How Birth Photography Thrives Today
We’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions in the last 2 years. I have done multiple episodes about COVID and the pandemic’s effects on birth photographers. For me, it seems like when we start to recover on one thing, we are whacked in the head with something else. So if you’re feeling dizzy, fearful, and anxious from the last almost two and a half years, you’re not alone.
Between all of the things that we’ve been going through, I just want to first acknowledge that a lot of us are struggling right now.
We’ve been through a pandemic, division in the country, hate, racial tension, birth photographers not allowed in hospitals – it just feels like, “What could be next?”
But there’s also been a lot of good that has happened in the last couple of years that I want to talk about – we understand the value of people and in-person connection even more. We value life even more than before.
As baby and birth photographers, we have started doing things like coming home sessions, which would never have existed if it weren’t for the pandemic. The truth is people are still having babies and still want those moments documented no matter what is happening in the world.
So I just want to talk about myths or lies that you might be saying to yourself, believing, or maybe these things are swirling in your head and you’re not acknowledging and may be potentially based on what other photographers, business owners, or news outlets are saying online.
A Word of Encouragement
I just want to encourage you who are believers with Proverbs 23:7, As a man thinks in his heart so he is.
So I want to ask you, with everything happening in the world, where’s your focus and attention? Is it on abundance, prosperity, love, joy, and what’s possible or is it on fear, scarcity, and all the things that could possibly go wrong?
It is so important for us to guard our hearts and guard our minds, and take our thoughts captive and turn them into truth, which is why you so frequently hear me talk about making business decisions based on facts and not feelings.
When we are making decisions on our business based on feelings, there is no solid foundation to stand on. But if instead we can pause and look at the facts of the situation and what is actually going on, that is when we are going to build a rock solid business that is going to be able to withstand storms that come, big or small.
Before we get into the myths, I want to let you know that I have a list of photography, small business, and faith-specific affirmations if you’re feeling stuck in scarcity and fearful thinking, including several that I read every single day. You can download them for free at www.taviaredburn.com/focus
3 Biggest Myths About the Economy and Your Photography Business
Myth #1: You should make business decisions on what people and the news are saying
Are you the type of person who wakes up in the morning and turns on the news, or listens to news radio as you’re driving maybe to work or to drop your kids off, or you read the news headlines on your phone the first thing when you wake up? And if that’s you, I want to ask you:
Is that serving you?
If you really looked at yourself right now and asked yourself, “Is that helping me guard my heart and mind?”
Is that helping me focus on the things that I want to focus on or is it instilling fear and scarcity in my mind?
I can tell you, I don’t even know when our news comes on. I do not watch or read news headlines. That’s not to say I dig my head in the sand and don’t know what’s going on in the world, but I intentionally seek out information to know what’s going on in the world instead of allowing it to be in my face constantly. Because quite honestly, reading and listening to the news can cause fear and that’s how they get people to continue to listen to their sources and to their programs is through fear. Fear really does sell.
And so I just want you to know,
If you’re currently making business decisions based out of feelings, whether those are good or bad feelings, you’re probably building your business on an unsteady foundation that is likely to crumble.
One thing that I had to do was really stop and look at who am I letting influence my life – What outlets, what people, what Facebook groups, what Instagram accounts? Who am I letting influence the decisions that I’m making?
That’s why a couple of years ago I started spending the first 10 to 15 minutes of my work day writing down things that I’m grateful for and writing down the goals that I am working towards as if they already happened, as well as reading through my affirmations and Bible verses that I can then memorize and become a part of my life day to day.
So instead of making decisions based on what people in the news are saying, what if you pre-make your decisions before you start your day, so you know that what you’re focusing on is actually going to do your brain and yourself and your family and your business a lot of good?
Myth #2: If the economy gets to be so bad, people won’t be hiring photographers anytime soon
It’s true now and it’s true always that people spend money on what’s important to them. I want to remind you of that. People spend money on what is important to them in any economy.
I don’t know about you, but our restaurants are packed. Our favorite restaurants are always on a wait on the weekend. We went to an arcade last week as a family and it was packed with people paying probably hundreds of dollars to bowl and play laser tag and go on the ropes course and play the video games with their families.
Chick-Fil-A’s line is still wrapped around the building. Are any of those things I just listed necessities? They’re luxuries, right? So what if we start looking at those things not as inconveniences? Chick-Fil-A line wrapped around the whole building – what if we didn’t look at that as an inconvenience, but instead proof that there are still people out there spending money on non-necessities, proof that people will pay for what they value.
Can you think of a situation recently where you’ve waited in a long line to buy something or you’ve been to Target and it’s been packed, or the Starbucks line is wrapped around the building? And can you acknowledge that those things are not necessities? Those things are luxuries that people value and they want to pay for?
This is why specializing and being known for something is so important because when it comes to photography, people might be more likely to not get a family session done this year or go with a cheaper photographer. But when it comes to wedding photography and baby photography, there are still a group of people who want a really good photographer who specializes in that, because maybe they’ve been going through IVF and finally are pregnant with their baby and they want the best photographer, right?
So you might be thinking, “Okay, sure. Maybe people still want photography, but do they want to spend what I charge on photography or are they going to instead find a cheaper photographer?” But it’s at this point that you really have to double down on what makes you unique and special.
