You Are Responsible For The Way Your Client Looks!

Every finger, every toe, every strand of hair and every part of the body that shows whether it should or not you are in control of and are responsible for if your want to sell what you create.  Many photographers think they are only responsible for the lighting and capture of the image, they only capture reality, bullshit! If you want to consistently sell the images you create you had better become a master of creating images that a client ego can handle and a reality that is altered to make it easier for the client to look at.

Many photographers fall into the trap of blaming the client for everything that goes wrong.  “You look fat in the picture, of course you look fat in person too, hey just a thought here,  you must be fat”.  While very few photographers would actually say this to a client, that is what many are thinking and the way they act as they deal with a client.  Years ago I used to go to a private ranch that was used by another photographer.  There were many days that we both would be shooting on the same day at the same time.  Since it was a private ranch it was smaller and I had nothing better to do when my client was changing than to watch him working with his client, discreetly, of course!

There was one young lady that he had sitting on a rock by the lake.  She was in a dark top and dark jeans and as she sat down her pant leg raised showing her white socks.  She looked down and said, “my white socks aren’t going to show are they?”  He very quickly and sharply said, “of course they are going to show, if you didn’t want them showing you shouldn’t have worn them!”   While this guy was more bold that most, many photographers handle issues with their clients in the same way.  Instead of coming up with solutions they blame the client for bad decisions and in most case they made bad choices because the photographer never told them how to prepare for the session in the first place.  This is guy obviously is no longer a photographer, he is working for his father I am sure insulting his fathers customers.

This photographer could have ask the girls to take off her shoes and socks and done the portrait barefoot. He could have simply composed the portraits closer and not showed the white socks and never said a word about it.  This is the difference between a professional and hack!  In today’s world ‘hacks’ take on a whole new path.  They look and see a problem and think, “I will just fix it in Photoshop!”  Now there is a brilliant bit of time management, spend 5 seconds fixing a stray hair, wrinkle in clothing or white socks while you are take the photograph or 15 to 30 minutes fixing the problem in each pose a client orders from.  This is why I see so many photographers posting at 10 or 11 o’clock at night that they have just finished editing.  If the total editing of your images takes more than 1/4 of the time it took to do the session, (I am talking about every second you spend on the images to get it ready to view and print out the order) you are doing something, well probably many things WRONG!  So if you spend 1 hour in doing a session you can spend no more than 15 minutes editing the images to get the complete order ready.  If you spend more time than that you have learned from the wrong people and are trying to make money the wrong way. Most photographers offer way to many poses in the package or portrait order and each pose you add, adds time to your editing.  For each pose in a package a client should pay $40 to $50 in editing for that image that is included in the print price or package and to profit in this business you have to limit the poses a client will receive.  The fewer poses, the more profit you make,  the more pose the less profit you make.  Ok, I know I go a little off topic by today so many photographers wonder why they work so hard to make so little!

Back to your clients, you are responsible for everything within the frame!  It starts off when you pose a client.  You have two choices, take responsibility for the look of the portraits and pose the person exactly the way you want them or involved them in an activity for a more candid style of portrait.  Doing nothing isn’t a posing strategy.  I hear young photographers tell a pretty girl, “hey just stand over their”.  This is obviously a posing genius behind the camera.  Notice I said you have two posing options and not knowing what you are doing wasn’t one of them!

In my experience in senior photography people Buy portraits,  they like to look at candid images.  Since I make money when they buy rather than look and I am in business to make a profit (after all I could stay home and break even I don’t need to work to lose money) I take portraits. When I am posing a person, I demonstrate the pose first myself, then help them into it. Before I pose them I look to see the way their hair flows, the way their clothing lays, as well as any accents on the clothing, I look for symmetry of the face and body and for obviously flaws that I would want to hide.

Once the subject is posed I then check the clothing and hair for any problems.  I fix hair, my assistant of the same-sex as the subject or a mother fixes clothing and strap issues.  I scan the entire subject for any visible problems, I will even fix the way toes are laying in open toed shoes if I can make them look better.  Bottom line, the better you make them look, the better you are paid and I am paid very well!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on September 27, 2010.

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