My wife couldn't watch me edit photos of her. She told me that it reminded her of how much older she was getting. As I would work on a picture, she would point out marks she wanted me to remove, or tell me how to handle things that the tiny amount of makeup she wore didn't cover. For her, even though she had great skin and an athletic body, it was a process she didn't enjoy watching, but she did love the resulting images. Now, this happened years ago, and it was an excellent lesson for me in terms of thinking about how clients would potentially look at their resulting images. It also created a set of guidelines I now use when retouching, and I wanted to pass those on to you, so you can avoid the same pitfalls I did.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, we have built a luxury brand in a small market. We are by far the most expensive photography option in our area—I am talking three to ten times more expensive than others. To be honest, we don’t think we are five times better than the other photographers in our town, and we don’t think our end product is five times better than their products either. However, we are able to charge ten times what they are, and still fill our calendar, because of the time we have spent making sure from start to finish that our clients are getting an incredible experience.
If you want clients of all shapes and sizes to feel confident working with you, they need to first see that you have an active interest in welcoming them into your studio. It is very intimidating for a plus-size client to reach out to a photographer, no matter how beautiful their work is, if the photographer’s entire portfolio consists of only one body type again and again. What’s more, working with models will help you to become more adept at working with larger bodies before offering your skills to paying clients. When a photographer isn’t comfortable working with people of size, believe me, it really shows, and the results can range from awkward to devastating.
One of the most crucial aspects of a wedding photoshoot is depicting the bridesmaids in the best possible light. There are a number of techniques that you can employ to make sure that your photos of the bridesmaids turn out the way you (and, more importantly, the bride and groom) want them.
So to sum up this article before it even begins: treat all of your clients like they are “high-end” clients, and more high-end clients will find you. Once you have that mindset, then I can teach you how to create that luxury experience, and you will begin to find success.
Writing this article is not about regrets; it is about my strong desire to share with others the key components of our success in the hope that others will also be successful. As an industry, we can all rise together if we are willing to share. I am well aware this list could be much longer, but these have been the most critical elements to our longevity and financial stability.
If a photographer has never experienced a client who did not like their photos, had unrealistic demands, or was just not a very nice person, then that photographer has not been in business long enough. The reasons why customer service issues tend to happen in our industry are numerous, but the one thing that they can always be traced back to is not managing client expectations properly.
Our society looks at disability so negatively; it’s something to be hidden away, to fear or pity. At the other end of the spectrum, we are characterized as “inspirational” to able-bodied people, “brave” for simply living our lives, or caricatures that make everyone else feel better about themselves. More often than not, we fight to be portrayed just as we are, or how we want to be seen. We deserve the right to decide how we’re represented.
We all want to grow. To grow our business and our photography to that ever-elusive next level. The truth is, you can’t just sit around and wait for the next big growth spurt to come knocking down your door. If you’ve got a new idea that you need to get out into the world, you’re going to have to stretch those creative muscles and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
It's a tough world for the artist looking to stand out. When it comes to uniqueness, it's hard to think of something that hasn't been done to some extent or the other. It really, truly seems like everything already has. I'd like to preface the bulk of my article and say that no, I don't believe everything has been done before. I'm sure there are lots of ideas that have never come to fruition. What are they?