Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Starting Out

So we attended a bridal fair over the weekend. It turned out that besides us, there was only one other wedding photography vendor at the fair and they were just starting out. My partner and I both went to their booth and introduced ourselves and we generally being very supportive of them. Afterall, we were in their position just a year ago.

But there were a few things which were really different about the spot they are in now and the spot we were in this time last year. First off, they didn't have much to show at the fair except an enlargement or two and a laptop slideshow. At our first fair we went to pains to have some physical things to show potential customers. While we have a lot more to show for ourselves now, we weren't exactly empty-handed at that first fair. Somehow, a couple of familes took the risk with us.

The other thing about these guys is they seemed to be selling their technology and their time. I say this mainly based on their booth and their pricing packages. They had their digital camera there to take photos on the spot and show them on a connect laptop. They also had a price sheet which geared their work to the time they would spend and a certain number of prints.

In the year that we've been pursuing photography clients in this community we've realized a few things. First off, the clients who choose us seem to do so because of us, not necessarily because of the deal they were getting. Even the first families who took a chance with us have all commented that they chose us for reasons beyond the pricing and portfolio.

And in that sense, I think we made the right decision to focus our clientele on the image, creativity, and vision we can deliver; not on the number of photos or number of hours. Sure that has meant we really don't earn much on an hourly basis. But it has also meant that several of our clients are committed to us for all of their family photography needs. They know we're not just going to show up and take photos for a few hours and fleece them little charges here and there. They know we're in it to give them back their own memories from a viewpoint they couldn't get anywhere else.

Okay, okay, I know there are a tons of great photographers out there so I won't say that nobody else could give them high quality work. But I will say that we've exceeded the expectations of each ouf our clients. And that makes both my partner and me happy to no ends. These new guys will probably find their way, but as it stands right now, it seems like their just enticing people with a low price, not with what the clientele really wants. If you give them what they want, price becomes less of a concern and creativity really becomes the focus.

We've found out what our clients are really looking for and what they're not looking for. It's only been about a year since the idea of this business crystalized in our heads, but I'm still amazed at how far we've come. At some points, I felt like giving these new guys some advice based on what we've learned in the past year, but I hesitated on saying too much. Not because I was afraid they would take away our business (they're no competition at this point and most likely won't be making us sweat any time soon), but because half of starting a business is learning on your own. I feel proud that my partner and I have accomplished so much by just jumping in head first. Neither of us could have done it alone and I don't think either of us thought we'd end up where we are right now.

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