by Stuart Walker Published 01/10/2011
because you are a dog owner yourself, or an established photographer, already working with pets – people with dogs want lots of pictures of their four-legged friends. In fact, a survey commissioned by Bonusprint revealed that more images are captured in the UK of people’s pets than their children. There is a potentially huge market for pet photography up for grabs, and as an up-and-coming photographer and new dog owner this was a ‘penny drop’ moment for me.
Until a few years ago I had never owned a pet. My sister had a hamster when we were very young, but after he perished, during an unsuccessful escape attempt, there was no cat, dog, gerbil, hamster or any other animal at home. Then, in 2008 my partner and I bought our first dog together, a Cocker Spaniel, just a few weeks old. Although I had been ‘petless’ most of my life, I could appreciate that he was cute and cuddly, but what truly surprised me was how attached I became to this little bundle of fur. I’ve heard the phrase “You have to be a dog owner to understand...” many times before in conversation with colleagues and friends regarding seemingly irrelevant issues with their dog’s health or behaviour. At the time these affections appeared to be similar to those a parent would have for their child, and now this made perfect sense to me. Wow...I understood!ADD
You might be asking yourself what this has to do with photography, and that is the $64,000 question. Some of you will already understand, either Of course, tapping into any specific market requires planning and effective methods, such as identifying the market level (ie low- or high-end), how to reach the target group and maximising their interest in your unique product. An example of this might be to offer framed images to clients of a veterinary practice located in a high-income area, perhaps by directly approaching the practice manager. Another example would be aiming for high-volume/low-cost sittings at a local training club, using the club web forum as a tool to reach members. The options are as diverse as the subject of marketing itself and the ideal method will depend on what you ultimately want to achieve.
Now that we have taken care of the ‘cart’ we need to make sure the ‘horse’ is fit to pull it and this means having a marketable product. It is often said that to be a successful photographer you need to be good in business more than in photography and while this is probably true it certainly increases profitability and customer satisfaction when salesmanship is backed up by photographic skill, not to mention the potential for awards and related opportunities.
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