We will be chatting about why I want you to STOP asking other photographers their opinion, I know that may sound counter-intuitive to what you’ve been doing or what you have seen others do, but stopping this will actually help you move forward in your business and help you serve your clients better.
When I first started out, I joined so many FB groups for photographers… groups for beginners, groups specific to my camera, or my genres (or all my genres, at that time) groups for women photographers, natural light photogs and those using lights… this was not just me, right? There are so many groups and I wanted to be a part of all of them. I was hoping for lots of free and valuable advice from photogs that were ahead of me, but what I really got was a lot of noise, negativity, and unhelpful criticism.
Now, let me say first, I am a big fan of FB groups and I think that if you find the right group, you will get a lot of benefits from it…
There are some really good groups for photogs out there, AND there are some really bad ones.
I’m sure my story probably sounds familiar to you… maybe you’ve experienced it or maybe you are experiencing it right now, but I remember when I started shooting, I would post some of my images in the groups. I picked the very best images, I knew how happy my client was with the shot and she bought it, so I knew it had to be good, right?
I asked for cc (which for those of you that don't know is constrictive criticism or constructive comments)... well. I am sure you know what happened:
My light was too harsh, or too soft. I was overexposed, I was underexposed, the lighting is flat, her eyes were off or just a bit out of focus. You should change your f-stop, your shutter speed or your ISO. You should add some plants, you should put something on your wall. You should change the sheet colors… next time try this instead, blah blah blah
Have you noticed that when you ask photogs for their opinion, they frickin give it!!?
So yeah, when I read these comments, I was bummed. I really thought this shot was so good, and so did my client! I felt like quitting because obviously I suck!
But Mark (my then-boyfriend and now my husband) talked me down… (he does that a lot) He pointed out that I DID ask for OPINIONS… and that's exactly what I got.
If you are in a group that is full of negative energy, and negative photogs on there, complaining about their clients or badmouthing other togs, then get the hell out.
I don't need to tell you that do I?
Please tell me you will leave a group if all you are getting from it is riled up and discouraged.
When you come from a place of negativity, it stays with you, and it will translate to your business and to your clients… so stay away from those groups…
we’ve all been in them-
you know what I'm talking about.
I'm going to assume you are in helpful and inspiring groups for photographers… and also assume that you are hanging out with helpful and inspiring photographers….
Actually, I hope everyone in every area of your life that you hang out with is good for your soul, and not negative and critical all the time… and if not, I would love to see you change that. It really does make a difference
I will say that some of the comments on my work were right (my early pics were not so great technically) but some comments were just a matter of that person's taste or style, and who frickin cares what other photogs think about your work?
This is why you need to have a pre-shoot consultation with your potential client. To talk to her and find out how SHE wants to be photographed. Then you shoot that, and you shoot for her.
Ok, so moving on… today, I was on FB, in a photography group and I saw a post from a photographer who wanted to share her new prices. She said it took her “forever” to figure out and she wanted to know what we thought about her prices. Then she asks “Would you guys pay these prices?”
First, I don't want you spending “forever” figuring out your prices. You guys- it does not need to be that hard!
I have a super simple way that I do prices… again, it’s different than most and what you may be used to, but it’s super easy for clients to understand and super easy for you to remember.
You won't get tripped up when clients ask you to add this, or change that or substitute this….
It just won't happen.
Side note: I’ve had several people in my FB group ask me about my pricing and how I structure it, so I've planned another podcast around that and I hope it will benefit you...
So- don’t spend a ton of time figuring your prices AND--- it does not matter if other photographers would or would not pay your prices.
They are not your client!!
And what I mean by that, is you need to know WHO your ideal client is, before you sell to them. You need to know who she is so you know HOW to talk to her. Then, you make images for HER, and your pricing is for HER.
This is why, when you increase your prices, it might make you freak out a bit… because your prices are probably too high for you… and you may not pay them… but that does not matter because YOU may not be your ideal client!
Does this make sense? If someone values your photos, and they value photography in general, along with the experience you offer.. They will pay your prices.
For example, Tiffany’s is expensive. We all know that… but there are people who will buy a gold paper clip from tiffany’s for over $2000 because they put a value on it. People spend $2000 plus on the newest iPhone. $3000 or more on a pair of shoes or a purse.
You get what I’m saying, right?
If people see value in what you are selling, they will buy it.
So figure out what your value is… it’s not JUST your images. It’s also what you put out there, it’s how you conduct yourself. It’s the kind of clients you attract and the kind of client you talk to in all your conversations and copy you put out there…
So wasting time asking your mom or your friends if they would spend this on your photos is not how you need to run your business. Unless of course, your friends or your mom, or other photogs ARE your ideal client and who you want to sell to… then it does not matter what they think of your prices.
Spoiler alert- they'll probably think they are too high. And hearing that will make you re-think everything and second guess yourself.
So don't even ask
If you really want a constructive opinion, make sure you are asking the right people, and the right questions. I am happy to take a look at yours if you want to post them in my FB group.
BTW, if you are a photographer or if you want to become one, I hope you are in my FB group. But if you are looking it’s called Profitable Portraits with Tanya Smith.
Getting back to our topic:
I will say there is definitely a place where you can AND SHOULD ask technical questions to other skilled photogs, like lighting and focus and gear. But when it comes to your final image…
The person you need to ask is YOU. Take a look at your work with a critical eye, and not from a place of ego. Ask yourself what you could have done better or different to improve the image. Did your client buy it? Did she not? What did she say about it? Did she not buy it because there was another image that was similar or because she was cutting images, or did she say something about it...I just don't like my eyes, smile, butt, etc.
If so, she is giving you valuable info so listen carefully… see what you could have done differently next time so your next client loves the image so much she just can't walk away from it.
Listen to what your clients comment on and see what images they love, and learn from them.
Your clients WILL buy what they love, even if the image is not technically perfect.
You are in this business to make money and be profitable… asking other photogs what they think will discourage you….and waste your time.
Don’t spend time shooting to impress other photographers.
Learn what your clients want. Shoot that.
You CAN work less and make more!
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