Is Groupon Killing the Photography Industry?


I’m trying to understand why some photographers seem to dislike other photographers who use social coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to promote their businesses.

Conversations that happen among photographers often start with comments like “Groupon is bad” and continue with statements about how it’s a devaluing factor for the industry. Many believe that the more people see super cheap deals on professional photography, the more they will come to expect them.

As an example, check out this insanely discounted photography deal on LivingSocial (link removed due to expiration of the deal on LivingSocial). Do you think it’s wrong for photographers to make offers like this? Is it a sign of desperation? Conversations about deals like this often lead to speculation about how the photographer can possibly be making any money.

In my experience, these types of conversations happen a lot among photographers who are trying to build their businesses and price their products and services appropriately. Some of those conversations lead to a thorough analysis filled with fuzzy math. It starts with a calculation of the price of the deal, multiplied by the number sold, and goes on until they reach the conclusion that the photographer is actually losing money because of the extremely low hourly rate they are getting.

Why do they care? Do they REALLY believe some photographer in Timbuktu who’s selling three hour portrait sessions for $10 has any real impact on the industry as a whole? I’m not buying it. When you get an amazing deal on something, do you really believe that discounted price is the standard you should expect from every other professional in the industry?

As a cost conscious consumer I love Groupon. I’m still placing orders for the four gallery wrapped canvases I bought the last time I participated in one. I doubt I’d ever use Groupon in my own marketing mix as a photographer, but I’m sure many have found it very helpful as a kind of “loss leader” for building awareness of their new or growing business. I say good for them, as long as they aren’t ripping anybody off. Even Duct Tape Marketer John Jantsch says the Groupon Train is Worth a Small Business Ride.

Where do you stand on this issue? Does it upset you when people in your industry deeply discount their products or services?

Cartoon courtesy of Tom Fishburne, the Marketoonist


  1. David Mason says

    Groupon for things you use on a regular basis makes a lot of sense. You’re going to get repeat business. Photography isn’t something you buy daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly (for the most part). So the marketing payback on groupon would be year’s off if any. Maybe some exposure to the friends, but at 75% discount off prices with groupon taking a cut too, there’s smarter ways to spend your money on advertising.

    Personally, I think any photographer worth anything wouldn’t sell their photography at the prices you see on groupon. You may get clients and at least some money, but I think if you do some basic math, it’s not a sustainable business model. I know quite a few business owners who have tried groupon only to find the customers are not long term clients, simply bargain hunters. I’ll give you an example. You used a coupon for your canvases. Is that company now your long term provider of canvases, or are you “canvasing” groupon every week for yet another cheap provider. Pun intended. And there, you have your answer. If you compete on price and that’s your only differentiator, then you’ll continue to cut prices until it’s no longer worth it.

  2. Guest says

    Hi Collin! I was wondering if you could post a blog about copyright. I work at a studio and had an “author” come in the other day and wanted just a print of himself for the back of his book. He didn’t want to pay the price for a printing release, saying it was “just a picture.” I had to tell him his book was just words and it’s fine for me to make a copy of his book and sell it without his permission and make money because they were “just” words before he GOT IT. He ACTUALLY ASKED ME if this was “some kind of law.” My mouth dropped right in front of him as I tried my hardest not to be rude explaining the United States federal copyright law to him.

  3. Asorich7 says

    if your a good photographer and starting out Groupon is awesome- It brings in clients- Its then up to YOU as a person and obviously your images to make them stay. For those of you whom are crying about the new photographers marketing themselves on here seem to be struggling. It may be your photography but it also may be your customer service. If you have time to spend being negative against a vast growing industry maybe you need to reshape your goals, b/c obviously your not making in the industry due to the fact your call your self established yet you complain about the amateurs trying to promote themselve.  

    If you wish to call me out please feel free- it will just prove my point. Every business starts somewhere if your images and personality shine people will be back and they will tell their friends whom have friends whom have friends- and even if they are not the best you personality is really what draws them in!!

    So being a negative persona about a positive situation is a bad start!

