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01/19/2006 07:57:45 PM · #76
Originally posted by mavrik:

I typed a reply - I lost my reply. I will reply, but it may be a day or so. If the other people who haven't answered would like to continue with us, please answer asap.

Thx.
M


Sorry for the delay in getting a response in for this one... I've been thinking long and hard about what to say and how to say it.

As I said at the beginning, the business I am starting is a partnership between my wife and I, so we really have two ideal customers.

My ideal customer would have to be a corporate customer. That's the type of photography that I really want to get into, though I think it will take me a lot of time to be able to get there, from a financial standpoint.

My company had a photog in reciently to take some "action" shots of people working in our main network control center. This is a big room, probably 75 feet by 125 feet. It was a full on 'devil went down to Georga' trip, 2 assistants, about a dozen lights, etc. It was not a situation where I could voulnteer (or sell) my services, because they specifically wanted "professional" pictures, but I was drooling at the chance. :) I don't want to do models/glamour, but architechural, product, on-site situational stuff. I'm not picky, they can be in any industry, they can want artsy or technical, whatever. Just as long as they are serious about getting the shots.

Since I'm not at all interested in shooting portraits or weddings, and I can't quit my job to be available for corporate work, I'll probably focus on stock and product work for now, and that will be enough to keep me busy.

My wife, Lee, said "a mom with enough adorable prints to send to all her friends and family." Her dream is child portraiture. She wants collaborative parents who want to take the time to get it right. No mass-produced in-and-out one pose packages. She wants parents to have a pre-session meeting with her to set expectations, and to spend an hour or two actually in the studio. She doesn't want parents who just want to rush in and out. She specifically wants to do kids because they are so transparent with their personalities, and capturing that personality is magic.

I hope this is what you are looking for.

Message edited by author 2006-01-19 20:02:16.
01/20/2006 06:32:21 PM · #77
Sorry... the dog ate my homework :0)

Just got back in town actually. My ideal client is one who foremost likes my photography and isn't afraid to suggest things to me. I love new ideas.

While I would love to fly off to the Antarctic as well, is just isn't realistic with two kids and a business to run! So for this side of my creative fulfillment I chose stock photography :0) Now, there's a client who's ideal because it's all up to yourself.
01/21/2006 11:26:55 PM · #78
I'll post my reply on Monday - sorry for the break, but I burned out.

//www.dpchallenge.com/forum.php?action=read&FORUM_THREAD_ID=335525

I'm not leaving this thread, just so y'all know.

~M
01/23/2006 03:48:49 PM · #79
I know your a little burned out Mav, so maybe I'll ask a question rather than forcing you to come up with the next topic.

Once of my biggest challenges is how to know when it's appropriate to 'go professional' and how to price myself relative to the competition. When I look at the photographers that inspire me (Avedon, Michel Compte, Greg Gorman, Sebastião Salgado, Helmut Newton, etc.), I just don't cut it. But then I see some other work being sold as 'professional' and I'm shocked. Where do you find guidance and how do you build the appropriate level of ego?
01/23/2006 05:25:12 PM · #80
I just price my work cheaper than the so called pros in my area. There pictures are very average photos. The typical Sears portrait shot. You know what I mean? I have to charge alot more than me because they have rent on a studio to pay for. The only overhead cost I have is gas.
01/24/2006 10:37:04 AM · #81
Originally posted by Nusbaum:

One of my biggest challenges is ... how to price myself relative to the competition...I see some other work being sold as 'professional' and I'm shocked. Where do you find guidance and how do you build the appropriate level of ego?


I only generally have a feel for what our competitors are charging. I mean, I "know" their ranges, but not their details. I price based on what feels right to me. I want to be mid to high end this year so I have to think mid to high end. Our 2006 reprint pricing is a LOT higher than our 2005 reprint pricing. May people not buy our prints this year? Yes. What I did to balance that was based our entire budget on shooting 24 $2000 weddings. If I do that, I make budget. No reprints. No stock. No portraits at all. 24 $2000 weddings is my budget. Anything else is gravytrain so I priced it what I feel the value is.

