Silencing Competition Amongst Photographers
I can remember when I first launched our photography business as Oh What Love. Not even 2 hours after I put up the Facebook page I had local photographers talking about me on their Facebook page. I had rude comments posted on my pictures. I was shocked. How could they be so quick to comment? How come they find ME a threat? I kept trucking a long and ignored it. After all, I knew it revealed how insecure they were about themselves and their business. Not even 6 months later I was at a bank and a man came up to me. He KNEW who I was and told me I was putting him out of business because our prices were so cheap. He proceeded to tell me everything I needed to work on and that I needed to change everything! I was once again SHOCKED and actually kind of freaked out. I knew then that this was not the way photographers SHOULD be towards each other. I was determined from that day forward that WHEN we reached a place to influence others in the industry, we were going to be a positive voice in their life and not talk from our own insecurities.
For me.. these circumstances motivated me. Not everyone can take harsh criticism and even slandering and let it push them forward. I took it as a compliment that they found ME with my…Christmas camera… a big threat to their business. Over the course of our four years I have learned the significance in support. Not just any support, but support from others in the industry.. Someone who understands where you are at and still cheers you on! Autumn, from Skysight Photography was a total breath of fresh air for me! She was the first LOCAL photographer to invest time into me and not view me as a threat. She was genuine and spent time teaching me while everyone else was trash talking the newbie in town. I believe Autumn’s attitude is one BIG reason why her business has been so successful. Her confidence is radiant and she stands firm. It is admirable. If it weren’t for her and several others who poured freely into Andrew and I, we would not think the way we do today. Here is what we have learned when it comes to competition and other photographers!
1. YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST THREAT
Refusing to change and move with the times will hold you back. I can’t tell you how many photographers we see that are stuck in their ways from the 80’s or 90’s. They think that technology and new photographers are putting them out of business. The only thing that puts them out of business is the fact that they are not relevant. Technology changes, and this industry has molded and changed A TON in the last five years. It is so important to not get stuck in your ways and be willing to change even though you are used to it. Being comfortable will not cause growth.
2. THERE IS NO COMPETITION
“What if she takes my clients?”… Listen. It may happen. You CAN NOT hold on to every client. Spend your time serving the clients you have and being confident in your work! Clients can always feel your confidence or lack their of. If you focus on being YOU.. I mean REALLY being you and stop looking at what every one else is doing.. you will get the clients who REALLY appreciate you. When Andrew and I started to reflect who we are in our branding and our approach we started to get clients who feel like they are MADE for us. We believe when you stop comparing it gives you the freedom to be who you were meant to be. This brings in people who appreciate that! We don’t worry about the photographer down the street because if he/she is being true to themselves and their art.. they will get clients that love and appreciate who they are and the work and service they provide. Their IDEAL client is more than likely NOT our ideal client! We can encourage them and dance around when their business is growing because they are getting the clients who they are MEANT to have.
One thing that SUPER helps with nailing down your niche and ideal client is sticking to specializing. Finding that ONE thing you love, and can be an EXPERT in. When Andrew and I cut out portraits and stuck with weddings we suddenly became “experts” to our clients. It wasn’t “They do this, this, this, and weddings”.. it was now “They know everything about weddings!”… Just the shift in their mind alone set us apart. Not to mention we were able to charge more since we “specialize.” Our market is more specific and now not everyone is our client. The pressure is off. We also specialize by identifying WHAT our ideal client looks like and being particular about who we actually book. We do not take every client! We want clients who LOVE who we are and our style. This usually looks like a wedding that is not in a church, is architecturally strong, not exactly traditional, and full of vibrancy and has a more classic approach to it. Most of our couples are pretty laid back, but like to have fun, eat wings, coffee, and chipotle. Sounds silly but because our branding is so fine tuned we attract clients who love everything we do! Because we built our brand around that we get specific clients with out searching them out preying upon every engaged couple! You can rest back and know that the clients YOU are MEANT to have will find you when your branding is strong!
4. SUPPORT IS EVERYTHING
Find a photographer that SPEAKS LIFE to you. Take rude comments and let them motivate you. Not every photographer is rude like that and you can’t let it bring you down. When people are insecure, and afraid they can say some mean things.. Everyone starts somewhere and you DO NOT need to be embarrassed about where your work is at. You may have a lot to learn but we all do. A photographer in the industry for 2o years still has a LOT OF learning to do.. Do not compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or climax… You will get there..Take someones hand who will cheer for you when you need it most. It means everything! Email someone who inspires you and ask if you can get coffee, Skype, or get together. You may be surprised! 😀
Sharing, serving, and celebrating,
Andrew + Chrissy