  4. Ksmith says

    I’ve been a professional photographer since 1998. I’ve won many awards and blue ribbons for my photography. I used to have tons of business.  Then came digital, then the problem with the economy, and my husband lost his job, steady paycheck. My business really picked up before Christmas, but now is slow as usual in January. I need work now, why can’t I offer a Groupon without looking like a soccer mom photographer? My normal session fee is $150, could offer it for $75 for a limited time. I don’t think I’ll get 600 requests, but maybe just enough to get me through the slow months? What problems do you see? Thanks!

    • Brad White says

      I don’t think you’ll make much money with that – at $75/2 you’re looking at $37.50 per session.  You can always go for the follow-on sales – make sure you have a good upsell package ready to roll out.  Otherwise, you are only going for the exposure.

      If I were you and were as good a photographer as you sound, I would raise my session fee to $300 and use the Groupon to make $75 a session plus upsells.  How’s your current marketing?  Is it separating you from the newbies with a prosumer camera?  Might be another angle to look at.

      Best of luck to you!

      • Ksmith says

        That’s what I’m worried about, too many sessions where people don’t intend to purchase more, and then I won’t have time to fit in my other clients who are mostly repeats, or by word of mouth. Thanks, Collin

  5. says

    Hi Collin, thanks for this article. I have been thinking about doing a Groupon deal here in Australia for a while but have been more and more put off. My main concerns are twofold
    1.) These sorts of deals tend to attract bargain hunters who aren’t interested in upgrading, and who certainly wouldn’t pay full price or recommend you on to others based on your price. I speak from many years of working in customer service prior to my photography career.
    2.) I am a sole trader, my customer service and workflow is purely my own and I would hate to have to compromise quality because I was trying to fill 300 deals by myself. I am well organised and my business is run very efficiently, but even if I hired someone to help me I don’t think it would be feasible.
    I’m really enjoying reading the comments here as well – a lot of valid points. I’d be interested to see where the whole group buying industry is in five years time.

  6. Dennisbonsi says

    Remember the Film—>Digital transition days? How many old timer photographers cried over it?
    Remember how costco started selling canvas? Walmart/Target start to offer print service?
    This is called “Market”. You can not change it, so it may be smart to think how to “Adopt” it.
    If a new photographer in this industry has real talent and wanted to get their name out there, I’d say go for it. Just my 2 cents.

  7. says

    I do think that Groupon conditions customers to wait to buy something until they see it on Groupon at a huge discount, much in the same way furniture stores have conditioned their customers to wait for holiday weekend deals before they buy a new couch. It’s only going to be a short time until the offer they’re interested in comes along. There are certain services and products that seem to always be featured (Microdermabrasion treatments, hair color/cut, waxing, tanning, photography, etc.) But the standout differences between long-time professionals and new ones is going to be experience and quality. The benefits of paying more for quality photos and for the experience that leads to good photos needs to be communicated to potential customers so that they can take that into consideration. Groupon customers may be interested in a good deal, but if the trade-off for a good deal is a crappy experience then they’re going to look elsewhere. But they have to be made aware of the trade offs.

  8. Medzo says

    You forget the enormous power of subcontracting and JV; this is a
    huge opportunity to grow a biz. I’m all against selling the profession
    short, but Groupon sure helps if properly used.

  9. Richard says

    I think groupon sucks. I don’t think I would use it and I don’t think others should use it for their products but if someone wants to, especially my competition, I’m all over it. They can put themselves out of business while I continue making profits to reinvest in my company.

    • says

      I guess that’s the shole point of what I was trying to say. If a photographer thinks Groupon is a bad idea, then why get all bent out of shape when your competitors use it?

  10. Iamfabian says

    i’ll summarize in a few familiar words: you pay for what you get.. kinda like the shitty “hot stones” massage I received from a “Deal Find” once. Personally, so over the whole “groupon” idea and prefer a reputable service and value the fees for service paid.

    • says

      I think Groupon deals work for many consumers, but more and more I’m hearing stories of how they don’t work well for business owners. I wonder how long Groupon will survive?

