The Shocking Truth About Sales

The Art Of The Sale

Selling our work seems to be one of the toughest jobs a photographer has to do.  It is can be stressful, difficult and ultimately lead to the demise of your business if you don’t know what you are doing.

When I speak at photography conventions, the topic always comes up – in one form or another.  It seems to really baffle people.  The truth is that is is actually pretty simple- if you break it down.  Just remember the Four P’s.

The Product

Would you rather try and sell water to hikers or sell ice to Eskimos?  If you have a product that people really want, it is a LOT easier to sell it.  That is why improving your photography will actually help your sales.  If you are creating images that people fall in love with, then the selling will generally take care of itself.  Sure, people will always be limited by what they can afford – but if they want something bad enough, they can generally figure out a way to make it happen.

Also the images need to be different (in a good way) from what others are offering.  Otherwise, you will be competing based on price – and that makes the sales process unpleasant for everyone involved.

The Process

You need to make the sales process as simple and straight-forward as possible for the client.  I don’t care if you do your sales with Photoshop or with sales software, you need to make it efficient.  Don’t overwhelm people with too many options at once.  If you struggle with this in your studio, check with some friends and see how they do it.  Keep fine-tuning your process until you have something that feels comfortable.

Projectingchild portrait

If you are selling with proofs or with online proofing, you are giving away money-plain and simple.  You are also giving away images.  It is important to remember that we are selling the image, not the paper it is printed on.   When people have an online copy of a shot, why do they need a printed 5×7?

You are also not giving the client the full benefit of your services.  Often times, people will assume that a simple flaw in an image cannot be fixed – such as a stray hair or distracting object in the background.  When you project your images, you can address these concerns right away.  You are also able to guide them through the process and offer assistance with sizing, finish, etc.

There are plenty of places in photography where you can take shortcuts.  Sales is NOT one of them.

Promote Trust

Building a trusting rapport with the client is critical to your sales success.  You know more than they do about sizing, frame choices, cropping and other aesthetic decisions.  The problem is, if they don’t trust you, you can’t help them.  It is your job to give them your honest opinion on things.  If you think a 20×24 is the appropriate size for their den, don’t try to talk them up to a 30×40.  I talk people into smaller sizes all the time.  It helps to build trust, so they will believe you when you tell them that the 8×10 isn’t going to look good over the fireplace – no matter how much matting they put around it.  Remember, your artistic vision is part of the product.

Where Do YOU Stand?

So how does your sales process stack up?  Take a few minutes and give yourself an honest assessment of the Four P’s.   By making some small improvements to each area, you can start adding extra dollars to your bottom line.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on sales!  Leave me a comment below and let me know if you agree.  Also, feel free to add another item to the list.

By the way – if you found the post helpful, please take a second and give me a “+1” below!



  1. I can imagine that this is a really tough process for you and all photographer, Larry.

    You pour such a large amount of emotion and soul into your work, anyone who comes in and doesn’t respect that in their initial offers -although I’m sure you’re used to it – is probably a little difficult to take/insulting.

    Is that the case?

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