Business + Marketing

How to Reinvent Your Photo Business During a Pandemic

April 1, 2020

By Andrew Funderburg

Courtesy of Fundy Software

In unsettled times, business owners who do well and pull through are the ones who take a deep breath and focus, retooling their businesses from A to Z. Having never had a “real” job, I’ve run my own businesses through 9/11, and the market crashes of 2001 and 2008. While each were bumpy rides, we got through and had a stronger business once we reached the other side.  

Tip #1: Re-evaluate Your Contracts

One of the biggest topics during the COVID-19 pandemic has been whether to refund deposits on weddings that have been cancelled or moved (and if, from a legal perspective, you have to). It can be hard to figure out, depending on your original contract. Your best best is to consult a lawyer and adjust accordingly. Remember, retooling starts from the bottom up.

[See our COVID-19 resource page for business information and creative inspiration that will help you rise to the occasion.]

Tip #2: Take Stock of Product Offerings

albums can help increase sales when retooling your business.
Photo by Robert J. Hill

I’ve found that there are two solid ways to increase revenues in a business: One is to attract more customers, and the second is to make more money per customer. Evaluate your albums, wall art and cards and make sure that when the time is right again, you are offering all that you can to your clients. 

Tip #3: Seek New Channels

If you photograph only weddings, look at branching out into family photography, headshots, etc. You can also use the “down time” that everyone is experiencing right now to stay creative by photographing your own families in unique ways to help build your portfolio for when you do actively market for clients again.

Tip #4: Cut Down on Production

revisiting your workflow and production times can get you away from behind your computer faster.

As artists, many of us spend too much time in Lightroom, Photoshop and other editing software. But more often than not, our workflow isn’t as streamlined as it could be. A good workflow gets you out from behind your computer and in front of your clients. Check out this free guide on how to cut steps out of your workflow.  

Tip #5: Learn New Skills

If you aren’t an expert in any part of your business, this is the time to become one. If you struggle with seamlessly incorporating off-camera flash, this is the time to practice and get better. If your detail shots are lacking (for example, flat-lays), work on them now by finding things in your own home to photograph.

One of the most important skills you can hone in a time like this is sales, whether it be improving your in-person sales strategies, client experience, and upsells (ahem, wedding albums). Leads and clients are likely to decrease in the short term—that’s a given—but long term, you want to increase your booking percentage and become adept at selling more products to each and every client.

retooling means looking at upsells and new product offerings to help increase client experience.
Photo © The Harris Co.

Read: 8 Tools to Help Up Your Game with In-Person Sales

Tip #6: Client Experience

During this time, we are all re-evaluating every aspect of our business. This is a perfect time to take a second look at your client experience offerings. This means taking out a piece of paper and listing out every ad, every bridal show, your website, your email formats, your phone scripts, your product delivery—everything. And, from this list, make a list of ways that you can improve them. Start with the easiest changes and work your way up.

Tip #7: Retool Your Pricing, Packages and Products

Package and pricing options

This is a great time to tighten up your offerings and expand any products in your studio where you see opportunities. Do your wedding packages encourage people to invest in wall art for their engagement sessions? Do your wedding packages encourage your clients to get album upgrades? If not, retool them. 

If you’ve never priced a product before and are unsure of how to do it, this Studio Set-Up Guide has a free pricing calculator that uses PPA guidelines to help you price. 

Read: In-Person Sales Intensive—Three Photographers Share Their Distinct Paths to Boosting Profitability

Tip #8: Stay Busy

Keeping busy and creative during down times helps you reassess your business.

It is easy to fall into bad habits, spending hours on social media, watching the news or Netflix for hours on end. Set your business hours, just like you are working in an office and stay busy during those hours. 

Read: 12 Successful Wedding and Portrait Photographers Share Their Good Living/Working Habits

Hopefully the above tips will help you dive in and strengthen your business for when the fog lifts. From experience, I know that this is what it takes to retool your photography business for success and now is the time to do it.

Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg is a photography expert and industry visionary with a passion for people, capturing emotions and telling their stories through print. He is the creator of the Fundy Design Suite software platform and the founder of Fundy Software.