Photography Studio Business Plan
Families need photographs to capture the special moments of their lives. Families of professionals are busy, and if too much time goes by between photos, these moments are lost forever. Babies, especially, grow fast and parents need photos of them several times a year.
While nearly everyone has a camera for snapshots, people need professional quality photos when they will be shown to an important audience, and when people want to be seen in the best light. The Internet has expanded the use of photos, making it possible for anyone to send them or to publish them for wide viewing.
Professionals often have business needs for high-quality photos, and through this familiarity, they acquire a taste for them. When these professionals need photos to preserve memories, or to display family photos when they entertain at home, they have the budget and the desire for similarly high-quality photos. Just as they appoint their homes with fine furniture and decorations, the photos on their walls need to exhibit their standards of quality.
Most people use professional photo studios only on rare occasions, such as weddings, yearbook pictures, or baby portraits. Because the client has to initiate the call, many special moments are lost and the studio loses potential business. Photo studios generally charge a large fee for CDs of their clients’ digital images. For these reasons, most photo studios are rarely used by families as a whole.
This photography business plan shows how Phoebe’s Photo Studio will meet the needs of professionals and their families to capture the special moments in their lives and present them in the best light. We will establish a relationship in which we initiate the calls to keep their photos up to date. Digital files of their photos will be available for free by e-mail, or with a nominal fee for CD. Because of our relationship with the families, when something big like a wedding comes, there’s no place else they would go.
Phoebe’s will grow at an annual rate of over 40 percent by targeting families of professionals with newborn babies for baby pictures and then developing a relationship with the client over the years for ongoing photographs. The funding requested in this plan is projected to result in a comfortable annual net profit by Year 3.
The opening of Phoebe’s Photo Studio will mark a change in the way professional photography is delivered. Rather than being a rare place to visit, this photo studio will be a fun part of a family’s lives, helping them capture special moments and share them in a digital world.
Phoebe’s Photo Studio helps clients preserve memories and portray themselves in the best light. We thrive on repeat business by developing relationships with our clients and calling them with timely reminders for new photos. We make professional quality photographs easily available in a digital format. We do this by using a pricing structure that makes our digital photographs a household staple and by making it fun for them to come here or to have us in their homes.
In addition to livelihood, we’re in this business for the enjoyment of photography and having fun with people. We want to keep it simple.
Our objectives are:
- To generate a comfortable net profit by the third year.
- To develop systems of production for each product category that are easy to replicate with new clients to keep it simple and fun.
- To have a client relationship system and call plan that will keep us on top of each of our client’s scheduled needs at all times.
Keys to Success
Our keys for success are:
- Target marketing for the gateway products of baby pictures, high school photos and wedding albums.
- Developing relationships with our clients through personal customer service, to turn one-time customers into lifetime clients.
- Our system of tracking clients’ ongoing needs for photos and taking the initiative to call them for appointments.
Phoebe Peters has worked as an industrial photographer and freelance portrait photographer in Southern California for 10 years. She has found that personal customer relationships are the key to repeat business and will open Phoebe’s Photo Studio in downtown Eugene, Oregon on that premise.
Phoebe’s Photo Studio is a sole proprietorship owned by Phoebe Peters. It will open in a leased 800 square foot studio in downtown Eugene, Oregon.
Phoebe Peters is a graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California and is a member of the Professional Photographers of Oregon and the Professional Photographers of America. She has 10 years experience capturing the special moments of people’s lives.
Company Locations and Facilities
We will open in an 800 square-foot studio at 100 Main Street, the heart of the commercial district with ample free parking. The space will be leased for three years beginning at $800 a month with cost-of-living adjustments made annually.
The studio will have a highly visible electric sign and a 20-foot wide display window visible to passing foot and auto traffic. Customers will enter a public area with a counter, samples of our photographs and albums, and couches for waiting. A separate playroom with props and other toys will accommodate children with sitting areas for parents, while a utility area off the back door will be set up to accommodate pets and their props. Children, pets and props can be brought into the photography studio for their photographs. An office and working area will be used for assembling the final product.
Phoebe’s Photo Studio will help our clients to look their best, will keep their photos up-to-date, and will capture the special moments of their lives.
Phoebe’s Photo Studio has a comprehensive program to preserve memories on an ongoing basis. We see individual pictures, especially baby pictures, as gateway products for our programs of ongoing photography.
All of our photos are created in a high-resolution digital format, from which our prints are made. Since the Internet and commonly used printers typically use the lower-resolution 300 dpi format, 300 dpi digital files are available to clients for a nominal charge. Higher-quality digital photos and prints carry full pricing. We will retain the high-resolution data and clients can order more prints from us if they wish.
