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Photography Myths BUSTED: Low Priced Photographers Only Attract Low Income Clients

"ONLY clients who can't afford more expensive photographers go to cheap photographers." "Low priced photographers only attract low income clients." "Their clients are not your ideal clients" None of these things are true any more. At least not all the time. We like to tell ourselves that our "ideal clients" aren't booking these super cheap photographers and they only serve the lower income market but do we really know the financials of all of their clients? No. We don't.

This is something I'm starting to see a lot. Professional photographers who have really cheap prices because they want to be "affordable for those who can't afford more than $100 for a photography session"..... Or even an established photographer telling themselves that they aren't losing clients to cheaper photographers because those people never could have afforded them in the first place. I see photographers giving the advice that those clients were never "your ideal client" in the first place. And that is great advice... sometimes... But honestly, it's rare that this is true these days...

So, while those notions might make us feel better when we see someone advertising 200 digital images for $80 (Yes, I just saw this doozey today and they also included another free mini session with 30 digitals included to anyone who books), thinking this way isn't doing our industry or our own businesses any favors. Photographers have been saying these things and trying ignore this problem for the last decade but it's only continued to get worse. They've been repeating the mantra that these clients aren't your ideal client and that these photographers operating below a profitable price aren't our competition. But let's face it. Many of them are. Because they aren't JUST marketing to and booking those who truly can't afford a more profitable photographer. How often do you see these $50 photographers including a disclaimer in their ad that they only book those who are underprivileged or struggling financially? Almost never. When they comment on those dreaded "ISO photographer" posts, are they telling clients that they only work for those who truly can't afford a session from a profitable photographer? No, they book anyone who will throw a stick at them. But they sure are quick to claim their clients are "low income" when defending their prices among other professional photographers. If you are one of these photographers. 1. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD please stop calling your clients "Low Income" and 2. Start looking at what your clients drive up in.... Nothing sucks more than being cheap because you want to be "affordable" only to see your clients drive up in a brand new Lexus. Ask me how I know...


How many of us have watched our former happy ""ideal clients" who value photography go to someone cheaper just because they could. And yes sometimes those photos are terrible and they come crawling back but sometimes those photographers who have super cheap rates are really good and they just haven't run their numbers yet. Sometimes the work they get is beautiful. I spoke to a photographer just the other day whose work blew my mind at how good it was. Like insanely beautiful, magazine worthy photos. Probably one of the best I have ever seen. Her work literally made mine look like a drunk toddler took them. And she didn't have the confidence or the business knowledge to charge more than $75 for 40 digital images. Here's another real life example. One that I'm embarrassed to admit. A local photographer in my town offered some very nice mini sessions with an elaborate set up... She even partnered with a very high-end Children's Boutique to help her advertise them. They were a whopping $10 for 30 minutes and 10 digital images..... Now, I could close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears and pretend that this doesn't affect me. And I'll be honest with you, I tried for a solid week as they filled my news feed.... And why did they fill my news feed? Because seven of my clients signed up. Like long time loyal clients who have become friends. Clients who recently paid me $600+ for their sessions. Clients who attended my last mini session that only included five images and 10 minutes for $200. Clients who paid an extra $200 to get a few extra digital from that mini session. Clients who raved about my work and how affordable I was. These are clients who go on yearly trips to Disney, drive Mercedes and BMWs, and live in million dollar homes in gated Country Club communities. They are doctors and nurses and physical therapists and engineers. But yet this photographer claims that she prices for sessions so low because she wants everyone to be able to afford beautiful photos of their children and wants to cater to people who can't afford an "over priced" session.

And I know what some of you are saying. If my clients have been happy with me and I had done enough marketing to make myself stand out or if I had elevated my client experience enough, (I'll get to those myths in my next blog) then my clients wouldn't have gone elsewhere. But several of these clients were elated with their sessions and absolutely loved me. They gave me glowing reviews and several of them had recently inquired for another session and have no problem with my prices. I just released my back to school mini sessions for $200 that include a real school bus, and three of the clients that went to this $10 mini session had inquired about booking these a few weeks ago but now that they have seen $10 mini sessions, my prices are suddenly "more than they want to spend on a few photos" or "not in their budget right now." And before someone pulls out the these aren't your ideal clients line or these people don't value photography line, as little as a few weeks ago, they WERE my ideal clients. They valued Photography, they valued my art, and they valued me. But suddenly, they're going to a $10 photographer and they think I'm to expensive by comparison. So what changed? What happened in a few short weeks that took them from ideal client to someone who doesn't value photography? What happened is that a photographer with an unlicensed business who probably isn't paying taxes came along and showed them that you don't have to invest more than $10 to get a good size gallery of digital images. All you have to do is find a photographer who's good but doesn't know anything about running a business yet. Just look for someone whose work is good but they're still new and naive and easy to take advantage of. Just look for someone who doesn't value them self.

So let's stop perpetuating the myth that people who can afford a more expensive session aren't going to cheaper photographers. Let's stop pretending that they aren't our competition. Let's stop pretending that our clients aren't their clients. That might have been true 5 years ago but honestly it's not anymore. It does still work the other way around though. Their clients are very unlikely to ever become our clients. Someone who gets decent photos for 10 bucks is probably never going to pay more then $500 for the same kind of session. But someone who has spent $500 or more on a session in the past is definitely likely to jump ship to a cheaper tog if their work is good enough. And not all cheap or new photographers have sub par work. Some of them are good. REAL GOOD. So we need to stop turning their heads the other way and "just worrying about ourselves." We need to stop lying to ourselves to make ourselves feel better even if we don't realize that we are doing it. And we need to stop blaming the profitably priced photographers who are losing clients to these cheaper photographers, stop thinking that photographers who make a livable salary are "greedy" and start working harder to educate those who are running their businesses like a lemonade stand.

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