Today’s Post by Joe Farace
Last Saturday’s post was about finding glamour models in a time of COVID-19. Part of that post is the bigger question of what will professional photography be like in a post-COVID world. I don’t know the answer but what I do know and want to share with you is that it is not like any paradigm shift that has gone before. I expect professional photography will be profoundly affected; not so much the process of making photographs but financially surviving in a much different “new normal world.” With that in mind here’s a few ideas that might help for the time to come. These are not perfect answers because I’m not perfect and nobody really knows what a new normal will be, but it’s some food for thought…
Most entrepreneurs start a business because they’re passionate about something. Book lovers open book stores, art lovers open galleries or design studio and shutterbugs start photo studios (that’s my story.) But you need more than passion to be a success post COVID-19 starting with the need to set yourself apart from other photographers.
Be original. Don’t be like everybody else. Look at your competitors and make sure you have nothing in common. If the only thing that separates you from the competition is the name on the front door and the color of your website background, you will reduce your services to a commodity and all commodity purchases are based on price.
Look for a gap in the marketplace, then fill it. It may seem unlikely that there could be anything new but the opposite is often true. Look for new technology and develop products and services around it. If you think the Internet is finished growing you are wrong. The Web is a toddler taking its first, halting steps and you can leverage Internet technology, along with wireless communications and hand held devices to offer new photographic services and products as well as a way to market the ones you already have.
Don’t practice on your clients. Your should know what you are doing before you hang out that shingle or website. Knowledge of your craft and the technical skills needed to perform must be a given. Over time, you’ll also need to develop policies and practices that enable you to do a better, more efficient job for your clients but enthusiasm alone will not sustain your enterprise: You have to know what you are doing.
Treat clients the way you want to be treated. These days bad customer service is the norm and one way to set yourself apart from your competitors is to treat clients like the gold they are. The temptation with start-ups is to worry about cash flow and the thought of refunds or even giving a client “something for nothing” sounds suicidal but customers are the reason you’re in business. When I had my studio, every thing that I “gave away” to satisfy a client complaint was returned to me ten-fold. Most clients are astonished that instead of giving them grief, I was understanding and gave them something for their trouble.
My out-of-print film-based book Part-Time Glamour Photography: Full-Time Income, is available new for $17.08 with used copies selling for $4.00 as I write this. Yes, it’s about shooting using film cameras but there’s still lots of useful information and that used price is hard to beat! The newer, digital oriented Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography, is available new for $20.99 or starting at $8.91 used. The Kindle version is $19.99 for those preferring a digital format.