Business + Marketing

Tips for In-Person Photography Sales: An Introvert’s Guide

August 13, 2021

By Jen Huang

Sometimes we could all use a few tips for in-person photography sales, especially us introverts. Sales, marketing—anything money-related—is and always has been an uncomfortable topic for me. For most creatives, photography is the easy part; making money is the hard part. Selling, or not selling, has been something I’ve struggled with my whole career. To me, art and business are polar opposites. But over time, I learned that they don’t have to be. Business can be an art form and as natural as taking a photo or directing a client.

It took me a while to get to this point. One of the first things I did was read business books—really bad ones—like How to Win Friends and Influence People. Since I struggled so much on the business side, I thought that the answer would lie in marketing and business guides.

[Read: 5 $teps for Pivoting Your Photo Brand Towards More Profit]

And in a way, it did. I discovered that I did not agree with or respect the popular practices for selling and marketing. In fact, most sales books made me cringe. Cold calls, networking events, newsletter forms—all of that didn’t speak to who I was as a person. Because my work was so intrinsically tied to who I am, I didn’t want to use “popular” methods, no matter how “tried and true” they were, and I set out to create an introvert’s guide with some helpful tips for in-person photography sales.

Everything improved once I tried to understand myself, to embrace my personality and who I was. One major aspect of my personality is that I’m an introvert in a very extrovert-dominated society. Leaders are expected to be charismatic public speakers, friendly, social and energetic. In a way, they’re meant to entertain. Introverts are stereotyped as nerdy, shy and awkward. 

[Read: How Introverts Can Build Strong Business Presence]

But in fact, introverts are friendly and social; they love socializing in smaller groups but need time to process their thoughts. To an introvert, extrovert behavior can come off as aggressive, theatrical and inauthentic. I realized that if I were to behave in this way, it would be uncomfortable for me, and it would be difficult for my clients to connect to who I truly am. 

Rather than embrace traditional sales methods, I embraced my own comfort zone. Instead of the upsell, I embraced the “not-sell.”

Many of my clients speak to me on the phone prior to booking me. Rates and packages rarely come up. We speak about what I’m passionate about, which is my work, my methodology and what type of service I can provide for them. From there, they can decide what rates and packages work for them.

[Read: Pointers on Posing Shy Clients by Photographer Jen Huang]

My rates are already pretty high within the industry, and I don’t like to waste my client’s investment. All of my packages are designed so that even if every client books my lowest package (approximately $15,000), it can sustain my business. I don’t like to ask my clients to increase their package unless they absolutely need it.

For example, let’s say a six-hour package doesn’t cover major events at a wedding, such as the first dance or cake cutting. Even in that case, I try to work out ways to help them save money: Instead of having them add hours à la carte with me, I’ll recommend that they book one of my less expensive associates to cover late-night events. Or I’ll work on rescheduling the day’s events and consolidate the important ones to ensure that my clients are getting the most out of their time with me.

[Read: Making Portraits Pop—Jen Huang’s Photography Fundamentals]

Even though I was initially very doubtful of my in-person sales abilities, I was actually better at it than I thought. As an introvert, I can be incredibly creative but also industrial and intuitive. Introverts are honest, which makes us more believable and genuine—someone that clients can connect to. These qualities also make for trusting client relationships. 

When we think about the “business” side of things, we often think about profitability, growth and marketing. It’s not often that personality enters into the conversation. But as a photographer or a small-business owner, your personality is 100 percent the face of your business. Our product is in our work, and we stand behind our product.

It really took me a lifetime to understand and be confident in myself. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, shy or boisterous, who you are is a huge factor in gaining sales and connections. But of all the tips for in-person photography sales, I will say be true to yourself and the business side will happen naturally.

Jen Huang is a fine-art wedding and portrait photographer who, over the last decade, has photographed in over 20 countries and on six different continents. A photography educator who offers a variety of instructional and inspirational materials, she’s an author of several guide books relating to wedding style, portraiture, the fine art of film and more.