Our photo studio includes quality props for portraits and baby, child and pet photography. The physical environment of the studio is fun and accessible, making families want to come here. We also go regularly to people’s homes and bring cameras and lights that are out of the budget of non-professionals.
Our products include:
Our specialty is baby pictures. We have a unique combination of props and a passion for babies. Babies are also our prime gateway product for entering families into our programs of ongoing pictures.
High School Senior Yearbook Portraits
Senior pictures are a long-standing tradition that brings high school seniors into photo studios. By making these photos easily accessible in digital form, and by marketing prominently on the Internet, we hope to capture much of this market.
We offer a special package of a family portrait at half price with the senior picture. It is often the parents who are paying for the senior portrait, so we want to establish a relationship with the parents. The parents will want a picture of their senior with the rest of the family. This introduction to the family will allow us to market our other services.
Family and Pet Portraits
Portraits of the entire family are needed for display, to send to relatives and to use in family newsletters and websites. Most families have pets, and we can arrange family portraits that include them. While we don’t specialize in pet portraits, we have props and will take stand-alone photos of pets as well. There’s an additional charge for exotic animals.
Individual portraits are commonly needed for individual and business websites, business cards, brochures and annual reports.
Model’s Portfolio and Glamour Shots
Photos suitable for magazine publication.
Weddings are one of the most special moments of life. Our wedding album includes up to 7 hours of wedding photography, with prints displayed in a custom photo album and digital images on CD.
Annual Portrait Program
We take the initiative to schedule the annual portrait and we replace it in last year’s frame while saving last year’s photo in a portfolio.
Baby Picture Program
We arrange pictures of the baby at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, and 2½ years.
Child Portrait Program
We arrange a portrait of the child at 3 years, 4 years and 5 years, or until the child begins to be photographed annually for school pictures.
Capturing Memories Program
We arrange an annual portrait of the family and individual pictures of each member of the family. Photos can include pets and the house and grounds, if desired.
The competition for portrait photography is divided into several categories:
Award-winning photographers are those who routinely deliver magazine-quality photographs. Their work is highly creative and spontaneous instead of routinely posing shots. They are rare and highly expensive.
These are professional-quality photographers, like us, who use a lot of posed shots. Most of the competition falls into this category.
Low-priced, lower quality providers.
Same Day Photographers
Normally priced photo studios that provide lower quality photos on the same day.
ACE Marketing Communications will develop the logo, electric sign, business cards, brochures, website and display ads. All will contain branding information around the theme of capturing the special moments of our lives. This theme is the backdrop of our program to maintain customer relationships and to take the initiative to schedule photo shoots at our studio, in our clients’ homes, or in nature, to preserve their special moments.
Our innovative approach makes the most of consumers’ fascination with the latest digital imagery. By playing to this market trend, we gain new customers and provide added value, with high-quality, small file-size images our clients can easily share with friends and family members.
Phoebe’s Photo Studio will use several digital cameras, and will require a computer fully loaded with image-manipulating software, such as Adobe Photoshop. We will also need an ongoing maintenance agreement for the computer and software, and nightly backups of image files, in the event of computer failure, theft, or fire.
Market Analysis Summary
Families with children are the biggest market for portraits. For the purpose of this analysis, these families are divided into three socio-economic categories:
- College graduates
- High school graduates
Families of college graduates are most likely to be professionals and to have the means and the taste for professional portraits. There are nearly 20,000 such families in the metropolitan area.
We will target female professionals and wives of professionals, because women make the majority of purchasing decisions in these families.
The competitive environment is divided between luxury magazine-quality photographers, moderate professional photographers who mostly pose their subjects, and same-day photo studios.
The trend among our targeted consumers is toward more digital photography and more sending of digital images on the Internet. As the world becomes more technical, people need more personal support.
Phoebe’s Photo Studio will use a “high-tech, high-touch” approach to reach and retain clients for their ongoing photo needs. We will make it affordable and easy for them to disseminate their photos electronically.
People who who pay for professional photo portraits are generally status-conscious professionals who have children, and so we’ve segmented the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area according to the social status of families. We’ve used education as a measure of social status.
Families of College Graduates
Professionals are, almost by definition, college graduates. They are the ones most likely to have a need for professional photo portraits for career purposes. They are also most likely to have the means and taste to want professional photos for their families, as well.
Families of High School Graduates
People who have not completed college are assumed to be more likely to be employees or be in a trade. While many of them may have the means for professional photos, relatively few will use them. They are more likely to use home-made photographs, except for rare occasions, such as a high school photo or wedding.
