Monthly Archives

March 2011

Why You Should Give Up (Part One)

This is Part One. Click here for Part Two – Why You Should [Not] Give Up.

1. There’s too much competition.

One in four people in the United States is a photographer. One-half of the people on Facebook have a ‘Fan/Company Page’ for their photography business. We [Leah and Me] are creating a new crop of photographers, armed with our top secret marketing tactics, out into the marketplace. We’re helping to add to the already over-saturated photography market. Simply put – there’s too much competition.

How could you possibly think that you’ll just one day pick up a camera and find enough work to leave your day job? Or pay your bills? Or support your family? Apparently there isn’t enough work for photographers – and you can tell by just looking at how many ‘Professionals’ now offer ‘workshops’ – and also try to sell their books & dvds to all of the ‘beginning’ photographers out there. Some of these professionals seem to make MOST of their income from their workshops and not actual photography. How are YOU going to make it with just taking pictures?

Art School students spend $80k to get their photography degrees – and they’re struggling – do you really think you’ll do any better with what you remember from your high school photography class?

You should give up.

2. Your gear sucks.

“It’s not about the camera.” – RIIIIIIGHT. That’s why professionals use entry level cameras. Heck – we see them all running around with point-and-shoots because ‘in the end, what type of camera doesn’t matter’. OF COURSE it matters. There’s a difference between a $5k camera and the entry level body you got from your parents/spouse for your birthday. Not only do professionals use better cameras – they have better lenses! And Flashes! And studio lights! And assistants! And expensive websites!

Basically they have money to burn on expensive gear that you can’t possibly compete with. When you show up with your $30 flashes and Chinese triggers from ebay – you’re going to get laughed at. How embarrassing for you! You won’t have the matching Nikon or Canon name brand gear! You’ll have an entry level camera with the kit lens and that’s it. Why do you think you have any business being in the pit with the rest of us professionals? When we ask you what you’re shooting with – we already know – and when you say [insert entry level camera] – we’ll give you that already practiced, ‘It doesn’t matter what camera body you have anyway’.

Face it. Your. Gear. Sucks.

You should give up.

3. You have no idea how to market yourself or get clients.

Marketing is hard. You finally got your website up. You finally got your blog going with a few entries. You finally setup your facebook fan page. Oh – and you got your twitter account linked to your FB so you don’t have to post things twice. You’re set! People are flocking to your website! They’re booking you like crazy! um. Right? Of course not.

Oh – and they’re asking for discounts on your already low prices. They’re asking if you can just give them a few more hours at their wedding/party/event for free since you’ll already be there. They’re also just not booking you. All of your friends on facebook who ‘like’ your work – seem to be hiring someone else whenever they need photos. Or they at least want that discount called free. Just this once – come on! Can’t you give it to them for free?

How are you ever going to find clients that will pay you enough money to make a living?! How are you going to find clients that you don’t already know? Where are they all? Who knows. You don’t have any budget for advertising or marketing – you don’t have any sort of a budget. Remember? That’s why your gear sucks (see above).

Face it. Marketing is hard – and how are you supposed to learn marketing at the same time you’re supposed to learn photography! And Editing?! It’s impossible.

You should give up.

4. You have a day job that takes up all of your time.

You want to know who’s your competition? ME. US. We’re your competition. This is my full time job. I spend every waking moment thinking about Photography AND Marketing. I live and breath this stuff. While you’re at your desk/cubicle/counter I’m shooting. I’m photographing. In the freakin’ middle of the day! I’m taking those gigs that you can’t take because you work 40 hours a week for someone else. I’m out there at night during the middle of the week networking with people because hey – I can take a nap in the middle of the day anytime I want!

There is simply no way you can do this while you work 40 hours a week, take care of family commitments (what? you want to spend time with your kids? your wife?) – and then also have some kind of social life with friends.

You should give up.

5. Everything else you’ve tried has failed.

Okay. Look. You’ve had a lot of hobbies and interests. That’s what photography is for you. You’ve got to admit this to yourself. Photography is your hobby and you could never be a professional photographer. It’s too hard. Sure it was easy at first – you took some photos, posted them to facebook and got 6 ‘likes’ right away from your mom and friends. But trying to make this a business? That sounds too much like work. Hard work. And that’s when you usually quit – so let’s just remember all of those other times you quit. Or took a break. Or moved on to something else. Or just got distracted by shiny objects.

Photography isn’t a real job. It’s an interest of yours, like painting, or watching tv, or singing – you know, things that you could never make money doing – and that’s okay. Really. IT’S OKAY. There’s no need for you to feel bad – there are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t feel bad (see above).

You should give up.

6. Because you can’t possibly work harder than us.

I say this as a friend – honestly – when I say that I just want this more than you. I’m flat out going to work harder than you. Not only that – I’m going to sacrifice all of my other hobbies and interests – and even neglect my family for a little while. I’m going to take bigger risks. I’m going to read more, shoot more, practice more, and flat out MORE YOU. Yeah, I said it –

I’m going to MORE YOU. I’m just going to do everything MORE THAN YOU.

Not only am I going to work harder than you – I’m going to make all the right choices, and get all the lucky breaks. I know more people than you do, I know how to meet more people than you do, and people just plain like me (okay that last one isn’t really true – that’s why it’s LEAHandMark.com and not just “ANDMARK.com” – obviously).