So, what is it that makes you unique and special outside of your competition?
It is YOU, building a personal brand that people connect and identify with is what makes you stand out.
Because if somebody finds out that you’re obsessed with Harry Potter, just like they are, you start to stand out to them.
If somebody found, finds out that you had a VBAC and they’re hoping for a VBAC with their next baby, they have a connection with you.
When you share personal stories and personal things about yourself, that is what draws people to you.
And we’ve talked about personal branding and a lot of other episodes on this show, but I just want to remind you that what is unique and special about you is the fact that maybe you’re niched down. Maybe you’re a baby photographer, maybe you’re a birth photographer, but also what’s unique and special about you is you.
So then my question is in current economy and what we’re living in today, are you showing you or are you feeling scared and you’re pulling back and you’re throwing up flash sales and discounts to get clients because you don’t know what’s going to happen?
Are you grounded in the fact that there are people who will pay a high dollar because they want to work with what’s unique and special about you and are you sharing that for them to even know?
Myth #3: You need to lower your price when you are not booking at your current price
Here’s the truth: photographers are and have always been a luxury service. People do not need professional photography. I think we all know that people have cameras on their phones. They can take photos in any economy. So what is it about hiring you or hiring a professional photographer that makes them excited to book with you?
Here’s the truth: photographers are and have always been a luxury service. People do not need professional photography. So what is it about hiring you or hiring a professional photographer that makes them excited to book with you?
I want you to also consider when you lower your prices, it can be really hard to raise them back up again. So if we’re thinking about photography as a luxury service and something that people don’t need, but they want it, what other luxury brands can we look at?
And let me ask you this: do you see Louis Vuitton running a sale because the economy is down, gas prices are high, because inflation is high, or because the stock market is down? No, they’re absolutely not lowering their prices. So I love looking at non-competing similar brands, not saying I’m Louis Vuitton, but I just like looking at other luxury brands that are not a necessity and what they’re doing to remain competitive and successful.
Alternative Ideas to Lowering Your Prices
So here are some things to consider if you’re considering to lower your prices:
1. Add value to existing packages instead of taking money off. Incentivize them to purchase prints by offering a significant discount when they spend over a certain amount of money.
So if you spend $1000, you get a 16” x 24” print for free or for 50% off. Maybe you could offer grandparent albums for 40% off or for free when they spend $1000-$2,000, or maybe they get a free baby plan when their newborn order is over $1,500. So you can start to incentivize them to get free things in a lot of different ways.
One promotion that we used to run was I would give a one-hour prenatal massage to anyone who booked a newborn session. I think I only did five of them within a certain amount of time. And so that really got people who were sitting on the fence about booking with me to go ahead and take action because they got that extra little bit of value.
2. Offer a new complimentary service to your existing clients.
So this is something like mini sessions. Now let me talk for a second about mini sessions, because you guys know I’m big on niching down and being known as one specific type of photographer, but we did offer mini sessions at Tavia Redburn Photography and the way that we did it was we emailed about it to our existing client who had already worked with us. And we did this for a lot of different reasons:
I like working with people who I’ve already worked with. They know my process, they know how things operate, I know what they’ve spent in the past. So a $300 mini session starts to feel like a lot more of a deal than somebody who’s never worked with me and they’re comparing me to other mini session prices, and that’s definitely not the lowest.
And so when you offer a complimentary service to existing clients, it’s a way that you’re kind of discounting and offering more value to existing clients, but you’re also not.
And just as a sidebar, we used to offer mini sessions, but we called them limited edition sessions. If you call them mini sessions, that’s fine. I just thought it sounded a little bit cheaper for my brand. I wanted a like more luxury-sounding mini session and so I called them limited edition sessions. You’re welcome to steal that.
We also did photography classes for moms. I talked about this in our 100th episode. One of the tips shared by my friend, Annemie Tonken, was offering photography classes for families in her area and teaching them basic things about manual mode and aperture and shutter, so they could take better photos at home. And then she became their go-to photographer. It was a way to get herself in front of a new audience and make a little bit of money.
So we would do these classes usually one Saturday a month, I think we charged $97 and we would cap it at 10 spots. So it’d be an easy way to make a thousand dollars in one month.
So instead of thinking to lower prices to be competitive, think instead about how you can add value and how you can add complimentary services in order to maybe make up that difference.
I hope after this episode, you’re feeling motivated, light, and feeling maybe a little bit more in control of your photography business no matter what’s going on in the rest of the world. So now that we’ve kind of debunked, some of these photography myths, let’s focus on what you can do to move your business forward.
One great way to boost your confidence and keep moving in a positive direction is by using affirmations and reading them every single day. Affirmations are statements that help keep your mind focused on what’s possible and available to you instead of fear and scarcity. So I created a free download for you with photography specific affirmations to get you started as well as some bonus ones that I personally read every single day in my quiet time. You can download and print these for free at taviaredburn.com/focus and use them as daily reminders of all the amazing things that your business brings into the world.
And my friend, if you have a passion, it is not an accident, because not everyone loves the thing that you love. So whatever your passion is, it’s there for a reason. I hope that you will get out there and make it happen. Have a great week!