When I got my start in photography, it was just a hobby. I snapped pictures with my Nikon D60, 18-55mm lens in AUTO and thought I was really capturing something amazing. Baby laughing, bird flying, bee on a flower, family, etc… you get the picture.
Since I was young I think I’ve had a head for business, marketing and promotion. My mom recounts the story of me at the tender age of 5 trying to sell my signature, albeit a scribble, for $1 to her alterations clients at the house… She asked me, “Sherri, why would they want to buy that?” I looked back at her with a puzzled face and said, “…because my name is on it.” (duh mom!? lol) Fast forward a few years and now I’m old enough to run a lemonade stand. Inventory charts, strategic stand placement as well as colorful marketing signs placed on strategic corners led potential patrons to our 10¢ a cup stand!
So with the baby-Nikon in my hands, and the potential to capture such ‘amazing’ moments, naturally, my mind went to brand names and marketing slogans. (Try not to judge, or just a little:) <Precious Moments> <Moments in Time> <Timeless Moments> … yeah, you get the point. And if you’re just starting out, chances are, you’ve had similar thoughts because I see it a lot.
It’s only been recently that I scroll through Facebook and see the real difference between where I started and where I am now, a mere 6yrs into a full-time photography career. Sure, there are numerous differences, but the one I wanted to touch on here is the difference between ‘moments captured and moments created.’
Whether families, seniors, or commercial work, each shoot requires me to show up, set up, relate to the clients or talent, then create a moment or succession of moments and THEN capture them. No shame in starting out, and following a toddler around to capture that perfect smile or look, but when you get to the point where you look at any scenario and can create the moment… then you’ve moved on to a new level. In my opinion, this quickly sets you apart from the crowd as well. So how do you create vs. capture?
- Have a solid knowledge of your craft. Know your gear, your location, your settings, and be prepared for that moment when you look at the preview and hate what you create. Attend workshops, study the craft. Be so at ease with your camera and your gear that your clients have no doubt that you’re an expert. The photographer I learned from taught that you should know what a particular lens is going to look like before you even pull the camera up to your eye. It’s so true. Because mastering #1 lets you focus on #2:
- Relate to your subject. Get goofy, get awkward, be ridiculously cool… Whatever it is that entertains and entices the true personality of your subject to come out and play, find it! One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from the dad of a senior I had done portraits for. This 6’4″ rugged looking dad walked up at Starbucks to get his daughter’s disc of images and what he said really hit me and humbled me, “You really captured an essence in our daughter. One that we know is there, but we really don’t see in pictures.” Awww. What he didn’t know was that I had spent 30 min coaching her through posing, and being my awkward, goofy self just to help her relax and feel ridiculously cool.
- Once you have #1 and #2 down, get good at constantly giving feedback, telling stories, interrupting the awkwardness that your subject is feeling while being in front of your big old lens! I’ve been on shoots where photographers are silent, or figuring out their camera stuff, or just not sure what to say…so stressful for the subject. Make it light, fun, and they’ll never forget their experience…or better, they’ll tell someone about it!
create it. then capture it.
Definitely check out what my friend Victoria is up to. She’s not a photographer, but she IS an entrepreneur…something all photographers need help with. Check her latest blog post (link below). I loved it!
It’s 11:55am EST as I begin this blog post. Whether your day starts at 6am or 2pm, it really is about the hustle. So tell us all – what are you doing to hustle your business today!
June 14 • Sherri Innis Photography
So far today I’ve followed up on 2 inquiries, booking 1 client meeting and getting info to build a quote for the other. I texted with another client to follow up on a print order after our shoot last week. I created 2 promo designs for 2 different brands within my biz – a few more are needed, but it was good to get these knocked out! I emailed my client to confirm their 5pm portrait session, and followed up with another client to confirm wardrobe for tomorrow’s portraits. Some coffee was made, breakfast had, and naturally facebook checked! And because I work from home, I was able to do it all in my pajamas. Bless!