Families of Non-High-School Graduates
These are families who are generally without the means to hire professional photographers on a regular basis.
The Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area has a total population of 330,527. There are 74,836 families.
Some 25.5 percent of the adult population in the metropolitan area is composed of college graduates, which we will here define as professionals. Some 62 percent of the population is made up of high-school graduates.
The Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area closely conforms to the boundaries of Lane County, Oregon. The office will be located in Eugene, but clients are accessible throughout Lane County through physicians’ offices. Most Lane County residents are accustomed to doing occasional business in Eugene.
Target Market Segment Strategy
Our target market is families of college-educated people who are most likely to be professionals. This is the population most likely to order professional photos on a regular basis, having both the means and the desire for professional quality photographs.
Since women make most of the purchasing decisions in families, our specific target market is middle-aged professional women in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area, roughly 19,554 people.
Photography has gone digital. Digital cameras are replacing conventional cameras faster than DVDs are replacing VHS in video stores. Even cell phones have digital cameras on them. The uses of photography have expanded as well because of Web pages on the Internet and email. Digital images are needed for printing uses as well, for such uses as brochures and business cards.
Photo studios have mostly switched to digital format because it also allows for easy processing and manipulation. They have been less amenable to making digital files affordably available to clients, and this is a trend on which we intend to capitalize.
The growth rate used in the table is based on the 1.4 percent growth rate experienced by the Eugene-Springfield area over the past year. This growth is reflected in the accompanying chart and graph.
Families have photos taken to preserve memories. Most photos are taken by consumers with their own cameras, which are increasingly digital and are even part of their cell phones. Most of these photos are low quality but no one cares because only the family views them.
Consumers generally engage professional portrait photographers when the photos will be viewed outside the family and when quality matters. Professionals, such as those in our target market, often have business needs for quality photos and have acquired a taste for them. These professionals have families, too. They have the budget and the need to use them for their families because they often entertain at home and their family photos will be on display. Just as they appoint their homes with fine furniture and decorations, the photos on their walls need to exhibit quality.
Specifically, some of their needs include:
- baby pictures
- portraits for home or office
- senior pictures for the high school yearbook
- family pictures to send to family members
- family newsletters
- family, individual or business websites
- portraits for business cards, such as for real estate agents
- portraits for brochures and annual reports
The world has become increasingly digital, but many professional photo studios have made it difficult for people to enter the digital age. The traditional practice of retaining negatives to require clients to return for prints has been carried over to charging high fees for releasing digital files of their portraits.
The need to capture memories lasts for people’s entire lives, and business portraits require a regular update. But people generally don’t look forward to seeing a photographer. In fact, they find it a burdensome expense, have not established a relationship with a photographer and don’t think often about going to one. As a result, a lot of memories are lost and ancient portraits of professionals continue to be hung on walls and portrayed in publications. This makes them appear to be trying to preserve their youth instead of embracing their maturity and experience, and doesn’t show them in the best light.
The competition is divided between luxury magazine-quality photographers, moderate professional photographers who mostly pose their subjects, and same-day photo studios.
Phoebe’s Photo Studio is not a luxury, magazine-quality studio, but our service and photo quality is high compared to other moderate professional photographers. Our rates are comparable to theirs, but we add value through personal contact and easy dissemination of digital images.
Competitor X is an award-winning, highly creative photographer with a style that one would expect to find in a national magazine. His prices are the highest in the area, up to $15,000 for a wedding album. His strategy appears to be to capture the high-end market, where a magazine look is a luxury that people can afford.
Competitor Y is a more typical photographer with more staged photographs and wedding packages running up to $5,000. His strategy appears to be to occupy the middle-ground of quality and price where most of the market is likely to be.
Competitor Z offers same-day photos. This is easier to accomplish with digital processing for a studio organized around speed, but quality is necessarily sacrificed. The market for same-day photos doesn’t necessarily demand quality. Prices are average. The strategy of this studio appears to be to appeal to convenience and speed.
Competition and Buying Patterns
Purchasing decisions generally begin with an urgent need, such as a high-school senior picture or the birth of a baby. Buyers are most likely to seek a professional by referral from someone who has used their services. If this is not available, they are most likely to look in the Yellow Pages, but increasingly online, especially if they are young.
Photo studios are generally located in commercial areas with high visibility, but many studios are run out of the owner’s home. This is possible because so much photography occurs on location: in people’s homes or offices and in nature or at social events.
Photo studios are run by professional photographers with various levels of education and experience. There is considerable variation in quality and taste according to the ability of the individual photographer. This is a highly individualized, creative process that makes it difficult for large corporations to enter the market or to create “chain stores.” The participants are mostly individual photographers.