  11. gd1tho says

    I’m new to photography as a business, but not new to photography…and not new to dealing with people. I came here to learn pros and cons about using Groupon to possibly get my name and reputation out there in a true marketing launch of my passion as a business. I have a day job that pays well enough that I don’t care if I make money or not through my photography; I’m just doing it (for now) for the thrill of making art and for the positive interaction that is created by working with people. I learned two lessons in this blog: 1-Grouon might create an overwhelming draw of customers that I, as one person, probably wouldn’t be able to handle, so I probably won’t do it, after all, and 2-I would rather pay a little more to have a fun and positive experience working with BW than get a coupon to spend a day with a grumpy “Photographer”.

    • says

      I love your reply, because I have a day job too, and I don’t really need to make money through my photography. I must say, however, that making enough to help with equipment purchases is nice.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’d love to connect, but unfortunately you didn’t leave any valid contact info.

      • VAphotog says

        When you do this break even only it really hurts the people have to make money and put food on the table.  This industry is really becoming a race to the bottom. Groupon is bad for business.

      • Anonymous says

        I think you have everything upside down. See, the photography industry does not exist for photographers, it exists for the clients. So, offering great service at rock-bottom prices is great for them! If it cuts into your business then you need to innovate. Saying that something is bad because it causes people to chose not to do business with you is a great way to become irrelevant to the consumer.

        Basically, according to your logic, if we all sucked we be doing great!

  12. Photographer says

    That’s the point…at the prices these “photographers” are offering for these Groupons…there is no way to make a profit! Cost of goods and services are not being taken into account, the cost of actually fufilling such a ridiculous number of sittings in a short period of time, not to mention what the work ends up looking like due to the pressure of fulfilling such a large order.

    And yes, it is judgmental thinking….rightfully so. If this is the route someone decides to take to simply get ANYONE in front of their camera….they open themselves up to the judgement of the community as a whole. Undercutting the competition and offering a sub-par product simply because you feel like it (all the while ignoring simple things like profit, cost of services, and basic business acumen) is detrimental to the community…and it’s why professionals raise a judgmental eyebrow to people who act less than professional.

    You say ‘fuzzy math’ is used to judge the Groupon route. I would like to see your math analysis. Show me, with REAL NUMBERS, how this is even profitable in any way shape or form. Take into consideration the real cost of running a real business, what Groupon takes as their share, the time it would take to not only shoot such a high number of sittings but EDIT them…taking the time and attention to EACH sitting that a true professional takes, packaging and delivery of each sitting as well as stellar customer service that a true professional would give to each individual client. Consider taxes paid on the money you make (you know…taxes….take about 37% right off the top for self-employment and other federal and state taxes….wow…look at that profit build!!!) , consider cost of maintaining your equipment, travel to each session….and I really fail to see how you can sustain a living off of this business model.

    But honestly, I say be my guest. The more people who get fooled into thinking a fad like Groupon is a good business move for a professional photographer, the faster they get burnt out and realize this is not a high volume, low-skill business….and they leave. Rightfully so.

    • says

      Here’s some sample math:
      – GroupOn Coupon – $50 for a $100 senior pic in-studio session, includes one 8×10 and a set of wallets ($25 to the photographer, big whoop)

      Now, the photographer sends out a link to their website to everyone who buys and collects as much information on parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. and asks for their email addresses. You’ll pick up a few.

      Student comes in for the shoot. Total in-studio time – 30 minutes, but let’s say an hour for those who don’t know how to make a studio flow quickly. Again, ask for addresses. Tell them you are going to send out a link to everyone in their family so they can see how great the senior photos are. You’ll get some more.

      Do not print the photos on the spot, even if you can! (This is important) Instead, tell them you will be sending them a link to select their 8×10 and wallets. Now, if you have done your job right, they will have a HARD time choosing! So, send them a discount – $5 off a $15 print, $10 off a package, etc. Now you can upsell them. (Even offer them a custom senior book and include photos they and others have shot along with the ones you shot)

      But, you can ALSO send out links to their family members. The older family members will have more disposable income and will be more likely to buy. So, you’ve gone from a bargain-seeking customer to finding several customers that will pay good money for those photos! Also, by selling BEFORE you deliver prints the odds of having your work copied drops significantly.