Also (and I’m slipping this one in here) – you’re not nearly as crazy or ridiculous as we are. Who has up to 10 interns at one time? Who has a 100% money back guarantee on ALL of their weddings? Who’s the one that’s willing to take FOUR flights one state over just for an engagement session?!

You should give up.

Now. If you’re still here and you haven’t given up. Check back on Monday for Part Two – the rebuttal to all of these arrogant but realistic challenges that you’re up against.

The six reasons listed above are also reasons why You Should NOT Give Up.


 

 

Reasons. For. Giving. Up. Photography. Too. Much. Competition.

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Accepting Applications in 2.5 Weeks

If you’re new to things here at LeahAndMark.com – we do more than just photograph weddings, or family portraits, or anime conventions. We also have a photography internship. We think it’s hands down the best around, in real life or on the internets. Each term last three months – and we ask for a crazy amount of commitment. It’s completely free and unpaid – and you’ll work much harder than you would for a weekend workshop or any of those internships where they actually charge you (what?!)

This video gives you some idea of the things we do during the internship – and how many people have participated so far.

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We’ll be accepting applications for our May-June-July session starting on Monday April 18th. The deadline is that Friday, April 22nd at 12pm noon. First cuts will be made that day and if you make it past the first round, you will receive an email that evening with the second round application. To find out more information and read reviews of our Internship – Click Here.

Thank you, and we hope to hear from you on April 18th.

 

M.

Atlanta. Photography. Internship. Application. LeahAndMark.com

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Season 4 | Marketing 103

Last Friday we held another one of our Photography Business/Marketing workshops. Only Current Interns (and a select few Alumni Interns) are allowed to attend. Each person was instructed to write a blog post including two points from the session. Below is Sophia’s entry – and you can click on each photo to read the entries by the other Interns.

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I just got home from Leah and Mark’s “Business Marketing” class, and my head feels like it’s stuffed full of cotton wool.  I don’t think my brain is meant to assimilate this much information in such a short period of time!

It was strange being in the same room with Season 4 for the first time.  I had already met a few of them before, but not all of them.  Marj and I actually discovered that we knew each other already through APracticalWedding.com!  Finding out that yes, Marj is a real person who does things other than take pictures for Leah and Mark was a little surreal.

Another thing that was surreal was being surrounded by SO MANY PHOTOGRAPHERS.  This was not even a photoshoot and there was still half an hour of Silvana hamming it up on a table while Marj balanced precariously on a chair, Gabe lurking in the background studying everyone while Jen and JAwesome rearranged books, and Andre building a precarious book tower while Leah was jumping up and down on the floor to get Mark’s attention downstairs.  If you haven’t already gotten the impression that Leah and Mark + Intern Army are a really dynamic bunch…well, they are!  And it’s a little unnerving to be the one non-photographer.

(Secret?  I don’t know what an f-stop is.  Sorry, Mark.  I may have to cave and ask for a one-hour crash course in what-the-heck-do-all-these-words-mean some time.  Or, you know, when I finish this blog post I’ll go Google it.)

Oh, right, you wanted to know about the actual Business Marketing Class.

The quote (from a TED talk) I have at the top of my page of notes is “The first follower is an underestimated form of leadership in itself.”  The crazy guy who takes his shirt off and dances in the park is just a crazy guy until someone decides, “Man, I want to dance too!”  And it’s that second person—the first follower—who makes the process less scary for everyone else.  The first follower is the beginning of the movement.

And I like to think that I am. It’s weird and sometimes lonely to be the person without a camera, going “What the heck am I doing here?” But what I’m doing is working for Project5A! And what that means is that Mark has a crazy idea, and I’m up for following it.  And I choose to believe that it’s a crazy AWESOME idea, and someday soon people will hop on board, and—another quote—“Followers follow the behavior of the follower, not the leader.”  So by building this synergy with Mark and working through what the LeahAndMark marketing internship looks like, I’m setting a pattern for everyone who comes after me.  (Although if Mark starts a new secret project every time he takes on a marketing intern….well, I wouldn’t want to be him.  But mad props to him, anyway.)

I feel like I should be hitting more of the specifics of the class, but everything is still swirling around in my head, so I’ll just hit some of the highlights.  I’m sure my thoughts on the class (or at least the five books Mark gave me to read!) will show up again.

The Good: Mark and I had already talked about a lot of the core concepts!  Yay!  It’s not hard, since Leah and Mark like to spell them out at every opportunity: Be different.  Build relationships.  Show everyone.  Be experts.

Also, Jen asked a few really insightful questions that helped me get a sense of the timeline of how Leah and Mark’s business has developed so far.

The Bad: Now I have to apply it!  Uh-oh…  A lot of the specifics were targeted towards marketing photography, which is both a blessing and a curse.  A curse because they are less easy to apply straight to what we’re doing with Project5A; a blessing because that means I’m forced to go ahead and do the brainwork of figuring out what parts of Leah and Mark’s strategy make sense to me, what else I can do, what I want to drop…to begin to develop my own marketing style, rather than copying wholesale.

The Ugly: The following question, which is spinning around in my head, courtesy of Uncensored Sales Strategies: XXX-Rated Secrets, by Sydney Biddle Barrows.

What kind of experience do I want to provide Project5A clients (and potential clients)?

I don’t know the answer yet.  I’ll let you know when I do.

Thank you.

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