Have you seen this discussion floating around the various forums and groups you frequent? “Professional photography is more business than actual photography.” Or, to be more specific, “Professional photography is 90% business and 10% actual photography.” Flex those percentages how you like (80/20, 70/30, etc.). Regardless, it’s a valid argument that your hours as a professional photographer have more to do with business-related ventures than the actual clicking of your camera’s shutter. And that, friends, is the exact reason you need to button down the photographic experience you offer to your clients. Moreover, that is, essentially, the goal of Steve Saporito Education, to reignite your passion and to help you make a difference in the lives of your clients through the art of photography.
Indeed, there’s absolutely no doubt about it. Between equipment upkeep, phone calls, emails, insurance, marketing, taxes, etc. it’s a wonder there’s any time for photography at all. That said, what we’ve often found is that, as a group, we photographers don’t typically even get the photography part correct. And we aren’t talking about producing quality photographs. We mean providing a quality photographic experience …
The Photographic Experience
There’s actually a lot that goes into the photographic experience. In fact, there are four essential parts to it: the planning stage, the actual photography, the premiere, and the design consultation.
First things first, during the planning stage you need to spend ample time getting to know your clients. Planning for a photography session is so much more than choosing a time and place to take photographs. And you’ll absolutely need to pick up the phone for this part because you need to discover who your clients are. What are their relationships? Who do they believe they are? What part of them and their relationships will it mean the most for you to photograph? That sort of thing. It can get emotional, and maybe even a bit intense. So you’ll need some prep work in understanding your potential clients’ personalities and the correct (and incorrect) questions to ask.
But fret not! You can learn more about proper planning (and some of the rest of what all goes into this stage, such as creating desire for wall art and albums) in Steve’s latest course for “The Fundy School.”
Taking good pictures is easy, right? Well, it is. That is to say: it is when you know your subjects. For this very reason, you just can’t pass up on proper planning. And, if you’re a professional, you already know that you need to have your kit dialed in: proper gear for the occasion (no jeans at a wedding but no slippery shoes on the mountains), all the necessary equipment, all the necessary backup equipment, and also extra help (lighting assistant, second photographer) when applicable. So, that’s that.
How long do you take to deliver your photographs to your clients? How do you present the photographs to your clients? These are questions you need answers to if you have moved beyond the “shoot and burn” model and are seeking to improve the overall photographic experience that you are offering your clients. You should be premiering your photographs on the same day for portrait clients and within a few weeks for weddings. Of course, you should also be presenting the photographs in a cinematic manner: proper seating, lighting, and music. Sounds easy, right?
Well, it’s actually a very detail-oriented process! And the details are absolutely everything. Steve specifically talks about this process in his course “Creating a Selling Space That Sells for You.” In this course, you’ll learn the proper procedure to please your clients and create more desire for printed artwork and the other products you offer.
4. Design Consultation
Next, it’s time to work with your clients so you can get some beautiful artwork up on their walls. We all know this as the design consultation, or in-person sales meeting. For this stage, you’ll need some solid design software. What do you use currently? Are you looking for some options? Have you taken a look at Fundy Designer? ProSelect? A great design software will allow you to show the artwork you offer at actual size on actual images of walls from your clients’ homes. You should also be able to record notes about the photographs (retouching needs, for example) and add items directly to a shopping cart.
Finally, don’t forget that part of the design consultation is what you have on display in your studio, or the products you take to the premiere and design consultation (if you are meeting your clients in their homes). Remember, people purchase what they see so make sure your products are in good condition and are well lit!
Where to Go (and Grow Your Photographic Experience) from Here …
So, what’s a great photographer supposed to do to improve the photographic experience of their clients? You’ll be amazed at what a bit of care toward your clients can do. You absolutely need to take the time to get to know them. Beyond that … Well, you need to get your learnin’ on! Want to learn more? Want to earn a full-time income as a photographer? Check out all of Steve’s course offerings: here. And you can get access to all of Steve’s content over with Steve’s monthly membership. You won’t regret it!
We’d love for you to get involved in the conversation. Leave a comment below!