      So, final math, your gross is $25 plus the margin on your extra sales. On average you should be able to sell over $100 per session. Factor in a very generous $25 for printing (customer pays shipping) and now your hourly profit is $100/hr. Even if you have to hire someone for one hour per customer you’re still left with $80+/hr. If you can book your studio solid for a couple of months you’ve just made pretty good money! All through GroupOn.

      Or you can continue to be completely uncreative and say there’s no way to make money with GroupOn. Your choice.

      • Photographer says

        You didn’t factor in taxes in any of this, for one thing. You’re booking your “studio” solid for a couple months? A lot of these groupons sold over 600 sittings…how is that even POSSIBLE to pull off…especially if like many “photographers” you have no studio…you’re “natural light/on location”.

        I understand you really want this to work….but it just doesn’t make any financial sense. And you’re HOPING someone will buy these pictures…that’s a lot of hope. You can’t count your chickens before they hatch….and you’re counting extra sales that are never a given. There is no “on average”…..So you can only count what you are guaranteed to make : $25/session. Minus $9.25 for taxes. You’re down to $15.75 per session.

        You don’t talk about the upkeep on equipment…you don’t talk about travel costs to service all these customers on location if you HAVE no studio….That $25/session is disappearing quickly.

        You also need to factor in customers who did NOT buy the Groupon. You know….REAL customers. When are you giving them services in between trying to squeeze 600-some sessions into a few months? Let’s also add on top of that the fact that MANY “photographers” have full time jobs outside of trying very hard to scratch out a living with their passion. Case in point, the author of this here blog. Full time job, side hobby shooting things. In order to fulfill a groupon purchase of, let’s say, on the LOW SIDE 300 sittings within a 6 month period, AND work a full time job….was this person planning on sleeping? All this for a guaranteed $15.75 per session?

        If that’s being “creative”…yeah, I’d rather be boring and make a good living off of full-time photography, thanks. Sometimes sticking with what works and charging a decent, honest wage for decent, honest work…while not exactly “creative”….is the best, most profitable route.

    • says

      Now, hold on just a sec. Your feathers are awfully ruffled over a bit of math. You have abandoned all logic in an attempt to prove my scenario won’t work. For instance, you want to factor in travel costs when I specifically lay this out for a studio. Seriously?

      Next, you assume 0 additional sales. Really? You can’t sell more than one print and a few wallets? This is not wishful thinking if you base these projections on your average sale per customer of this type. Type “projected sales” into Google. Or, better yet, the annual report for a publicly-traded company. Businesses project sales all the time and if you don’t think you can you need to learn some business skills.

      Also, I never said you had to sell 600 coupons. I’m just presenting a scenario where it could work.

      Upkeep is a fixed expense, not a variable expense. Your marginal profit will of course need to cover that. You don’t think $85 an hour covers upkeep? Seriously?

      Part-time photographers? Well, no duh, this obviously will not work for them. I never said it did. (It could if you were creative – rent a location, hire temp workers, etc.)

      Bottom-line, if you know what you are doing, have kept good track of your numbers, and have a location you can shoot at you can definitely make money with GroupOn. Perhaps YOU cannot (as I couldn’t under my business model when I was shooting) but to say that NO photographer can is simply narrow-minded and ridiculous.

      Maybe if I get creative later this evening I’ll sketch out a scenario where a part-time, no-studio photographer could make money. I’ll have to think about that one though…

      • Madcalabrian says

        This is quite funny… “Photographer” will just use any information to foil your argument BW. I am anticipating a reply that says how can $85 cover the upkeep on his/her Hasselblad H5D60? It’s all about cross selling. If you have no clue what you will offer to these patrons and are a bad salesperson then don’t get involved in these types of offers. For those of us who are inclined it makes perfect sense. If your work is outstanding people will most likely purchase add-ons…

  13. Photographer says

    There’s no difference between offering a cheap Groupon for $50 session and places like Sears. They use cheap leading prices to get butts in seats…and because they have to service so many people to make any sort of profit at such cheap prices, the work suffers. Groupon makes no sense for professional photography. It may make sense for a newbie looking to simply shoot something….anything…but it makes no sense for custom, boutique portraiture. It’s priced the way it is for a reason = because if the photographer is worth their salt, it’s worth the price you pay. Same reason you don’t see other luxury brands giving away their services or goods for next to nothing. You pay a premium for a luxury good….and custom, boutique portraiture done by a true professional is a luxury good.

