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I Don’t Use Lighting Equipment Because I Care About You



I was on little road trip recently, when the need for BBQ became so overwhelming that I had to stop at the first restaurant I could find. It happens sometimes. I’m not proud of it, but when Pork speaks, I listen. Luckily, there was an adorable little BBQ place in the next town. A tiny little mom-and-pop joint, which in my opinion, are always the best.

The smell of smoked meat was so overwhelming that I don’t even remember entering the restaurant; it was all a giant blur in my quest to get to that mouth-watering Pork, but on the way back to the car, I took notice of what I had missed earlier: a bulletin board next to the front door; a massive cork board filled with hundreds of business cards, flyers and postcards, all advertising local area businesses.


I love these bulletin walls; they are a smorgasbord of everything you could possibly imagine. For the most part, the wall contains advertisements for lower cost businesses: oil changes, babysitting, Avon, but always, without fail, you will find flyers and/or business cards for photographers. And, without fail, I always seek them out.

Most of the time, the photography flyers have a picture of a cute baby on them, or something very vintage and yellow. Every scrap of paper is hoping you will pick IT to take home with you and, as such, each has a tag line or catchy phrase. As I surveyed the paper landscape, one 8.5×11 flyer caught my eye. It had several snapshots on it and the words:

“I only use minimal equipment to keep my clients cool and their costs down.”

Now, it might have been all that pulled pork in my belly that dulled my senses, but I had to stand there and read the line a couple of times out loud to fully understand the selling point, which was that this photographer was using a lack of lighting equipment as a marketing tool for his clients.

It was brilliant.

“You know all those stands and hot lights and umbrellas and soft boxes those other photographers use. Well, I could have all that stuff, too, but I don’t. And you know why? Because I want to KEEP…YOU…COOL. All those lights will do is make you hot. Those other photographers don’t care about your internal temperatures, but I do. I don’t use lighting equipment because I care about you.” 


Now, don’t get me wrong, there are incredibly talented portrait photographers who only use minimal equipment. These guys and gals are fantastic at seeing the light. They know where to shoot, how to position their subjects and how to expose to squeeze every bit of natural light from their surroundings. Their images reveal a knowledge of lighting that is undeniable. The images on that flyer? Not so much.

But it started me thinking about what other selling points we could use to turn a negative into a positive in the marketing of our photography businesses. This is what I’ve come up with. It’s a short list, but then, on a 8.5×11 flyer, you’re not going to have a whole lot of room, so feel free to pick your favorites and maybe highlight them in a bold Papyrus font:

“I use my daughter’s “Dora the Explorer” lunch box as a camera case to keep costs low for you!”


“To keep clients comfortable, I let them pose themselves.”

“My prices are cheap because I allow clients to edit their own images.”

“I abstain from photography education because it costs money and I’d have to pass those costs on to my clients. And I refuse to do that.”

Of course, if you’re going to advertise on a bulletin board outside a fantastic BBQ restaurant, I’d recommend the obvious: FREE pulled pork sandwich with every session. 

Throw in a side of slaw and this girl is in!

Image credits: Glistening – Mum’s Pork Ribs by avlxyz, Bulletin board by anyjazz65, Lighting 1 by Katherine Albin