What Business Are You In?

Most photo companies have a really hard time answering this question. At Wal-Mart we were in the low price/keep the customer happy no matter what business. Which meant that anyone who bitched and moaned loud enough got all the pictures they wanted for free. At the school photo places, we were in the yearbook business and if someone happen to buy a few extra images then we got to eat as well as produce a yearbook. At the place where I shot Shirners we were in the directory business, and if one or two of the old farts bought pictures, we make some money. At another place we were in the Composite business, which meant we took several pictures and hoped that they would buy one or two. At the church directory places, they are in the giving away directories and 8x10s business. Once again, if a few people buy photos, that is nice, but all they really care about is getting the people a nice free directory out of the deal. I did in store promotions from a little fly by night place that was in the giving away 10x13s business. All of these places and most other photo companies don’t want you to know that they sell pictures for a living. They out and out lie-we just want you to be in the directory, or the yearbook, or the composite, or get your free 10×13 or you ‘special.’ None of these companies would be in business if everyone just got the free whatever they are giving away for free.
But a lot of the places have lied so often and so long that they really, honestly don’t know that they are in business to sell portraits.
As a lowly grunt on the front lines, wasting my time over and over agian on people that know when they walk in the door they don’t want to buy anything-no matter how good the photos are-no matter how good the sales person is at selling-No Matter What!-I just wish there was some way to weed out the god damned freeloaders and just spend my time on the buyers. But the fact of the matter is that every once in a blue moon someone that says they won’t buy-buys. That is what the whole church directory, etc, photo business is based on. People buying something they don’t want to buy.
Of course, we don’t want the nonbuyer to show up at all, stay at home and leave us the hell alone. But then the odds are good that no one would ever show up. After all, even the best pictures we take on location are not going to be as good a real studio with full sized backdrops and all the lights and props at their disposal. I often think that it would be really nice to work somewhere people actually come in with the idea that they are going to buy the images that they are having made.
The funny thing is that these people are often shocked if you tell them that you make a living off of what they spend and if they don’t spend anything, we don’t make a living. Sure we could go out and get real jobs somewhere, if you are a high end studio looking for a pretty good photographer, please let me know.
The whole business is setup to draw in all the cheap bastards in the church and then we are suprised when all the cheap bastards show up. The problem is that we all get good churches once in a while and make the kind of money that we want to make every week.
I worked at a place that didn’t give away 8x10s and directories and the cheap bastards still came out of the woodwork assuming that they would get a free 8×10 and directory. They would ask in amazement-Then why did we come in here? Just to waste our time, was always the answer, just to waste out time.

Jon Herrera

Jon Herrera

Writer, Photographer, Blogger.
Jon Herrera

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Writer, Photographer, Blogger.

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