    Collin says “educate your customer” but think of how confused the consumer becomes when you have someone willing to give away their service for next to nothing, thereby eliminating ANY sort of value or speciality to it, and right up the road you have someone charging correctly for custom work. Explain to someone who is not a photographer the difference. We see it all the time: people who decide there IS no difference, cheap out, and end up with crappy pictures as a result.

    In all honesty, I think the only person who wouldn’t grasp why this is a bad idea for the industry is someone who doesn’t grasp the time, talent, and effort that goes into creating custom photography for a client. If you truly value it as an art, a career, and a speciality….then you want other people to value it as well.

    • says

      If Groupon makes no sense for professional photography, then professional portrait photographers wouldn’t be using it. It just doesn’t make sense for YOUR professional portrait photography. If someone wants to forego custom boutique portraiture for an inexpensive session with a professional, don’t they have that right whether they book the session through Groupon or at Sears?

      To say that it’s priced the way it is because the “photographer isn’t worth their salt” is the kind of judgmental thinking I was trying to point out in this post. If I can offer my services for less than the you and make an honest living all while providing a product that satisfies my customers, then I say good for me.

      Learn to compete or or cater to a different client, but don’t judge.

    • says

      So be creative in your marketing! If what you say is true, that people are getting crappy pictures, then run an ad proclaiming “I Fix GroupOn Photos!”. Then, to make them feel better, knock off a few bucks from your “GroupOn Salvage Package” and watch the business flow in! You could even have some fun with this and run some funny headlines like, “DMV Hires GroupOn to Market Drivers’ License Photos”. Or start posting on your blog every person that comes in. Hand them a 6-digit number for them to hold and shoot a mug shot. Title that category “Setting You Free From GroupOn”. Then show some drop-dead gorgeous work of them that you shot. (Don’t be surprised when their FB profile pics becomes the mug shot. Trust me, that photo will circulate!)

      These are just s few ideas. The point is, have some fun with it! If you aren’t having fun your prospects won’t either!

      I’m reminded of the small bookstore owner that had the two HUGE stores open up right next to him on his left and right. They advertised big inventories and rock-bottom prices with big, huge, flashy banners. So, he went out and put a small sign above his door that read “Main Entrance”.

      The bottom line is, if you are really good at what you do, and if you can have some fun being creative, GroupOn is no threat at all! It’s put some energy and movement into the marketplace, it’s up to you to harness that in a way that gets you where you want to go. As Jim Rohn said, don’t waste time wishing for a better wind to blow, instead, learn to set a better sail!

      Happy shooting!

  14. Anonymous says

    First of all, it’s unfair to state that photographers *dislike other photographers* because of their use of Groupon. It’s not a personal matter that boils down to liking a person or not liking a person. It’s an opinion about Groupon itself and whether it’s a good tool for the photography industry.

    Also, give photographers some credit- our discussions do not OFTEN start with something like “Groupon = bad.” That’s making us seem pretty petty, which is not the truth.

    Regardless of the offensive blanket statements referenced above, this is a worthwhile discussion. However, it’s akin to lots of other discussions in our industry in that it’s a matter of opinion. There’s no right or wrong here. Some people will believe that nothing happening outside of their 100 mile radius will affect them. Others will choose to be aware of the situation, discuss their feelings about it, decide where they stand, and therefore know how to react when the matter DOES reach our local area (which it has, by the way- photography Groupons have been used in the Madison & Milwaukee area very similar to the ones happening elsewhere in the country (or “Timbuktu” as you say). It is completely acceptable that there’s an open dialogue amongst peers & professionals regarding this topic and its impact.

    My personal opinion is yes, it does affect the industry as a whole because people WILL begin skipping over full-priced services in anticipation of the next Groupon deal. Do I get upset about it? Not in an “I’m being screwed by these people!” manner, but yes- in a more “I’m concerned about this” manner.

    • says

      Thanks for the input. It’s interesting to get someone’s perspective from the other side of the aisle. My question is this: What are you doing about it, other than complaining, while these folks are booking their sessions through Groupon?

