I’ve noticed a positive shift in my business over the last few years and thought it would be a good idea to start 2014 with an internal bang. That sparked an in-house investigation and a little soul searching. Yes, I was a girl on fire. I began with examining my brand, website, and product lines to see if changes were in order. I never dreamed I would be doing this well and I believe that every “business owner” needs to research trends and products in order to stay true to their art while making progress financially. I mean, it’s in your business plan, right? The “plan” can often look like a stranger in a strange land when it comes to the heart and soul of a photography business, but without one, your heart and soul may find you struggling to pay the bills. So while on a good road to ensuring that I was following MY business plan, I veered off and considered some of the new “rockstars” in the wedding photography industry. Once I started that, I found myself marveling at how they got to be so damn famous. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’ve noticed that although the photography is good, it didn’t rise above so many other photographers who are struggling to just make ends meet. So where does their success lie?
Why marketing, of course. They have catchy names, bright, fresh smiles, and some have cute little dogs that wear adorable little sweaters. They are generally a husband and wife team, many of them swear by Chic Filet, have solid branding, and write great content. Actually, I’ve always wondered how in the heck one can be so consistently witty, but witty they are. Then 2013 seemed to be the year for getting busted for plagiarism so I realized that maybe they weren’t that witty after all. Of course, many hire writers and I suppose if you’re already a rock star, you can afford to pay for that service. But it seemed to me that there are so many awesome photographers who can’t even pay the rent while some mediocre ones book 50 weddings a year. Again, you gotta blame it on the marketing……or praise it. Then it dawned on me that I was sort of rambling which brought me back to me and MY business.
I’m approaching 57 and sadly, my smile isn’t so fresh anymore, my dogs are over 70 pounds each (I can’t put them in little sweaters, they would fight me as if I were trying to kill them) and I’m single. I don’t quite fit the new “rockstar” model. My photography is something I’m proud of although I’m susepct I’ll be growing as an artist until God takes me home. But still, the question inside many people as we approach 60 is, “Will I remain respected in a world designed for young in so many ways?” I decided a have a nice glass of wine and ponder this for a while. Will my work and great customer service speak for itself and carry me through to retirement or had my age gone over the line where my target market doesn’t find me favorable anymore? When meeting with perspective clients, will they opt for the young hipster regardless of other factors such as talent, experience, product line, and customer service? What if I’m not that marketable?
What if I’m amazing?
On a personal level, who can go from medium length blonde hair to short brown hair and never flinch? This girl. Who can, and often does, work harder than most 25 year olds? Again, this girl. And who loves to learn, grow, and give back on a daily basis? Yes, this girl. So what if I’m really amazing and my fears of aging in a world often designed for the young are unfounded? What if I simply have to change my marketing strategy? In other words, instead of focusing my marketing campaign on myself, which seems to be the trend, market my work, giving back, and personal aspects of my life that don’t focus on me, per se, but things that I do and love. That may make a smarter campaign but then I reflect a little longer and realize that God loves me exactly the way I am so add myself in the campaign a little and understand that I’m simply amazing and have fun with the remaining time I have left in the wedding photography industry.
I honestly see myself in this industry for as long as God allows me to stay in it and I believe that the love and passion I have for what I do is one hell of a strong marketing point, don’t you? So for those bright, young talented photographers out there, keep inspiring us and remember to share what you know with others. For those over 50 like me, I do have some advice.
My two cents for wedding photographers over 50
If you ask any 30 year old how they feel the day after shooting a wedding, they will probably tell you that they feel like they’ve been hit by a train…a big one. For wedding photographers over 50, it’s even a little harder. It’s important for us to eat healthy and get regular exercise. Both weight lifting and cardio is vital to stay healthy in this physically demanding industry. But one thing I want to encourage you to do is to really examine your work and style of editing. Often times, I can look at a photographer’s work and think, “yep, he or she is definitely over 50” by their style of editing. If you’re still doing the black and white photos with the colored bouquets, you’re probably over 50. Although you want to stay true to your style, take an honest look at your work and have the courage to make some changes. Check you level of pride and make sure it isn’t foolish pride and above all, continue to learn and grow. It doesn’t matter how old we get, we never stop becoming and we can share our knowledge and experience with the world. Now THAT IS MARKETING!