Recent PostsVendor of the Month - July 2016 Vendor of the Month - June 2016 Vendor of the Month - May 2016 How to Be Your Photographer's Favorite Client pt 2 Vendor of the Month - April 2016 Before & After: Why Photographers "Post-Process" 2014 Blog Project: Week 31 2014 Blog Project: Week 30 2014 Blog Project: Week 29 2014 Blog Project: Week 28
How to Be Your Photographer's Favorite Client pt 2
How to Be Your Photographer's Favorite Client (pt 2)
Photography is a tricky career field at times. Don't get me wrong -- I love what I do and thank God every day for it. There are aspects of running a photography business however, that can make things challenging at times.
The hard part about running a photography business is that there are so many variables in your choices of how to run your business that it can get confusing to your clients.
"Do I or don't I include all the files? Do I edit all the files, or only the ones they want copies of? Do I offer discounts and try to compete with who else is out there? Do I pay for marketing or push word of mouth and recommendations?"
Most likely if we've been in the business for longer than a year, we're already developed (strong) feelings about the above topics. But clients may not understand why practices and decisions are different from photographer to photographer, and in turn wonder why prices are different.
As I pointed out in my very first blog post back in 2013 about How to Be Your Photographer's Favorite Client, you wouldn't walk into Tiffany's and say "Well Walmart is going to give me two rings and a few other items for the price of yours" and expect them to change their prices, would you? Most likely their response will be something along the lines of "Then perhaps I suggest you make your purchase with them." We'll more than gladly answer questions about what our rates are and what's included, but if it doesn't work for you all you need to do (as a polite adult talking to a professional) is say "Ok thank you for the information" and move on. Anything else, like comparing us to your last photographer, tells us you do not value or respect our work (and makes us wonder why you don't just hire them). If you haven't read that first blog post, please do! It has a lot of important things in it about rocking your relationship with your photographer. Some dated photos….but important info!
These are the kinds of things that can pull at us, and I know it's because sometimes the photography world can be like a foreign language to understand and the average client may not get it. So consider this an educational tool to help you see ways to make us LOVE to work with you! (Part 2)
Sometimes a quick phone call to hash out a question or a bit of confusion can be so much simpler than back-and-forth emails and text messages, and we get that! Sometimes it's about establishing that personal connection to see if you connect with someone you're about to hire to take your pictures (because really, how are you going to take a great photo if you don't feel comfortable and relaxed with the person behind it?).
But here's the thing: please don't be cryptic about what you need to talk to us about when you request a phone call!
As photography business owners (this going for "boutique" photography business owners who are running the show themselves, along with shooting and editing) we have to have a tricky balance of an artist's brain and mindset, along with a business brain to be goal-oriented and driven. Aside from taking the pictures and spending hours editing them, we're also our own marketing manager, accountant, sales representative, social media guru, IT pro, secretary and more. If we're primarily shooting on the weekends, we're spending a lot of time during the week in front of the computer working on all the aspects of our business.
Because of that we need to be strict with scheduling our time. Problems here and there will creep in and that’s inevitable, but you can help us out by telling us exactly what you need to talk to us about. By just sending an email that says "Hi Brianna, I have some questions if you can [please] call me as soon as possible." it could be ANYHING and we're not going to know how long to schedule that call for. (by the way, I had to throw the word "please" is brackets, because it's often left out and emails arrive as demands rather than requests)
It doesn't sound like a big deal right now, but I've received emails just like that, that turn out to range from a question as simple as "my daughter is handicap and I just want to make sure you're ok with that" (which I of course am) that only took 5 minutes to do, to phone calls that turned out to be 30 minutes long because they wanted to discuss exactly how the entire process would go for a particular session and time constraints and so on.
5 minutes vs 30 minutes can do a number on a daily work schedule. I'm not saying we don't want to call you! I'm just asking you give us a heads up about what you're looking to talk about when you request the phone call so we know what's going on.
We're glad you're excited, we really are. We love that you felt so good about how our session or event went that you just can't wait to see more of the pictures. But please, PLEASE don't ask us every day if the pictures are ready yet. We outline it in your contract of when you can expect your pictures. Then we send you a copy of the contract so you can refer back to it yourself to see when the pictures are ready.
I can promise you that we will never EVER hold your pictures from you (assuming you've paid for the services in full and we aren't waiting for a late check to clear). Holding your pictures only reduces the likeliness of you wanting to purchase products from us, so why would we keep them from you if they were ready?
If they're not ready yet, then they're not up. Hounding us about when they'll be ready will just delay things, because now instead of being to schedule the time needed to edit your photos, we now have that many more texts/emails/phone calls to take care of regarding the photos to deal with instead f doing the actual editing. You want us to make your photos look the best they can with our specific eye right?
If for some reason it's past the date listed on your contract and you still have not received your pictures, then by all means contact us. It's all on us then, and if you've been a patient client we'll feel extra guilty and probably offer discounts or products to make up for it.
What may seem like a simple shot may require specific equipment, timing or permission. We generally won't like the idea of copying Pinterest photos shot for shot, but understand that there might be one or two particular ideas you have in mind. We want to make you as happy as possible, but sometimes we might need a special piece of lighting or permission for a certain location and we'd rather you give us a heads up to do or get what we need to get the shot done.
