Path to Pro with AJ: How Wishes Can Transform Your Photography Business

Business Tips January 14th 2013 7:30 AM 2 Comments

If your photography business is a ‘squash’ when you’d like it to be a success, then read on. I’m going to teach you to transform it from a pumpkin to a handsome coach, with just a few wishes…

Don’t you wish that you had a Fairy Godmother who could wave a magic wand to transform your ‘have camera, will travel’ fly-by-night into a successful photography business? Well, as you may have guessed: wishing and hoping won’t get you there. However, here’s the secret: listening to your clients’ wishes absolutely will!

Your clients have unspoken hopes and desires that you have the power to grant. Once you start making your clients unspoken wishes come true, your business will transform into something wonderful faster than you can say, “Bibbity bobbity boo!”

Client Wish #1: “I wish my photographer would return my calls and emails.”

One of the most frequent exclamations I hear from new clients is a flabbergasted: “I can’t believe you got back to me so quickly!” I also hear, “I tried to reach another photographer and she never called/emailed back.”

Photographers can easily get caught up in more exciting parts of the job and neglect the mundane, tedious parts, such as replying to client inquiries. As a photographer you want to be pursuing, artistic, creative projects, not to be bothered with prosaic inquiries. Meanwhile, all your client is wishing for is a response.

The initial contact your client has with you can say a lot to them about how the rest of the working relationship is going to go. They may (rightly) be  nervous about doing business with you if the first inquiry languishes un-responded to for days on end. They may wonder how much worse it will get after they’ve paid you and are waiting for final images! Getting back to a client is boring, not dramatic. However, you will dramatically separate yourself from the competition just by following this simple but powerful tip: don’t let too much time go by between inquiries and response. Get back quickly and, “Poof!” you will blow a good portion of your competition away.

Client Wish #2: “I wish my photographer wouldn’t leave me in the dark!”

You may be hoping that if you don’t say anything, maybe they won’t notice, but if you’re running late delivering a job: communicate that fact to your client. Even if you’re embarrassed that you’re going to miss a deadline, don’t fail to keep them posted on your progress so far and how long it will take to complete the project.  Most clients don’t mind renegotiating a deadline, as long as you stay in touch and let them know how long it will be until you can complete the job. They just want to be kept in the loop. In other words: they wish you wouldn’t ‘go dark’ on them. To grant this wish, you don’t have to wave a magic wand, instead wave your fingers over the buttons of your phone and give them a call: it will work wonders for your professional reputation.

Client Wish #3: “I wish my photographer would deliver a ‘good’ final product now, rather than ‘perfect’ photos later.”

Photographers like to slave over a hot cauldron of retouching often way past the point where the client sees additional value. Ah yes, the Photoshop vortex: it’s very easy to get caught up in the art of making a masterpiece when what you wish for is to make all the other photographers swoon with your brilliant final images on your blog. What your client wants is to have pictures to show their friends and family while their memories of the event are still fresh. Wedding kudoes have a shelf-life: your client’s friends aren’t going to still be asking to see the pics from her day after a few months. She would much rather have wedding photos to show-off while people in her circle still want to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the images, than have perfect glorious (in your eyes) artwork in 6 mos.

“I’m not a photo professional, what you can do is so much better than what I can do with a camera that I’ll honestly be pretty impressed with just about anything that you take. But I’m definitely UN-impressed when it’s been weeks past my wedding and I still don’t have any images to show and share and brag about to my friends.” Sincerely, Your Client

While your client may not be able to tell the difference between ‘perfect’ and good enough, she definitely can tell when her photos are late.

Remember: You can deliver something passable within a quick turnaround and then, if you really, really want to make it perfect you can always send a set of updated edits several months later. Just get the passable photos out the door and to the client. Print this out and post it above your photo editing workstation: a ‘good enough’ job on time is worth a lot more than a ‘perfect’ job late.

Conclusion:

Success in the photography business comes when we stop focusing on our wishes, and start listening to our clients’ priorities more attentively than we do our own. If you listen and respond, you will cast a spell of success over your studio. Make your clients’ unspoken wishes come true, then, like magic, your own dreams will start to materialize as well.

 

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About

AJ Coots is a headshot and commercial photographer based in Portland, Oregon. (www.ajc-photography.com)
In addition to being a regular contributor to SLR Lounge, AJ has been seen on CreativeLIVE.com and Kevin Kubota’s Photographer’s Ignite. When she’s not awkwardly composing her bio in the third person, she teaches photography + lighting workshops and speaks publicly (and privately) to emerging photographers about the business of being a creative entrepreneur.

2 Comments

  1. Chuck Navarro

    Words to live by!  I have fallen victim to the photoshop vortex many times.  I’ve also learned that the faster I reply to clients the more likely they are to book me than somebody else.  Couldn’t agree more with everything here.

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  2. Dane Bergen

    Hey AJ, these wishes are so common aren’t they! Many photographers feel that they only need to show up and deliver good quality photos when they’re ready. But there’s so much the client cares about that they’re forgetting.

    Thanks for this insightful post!

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