State of the Industry

I’ve been hearing talk and a few sad stories from friends that are well connected in the photographic industry.  Jeff Caplan, CEO of the Digital Wedding Forum, is my total go-to guy.  He has a handle on this industry and instincts I crave.  He tells me, “Some photographers are worried about sharp downturns in business.  Some have even left photography as a profession.  But at the same time, we see a surprising number of photographers who are seeing pronounced increases in their profitability over 2010.”  Harold, my trusted sidekick, tells me many of his friends have seen their wedding business dry up.  Trends on the DWF tell me that many photographers feel they have to compete with the Craig’s Listers, that they are better off being a shoot and burn person than a true professional, and that all the clients care about is price.

I’m here to tell you I SEE A FUTURE.  And I think I have some information to back it up.

Every year I spend a couple of weeks working in our production facility.  Call me the temporary seasonal labor if you must.  This year I marveled at the albums being made and delivered.  All the stats on paper are never the same as seeing it first hand, of looking over racks of books and watching orders with five or more albums (ONEs, not Elements) being packaged.

Here’s what I saw:

  • The albums were BIG.  Not just big in dimension but very big in capacity.  Many were so heavy people could only carry one at a time, two at most.
  • Upgraded covers sell.  There were few single leathers with plain covers.  Instead I saw tooTones!, Armour, ICE and canvas coming though.  Most all leather covers had windows and/or stripes.
  • Textured leathers were HOT!  Texture and smooth mixed, texture used as the spine on specialty covers.  Even some mixed texture with texture – not sure how I felt about that, but I bet the bride thought it was wonderful.
  • Parent albums sell.  They were ONEs, Elements, and Raves.  Many, many orders contained two additional books.
  • Upper Elements in awesome leathers were hot.  Far more books than I expected.

Most every album was the result of someone taking the time to work with a client to select both the images and the album covers.  I know that 12×18 albums are not included in packages.  I know that 50 plus pages are not included in packages.  I know that ICE, Armour, canvas and Erotika covers are not included in packages.  That tells me that a photographer presented images with a plan, a goal of sorts.

This year the number of clients who reached the $10,000 or above mark was way up.  That tells me there are photographers who are doing well.  I would love to think that Finao albums caused all these people to have the large and plentiful sales they did, but that’s probably not the case.  Yes, I think offering your client contemporary choices, and lots of them, is more likely to get them interested in the ordering process, but I know it’s not the only reason for the success.  Maybe photographers who choose Finao are better tuned-in to the client’s wants, not sure.  I am sure these photographers all put forth more effort.

This post may be preaching to the choir – my guess is most of you already get it, you’re Finaons afterall.  So do me a favor and pass this along.

  • Encourage everyone to attend as many seminars and conventions as they can.  It’s not too late to sign up for the DWF convention or Imaging USA in New Orleans.  Make the trek to Vegas for WPPI.  Watch for workshops.  Yes, it takes money to make money.
  • Invest in samples.  We are here to help you make sure your sample dollars work for you.  Just call or write – the advice is free.
  • Learn to sell!  Buy books, attend classes, practice.  The rewards will be there.
  • Learn to bundle.  If you purchase this, you get this for a bit less.
  • Stop worrying about Craig’s List.  That’s the new “Uncle Joe”.  That’s a place where people look for bad hook-ups and wife swaps.  Not your client.
  • Be prepared with a reason why the prospect should hire you.  Write it down.  If it doesn’t roll off your tongue it won’t roll into their ears and wallets.
  • Dare to be different!  This is Finao talking – need I say more?

Happy New Year and to all, success in 2012!!

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