I’m going to put this out there. You are NOT in competition with other photographers. Seriously, you’re not. If you sold tins of Heinz Baked Beans, and there were three of you all sitting in a row, all selling the exact same tins of baked beans, then yes, you’d be in competition if someone walked along the street who happened to be interested in buying those baked beans. But photography is a subjective art form. Photography is an emotional purchase. So, it doesn’t matter what Dave around the corner is pricing his work at, or what Nicola in the next town is up to, because you’re not selling the same thing. Customers who buy from them aren’t your customers.
When you shake off this fear of competition, you suddenly stop worrying about whatever everyone else is doing and charging, and concentrate on what you want to do. It’s hugely liberating. You start spending more time thinking about the work you want to create and how to give your target client the best possible experience. You work from a position of positivity rather than worry and fear, and believe me, this is HUGELY attractive to clients.
That’s why you should seek to make friends in the local photography community, not enemies. You don’t have to be best buddies, or compare notes on how you work, of course not. But it’s GREAT to feel that you’re all on the same page when it comes to the betterment of choice for clients in your area, and it’s definitely good for wedding photographers in particular to be able to recommend someone whose work they trust and value, if an enquiry comes in for a date that’s already booked. It’s also great to be able to recommend others in your area if it’s an enquiry for a genre you don’t work in, and you know someone good who offers just that.
So why should I bother doing this? I hear you ask. Well, on a purely selfish note, people appreciate information and help. So if that enquiry is for newborn photography (which you don’t offer), but you recommend someone amazing nearby, they’ll remember you with gratitude; and when they’re looking for someone who offers wedding photography (which that other photographer doesn’t), then they’ll remember YOU as the helpful and kind photographer who went out of their way to assist them. Plus, on a non-selfish note, isn’t it nice just to be nice? It doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t cost you anything. I’d like to see more NICENESS in small businesses. We’re all in the same boat, trying to make a living. So be helpful when you don’t have to, reach out to those in business around you, and you never know where your small acts of kindness will take you.