Hotshot - Wendy Yalom - How to Become an International Branding Photographer
We've admired Wendy Yalom for years, as a photographer who is blazing her own trail with Branding Photo Sessions. Have you been thinking about making the switch? Or adding Branding Sessions to your portfolio? Curious about how to charge a premium for these sessions, and how to build a global clientele? Read from the rockstar photographer, herself! And scroll down to see how you can learn more from Wendy online and in person!
You used to be a wedding photographer, but made the switch to branding sessions in 2011. What advice would you give to a photographer who'd like to make that switch today?
The most important thing to consider when you are making the switch is what do you believe will be different when you are a brand photographer vs. a wedding photographer and is that true. I think lots of photographers are struggling with the business fundamentals of marketing and sales, creating a 5 star customer experience The misconception is that if they are serving another kind of client it will be easier, it’s not. I had built a thriving business as a wedding photographer and imagined that brand photography would be auxiliary to that. I transitioned to brand photographer when I realized my schedule was filling with ideal brand photography clients and enjoyed how much the shoots stretched my creativity. If you are in love with the business of photography and you are having success with the marketing and sales of your wedding business, start marketing to brand photography clients, learn their needs and the transition will be easy. If you are struggling with marketing, sales and creating an epic customer experience, start to learn (and fall in love with) the business of photography where you are now.
What do you think is the most important thing about making a branding session run smoothly?
There are a few things that are important to having a branding session run smoothly; first, have a detailed plan for the session (timing, locations, outfits, transportation) and an ability to creatively change direction when things don’t go according to the plan.
You've been all over the world. But in the beginning, how did you plan a photo shoot in a city you'd never been to before? How do you choose locations?
It’s so fun to plan a shoot in an unknown city. I always arrive w. enough time to adjust to the time zone and settle in then depending on the number of shoots I have and how big the city is, I’ll spend 1-3 days purposefully wandering through every neighborhood and nook. I’ll visit gardens and 5 star hotels, public parks and hip cafes. I already know the kind of locations that will suit my client and I let my intuition (together w. Apple Maps and Google)find them. It’s like a location treasure with my iPhone and sneakers. Sometimes when I find the right location for a client it’s obvious and sometimes I know it’s the right location but doubt myself. In those cases, I trust my gut and it almost always is exactly where we needed to be.
You charge a premium price for your sessions. What advice would you give to other photographers who would like to raise their prices?
The trap I see so many photogs get into is thinking that they need to add more to their packages in order to raise your prices. I’m a big fan of creating an experience for your clients that transcends the dollars for hours equation. If you want to charge a premium price; discover how to deliver value that goes beyond the photos themselves, learn how to articulate and sell what that value is and then over deliver on it. That is my path to premium prices.
One thing we love about you, is you're not afraid to talk about sales and marketing! What's one thing you'd say to a photographer who's not as comfortable with the sales side of their biz?
I’ll give it to you straight, if you want to have a career as a photographer it is 99% likely that you are going to have to sell your services. If you can’t find a way to get comfortable selling you will struggle. The good news is most of us struggle with sales not because we are inherently bad at it but because we haven’t learned how to sell in a way that feels natural, authentic and easy. The even better news is that there are amazing people who can teach you how to sell in a way that feels good to you.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to set themselves and their brand apart?
The fastest way to differentiate yourself and your brand is to get clear about how what you offer as an experience is unique and what the value of that experience is. Learn how to share about it and do it unapologetically.
Want to learn more from Wendy? She offers annual Masterclasses (2 this month!). CLICK HERE for info. If you're curious to learn online, you can sign up for her mailing list or join her free private Facebook group by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Add me to your photographer list". Don't forget to follow her global adventures on insta @wendykyalom!
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