This month's Peer2Peer question focuses on pro photography wannabes. Is there someone with inferior skills underbidding you and stealing business? Since the birth of digital, many new photographers have come on the scene, touting pictures that are "good enough" rather than of professional quality. Granted, healthy competition makes for a healthy, viable industry, but learning how to market yourself in a sea of Uncle Joe Digitals is key. Of 1,250 respondents, 71.28% answered that they did have a pro photographer wannabe cutting into their business, and 66.53% agree that this is posing a problem for their operations. Here's what else we uncovered…
• Of the 71.28% who answered that they did have a pro wannabe cutting into their business, 52.64% have lost jobs to him or her, and 75.63% of these jobs were with an existing client.
• From those who have lost jobs to a professional wannabe, almost half (44.72%) observed that their clients switched back to them for the rest of their photography jobs.
• In addressing losing the job to a pro wannabe, 27.53% discussed the problem with other professional photographers, while 22.41% revised their business policies to prevent further job loss. Of the 18.36% who answered "other," the majority took no action and waited for the pro wannabe to deliver poor quality pictures and moved on to other clients.
"My approach is a non-judgmental one. I treat every individual promoting themselves (wannabe or not) as competition. The more vying for the piece of the pie, the more you have to step your game up. So I have to stay visible in the client's eye. The goal is to find a way to get the next job through research, direct marketing, and networking."
Jerry Metellus, Jerry Metellus Photography Inc., www.jerrymetellus.com, Las Vegas, NV
"Our strategy has been to focus on differentiation, customizing offerings to each client, and service. This approach has been very successful."
Mark Leonard, Mark Leonard Photography, www.markleonardphotography.com, Olathe, KS
"Since I see my ‘environmental' portraiture being done by ‘backyard moms,' I'm currently promoting more classical portraits—both window light and studio, both things that the advanced amateur hasn't mastered yet."
Tom Deininger, Tom Deininger Photography/Art, www.tomdphoto.com, Davis, CA
"My advice is to be proactive by educating your clients. One of the many ways we do this is by keeping our blog full of new, innovative, and creative images from recent events and assignments. This allows our clients to experience the difference between our ‘professional photographs' and the ‘snapshots' the wannabe is providing."
Chris Smith, Chris & Cami Photography, www.chrisandcamiphotography.com, Charleston, SC
"We revised our pricing, revised our equipment, and added new products."
Hugh McLean, Hugh McLean Photography, www.hughmclean.com, Berkley, MI