You Are Not A One-Pic Studio: How to Avoid Shoot & Burn Clients

How do you keep yourself from running into clients who want you to shoot and burn?

Sal says it is really the photographer who needs to explain the business model. Think of your studio like a restaurant. You can go to the grocery store, buy all of the groceries, and cook the steak yourself. You could go to Applebee’s and have a steak that tastes like rubber or leather shoe. Or, you could go to Ruth’s Chris Steak House where you are going to pay $50-60 for a steak. Sal says photography is really no different. You can go to a photographer who’s going to shoot and burn. You can go to a photographer who’s going to run a $49 Groupon special mini session. You can go to a photographer that’s going to be medium in price, and you can go to a photographer that’s going to be $1,000 a print for photography.

The difference is explaining clearly to your clients what to expect in your process. Many of you have landing pages with no explanation of the process. No emails that go out that explain the process. No communication that goes out about to expect in the process. Sal guarantees that this is the way to make your clients confused. That’s your fault as the business owner. You have to explain what your process is going to look and feel like. Sal asks: What is the experience of working with Larry Sacks? What is the experience of working with Sal Cincotta? What is the experience of working Suzy Photography for $29 in a Groupon? He is not here to judge Suzy for $29 doing Groupon. He’s not here to judge Larry Sacks. He’s not here to judge Sal Cincotta.

What he is going to judge is this: Are you being clear to your clients on what to expect? The majority of photographers out there are struggling with this, they’re not being clear, and that’s why there’s confusion. That clarity can come from your website. That clarity can come from the initial email. That clarity can come from a phone call. There’s a multitude of ways to give your clients clarity on what to expect.

What do you do when people slip through the cracks and inquire about shooting and burning anyway?

Anyone who believes that no one contacts Salvatore Cincotta Photography only wanting digital files is in la-la land. That happens all the time. People call in, “We just want two pictures. We just want digital files. We just want Christmas cards.” As we start getting into October and November, the amount of people who contact him just looking for one picture for their Christmas cards is through the roof. He emphasizes that these are not his client, but he doesn’t have to wait until after he shoots them to realize they’re not his client. He explains his studio’s process to them upfront. 

When that email comes in and they say, “I’m just looking for one picture for our Christmas card,” his response back is very straight and to the point. Something along the lines of, “Hey, Suzy. Thanks for reaching out to us. We’d love to work with you. Keep in mind we are not a one-picture studio. We provide our clients with an experience and products for their home that are wall décor, etc, etc. Our session fees are $299. That is our time and talent. From there, you’ll come into our studio where you will pick and order pictures for your home.”

He can also add things like, “The average family spends about $1,000. However, there’s no minimum order. Etc, etc.” All of those things will communicate and signal to your client that they are not coming in for one picture. Sal says that communication is on you. You have to own it.

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