The Writings

Higher Expectations Than Mine?

Sorry for not posting in a while, everyone! I'm playing catch up with all my photography appointments, and as far as I'm concerned, busy is good. I'm currently awaiting Tori from The Still Point to finish getting made up for our head shots, and after a texting session with Wendy from CRAVE DC, I had an idea for a post.

Lately, I've had a couple of shoots scheduled from clients who didn't like their previous shots from the photographer they used. They have expectations and a vision that seemed to not coincide with the photographer's, which really depended on the photographer's mindset. Some instances, the client is being picky, having an idea of how he/she looks that wasn't captured on camera at all. Most of the time, however, the client didn't really know what to expect and was disappointed in the results. Either way, I've been asked a lot lately to do re-shoots, which can be a great opportunity to show off, but also kind of scary if they're really demanding, hoping to even exceed THEIR needs! It's nerve-wracking and exciting all at once!

On the one hand, as a photographer who is redoing the shot, it's a great chance to prove yourself. Having the confidence in your abilities and knowing you can pull it off better than the last photographer is a great boost of self-esteem, especially if/when you do. It's great if you can really shine and outdo the last photographer, possibly capturing repeat business that they've now lost! In such a competitive industry, it's hard not to eat off of someone else's plate by swiping a client they had previously booked. However, this is a competitive industry - it's more than just taking a "nice picture". Many instances, these clients are looking to use these head shots for marketing, their websites, etc., and if you can't wow your client, how are they going to sell what they're not confident in?

On the other hand, sometimes a client's expectations even exceed your own. For myself, I set the bar pretty high. If I'm not happy, I'm certain my client won't be, and I'm always trying to make sure I'm doing everything to make my photos looks stellar. But what if the client still doesn't think they're great? What if you've done everything in your power, but the client still believes he/she doesn't look great (even if, in some instances, the client does and has friends complimenting their appearance)?

So, what do you do? Sometimes, they just can't be pleased. Try as you might, they will never be happy, as they have an unreasonable demand and expectation that even unbelievably surpasses your own. In such cases, all you can do is try your best and be sure that it will be the last time you have to work with such an unreasonable client.

However, one thing I've noticed a lot photographers doing (or, rather, "not doing") is being so blinded by their own creative vision that they aren't taking their client's ideas into consideration. Haven't they seen those reality competitions like Project Runway or Top Chef, where the judges tell the contestant that they were unsuccessful because they didn't put their client's needs ahead of their own? Just like relationships with a loved one, business relationships require communication to make sure it stays healthy and both parties are happy. Most photographers - or even artists, in general - make the tragic error of believing whole-heartedly that, because their client isn't an artist, they have no idea about what makes a good picture. This is absolutely the wrong mindset to have if you're trying to make it in any business! Sometimes, an artist's "creative vision" may look pretty for a gallery, but there's a significant difference between fine art and commercial photography, and your client knows best about what will sell their product.

As I said before: the photography business is not about taking a pretty picture; it requires great marketing and business abilities and making sure your client's needs are met. Don't be close-minded - discuss your ideas and talk to your client about theirs, then put your own creative spin on the happy medium you two have come to. Just because they're not artists doesn't mean they don't have ideas. So, being open to them will ensure you have a great working relationship with them and get you repeat business with them, plus possibly having them do the marketing of your business for you by talking you up to their friends & fellow business owners!

Afterall, they're the ones putting food in your mouth. And we all like to eat, don't we?

Until next time,

- Patrick