What Does Your Client Really Get in Their Session?

If you have read any of my books, articles and/or watched my videos, I always encourage one thing, “to thy own self be true”.  It is the only way to make it in this business or for that manner any other.  McDonalds doesn’t go to the CEO and serve him a Cheeseburger and ask “how do you like it”.  He has personal pride and feelings towards his product, he has investors/shareholders which might hear his comments.  You know he would say, “it’s great”.  This is the philosophy that most young photographers use.  They produce crappy photos and convince themselves that they are as good as the studio down the street and work up the nerve to show them to others….but who do they ask, their mom, best friend or spouse who has to lie to not hurt their feelings.  Always, when in doubt, ask a PAYING client.

I have seen the work of many photographers over the years, both younger student photographers and older established studio owners and on a positive note I can say I have seen some beautiful, creative and unique portraiture that I have been very impressed by.  On the down side, most of those beautiful, creative and unique images come from photographers working with sample sessions, beauty queens or half naked models.  Let’s face it we try harder with some people than others.  This is a fact I noticed long ago, by listening to the comments of my clients and my sales people.  As a business person, it was hard to answer the question, “Jeff, why did the cute cheerleader end up with 150 images and 15 different backgrounds….that took us two hours to view?… (and this was in the days of film).  I would then be ask by the same salesperson, “why did this chubby, unattractive girl barely had the minimum images that the session required?”  As I looked at the sessions I photographed, I had to be honest with myself, the number of images I took in the session and how much I went over the minimum number of images was in direct correlation to the how cute they were for girls and how interesting the props were for guys.

I thought that these attractive people, as well as those that brought in guitars, skateboards and the like would make good samples for the books, but I was an idiot….why you ask?  Because  I was thinking like a photographer and to be successful, you can never think like a photographer!  I wasn’t looking at the thousands of dollars in lost profit giving mediocre work to the majority of my clients, I fell into the photography trap.  Let’s be honest, most of us get into photography because our fascination with beauty.  It’s what we see in books and videos, in the classroom and in professional programs.  How many times have you seen an ugly, overweight model used in a photographer’s demo?

With that mindset, we start our businesses and find most of our clients are far from beautiful.  Our creative souls are starved for beauty and when beauty comes walking through the door it fills our souls with excitement.  The more creative excitement we have, the more images we take.  This right here is why I have a Viper in my studio and why my studio has been successful for so long.  I found that homely people have just as much money and sometimes even more than the pretty people.  On top of that, pretty people are used to looking ‘pretty’ in photos and having people asking to take photos all the time.  Non-pretty people look at taking photos as as a unique experience, their ’15 minutes of fame’  if you will.  Taking this concept one step further, I found that if I could make the ordinary clients (the non-pretty ones) look like the pretty clients,  their wallets would fly open to buy the images that made them look pretty!  This is the idea behind the book Corrective Lighting and Posing!

Today, through self-control and realization every client I photograph gets the exact same number of ideas and images in their session.  There is no difference between the prettiest and the homeliest, the skinniest and the heaviest, the richest and the poorest. Everyone that walks into my camera rooms gets my very best and the size of our orders reflect that enlightenment.



~ by jeffsmithbooks on October 21, 2010.

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