There are many keys to being successful in business, from selling the right goods and services to keeping your employees or investors happy to recognizing trends that may affect your business. But if what you do to put food on the table involves selling to the public, it has never been more important to keep in touch with your customers. As a commercial photographer, you may be tempted to fall into the trap of believing your work will sell itself and customers will call you, but our advice is simple: Do not believe it for a minute.
Here Are Ways a Commercial Photographer Stays in Touch with Clients
As a commercial photographer, whether established or just starting out, you should always keep in touch with your clients, and here are some easy steps to follow to help you do that.
Never Underestimate the Value of the Telephone
When it comes to keeping clients and attracting new ones, perhaps no form of communication goes further than a simple telephone call. If you have started building a client base, make sure you have one or more telephone numbers where a customer can be reached, and do not be afraid to reach out with a simple call. If you have to leave a message rather than talking with someone, take a few moments to prepare what you want to say, and convey that in a friendly manner. Avoid anything that sounds like a sales pitch.
The Postal Service is Your Friend
A commercial photographer earns a living through visuals — portraits, corporate photography, nature photography, or any other kind — and one of the best ways to stay in touch with customers is through an occasional mailing of post cards or flyers. Depending on the size of your customer base, you may decide direct mail (DM) is the way to go due to cost, but remember: Direct mail pieces, whether post cards or a flyer, are often mixed together in bulk with other DM in one envelope. This means your post card can be easily tossed in the garbage without ever being seen. A better option is a professionally designed and printed post card — featuring your best photo samples — which you can send out to your best customers. Just a quick “Hello” or brief announcement about special events photography and special pricing for existing customers should do the trick.
Finally, develop an online presence. As a commercial photographer, your skills and accomplishments should be front and center on your website or blog — preferably on the home page and in a photo gallery that gets updated monthly. And do not forget about the power of Social Media — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Another good option is targeted email campaigns using tools like Constant Contact, or even something simpler you design yourself and personally send out to your email contact list.
While the photographs you take as a commercial photographer tell a story about you and your customers, nothing helps you stay in touch than simply reaching out whenever possible.
In 2012 I had a great time working with the team from the Ontario Dental Association at their Annual Spring Meeting held at the Metro Convention Centre.
Their conference continues to rank among the top annual dental meetings in North America with more than 40 education sessions on topics designed for dental teams. Lots’ of networking, education and a sold out Exhibitor Show. The event’s keynote speaker to “kick off” the event was Mike “Pinball” Clemons who has to be one of the best motivational speakers.
Working as a commercial photographer at these annual meetings allows me to connect with the audience as I try to bring out the best moments.
Take a look at the video they made out of my pictures:
With the proliferation of websites and Social Media, controlling public perception has never been more critical or difficult for companies and business owners than it is today. Whether you’re the president of a multi-million dollar company with hundreds or thousands of employees, or a sole proprietorship based out of a garage office, how you appear to the public online or in brochures or other advertising material can affect business growth and how many customers buy your goods or services. At Merrow Photography, we’ve been providing high quality commercial photography services to companies throughout the Greater Toronto Area since 2004 and understand how important it is for businesses to be represented in a positive manner through official photographs.
As a leading commercial photographer, Dave Merrow and his staff specialize in environmental and studio portraiture, as well as photographs for official biographies, corporate websites, email and advertising campaigns, trade shows, and corporate and other special events. Preparing for business photographs is especially important, as headshots of company executives and employees are often the first thing a prospective customer sees when they visit a website or look at brochures or printed materials.
How to Prepare for a Portrait Photo Session
Thanks to years of experience, artistic talent, and a photojournalist’s eye, Dave understands the value of preparing for a photo session well before it begins. Here are tips to follow before looking into the camera lens:
Business Attire is Important
Wear business attire that projects the correct image about you and your company, and one that reinforces positivity about a corporate brand, product, or service. While advertising campaigns play an important role in attracting customers, they shouldn’t become part of photo sessions where the focus is on taking a headshot. For this reason, try and stay away from incorporating logos, products, and loud prints into the session, and instead wear clothing that includes deep blues, greens, and black. With the exception of a shirt or blouse worn underneath a jacket, we also recommend staying away from bright, solid whites as they may draw attention away from the face.
