If you want to know why photographers flock to WPPI, it's to experience moments like Sue Bryce's rollicking keynote.
Speaking before a packed house, an impassioned Bryce laid out her vision for how photographers can boost their sales. It was equal parts pep talk, tough love and strategic advice.
While a blog can't do justice to Bryce's on stage dynamism, we'll try to distill some of her wisdom.
Return to Prints
"We are not a digital generation, we’re a now generation," Bryce said. Just because people want it now doesn't mean they want digital, she stressed. To that end, Bryce uses a "reveal wall" of tangible prints and not an online gallery to show clients their proofs. In that moment, Bryce said, "you reveal to them who they are." It's a powerful experience for both client and photographer. It's also an experience that draws them to pay for prints.
And if they don’t buy? "I tell [my clients] I will keep those prints in a safe place for them for when they want to buy them."
Clients Don't Dictate Products
"They do not know what our product is," Bryce stressed. She used the example of Motorola in the mid 1990s when they were the market leader in smartphones. The company polled a million customers to see whether they wanted a touch screen phone and the response was a resounding "no." Shortly thereafter, Apple released the touchscreen iPhone and the rest is history.
"How do you know what you want until someone gives it to you? We dictate what [the client] wants. You are the leader, you are the professional. When a client asks for a CD, they're asking for cheaper." No one, she insisted, should earn less than $1,000 for a job. "And that's cheap." Give people three price tiers--keeping in mind they'll choose the middle one. Keep your prices set in stone.
One concrete step is to insist that everything a client purchases comes as a print and a digital file. "Then the conversation about whether to buy a print stops."
It's Not About You
Photographers, like many artists, can be tripped up by their own minds and ego, Bryce noted. Overcoming that, finding and asserting your own value, is imperative for success. What's more, dwelling on your own concerns about raising prices or asserting your value makes you an "ego-centric protagonist in [your] own story - when the person sitting opposite needs [your] love and attention."
"Don’t work from a disempowered emotional state, you’ll fail," she warned. "Someone will overpower you, if you don’t believe in the value of you."