If you’re in the photography business, you know that it’s not all about what you do with your camera that gets people in the door and coming back over and over again.
But, if you’re just starting out in this business, this is an important lesson to learn: There are plenty of ways you can demonstrate your value to your clients, even without picking up your camera.
We’re talking about creating the whole package…
Great photos, making communication a priority, awesome resources that are helpful to your clients, and being understanding of your client’s circumstances.
Let’s explore each of these in more detail, so you can get a firmer grasp on how you can go the extra mile for your clients.
Stay in Touch for the Long-Term
Communication is a fundamental aspect of the success of any business. But that’s especially true for a service industry like photography.
No doubt, if you’re a photographer, you need to be able to communicate well with your clients before, during, and after you work together.
Before you’re hired, it’s necessary to inform your potential clients about your personal vision, your prices and packages, and other nuts and bolts type of information. It’s also important to ask your clients questions so that you are on the same page and that you deliver products that they most want.
During your photo shoot, having an ability to clearly direct your clients is certainly an asset. Whether you’re photographing a large wedding party or a couple that’s announcing their upcoming pregnancy, your verbal communication skills will help you compose images that really speak to your clients because they will know just what they need to do.
Your communication doesn’t stop there!
After your work is done, seal the deal by demonstrating that you’re in it for the long haul.
There are a number of ways you can do this, but one of our favorite is to deliver some of your client’s images in a linen-wrapped photo box from Hanging Branch.
These boxes are the height of form and function. The cream linen looks stately and expensive, with satin ribbons to hold the prints in place. The box can accommodate around 100 4x6” or 5x7” images so that you can deliver a wide variety of prints. The cover can be engraved with your choice of text or logos, so you can personalize the gift with your client’s last name or business name, or you can add your own logo or company name if you so desire. The built-in USB compartment can house either a crystal glass or wood flash drive, which you can pre-load with your client’s photos as well.
When you think about it, what better way to wrap up a session with a client than by delivering their images with a thoughtful, handmade gift like a photo box? It’s certainly much more impressive than a thank you email, and, even better, it’s something that your clients can use over and over again.
In fact, a photo box is a great way to keep yourself in the minds of your clients. Each time they see their customized box or use their engraved wood or glass USB, they’ll think about you fondly. That’s a great asset for your business because it allows you to communicate your commitment to your clients over and over again, each time they use their photo box or USB from Hanging Branch.
Ok ok...so that’s a cliche heading, but trust me, being helpful is becoming more and more rare!
You’re an expert, and so your clients are coming to you with a specific need that they’d like you to fill.
That’s a lot of power to have!
But where some photographers go awry is thinking that they know better than anyone else, particularly clients that aren’t trained photographers.
What that means is that you need to balance the qualities of being an expert and being a service provider that helps their clients through the process.
That means answering any questions they have - even if they might seem silly or something that your clients should already know. If you’re photographing a family for a portrait, offer some tips on wardrobe selection. If you’re photographing a wedding, give your clients a sample list of photos they might like to include on their shot list.
The point is that rather than coming off as a know-it-all, be educational and informative. Have resources at the ready so you can point out some things that have worked for you in the past or answer questions that your clients are struggling with at that moment. In that regard, consider yourself like their photography guide, helping them along from start to finish.
If you can do that and work collaboratively with your client, they will surely be impressed with your willingness to go the extra mile!
Along the same lines as being helpful, being understanding and empathic will get you a long way in the photography business.
There will always be hiccups. Sometimes they’ll be your fault; other times it will be your client’s fault.
The single dad that’s 10 minutes late to your session because he’s got a sick kid doesn’t need your judging glare. Instead, he needs you to help him get his kids ready to go for their photos.
Likewise, if a client hates how you processed their images, they don’t need to hear your speech about how everyone else likes what you do. What they need is to hear some options for how you will rectify the situation.
In short, just be nice! Being a photographer is a great occupation and one that can be incredibly rewarding. If you focus on maintaining communication with your clients for the long term, being helpful, and putting yourself in your clients’ shoes, you’re sure to reap even more benefits from this most rewarding job.