As an example, our 8x10 price next year is going to be $25. Now to photographers who can get an 8x10 for $1.70, that's too much. To a mom in Cazenovia (ritzy town), $25 is a steal. They'll take that every time. To people with any amount of disposable income, money isn't the issue - quality, presentation and display are. We are offering that 8x10 in a Rhodes Presentation Mat & Cover from Taprell Loomis. When we hand that 8x10 over, they open it to a nice black cover, then a sheet of tissue paper layered over it, then to the print. What they see is worth more than the $1.70 piece of paper. We're selling the experience, the print, the presentation and the good feeling they get.

Once you figure all of your costs out, including shipping, to get a print, you can figure out an appropriate cost. It costs us $2.45 to get a print shipped whether it's 1 or 20. If we get 1 8x10, it costs us $4.15 just for the paper. Add in the Rhodes Mat & cover and we're looking at a $12 item. I should legitimately be charging more, but for now $25 "feels" right to me. I charge about 3x on larger items, 2x or more on smaller items.

I basically know my product very well - and if I don't feel like I could ASK for that price, I don't offer it for that price. If someone was standing there face to face asking me "how much is this 8x10 in the folder" I can say "it's $25" comfortably. When I can say $35, that's what it will be.

~M
01/24/2006 12:27:11 PM · #82
I'll have to go look at packaging again. I saw a couple of photographers with a lot of fancy packaging and very marginal work and I think I revolted a bit. The prints I have done were in very basic packaging and the CDs hand written. This may seem like of lack of effort to some, but I didn't want to seem like the same old portrait photographer using the same old lighting. I'm sure it's time to rethink my approach.
01/24/2006 12:34:58 PM · #83
Originally posted by Nusbaum:

...the CDs hand written. This may seem like of lack of effort to some


If it 'seems' that way to you imagine what the client thinks when they get handwritten cds like they could do at home.

That's your value right there - you aren't beyond the "point & shooter" until you can present something of value. You have a 10D - so does Uncle Bob. And grandpa. Grandpa also has a 28-75mm Tamron. He ain't playin. But grandpa doesn't put his prints in a Rhodes Presentation folder AND take good photos.

I've probly said it before and I'll say it again - if you have two photographers:

Photographer 1 is an 80/100 shooting skill and 25/100 marketing skill.
Photographer 2 is a 25/100 shooting skill and 85/100 marketing skill.

Photographer 1 is a starving artist. He will be OUT of business in less than 3 years. On average 2/3 of new businesses fail within 3 years and 80% within 5. That's Photographer 1. LOTS of photographer 1's. Photographer 2 markets the crap out of his work, sells and does the merchandising. He survives.

This group is really just getting started so none of that is meant to intimidate you - rather to inform you that if this is truly a hobby, treat it as such. Present the best work you are capable of in whatever fashion strikes. If you intend to be a "business" with this, you absolutely have to act like one. Unconventional one, fine. Straight up studio - fine. But if you don't want to hand over pre-packaged stuff, you definitely need to come up with some packaging that works.
01/25/2006 12:37:22 AM · #84
I probably shouldn't have mentioned the hand written CDs. I think the key point for now is that this will be a business for me, but the work is personal. Your comments are well taken and not at all intimidating... except maybe the thought of my work being no better than uncle Bob's because he's shooting with a 10D as well.
01/27/2006 11:11:39 AM · #85
One of the major differences between you and Uncle Bob is your ability (as a business) to get products he can't get. I know that Pictobooks, Asukabooks, etc all require you to submit your employer ID number (tax number) to get a password to their site. If you are a business, this is a major advantage. You can get MyPublisher, so can Uncle Bob. Go read the Knot about how many brides have found Shutterfly and MyPublisher books. You think they won't know that your MyPublisher album costs $40 to make and you're reselling for $95 or $150? They know. But I'll bet you good money they can't normally see the Pictobooks, Asuka Books, TAP Loomis pricing. Art Leather, Leather Craftsman - these guys are creating value by saving access for pros.

