile so it's impossible to access what your winter and summer weather might be like.
Not having a studio makes your business even more seasonal than if you have a studio.

Apparently you didn't create a Valentines Day marketing and promotion plan back about Thanksgiving 2015 that could have generated many sessions from the last 2 weeks of January this year into the 1st 2 weeks of this month.
It's a good idea to start developing a marketing/promotion about 6 months before you want to be making revenue from the marketing/promotion.

The marketing/promotion plan you would want to be be putting the finishing touches on this next week would be for high school senior shoots this coming Spring.

Twenty sessions in 4 months is only 5 sessions a month.

I would guess you either have a 'day' job, your business is part-time and supported with other income, like a spouses job, or a combination of both.

Generally it will take 15- 20 sessions a week (240 to 320 session every 4 months) to be a viable ongoing retail photography business.

Back in the day when rights managed (RM) stock photography was still a way to make some real income the slow times could be spent making stock photographs.
Today's royalty-free (RF) stock photography market makes money only if you own a stock photography outlet that has millions of good photographs available.
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I shoot portraits and weddings only, so during Winter business is slow but it's expected. I use the time to work on my business and preparing for next year. :D
Thanks for your feedback. Yeah I did expect it to be quiet at this time. I live and work in Switzerland and France, so winter really is winter here, cold grey and snowy. It's a very different market to the US, no seniors/prom photos, and no-one does valentines shoots. Couples shoots in general are more likely to happen though.

Yeah I'd love to have more than 4-5 sessions a month, but this is still my getting started/established phase, hence my question of how long it takes to get established normally. I know this will differ per sector and individual, but it was just to get an idea and hear some experiences. I don't expect anyone goes from zero to 30 sessions a month straight away, these things take time. Building a reputation and getting known etc.

Just out of interest, Studio 101, how do you do your marketing. What works best for you? Again, this is something I'm currently exploring, as I don't know what the best means will be here.
Having a location in your profile is so helpful when asking for business advice.
Do you have a studio?
If you don't and you do most of your shooting outside you will be limited by the weather, the ambient light direction, and the ambient light quality - regardless the time of the year.

Next year, you could be the first retail photographer in Switzerland/France to market and promote Valentines Day shoots.
Regardless, you need to leverage whatever holidays are observed in your market area.
You can also market and promote whatever idea comes to mind, like a regular winter

I've been retired now for several years.
My most effective marketing and advertising was direct mail and word of mouth.
As far as I can tell, today direct mail is still a very effective way to market a retail photography business.

Internet marketing is very time consuming for a retail photographer.
You not only need a web site that has constantly changing content, you also need to have a regularly updated (at least once a day) blog and a daily business presence on several social media web sites like Facebook and Twitter.

What it boils down to is that about 75% of your photography business time has to be devoted to doing business tasks if you're
Yes I have my own studio, only in my home, but yes it's there. That does help a lot, as I've been using uniquely that since november. I'm looking forward to better weather when we can all stay outside for shoots ;-)

I agree, it seems to be that the majority of time is spent on marketing and promoting the business - something I'm only just getting my head around.
Have you thought about diversifying into areas that are not either seasonally-dependent, or social photography, so as to avoid the post xmas slump/skintness? For instance, interior architecture/estate agents/real-estate, food for local restaurants, business portraiture, etc. I know it's a lot of work to go after a secondary target, but if the winter months are so dead, it could be worth it. Also, birthdays, babies/bumps, happen year-round so if you keep up a constant marketing programme, year-round, then it should pay off, over time. Good luck and keep at it!
I also shoot schools, weddings, and families. I love my slow months. It gives me a breather. Though I do have a few sessions each month that keeps me moving along. Busy seasons can really bring on the burn out. Hold tight and work hard. you will get there.
I shoot mostly weddings (about 50 every year) so it's a good time to recharge and get ready for next season.

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