For the rest of the afternoon? The plan is to prep the studio, charge batteries, get ready for the shoot. Then later tonight I’ll edit a few selects from the shoot and get them up on the FB photo page, and work on a couple more promos.
Take a few seconds and share what you’re up to today! Be honest. Be accountable. Be encouraged!
Dear Business Lens Blog Readers,
I have missed you. The last 5 months have been insane. There’s so much I’ve wanted to write about, so much changing in my own business, but I’ve had zero time to sit down and formulate a coherent post. (not that time would ever help me be coherent) Rest assured, I have lots to say, and will try to be more diligent about getting these stories of success and failure out to you so that we can all learn, share, etc. And now to the event that catalyzed my return to writing:
Yesterday, I was pitching some business to a local public school when I received an email from my printer; Not the girl I normally talk to in customer service, but from someone else with the title, ‘account rep.’ The email read:
We are working on new product shots and wondered if we might be able to use the poster that you recently submitted with order xxxxxx? We would possibly like to use them for new products shots, marketing/promotional pieces, and social media. If you could let me know either way that would be great!
Thanks Sherri! I look forward to hearing back from you.
So naturally, I’m flattered, and it gave me a little boost of confidence in my meeting as I was using those very posters to pitch new work. As I thought about it, and with my passion for the “business of photography,” I replied this:
Wow, what a nice compliment. I was in a meeting using those posters to pitch business to one of the local public schools and I got your email; a nice surprise!
I’d be happy for you to use any of the posters I’ve been sending off for print. More will be coming in the next 2 weeks. Since it’s my photography and design work, what are you offering in exchange? Happy to trade services!
Thanks again! I love using a printer from my home town, and keeping the business “local” even when my business is not.
It is not set in stone that images of your items would be used, but it is a possibility. We normally do not offer “compensation”, but rather it’s the honor of having your images displayed. If any of your items are selected we could print a complimentary poster, but otherwise we are looking for those willing to have the honor of their image(s) used.
Thank you, Sherri. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Wow, thanks for the complimentary poster! A $2.04 value! Shucks! So glad that I do business with you guys, and that you appreciate me as loyal client! Idiot. And let’s come full circle back to the title of the post: Dear Account Rep, Honor doesn’t pay my bills, but thanks…good talk. I’m reminded of what a friend of mine says often in his workshops (and I’m paraphrasing), “Honor (and other non-tangibles like it) doesn’t put food on your plate…you can’t feed your family with ‘honor.’” Can you imagine if I rocked up to, pick a store, and was like, ‘yo, I want this for free – cuz you should be honored to have my sweet body wearing it!’ wtf
So needless to say, they will not be acquiring license to use, reproduce, or display my images; and furthermore, they will likely receive a very professional email (I’ve saved the sarcasm for you guys;)) expressing my disappointment in their policy. This incident has, in my eyes, tainted their spotless reputation and undermines the exceptional work they have been doing for me since 2008. They serve artists with their products, and should HONOR and respect the craft that we spend thousands of dollars AND hours to perfect.
What do you think?
Such a good read. Working your gross income backwards. What’s your value?
PetaPixel : Nikki Wagner
So so overdue. I apologize for getting lazy about writing! A lot has changed in the last 6 months; I finished my contract as business manager and moved full time into my own photo/video business. I closed up shop in Atlanta, and moved to Vail, CO. (at least for the ski season) The beauty of this business is that if you have to start over, you can really do it anywhere. So, with that, I set the scene for future posts…
I’ve moved to a new town, full of locals and seasonal tourists. I’m going in about 10 directions professionally trying to see what sticks, what’s lucrative, and what feeds the soul…(and as we all know, those rarely line up) My marketing strategy right now is what I’d like to talk about in the next post… I call it “Guerrilla Marketing.” How do you drum up business in a town you don’t know, from people who have no clue you exist — selling a product or service that they’re not sure they need…in a downturn economy… Oh yeah! I’m going to need to bring out the big guns…hence, “Guerrilla Mktg!”