Sell your stuff?

Yesterday, I visited the wedding show at Toronto’s International Centre, to take pictures of celebrity (and world-class expert!) wedding organizer Jane Dayus-Hinch of, among others, “Wedding SOS” fame. Here’s Jane, who, as always, did herself proud with this great hat:

While shooting, I learned a thing or two (or three) about weddings from her: worth it for that reason alone. How should bridesmaids hold bouquets? Things like that make all the difference, and Jane is a master of such details.

But I also looked around at the show.

Bit of background: I teach a course at Sheridan College, “Running a small photography business”. So with that in mind, what did I see? Many photographers selling their stuff, with great booths.


Here’s the problem. All of these photographers had great booths showing off their, generally excellent, work. But not one helped a bride choose. Yeah, they make great photos. That’s ten out of ten. Now what, if I am the bride?

Start with the company names. They all had “me me me” names. And meaningless names, like “In Focus Photography” (you better bloody well hope so!), “Luminous Light” (D’oh. Is there any other type?”) and so on. How about a name that is about the client? (I venture to say that our own “To Live, To Love” is better in tune with brides!).

And as far as I saw, not one mentioned why the bride should go with them. As said, imagine yourself a bride. Now what? Ten equally competent photographers. Who do I go with? No idea, so I go by my friends’ reference and ignore the booths.

If I had walked up to these photographers to ask in person “why are you so special?”, I presumably would have gotten some answers. They can be anything: “unique selling points”, or USPs, in marketing speak. Like “we are cheaper”, or “we shoot edgy modern candids only”, or ‘we’re like Vogue”, or “we do traditional photos your grandparents will like”, or “we have the best leather albums”, or “we have more experience”, or “we use better lenses”, or “we also shoot celebrities”, or “we are great at making people look thinner and taller”, or “we work harder than any other photographer”, or “we are rated higher than anyone else by both brides and mothers-in-law”, or “only we deliver our pictures within one week”, or.. the list goes on. And whatever the reasons are, those are what I would expect to see writ large in the booths. Not just “we make great photos are our name is X”.

And then you put these in the client’s reference frame. Not just “we do X”, but “You will have a better wedding day because of X”.

The life of a photographer is all about marketing, and I was sad to see that none of the photographers at the show had great ideas of how to go about it.

Or as someone with a stake in the business, maybe I should be happy to see this? (That calls for a smiley: 🙂

In any case: sell based on “you you you”, not on “me me me”. Find USPs, then put these in clients’ terms., then make that your message. Not the stuff everyone else does too (like well exposed, sharp images).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *