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Maintaining great client communications, whether with an editor, creative director, art buyer, family or newly engaged couple is paramount to continued success and growth as a working photographer. I say working photographer, because if you’re not communicating well with your clients and creating a unique brand experience in today’s competition filled digital world, you might not be working much at all.
It’s especially true for everyone with a camera and the drive to one day call themselves a professional photographer. In order to break into this highly competitive field, not only does it require knowledge, skill and passion, it requires the ability to communicate your product. So grab the Scrabble board and get ready to spell out for others who you are and what you do. Here are a few things I’ve found essential in my own client communications.
I believe this might be the most important form of communication for your business. Being able to explain to others what you do, what your unique vision is and what separates you from the competition will elevate you above others. It’s your brand. If your answer is something like, “I take nice photos,” then it’s time to sit down and really evaluate what you’re saying with your photography. Ask yourself what you’re trying to convey with your work? Over time I’ve honed down my vision to lifestyle photography – showing people genuinely having fun in an energetic and emotional way. I like to think of it as the energy of life; and that’s how I communicate it to my clients. Communicating what makes you unique as a photographer is absolutely essential.
If you work with people being able to communicate your vision and get others to fulfill it is the next important form of communication. Whether it’s showing a bridal couple or family how and where to pose, or bringing out the right emotions from a model it’s important to develop your people skills. Start where you are comfortable. Practice on a friend or family member. Be serious about it though. Make sure you can actually communicate to them what you’re trying to create out of the images. Do this until you’re confident enough that you can interact with a complete stranger and get just what you’re looking for (baring the occasional uncooperative or over-stressed individual).
Even when you’re not saying a word, your brand is speaking for you. That includes your website, blog, any letterhead or pricing charts, promotional material, etc. What is yours saying? Is it consistent with your brand and the message of your photography? We all don’t have a world of money to invest in super teched out websites or $10 card stock sheets, but you don’t have to. Work with what you have and make sure it’s all communicating the same message.
I find the simple materials often return the greatest rewards. After almost every photo shoot or big booking (I say almost because sometimes I forget) I like to send a hand-written thank you note to my client. It’s these little things that take very little time and money, but really lets each client know I appreciate their business, that make a world of difference. People will remember you for it and you can bet they’ll consider it when the next project rolls around or in recommendations to their friends/colleagues.
Going the extra mile isn’t exclusive to communication. Ultimately your actions and the experience you create for a client and team will speak the loudest. No amount of polish and shine will cover up bad work or a terrible attitude on game day. Ask yourself if you’re really giving 100 percent to your work each and every time. It’s not only personally rewarding when you do, but it always communicates the right message. Keep pushing yourself to be a better communicator and photographer. Go out and do. After all, footprints in history are not made sitting down.