Soooooo this begs the question - if you are a business, are you making sure you have a catalog of products (like the Perfection Distributing catalog) that nobody else can offer? Are you signed up for Asuka Books? Why not?

If you're not a business - when will you be? What is keeping you from taking that step? How are you different than Uncle Bob? Is it your 'well-trained eye' or your personality? Or is it the quality of products you offer.

If you got the Perfection Catalog (and you all should by now!) flip thru the Tap Loomis catalog inside. Notice that the pricing isn't anywhere to be found until you get into that little insert? Take it out. Put it separate from the book. You can now SHOW your clients this. It has no pricing. Same with the AlbumX Renaissance catalog - no pricing. This is a feature, an "on purpose" to help you sell more. Are you bringing these things with you when you sell? You can't sell what they can't see.
01/27/2006 03:15:18 PM · #86
Now this is a very interesting conversation to have.
Originally posted by mavrik:


How are you different than Uncle Bob? Is it your 'well-trained eye' or your personality? Or is it the quality of products you offer.

Up until you started this point, I would have said that as a photographer what differentiates me from Uncle Bob is the quality of the images that I can deliver. I won't repost my portrait work here, but what is starting to draw some attention to my portraits is how I use light and location to create images that cannot be easily duplicated in the studio. I don't find Uncle Bob with me in the stream at 6:00 in the morning and I don't see Uncle Bob setting up 34"x78" reflectors for fill rather than simply popping off his on camera flash. But now you bring up a very good point... why but the effort into the image and then not follow through with a strong and professional delivery of the final product?

Originally posted by mavrik:


If you're not a business - when will you be? What is keeping you from taking that step?

I guess the first hold up was making sure that I could produce images that are strong enough to be sold. I'm sure the quality of my work will continue to grow, but I wasn't sure how to determine when I reached the point of good enough to sell.
Beyond the issue of skill, the next problem is figuring out what employer ID number (tax number) to use. I started an internet based scheduling service about two years ago. I'm not sure if I can reuse that number, so I may need to incorporate that first and then get a employer ID number for my photography.

Message edited by author 2006-01-27 15:19:35.
01/29/2006 09:59:12 PM · #87
Mavrik,

I was wondering if you could take a step by step approach on how to contact, design, order, and present the wedding albums from Asuka Books.
This part of my business is really lacking and I would love to be able to get it right.

Thanks so much.
01/31/2006 09:42:08 AM · #88
I was able to register at AsukaBook, PictoBooks and TAP without an employeer ID, but they did ask me to confirm that I was a business needing product rather than a consumer. Both AsukaBook and PictoBooks provide detailed instructions for creating books, but I didn't do more than a quick overview. I ordered the professional catalog from TAP and the registration response from PictoBooks gave me the option to request literature, pricing and leather swatches.

Damian, maybe this will help with how to contact the suppliers but we'll have to look to Mavrik for help on how to apply these new tools.
01/31/2006 04:04:59 PM · #89
Thank you very much David, I registered at these places also.
02/01/2006 07:50:09 PM · #90
Here are some templates for those that use Microsoft Office. I was looking for a grocery list template, and found all of these!

Even if you don't use them, they might be able to give some ideas as to what you neeed, what you should get and how to go about doing it.

Hope someone can find some good use...

Microsoft Office Templates - Business and Legal
02/03/2006 01:48:52 PM · #91
I thought I'd update everyone on my progress so far, as there has been some significant progress made...

We recieved our certificate of organization of a LLC from the state corporation comission last week, so we are an official business entity at this point. I registered for my IRS number over the web and got it 30 seconds later (government can work!), so that's set.

I have to get a town "business permit" from the town government, and they make you go on a bit of a scavenger hunt... getting signatures from the clerk of the court that your fictious name is registered, getting a 'home use variance permit' from the zoning board, getting a sign off from the town health inspector, etc. etc. etc. None of this should be a problem, but it means taking a day off work and driving to 9 different offices around town. We also are going to set up a bank account early next week, as soon as we have decided how much of our savings we are going to invest in the capitalization of this little business.