Our schedules are weird. I will be the first to say it. We work weekends, are sometimes up at 5am for a session or event, and sometimes we're out until 2am as events and travelling home from events settle down. So the thing is that you can't really ever be sure what is going to be an awful time of the day for us -- which I know sounds really confusing in terms of figuring out when to contact us.
Our basic plea here is to remember we are people also (sounds familiar if you read the part 1). We're not big businesses with 24/7 support and a team of secretaries working around the clock. We want to give you complete and individual customer service for that high-end luxury feeling. But the reality is that aside from our wacky schedule, we have lives outside of work. Weekends are often busy, so it can be hard to find time to see our friends and loved ones when they're free and we're not busy with weddings and sessions.
So what does this all mean for you? It's a pretty simple request -- if it's not an emergency and it's outside the traditional 9-5 work hours, stick to sending us an email. If we have a separate office and an office number, then call that and leave a message for us. Please please don't call or text us on our cell phone at 7am to discuss your upcoming party that's in 3 months. Please don't text us at 11pm because you had a "quick question" about vendor recommendations. Sure some days we're up that early or staying up that late, but it's not always guaranteed and we like sleep. Sleep makes us shiny happy people.
You can send an email whenever, and if we're up and not busy we'll answer as soon as we can. You can even let us know in the email that we can text you back the answer if you'd rather, and give us a time limit. I personally won't send business related text messages before 10am or after 7pm unless otherwise told it's ok.
Same thing goes for holidays and vacations. We try to make it well known in advance when we're unavailable for personal time and we ask that you respect that. Just like anyone else, we need time to recharge and spend time with loved ones so we can keep being wonderful photographers and business owners.
We need to keep an eye on our schedule and be prepared for when you have the baby. Newborn portraits are best taken within the first week of the baby being born. There's not much to explain here -- just a simple request to plan in advance!
Oh my goodness this could be an entire blog post on it's own (hmm….). Even if you're half joking, there are a few reasons why this isn't good. Our goal is to make you look good, but we also want you to look like you.
Aside from it coming across like we didn't do a good job making you look good, it also breaks my heart to hear women say this (note that it's rarely men). You. Are. Beautiful. Confidence shows through photos, and if you recognize your own beauty, you'll be stunning in your pictures. For every little detail you're picking at is someone who wished they were as beautiful as you.
Mom's please don't complain about your thighs or the weight you gained after having children. You gave life. You grew a human being. I know it's easy for me to say as someone who hasn't had children and watched her body change in huge ways. But from someone who hopes one day to have children and doesn't yet, there are women out there who would trade your 20 extra pounds for the chance to have children.
But if anything at all don't let your children, particularly your daughters, hear you criticize your looks and refuse to be in pictures. Not only will you not have any photos of yourself with your children in 20 years, but your daughters will pick up on your self-hate, and start behaving the same way. They'll start to feel a sense of avoiding photos if they're not "perfect", and I'm sure that's not how you want your children to view themselves. It needs to start with you.
I don't exaggerate here. Last fall I went 3 solid months without seeing most of my best friends. The only reason I can't say all is because one of my best friends is my photography partner, and I at least got to see her. Not seeing our friends or loved ones (who don't live with us) can be very weighing and doesn't give us a chance to decompress. Yes, this is the life we chose and we love it. Just remember around the holidays our work load can be up to 3x more than the rest of the year. Just try to be kind, that's all we ask :-)
If we don't have or use a studio, it does NOT mean we're going to be cheaper because there's "less overhead". Sometimes we may still have an office for doing business out of, so we may still have that overhead. However even if we run our business out of our home, we do still have business costs (equipment, PO boxes, website/email hosting, management services, software for editing/designing -- the list goes on) that we need to be able to pay to give you the experience you're looking for ALONG with being able to pay our other bills and put food on the table. There are a lot of complicated factors that go into photography equipment, so I'm just going to talk purely about time and availability.
The reality of not using a studio is that we're probably more expensive than studio photographers even though we don't have rent for a studio or extra lighting equipment to pay for. Why? Here's the breakdown:
Studio photographer: open 5 days a week (to be optimistic), if shooting every day can easily take on 20 portrait sessions a week. If charging $100 for an hour session (low balling here) can make more than $2,000 a week to cover the bills and expense along with their own salary
On-location photographer: needs to stick to early morning and late afternoon shooting to work around the best outdoor lighting (that golden look everyone loves), which leaves time really for only 2 sessions a day. Most clients need to use weekends for their sessions due to work/school. Which means we're looking at an average of 4 sessions a weekend with a chance for 1 or two more during the week. So let's say 6 a week. And if it rains? We may have just lost all our salary for that particular weekend to reschedule. Sometimes clients are willing to shoot in the rain, but it's not common. So to make that same $2,000 we would need to charge $300-$500 per session. There's an exclusivity there of only being able to work with so many clients in a given time -- hence the higher fee.
I hope this cleared a few things up. Nothing here is law -- just some observations on photographer-client relations, and the desire to explain some behind-the scenes things here.
No comments posted.