  15. says

    Be unique!!! If you aren’t offering incredible customer service and innovative products and services, and if you aren’t communicating that in your marketing, then all you have left to compete on is price. GroupOn IS a threat to you then and, frankly, you should pay a price for your lack of creativity.

    Who cares about “photography as a whole”? What a depressing way to look at the market because the implied mentality is that the goal is to be average. Find new ways to excel! Be ye not LAZY!

    Now that I’ve complained about the problem, here’s a couple of concrete ideas on how you can become more relevant to your customer and make them say “I would have to be a block-headed MORON to have anyone else even point a camera at me, regardless of price!” Please don’t just steal these ideas – steal them and then make them even better! Also, these ideas have actually worked in practice so don’t say they can’t be done…

    First, why take many weeks to process a wedding? If you are smart, disciplined, and a good photographer you can actually have photos back to a client the day of the wedding without sacrificing an ounce of quality! (This does require that you know what you are doing BEFORE you do it, hence the discipline part)

    Why not find a way to hand a bride a DVD slideshow of her wedding at the end of her reception? Sound impossible? It isn’t. Just be creative and you’ll figure out how to do it. (Hint: Animoto)

    Why not create a bridal registry system that friends and family can use to help a bride purchase prints or even pages of her album? You can build it in Zoho for cheap then throw it up on your website. If you are just terrible at database management you can pay some one to do this for a couple hundred dollars. Promote it properly and watch your pre-sales soar!

    Related to the registry idea, why not offer free weddings provided a certain threshold is met with your pre-sales? All of the sudden GroupOn can’t touch you!

    These are just a few ideas. Combine them with rockstar customer service and good, solid, honest marketing and you won’t have to worry about the competition any more!

    • Anonymous says

      Giving a disc immediately after the wedding might be technically do-able, but it also means that you’re not doing a single thing to take the images from SOOC to finished pieces of art. And many of us DO offer bridal registries.

      • says

        That is true that YOU aren’t doing anything to the images, but that doesn’t mean that your off-site employee isn’t busy doing image selection and processing for the slideshow. (For a slideshow you don’t want “works of art” you want quality, emotive images) As for the registries, I have yet to see a photographer that offers easy-to-understand pricing and online check-out for people to pre-purchase. I’m sure someone somewhere is doing it but most photographers would rather sit around and complain about the competition and price-hagglers.

        Do you have a website? I’d love to look at your registry system and see how you’re doing it.

  16. modern furniture says

    The photography industry is a hard nut to break. It is not impossible, but it is more difficult than most, and your skin is thick enough and stamina to overcome the many rejections you’re probably likely to face. The first thing you should consider is, what sector you want to go. There are literally a multitude of fields, you can enter, and they include photography, sports photography, fashion photography glamor photography of children, to name a few.

  17. says

    I think it is pretty easy to get scared by some of these bottom-feeding tactics. 469 customers at once sounds kinda like a dream come true, but execution matters and with 469 session is can’t be that great. By that point the product is very watered down. Focus on what you do best and do it that way. Let the bottom-feeders take themselves out. I doubt that most businesses are seeing lasting results from Groupon, but only time will tell.

  18. Mare says

    Having used three photogs at full price, I would say what’s killing the photography industry is the photographer that puts up a great website and poses as a professional but is not. Sure, she’s all nicey, nice before the shoot but afterwards won’t talk to you, doesn’t provide the services agreed upon and then you clue in and find out she doesn’t even have a business licence. I love groupon and am waiting to use my first photog groupon this year. These are simply bonus photos for us and we know how much photography costs. Maybe we’ll go back; maybe not. I already know two great photogs that I will definitely go back to for our special pics and the one I will give bad press to at every chance. Word of mouth is powerful both ways.

  19. says

    I remember arguments like this when people started offering graphic design services on eBay for ridiculously low prices. It was real cause for concern for true professionals because it suddenly cast their rates and comparably outrageous. However, you get what you pay for. I think the industry has stabilized.