My first assignment shooting team sports pictures should happen later this month... I just confirmed with the coach that we're still on, and he's very enthusiastic. Lee also has her first portrait session planned for next week.

Construction on the basement studio/office is progressing well, too. We've had to go through two contractors before we found one that was actually interested in taking the job, and we expect his estimate next weekend. So that's progressing.

We've bought our backdrops and backdrop system, and some generic studio props as well. I've set up accounts with Mpix for our standard printing, and Asuka Books too. We ordered the Perfection distribution catalog, though we haven't recieved it yet. One thing that's high on my priority list is to get a couple friend's kids in for some "free portraits" to build up a portfolio and send those shots off to Mpix to get demos of the different papers and other stuff (calendars, cards, etc.) to use as sales collateral.

Time to start thinking about marketing our services. :)

Matt, this isn't a nudge at you or anything, but I was wondering if we should expect "assignments" and directed learning, or if we should just consider this a networking group and post questions and status/accomplishments as the urge grabs us. I've got some additional basic questions about running the shop, but I don't want to step on your toes and get ahead of ourselves.
02/09/2006 02:06:20 AM · #92
At the risk of talking to myself, my little company just had a very big day.

Yesterday we got approved for a home equity loan that will more than pay for the highest estimate to finish our basement space into our studio.

That's a big load off my shoulders, as now I know this little thing is going to get going. :)

Word of mouth is starting to get around. Just from talking about my experiences with my co-workers I've already got several soft bookings for portraits. And I set the date with my softball coach friend... On March 5th Frozen Moments Photography, LLC will have its first paying gig, from which I expect to gross about $250.

We're excited!!!
02/09/2006 03:51:31 AM · #93
That is so cool- by the way I am listening to every word- I guess I should comment more!

I still have not filed for my LLC (s-corp). But am getting jobs. I took a few photos (at a party) and gave them out in an envalope with my business logo on it and now I've gotten 3 jobs out of it! Bidding two weddings on top of that at the moment. Isn't it funny how quickly things can move? I hope I can grow into this whole thing without too many bumps in the road :0)
That you got a loan is so awesome I just can't fathom it! I wish I had the space for a studio and a husband who would go for it too!!!! Good luck! :0D
02/09/2006 02:22:32 PM · #94
Andrew and Laura, It's great to see your progress.

I've been working on getting some things going myself. I now have 3 weddings booked for this year (at a very reduced price, but still paid).

I've started a class in DreamWeaver and have the bones of my website up at //www.infinitybyrebecca , which makes me excited. Let me know what you think of it so far.

I've printed up some business cards. I've also gotten by business license forms completed.

The funnest news is that I've got a probable showing at the school district's headquarters. They have a gallery set-up for school personnel to show their work.
02/09/2006 03:42:00 PM · #95
Hi Rebecca,

I checked out your site, and it looks like a good start.

I've got a few critiques if you're interested...

1) It loads quickly, which is nice. Good mix of text and graphics on most pages.

2) The 'Weddings' and 'videography' pages have different text formatting... justification, bold, etc. Pick one layout and stick with it throughout your site.

3) Some seperation on your main navigation bar between which links go to gallerys (Portriats, The World) vs. text would be nice. People wanting a discription of your portrait packages and pricing are going to be put off by getting sent to a gallery.

4) The galleries don't look super-integrated with the rest of your site (different background colors, etc).

5) Good move keeping your contact information prominent on each page. One note is that your webhost should be able to set you up with 'xxx@infinitybyrebecca.com' email addresses, instead of using your comcast address. It looks a little more professional. I would also make the e-mail address (everywhere it appears) a link to a 'contact us' page which could be anything from a fill-in-the-blanks form to just another link with a 'mailto:' anchor (that would pop up a new e-mail message for the user) Make it super easy for people to get in touch with you.

