Jasser Abu-Giemi is an award winning wedding photographer, entrepreneur and the founder of Canada Photo Convention.  Jasser started his photography career, shooting a little bit of everything and eventually settled on weddings.  He was busy.  He had plenty of work and was one of the most expensive photographers in his area.  He was getting rave reviews and winning awards but, he wasn’t profitable.  His business was building debt that would eventually cause him to declare bankruptcy and start over.

Photography is an easy business to get into.  Get a camera, a few lenses, a website and your good to go.  The business part, isn’t quite so simple though.  Jasser says that one of his biggest mistakes was not planning at all for the business and believing that “the more I shot and the better my images were, the more business I would have.”  This didn’t end up being the case at all.  He fell into the trap of trying to build profit and cash flow by spending more…a new lens, a must do workshop, better software.  “I thought I could duplicate others success by having what they had.”

Shooting a lot and getting a lot of attention does not mean that money is being made or that a business is profitable.  The chances of becoming an overnight success are very small.  Those who seem to have achieved it aren’t the best role models.  It’s important to learn from those who have gone through every step of building a business.  People who have struggled, and failed and succeeded and are making it work.

Partner for Success

The best way to get more referrals is to partner with other small businesses.  As Jasser points out, “Wedding planners, venues, florists…they’re all trying to get people to notice them too. If you can partner with some of these people, your leverage point goes from your reach to theirs too.  It can increase 100 fold.”.

A lot of photographers find getting their foot in the door to be difficult.  Jasser’s advice is to “Offer them something of value.  Do something completely altruistic.  ‘I want to help you out’ with no other motivation, knowing you might not get anything out of it.”  Offer to do product shots for free, send vendors a gallery full of watermarked images after the wedding and tell them it’s ok to use anything they want.

Another idea is to create a magazine for the vendor to use in their marketing.  Magazine templates are inexpensive (check out Graphic River) and as photographers, we have images at our fingertips.  The idea is that you create something that highlights the business and is full of your photos and contact information.  For example, you could create a magazine for a wedding venue with copy about the venue, testimonials, suggested photo locations, etc….Venues are typically the first thing a couple books when they’re planning the wedding.  If a venue is passing out a magazine full of your work, you have the potential to reach clients before they even get to Google.

Canada Photo Convention

Jasser started Canada Photo Convention (CPC) out of his own frustration and struggle over his financial issues.  He remembers going to conferences and workshops and asking how to get new clients and build a business.  He says, “The vast majority had no advice other than to take really good photos and people would be so happy that they’d tell all of their friends.”

While that may be true, it’s not a strategy that works for average people.  The Focus of CPC is on the business of photography.  The goal is to turn artists into entrepreneurs and to teach them very real, practical business tactics that will allow them to do a lot with a little.  “Most of us aren’t starting a business with 200k in the bank…most of us have a camera and that’s it.”

Be sure to check out CPC and while you’re there, download Jasser’s free e-book, Easy Referrals for Photographers.

For inspiration and information follow CPC on Instagram @photoconvention.