Professionalism in a sometimes less than Professional Profession!

I had a request to write this article from a long time reader. She noticed, (like I have) that our profession is full of people who have never learned how to refer to our craft properly and never read the book dressed for success.  I often write about my opinions or my views on certain topics which you either like or hate, today I am writing about certainties that have been proven time after time in business. You can not  consistently sell a product or service that you look like you can not afford, fact number one!  Fact number 2, the words you choose to explain what you sell establish a perceived value in the minds of your client.

Lets start with Fact number 2, the way you speak and the words you choose to sell your product. Let’s create a scenario to help illustrate the many things we will be talking about.  You are finally in position in life to buy your wife, husband or yourself a fine automobile.  Despite all the consumer reports and the fact that the British don’t make the best cars in the world, you have decided on a Jaguar.  You show up to the upscale showroom room, you now have two options of sales persons, option one, a man who sounds like Roger Moore, the 1970’s James Bond, option 2, a man who talks like Larry the Cable Guy, which would you prefer?  Obviously, the sales person that sounded like Roger Moore, with his high-brow English accent would be a perfect sales person for this type of exclusive car.  The sales person that spoke like Larry the Cable Guy would be someone you would expect to see at a very cheap used car lot.

In our profession, we have many more Larry the Cable Guys than Roger Moore’s, but the product we sell is much more like a Jaguar than a cheap used car. There are so many words that the average photographer uses that cheapens or degrades the allure in the client’s mind of what we sell.  A photographer that want to charge a $300 session fee, isn’t out on a shoot!  A shoot is something a student photographer says to try to be cool!  As professionals we are with a client, in a session or photographing, but we don’t shoot clients!  We create, we don’t shoot!

We don’t sell photos or pictures or pic’s or sheets, we sell portraits!  The difference is about $1500.  Photos, pictures, pic’s and sheets are something you get at Costco for a $1.50.  Portraits are something that are created by a professional photographer and the focus is buying the created image and not buying a piece of photographic paper!  You preview the images or see the originals, you don’t “see the proofs, proof sheet or contacts”.   You don’t edit an image, you enhance it.  You can do artwork on a print or image, but you don’t PHOTOSHOP IT!  I listened to Charles Lewis years ago about all the words photographers use and shouldn’t.  I thought I was doing very well until a recorded myself and I sounded much more like Larry the Cable Guy than Roger Moore!  Record you and your staff with clients, (yes we have clients, not customers). Listen to yourself and identify the words and speech patterns that make you seem less professional and work on improving the way you refer to what you do, because if  you don’t respect what you create (by referring to it properly), don’t be surprised when no one else does either.

Fact Number 1, you can’t sell something you look like you can’t afford! If your Roger Moore sales person at your Jaguar Dealership came out in shorts, a bowling shirt and open toed sandals revealing his lovely hammer toes, his proper speech and English accent would be overwhelmed by the fact he look likes a slob, not to mention his hideous looking exposed feet!  As a photographer, you don’t need to wear a suit, but whatever your style of dress it should be professional.  Even Khakis and a nicely pressed shirt are acceptable to our clients, but many photographers look grudgey!  I see photographers on educational DVD’s that look like they just woke up on a park bench before the video taping started.  I work with senior, so I have more latitude in my clothing than most, but  still wear slacks, dress shirt and tie in the winter  (without tie in summer, it’s hot!)  when working inside the studio and  jeans and a dress shirt when working outdoors. I always look like I can afford what I create.  My staff actually dress nicer than I.  Nick, Evaghn and Jarrod, our main sales people dress in a shirt and tie each day, my assistance typically match  what I am wearing.

We sell as much as we do because our image, the way we dress, the way we speak, the product we sell and the location we sell the product from all work together to create a brand, a brand that clients are willing to pay a great deal of money for!


~ by jeffsmithbooks on September 22, 2010.

One Response to “Professionalism in a sometimes less than Professional Profession!”

  1. Right ..right
    you are right…there too many people who don’t know the meaning of the spoken word….many photographer like Larry…
    Good job

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