Of course, I shouldn't talk too much... I've got my domain registered, but I don't have any pages up yet at all. Soon, soon... :)
02/09/2006 05:25:20 PM · #96
It's great to see the progress that everybody is making. I stalled on something as simple as business cards. Having one little piece of card stock represent so much seems to set my mental process out of whack! So let me ask which you think is most important.. 1) good business cards, 2) get web site off PBase and onto a hosting service, 3) hard copy portfolio(s) with top 12-15 images. It seems to me that the web site is the univeral business card/portfolio these days, but I thought I would ask opinions. I'll have to stop slipping out to the garage so I can try to find my light in the studio and focus on moving the business forward instead.
02/09/2006 06:37:34 PM · #97
Andrew,

Thanks for taking a look at my website. It really is in the barebones stage. You picked up on many of the same things I wanted to work on, plus many other good ideas. I really appreciate it.

This is my first time working with a web site. I've only had one day of class and 3-4 hours of work with building it from scratch. I'm pleased with it so far, but have a LOT of work still to go. I was so excited to see it actually POST. I had built another much more elaborate site built from a template, only to have it go bad when I tried to post it. I'll be working on it over the next week. I'll use your ideas, plus many of my own.

Thanks again.
Becky
02/09/2006 06:53:02 PM · #98
David, I love your images! You have wonderful galleries on PBase, but little to say about you. I think getting your website set up for business should be top priority. The business card will come from your set up, since it will have the same style, font, etc. as the web site. The hard copy portfolio will be necessary as you have people visiting with you and following up. That way, it becomes a total package, each part complementing the other.

Becky
02/09/2006 08:15:28 PM · #99
Well good lord, I've had a day! I was asked to do a shoot of 200 Doctors from St. Josephs hospital. I'm gonna need a cherry picker or something and I have no clue how to bid it! I also have the option of staying at the party and setting up some kind of backdrop to take pictures of couples but not sure if I want to (what's wrong with me???) OK, I want to- I just need more equipment and that part is all on spec so who knows if I'll make any money? But I could get more contacts out of it! AHHHH!!!

Becky- I think your website is off to a great start! Your home page is not titled tho- it comes up as 'untitled document' and it'd be nice to see some wedding images as well do you think it'd be wrong to take a few still shots from the videos??? Or maybe you have some just not posted yet?

maybe I should get a few critiques on mine too... it's
//www.laurasiivolaphotographer.com/
I think, like you- that I know what's wrong with it- I just lack the time!!!

David, I think your website is good! But I think professional business cards are more important. When you meet people writing down your professional website on a piece of paper isn't too cool. I got a great deal at overnight prints and you can order small quantities if you are strapped. My coupon code was HAPPY HOLIDAYS if you guys are interested- I think it was good for Feb too, but maybe not? You can always do a search on the web for one. I'm real happy with mine and everyone has commented on them so far. But I think you could do both- it's only like $8 for a domain name at godaddy.com and $15 for 100 cards at overnight prints.
Ok, now that I've written a book! I think that's it :0)
oh yeah, I know what else- I wanted to say that you can get double sided cards there and you can just write your website down on the back. That way if you change your web address you don't have out of date cards...
02/10/2006 12:23:19 AM · #100
Originally posted by oOWonderBreadOo:

When you meet people writing down your professional website on a piece of paper isn't too cool. I got a great deal at overnight prints and you can order small quantities if you are strapped.

My problem with the business cards is in finding a design that I liked and was representative of the work I want to do. I've spend a couple of evenings working with concepts but never committed to one. Just a little personal challenge there to overcome.

Originally posted by rjkstesch:

I think getting your website set up for business should be top priority. The business card will come from your set up, since it will have the same style, font, etc. as the web site.

Not sure why I didn't think about this, but you are exactly right. I know what the web site is to look like and once I pull that together the business cards can match. Now I've got a way to figure out the business cards and a reason so get the web site thought out sooner rather than later.

I appreciate the thought and comments from both of you.
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