I liked yesterday’s post, and apparently quite a few other people did too (it was shared and retweeted quite a few times). Having said that one person wasn’t such a fan. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post check it out now –
Now check out this comment from Andreas, who wasn’t impressed –
“They’re going to buy it they just don’t know it yet. That’s what you’re suggesting but what you failed to mention is that supply and demand rule over any wishful thinking. If you set up a studio in a small town or “market” and you’re 3x what everyone else is, even if you are better or offer something different, and the take home pay is lower on average than big city market, the reality will be that the biz will fail at that level. Positive post but lots of smoke”
I’ve said it before, and some may really bristle at this suggestion, but when it comes to a luxury service I don’t believe in the concept of supply and demand. We create the demand and we control the supply of our own product. What everyone else is offering is only relevant if we haven’t put forth the effort to own a position or create distinction. I know far too many photographers in small towns charging 3x (or more) than their competitors and making a long-term living doing it to buy into the naysaying. I’ve helped many of them build the business that defies those assumptions, and I know that there is a science to making it work.
Supply and demand works for commodities because you can get them anywhere and any option will get the job done so sourcing and surplus are an issue. Sure, you can get photography from almost anyone these days, but you can only get Todd Reichman (or whoever) in this way, to do this specific thing, for this price. The trick here is making Todd Reichman matter, not how many other people are competing.
My intent in posting yesterday was to try and get people to adopt the perspective that they have control and responsibility over how their business is perceived. I’m seeing a lot of photographer blame outside sources for their performance not being where they would like it which is a big waste of time at best and a lazy-assed entitlement at worst.
Here’s the problem – for Andreas the “reality” is that small town businesses tend to fail. My “reality” is that a well-engineered business can exist anywhere. You get to choose the reality you live in. Sure, small town businesses that put all the responsibility on the client for understanding the difference and seeing the value go out of business all the time, but one person’s failure doesn’t dictate yours. That failure just shows you how to do better. This blog is for people who want to use the data to do better, not for the people who want to make excuses.
I made a living in small towns. I used to live in Central Illinois and my town was of a respectable size but I rarely worked there – I was a “destination” wedding photographer. By “destination” I don’t mean beautiful island weddings, I’m talking about even smaller, rural communities that weren’t the one I lived in. I spent several years making a living getting brought into these small towns to shoot for 3x (or much more) than the locals because the locals were all offering the same-old, unremarkable stuff. I know photographers in one-horse towns regularly pulling down $2-5K portrait sessions because they make their client’s lives better. Yes, there are a boatload of other options charging a fraction of that – and it doesn’t matter because they aren’t being compared.
Yes, I think that many potential clients out there are going to buy it, and they just don’t know it yet. Hey, this is a free blog – take what you like and leave the rest. Don’t do anything to convince them, be my guest. Assume that you can’t make any money and operate under that assumption all day, see how that works for you.
If you don’t want to do that here are some past posts that might get you thinking –
- Being the best at the same…
- [Follow up] – Middle class woes…
- Photography is a luxury…
- Competition in the photography industry
- [Question] How to respond to, “You’re too expensive”
- Safe Risks = Safe Results
Even if we disagree, I greatly appreciate the comment and the chance to discuss further. Let me know what you think, and feel free to share the discussion.