Being a photographer obviously implies taking pictures. But being a photographer also requires many other skills in order to be successful. Some of those skills are not about photography. They make a huge difference between a struggling business and a thriving one. Here are the ones I use to grow my photographic business.
Surprising facts that are NOT about your photography skills
We’ve all seen great photographers with amazing creativity having a hard time getting contracts. On the opposite side, we’ve also seen very “average” photographers with extremely busy schedules. How can this be? Photography is, first of all, a service — and those services are being bought by people. In order to run a successful business, we need to be able to do more than pretty pictures. We need great social aptitudes!
Connecting with people
A lot of my best clients were complete strangers who became friends. Over time, by listening to each other and sharing our experiences, we’ve built a trust relationship. Honestly, I treat my clients (a word that I don’t tend to use very much) pretty much the same way as I treat my friends. I’d rather talk about “partnership”, “projects” and a “teamwork” rather than “mandates” and “contracts” — because that’s how I see it. We share a common goal that we both want to realize. Someone has enough confidence in me as a person AND as a photographer will work with me.
The opposite is also true. Lots of time, I’ve chosen to work with someone in particular, not necessarily because of his or her superior competences but because I had a good feeling and I knew we’d get along. Most of the time (if not all the time) my gut is right. It’s not a tangible skill but I know you’ve certainly already experienced it yourself too.
So you did a photoshoot and your client is expecting his proofs? How long will it take you to provide them to him? I make it a point of honor to start and complete a contract as efficiently as I can, from the negotiation to the photoshoot to the editing and the final delivery. And frankly, between you and me, when I have too many things on my plate at once, I can hardly keep my interest level up for all of them. As the old saying goes “it is best to strike while the iron is hot”!
Responding to emails/calls
When someone sends me an email, I respond to him/her. Not 2 months later, not 2 weeks later. I make it a priority to respond within a 24-hour window. If I am busy and don’t have time to write a complete response, I’ll reply and tell them I’ve got their email, took good note of it and will come back with a more in-depth response within “X” amount of days – depending on my schedule.
How do you like when a friend or a client tells you they’ll send you info… and you are still waiting for it? You know how frustrating that is. Please, don’t be this kind of professional. I like to send reminders the day prior to a photoshoot. That way I make sure everything’s fine, that they haven’t forgotten and that when I’ll show up, they’ll show up too.
I shouldn’t really have to say it because it’s the base of everything. Being respectful to everybody in life is the first key to successful relationships.
FUN is the name of the game
Nobody is excited about a burdensome day. Even when working on more serious contracts, it’s important to remember to have fun. I want people to feel good around me because it makes me feel good too. Darn it, if I’m doing photography, it’s because I love it and I really enjoy it! If I’m having fun, my clients are having fun. We spend a great time together. If it is fun for them, they’ll want to live this experience again — and so will I!
Remember, photography isn’t only about the pictures. It’s about a person (you) offering his services to another person (your client). One of your jobs is to make each photoshoot an exciting, fun unforgettable experience? In the end, this experience is what will set you apart, create valuable relationships and ultimately, help you attract and keep more clients.