Friday Q&A: Who pays?

Who foots the bill for the rentals at a photo shoot? Is the photographer responsible? Is the person being photographed your customer?

This week’s question is about who your actual customer is when it comes to photo shoots.

Patty asked:

Thanks for the question Patty.

My answer this week is going to be a little unconventional so brace yourself.

Who pays? It doesn’t matter to me.

Whether the photographer contacts you or the subject of the photos is the one who got in touch, you’re still getting the rental order. Who is footing the bill doesn’t really matter as long as you’re getting paid.

Having said that, I suspect you’re asking because you want to know who you should be marketing to in order to get more of these types of rentals. If it is the photographer that’s doing the renting, you’ll focus your marketing efforts on him and others like him. If, however, you’re trying to attract that person being photographed, your strategy will be totally different.

While both of these people could be great potential clients, let’s talk about the merits of marketing to one, the other, or both.

Marketing to People Being Photographed

  • Creative individuals may be interested in using a large number of your pieces to create a scene or environment for images that are personal to them
  • Connecting with people being photographed could be a great way to diversify your revenue because photos shoots don’t have to be on weekends and aren’t necessarily as seasonally restricted as weddings.
  • Finding and influencing people being photographed can be hard. Print ads, billboards, or even social media targeting can get expensive and not necessarily get your product in front of people who need or want it.
  • The average dollar value of a personal photo shoot rental might not be very high and therefore not worth a lot of your time or marketing efforts.
  • While people being photographed may become repeat customers, they aren’t likely to come more than a couple times per year.

Marketing to Photographers

  • Photographers who are aligned with your brand already have clients booked who are in your target market. In a way, by hiring a particular photographer, the person being photographed has already self-identified as a good potential client for you.
  • Photographers have many shoots and could bring lots of repeat business. Since they want fresh content to shoot and have different offerings (family pictures, senior shoots, mini sessions, holiday specials, weddings, etc.), they may have occasion to rent from your collection many times per year.
  • When you market to photographers, you can suggest that they rent pieces directly or refer their clients so they don’t have to incur the upfront cost themselves. Either way you get the rental order and they don’t have to put up the cash.
  • You can help photographers add value for their clients, create differentiation from their competition, and upsell their styling and design services to their clients by using your rentals.
  • Particularly with mini-sessions, photographers may be interested in renting a number of pieces to use throughout a day of shooting. You can encourage photographers to rent a small variety so their clients feel pampered by choices and so that they have variety in their images.

While there’s nothing stopping you from marketing your rental collection to both photographers and people who are being photographed, I would recommend that you focus more of your marketing efforts on photographers and your existing client list. In my experience, trying to connect with people who are being photographed but have never heard of you before isn’t the most lucrative use of your marketing resources.

Patty, and all those interested, I hope that helps as you continue on your rental adventure.

If you have questions about running your event rental business, send them our way. Email it to with “Friday Q&A” in the subject line. We’ll answer as many questions as we can in the coming weeks.

Happy renting!

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