I recently posted a link to this article that I wrote for pet parents that caused a little concern in one of my pet photography Facebook groups. The worry was that in sharing information on how our clients can improve their own photography, we would make ourselves obsolete as professional pet photographers. I want to share with you why the smartphone is not a threat to your professional pet photography business, and why it may actually be HELPING you to get you more clients.
1. Smartphones do not perform in low light – like, at all!
I am not sure I even really need to explain this one. Even a professional STRUGGLES to get great smartphone photos indoors. You need all curtains open, dogs facing the windows, and they really can’t move that much at all or the images will be blurry. If we can’t do it with years of experience and an understanding of photography and gear, how will your client achieve the results they are after?
And, due to the fact that large sensors are required to preform in low light, and camera phones are small, they will not likely ever perform adequately – at least not until some major technological advances occur. And if those advances do occur, we will see them in professional gear first and then we’ll be miles ahead of our amateur counterparts again in anticipation.
2. Most pet parents are not photographically inclined.
How long did it take you to get really good at photography? Did you have mentors? Did you take workshops? Did you get a degree at a local college? Do you have loads of experience? You could have done any combination of these things to train yourself in the art of photography, but odds are pretty good that you did not read a blog post about smartphone photography and become an overnight sensation.
Most pet parents are not going to become brilliant at smartphone photography. They don’t have all that knowledge you have and all that experience that you gained. There are even some people that may enjoy taking photos on “auto” but have no urge to learn the technical side of it and they will hire an expert. And some will LOVE photography, but will have no natural photography skills.
3. Your ideal client loves and appreciates photography.
It is a fact that most of my best clients are people that have a passion and appreciation for photography themselves. They are on their camera phones daily (some own some pretty fancy DSLRs), they have a massive following on Instagram – heck some are professional photographers themselves!
The fact that they are taking photos means that they appreciate the value of photography. And, aren’t we all looking for clients that value and appreciate what we do? They will love us even more when they realize that they cannot create images that are even close to as amazing as the ones we are creating.
4. You should be providing an experience that your clients will seek out.
I know that you have heard this a million times, but it cannot be stated enough. The actual photos that you take for clients are just a part of the professional photography experience.
Have you ever wondered why a mediocre photographer may be getting more clients than you? Odds are they are providing an experience that people can’t get anywhere else. Are they famous for a viral blog post? Maybe their clients cannot stop talking about them because of some amazing bonus gift they received. MAYBE they wrote a helpful blog post teaching them how to improve their own pet photography! People love the photos, of course they do, but what they talk about is the experience.
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”
Make sure you are branding yourself in such a way that people want you, and only you! Your photography skills are really important, but your ability to stand out and provide a stellar service are what will set you apart from your competition (and the DIY smartphone photographer).
5. You should be providing better photography to your clients than what they can create themselves on a smartphone.
We all know/complain about the high number of pet photographers entering the marketplace. Some of these new people have little experience, and usually very little talent, and they may even lack professional photography equipment. These photographers are providing “smartphone” level photos to their clients, at a shoot and burn price tag.
If you don’t want to share clients with that guy, you need to provide a higher quality of work to your clients. As a professional photographer with a boutique pricing strategy, you should be shooting images of a MUCH, MUCH higher caliber than what your client can shoot themselves with their smartphone. If you are worried about the smartphone competing with you, it’s time to up your game.
One reason why smartphones are actually HELPING your business:
The smartphone, along with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have created a huge culture for photography, and a massive group of photography connoisseurs that want to constantly be consuming photography. There is a new appreciation for not only photography in general, but for QUALITY photography.
Both businesses and pet parents need more and more images to fill their constant demand for photography. And social pressures to have the best Instagram feeds and the most followers are only helping to increase that demand.
When these amateur photographers get frustrated with the lack of light, their lack of talent, and their inadequate equipment (their smartphone) they are going to appreciate what you do more. And they will be willing to pay for it because they KNOW how hard it is. This will happen.
And guess what else? The pet industry is exploding, and more people have more pets. So even if it seems that more people are satisfied with smartphone photography, there is still a growing demand for people that aren’t, and a growing demand for photography and pet photography in general.
The reason I wrote it was to remind you NOT to underestimate yourself and the service you are offering your clients. You are more than an amateur smartphone photographer!
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