Friday, 26 April 2013

Photography Business: Tipping Point

The trick to building a stack like this, is to begin by positioning the top piece of wood, and then work down. Most people try to build from the bottom up, and fail. The picture was shot at a science fair in Nordstan, Gothenburg.
Most people who start a business ask themselves what to do. For example, a photographer might ask: "what kind of photography should I do?" Most photographers come up with similar answers, like "be a wedding photographer", "shoot babies" (with a camera, of course), "focus on food".

I have chosen to do it a bit differently. I started by asking "why":
  • Why do I want to be a photographer: Because I love to create a good picture. Because I can share at least a piece of the wonder and excitement I feel, because I might inspire other people to strive to fulfill their potential as I do mine, because I myself have been inspired by other people and want to pay it forward, because I want to pay my bills, because I can combine photography with other things I love: writing books, and business strategy.
  • Given that everyone can take a picture, why would anyone be willing to pay for mine: Because my pictures are a novelty: They can show people and things flying, flesh melting, body parts rearranged. Lots of people do not want that of course, but they are still intrigued, and drawn in.
So I do have a few things going for me. I am constantly trying to find things I can do that improves my usefulness to my clients.

To do this, I watch closely what other photographers do, but I am even more interested in what they don't do.

If I can find things I can do that clients would like, but other photographers don't do, I have an edge.

Take this mug, for example. All photographers I have checked provide pictures for their clients digitally, usually on CD. Most provide prints.

I do that of course, but I believe it is more fun for a client if they can have their pictures on useful items, like mugs, phone and tablet shells, key rings, hats, bags, and other items.

So, in addition to offering digital files and prints on paper, I also offer prints on mugs, hats, etc. It is a differentiator, just like my trick shots are a differentiator. And in business, we are interested in differentiators, because they can give us an important edge.

A differentiator does not have to be large. If clients like it, then, over time, it can make a big difference. Eventually, when you do things like this, you will build a reputation, and business will take off.

Oh, and I should tell you, the mug differentiator has a small twist, a second level differentiator: The mug is normally black, and the picture is invisible. When you fill it with a hot beverage, the mug turns white, and the picture becomes visible.

On top of that, there is a third level differentiator, but that one is between me and my clients. :-)