The State Of The Photography Business
by William Lulow
I was reading an article that was posted about a photographer who was coming to New York to do something else and decided he would try to schedule some appointments with several leading art directors in the city while he was here. The bottom line is that he couldn’t get appointments with ANY of them! I remember doing some similar combining of business and pleasure in the past. I was actually going on a ski trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and managed to secure an assignment to shoot several winter-mountain tents high up on Vail Pass for a tent manufacturing company. I brought the gear I needed to do the shoot as well as my ski stuff. The shoot actually paid for my ski trip! This was only back in the 1990s. Being able to do a similar thing today is probably impossible. For one thing, most of these types of companies have people on staff with iPhones or at least decent digital cameras and, when no real professional lighting is necessary, can probably get the job done themselves. But, mainly, art directors these days really don’t have time to see photographers personally, unless they need to have a very specialized assignment done. Most searches for photographers are done through online portfolios, online email campaigns and maybe a direct mail effort or two. Rarely do art directors need to meet in person with a photographer.
This makes it vitally important, from a business standpoint, for photographers to stay current and in the minds of people who buy professional photography. To this end, I have worked on my own SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for several years now and am finally able to say that when you search for a photographer here in Westchester County, NY, I come up near the top of page one. It has taken a lot of trial and error with keywords, usage and some other “tricks” taught to me by an internet “guru” named Jarom Adair. Jarom operates from his base in Provo, Utah and runs a company called “Internet Marketing For Business Owners.” He has been quite helpful in my efforts to try to keep my “brand”, such as it is, present on the internet. As a result, I have gotten several jobs that have come in to the studio directly through my website itself. I’m sure Jarom would be able to help you out as well with his internet expertise. He can be reached through the following address: (http://www.imfbo.com)
Photography is a kind of business that really cannot be “sold” in a traditional sense. People have to be ready and willing to buy photographic services. They have to have a need for truly “professional” photography and, they have to have the money to afford it. When they have that need, they usually go about looking for a suitable professional, using the internet to fill that need. So, as photographers, we have to be in the right place at the right time in order to be “found.” These days, being “found” means having a great website that is easily accessed. It can’t be stressed enough, how important this is. It’s been said many times, but it bears repeating; websites are the keys to success in the photography game today. Of course, it’s a “given” that the images you put up should be your very best and that your site is easy to navigate. I have often been put off by sites that have amazing video productions and other fancy gimmicks, but have images that are difficult to focus on. When I’m searching for something, I want to be able to look at it carefully, enlarge it and proceed at my own pace from one image to the next. So, sometimes, the simpler the site, the better. Just something to keep in mind when building your site.