Focus Conference 2016 Drawing Winner Interview

A collage of images including a photo of Elana and some of her work.

As a photographer, you’ve heard that selling products increases your sales, but how do you start? Or maybe you’re already selling products, but how do you double your revenue? You’re not alone. There are nearly 30,000 members in the In Person Sales for Professional Photographers Facebook group. The group is an online network of support, tips, and feedback for all those grappling with the day-to-day issues around selling.

While online learning has deep value, nothing beats total immersion in the skills necessary for photography business success like sales, marketing, and client communication. Since immersion is something you can only get — you guessed it — in person, group members Kat Forder and Rachael Boer conceived the Focus Conference, a 2-day boutique event held annually in Washington, DC.  Kat and Rachael believe the best way to learn is to meet, be mentored by, and swap stories with top-grossing pro photographers. The Focus Conference creates a real live space for that.

So what’s it like to attend the Focus Conference? To answer these questions, we caught up with Elana Bebjak, the winner of the 2016 Focus Conference/Black River Imaging giveaway. BRI covered the full $1,500 conference registration for Elana, a newbie to the Focus Conference. We sat down with her before and after the event to discuss her expectations going into the conference and any surprising discoveries afterward.


BRI: Could you highlight some of the challenges in growing your own business?

Elana: A huge challenge for me is knowing how to reach potential new clients (marketing whether by social media, word of mouth, etc.) and how to stand out amongst the volume-based, lower-priced photographers in my area.

BRI: What has surprised you most about the process?

Elana: The biggest surprise for me was finding out how much I need to be charging (especially for products) to run a profitable and sustainable photography business.

BRI: What do you like most about having your own photography business?

Elana: I love photography and capturing people’s memories, emotions, and dynamics while creating artwork they can look back on for years to come. I also love being able to be home with my two beautiful baby girls.

BRI: Going into the conference, what are you hoping to learn?

Elana: I’m hoping to learn how to reach potential clients, how to create appealing offers, how to talk to prospective clients, counter common objections, close sales, etc.


We asked Elana what her top take-aways were from the conference. She answered that the Psychology of Sales class illustrated in concrete terms some marketing concepts that were previously vague. In particular, Elana learned how to phrase her session conversation from the client’s point of view, how to remove roadblocks when booking sessions and closing sales, and tips for securing client testimonials naturally.

Elana said she would implement these ideas immediately:

1.   Pre-educate the customer about your pricing model to avoid sticker shock later

2.   Simple, focused marketing materials are best

3.   Printed Marketing materials will focus on the finished art

4.   Have samples on hand of everything you plan to sell so customers can experience the product.

Largest lesson of all, says Elana, is that for the customer, it’s largely about the experience. From the first phone call to delivering the product, you are marketing a particular photography experience, your particular brand of photography experience.

We can’t wait for Elana to put these ideas into practice. To find out more about the recent April 2016 Focus Conference click here or join the In Person Sales for Professional Photographers group on Facebook here.

Thank you, Elana, for taking the time to share your experience!