    There was a similar uproar when companies started to outsource IT services to India and other countries where labor was inexpensive. Again there was an uproar from professionals who felt their rates were being cast in a bad light. But I think the situation has stabilized somewhat as companies begin to realize that there are lots of headaches working with developers halfway around the world.

    I, too, am torn about this issue. On one hand, I think that the people that shriek the loudest when a new business model comes around are the ones that have been hiding behind a cozy blanket provided by the best in their industry. While prices are relatively standardized, consumers have no real alternative. When those drop significantly, you give your previously captive clients a chance to bolt.

    On the other hand, I hate to see any craft devalued by cheesy marketing schemes and pure bottom-line mentality.

    In regards to Groupon, I don’t think I’ll ever use them because of their hideously offensive Super Bowl ads. I was infinitely more shocked by the “Tibet” ad than I was by Janet Jackson’s nipple.

  20. Manifestisbest says

    We photographers whine too much. If your work is generic and bland of course it will be a race to the bottom. If however, you position yourself in the industry so that you’re the only person who offers your particular style people will pay for it. Be distinctive, be unique. You’ll attract better clients who will value your work.

    That being said, Groupon seems more effective for businesses who have repeat clientele such as massage therapists and restaurants. Once a consumer has their family portrait done they have no need for another session for at least a few years. Do you really think they will be loyal? More likely they will look for the next retail portrait studio on Groupon. Maybe they’ll refer their friends but their referal is based on the notion that the studio’s work was good “for the price”. Why would their friend want to pay more than them? They’ll find someone just as cheap or cheaper on Groupon.

    Groupon isn’t at fault. Unoriginal photography combined with bandwagon marketing are bad.

  21. Craig says

    I couldn’t care less what’s happening in Timbuktu for $10, but when someone in my neighborhood is selling “professional” photography for $50, yes! It does raise red flags and cheapens the very market in which I break bread to feed my family. People actually cancelled portrait appointments with other photographers to book the $50 session. So yes. I’d say that’s kinda ripping other photographers off. How is that GOOD for photography as a whole? And if more and more people offer a “GREAT DEAL” for photography, yes, it’s lowering the BAR for photography.

    • says

      It’s a competitive market Craig. The point here is that if you think other photographers are ripping off your business by offering groupons, then you may need to spend more time educating your clients and prospects on the value of your products and services before you lose them to the disconnects. I don’t know o id it, but i like it – “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

    • Anonymous says

      I agree with Craig here. With as many photographers as there are in the market, using Groupon as a springboard into the industry can backfire in the long-term. The more photographers who do it, the more consumers will expect that the next new studio with the $49 Groupon is just around the corner. Why schedule a full-price session with an established photographer when it’s 4-5 times more expensive than waiting for the next Groupon?

      Also, Groupon requires pretty high limits when you post a deal with them. If a studio or photographer has to fulfill 250-400+ sessions at their very low entry point, you can bet those clients are not going to get the same high-quality experience as the average client would.

      All that said, there have been Groupons I’ve seen done right. They’re the ones where the offer includes a short session and not much more, and upgrades are available once the client books their session that end up making the session profitable for the photographer. Now if only you could sell a more reasonable limit, like 50 instead of 300.

  22. Consumer says

    I have mixed feelings on this. I am for it because it does get your name/service out there. This may make for repeat customers. People are looking to save money anywhere they can get it in this economy. Great photos of your family or kids is a want and not a need. If you are starting out in this business and need to get your name out there, I think that sites like Groupon and LivingSocial could help with that. I do not think it hurts the industry in any way. I recently bought a groupon for a massage and here is why: I am looking for a good massage therapist and instead of paying $100 to go to someone new, I am happy to spend $30 – $60 to try someone new. If I like them, I would go back again and would have no problem spending $100 if I like him/her and felt like I got what I paid for. Back to photography… I have taken advantage of a groupon for Canvas on Demand on 2 different occasions because it was a great savings! I have also ordered a canvas gallery wrap from them and paid full price. I don’t think that this is going to kill the industry for photographers. I see it as a way to get your name/service out there for people to try and hopefully you do a great job and they come back for another photo session. If you want to talk about what hurts the photography industry…. it’s the places like Picture People, J C Penney’s, and Sears.

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