Talk About Style with the Photographer
Thanks to his experience in commercial photography, Dave Merrow can help clients have a better understanding of a style that works best with the type of photograph being taken. Official company headshots for biographies, annual reports, or brochures are pretty straight forward, but full-body photographs or lifestyle photographs that draw out personal character allow for more creativity and thinking “outside the box.”
Posing and Personality
For business owners and executives, it’s especially important that official photographs convey who they are as people. Body language isn’t something that is conveyed solely in person; it’s present in every picture taken, and projects a message about that person – whether the person appears comfortable, relaxed, confident, and is willing to speak to his or her audience through the magic and power of photography. Not everyone is comfortable having their picture taken, even if it’s something they have to do as part of their job, so we strongly urge our clients to prepare for the photo session by:
- Practicing smiling in front of a mirror beforehand.
- Making sure hair is styled and combed, and cosmetics have been applied as desired.
- Checking clothing to make sure it fits properly and isn’t too revealing.
- Working on body language by standing or sitting in different poses.
- Relaxing, and coming to the photo session with an open mind.
At Merrow Photography, we help our customers present their brand and control their business image through high quality photographs. Call 905.609.5475 for more information.
Thanks to high definition digital point-and-shoot and even higher quality dSLR cameras – the kind where different lenses can be swapped in and out – and photo-capable cell phones, everyone thinks it’s easy to take good quality pictures. And maybe it is, but for true, professional grade photographs there’s more to success than the latest camera that gets reviewed in Engadget, Lifehacker, or some other website with lots of traffic. It takes skill, creativity, patience, and years of experience that few people outside of the world of commercial portrait photography have at their disposal.
Dave Merrow has been a top commercial portrait photographer serving the Greater Toronto Area since 2004, and understands the time and commitment required to produce truly amazing portraits. Subject, setting, props, lighting, clothing, and timing are only some of the factors that determine how a commercial portrait will turn out once the photo session has ended. In searching for a professional photographer, it’s important to find one with the right combination of talent and experience to make your endeavor worthwhile.
Because of the time and expense involved, all clients owe it to themselves to ask the right questions so they can make an informed decision on which photographer to work with for their portrait. Here are questions we recommend:
1. What are your qualifications? Remember, simply owning a photography studio and professional grade equipment doesn’t necessarily mean a person is fully qualified to use the title of commercial portrait photographer. In the very least, many skilled professional photographers have certificates from accredited schools, while it’s not unusual for people within the industry to have associate, bachelor, and even master’s degrees in the photography or fine art disciplines with a focus on portraiture. Dave Merrow attended Sheridan College and is a graduate of the Commercial Photography Program. Membership in a professional organization such as The Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) or the Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators (CAPIC) also is a good indicator of professional qualifications.
2. What kind of experience do you have? If the photographer mostly takes landscape or wildlife pictures, how can you be sure he or she will be able to effectively take commercial portraits for use on a company website, in an official biography, or in corporate promotional materials?
3. Can I see a sample of your work? In the world of commercial portrait photography, a picture truly is worth “a thousand words” and speaks volumes about a photographer’s qualifications and skill level. The calling card for every professional photographer is a portfolio of his or her best work. If you walk into a brick and mortar photography studio and aren’t presented with a gallery of images to peruse, or can’t click through them on a website, then it’s time to look elsewhere.
4. Can you refer me to two or three customers so I can ask questions? Like any business person, a commercial portrait photographer earns a fair share of income through word of mouth referrals from satisfied clients. Because digital photographs are ubiquitous and have such a significant presence on websites, emails, and in digital media, tracking down customers for a particular photographer is a simple task that will pay dividends in the long run.
5. Finally, please make sure to ask how long the photo session will last. Every commercial portrait photography session is different than the one before it, depending on the subject, the number of poses, the number of times the person changes his or her clothing, and how long it takes to set up the shoot related to lighting, props, using a range of cameras, and other factors.