Photographing clients of wealth can be rewarding for photographers who can make it in the major leagues. There are many unique and often intimidating challenges to working with these clients.
Whether photographing high-end weddings or creating portraits for the carriage trade (referring to a wealthy class of patrons accorded special services), there are pros and cons of specializing in the luxury market. I’ve listed a few below:
Pro: People of wealth have money to spend.
Con: Not every client will spend large sums of their money on photographs.
Pro: People on the high-end of the income scale are more insulated to downturns in the economy.
Con: There are fewer of these people.
Pro: Upper-tier clients have a greater appreciation for fine art.
Con: People, who are interested in only the best photography, find few photographers who produce work commensurate with their expectations.
Clients who are in the high-end income levels are accustomed to dealing with highly trained staff, exclusive products, and the best of service. Photographers who service these clients understand they must:
- Be prepared to deal with savvy, business-oriented professionals, who expect to do business with like professionals.
- Dress and speak as well as the clients they wish to serve.
- Command the level of respect for their photography through a sophisticated look of their facility, furnishings, and displays.
- Expect that 80% of their sales will be under 16×20 sizes, and your pricing must be structured to produce the income you need from a small number of clients.
- Service must be impeccable.
- Charging a substantial amount for their photography requires they must be prepared to articulate its value.
- Rely on sophisticated advertising mediums and messages
- Expect most of their clients to be referrals.
- Be prepared to service a modest percent of this market
Avoid the notion that suggests that in order to attract the rich, you must look like you are also rich. Few of the truly rich prefer to do business with similarly affluent people. People of wealth will hire you because of referrals, not because you are their equal. Avoid “dropping names”, and never discuss what another client purchased.
Remember, the carriage trade client represents a very small segment of the market, is less accessible than the middle, or upper-middle class, and the reputation required to attract them evolves over a long period of time. Most photographers who enjoy above average incomes service the much larger, middle or upper-middle class who respond to consistent marketing, and who produce sales that are far above average, in a shorter time period.
Feel free to add your comments below. Who do you target for 80% of your income? What message (promise) do you use to attract them? Have a question? Ask it below.