Gary Fong “How to Get Rich As a Photographer” Review

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Gary Fong’s sales-technique revolves around:

1) getting a booking unbelievably cheap ($150 when he started in the eighties) for UNLIMITED shooting time

2) Once he’d shot the wedding he’d actually disclose the high premium price of the wedding album (which had to be kept secret until now) while denying the couple any tangible images whatsoever until they had bought the album (aka blackmail)

3) He placed “high emphasis on customer satisfaction” in order to receive referrals (“prefiltered for price”).

Wow, how tacky and how cruel. This is the common “old” wedding photographer’s business model, back from the days when film was used. I can’t imagine how paying 150$ upfront and then asking for say 2500$ for the album would get you a lot of referrals. I’d feel bloody screwed. If you’re as ruthless as Fong, this might be fodder for you, but the emotional prototype of the wedding photographer won’t be able to get him/herself to trod down this path. Of course a lot of finer points are detailed, e.g. that the online pictures expire after a short while if no album is ordered (more pressure on the bride) and that album predesign will get your brides to visualize HER album (presto, he’s got photoshop actions on sale which will allow you to produce “page-a-minute” albums :-) ).

I call Gary a great businessman because his pricing and sales timing revolve around the value of his services and products to the customer rather than their inherent value. His cloudsphere, a device of rubberized plastic, his album creator (a bunch of photoshop actions) and this DVD-set ($199) all retail at premium prices. His outdated method of up selling his photographic work, selling wedding albums at premium prices after the wedding is over and refusing to hand out proofs before the album is bought is nothing new to the wedding business. It’s just that this practice is eroding fast with digital photography and the hordes of newcomers wanting a piece of the wedding pie. In fact, in the old days, the proofs would physically fade out after a week, forcing the bride to return to the photographer for the album.
So: You get rich by extracting premium prices for your work and by saving. What he doesn’t say is that he also has his fingers in the resort/real-estate market and in his product pipeline, so he’s got multiple revenue streams going for him which the average photographer won’t.

In a nutshell, this DVD set is entertaining, probably has a lot more in it for the beginning wedding photographer than for the long-time pro and is pricey. The “techniques” will probably only work for someone business-hardened like Fong, not most “sensitive wedding photographer” types he himself describes.

Maybe you can get the DVD cheaper on EBay. But wait, Fong himself is there, selling his wares for a discount. Super Businessman!

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