I was at a Rising Tide Society Tuesday's Together meeting the other night and the idea for this blog post was born. We were all sitting around talking about how clients just melt our hearts. I want to share with you what makes ideal clients, but let me start from this side of the lens.
As photographers, we spend quite a bit of time marketing and trying to find our "ideal client". We hashtag everything with phrases that we hope you find. We try to post things where we hope you see them. We try to create an environment for our work which is inviting and makes you want to book with us. In short: Our jobs depend on how we market ourselves. And in all honesty, we probably have to do more marketing than we get to do shooting. But during that marketing, we get to meet with new clients. Here are some ways that we know that you are our ideal client:
1) You pick us for our work, not for our pricing.
First, I understand having professional portraits taken is expensive. If you're like most of us, you're always looking for a deal. But here's the thing with photography- this is our art before it's our business. We pour our heart and soul into this job, but at the end of the day, it's a business and we need to run it like one. If you pick Photographer X because they own a camera and they'll give you a really good deal, and not because you love their work, guess what? You may not love your portraits. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Find a photographer that you L-O-V-E, and you'll end up with portraits that you love. When I have a client say "I love your work!", it makes me feel all kinds of happy because it tells me that they've looked through my portfolio and are hiring me for the right reasons.
2) You give us credit when you share our work.
This is a big one. The other day, a client asked me if they could make my sneak peek their profile picture. I told her that of course she could!! I only request that my watermark not get cropped out. Her response? "I would never do that! You deserve all the credit!!" Instant client love. Many people don't think about tagging their photographer when they post the images online, but we have worked really hard on your session and when you tag us, you're showing us that you appreciate our hard work and that you would recommend us to your friends.
3) You understand what you are getting with your session.
The photography industry is large and varied. There are different skill levels, different pricing and different options as to what is included with your session. Some photographers have a session fee which includes digital images, others have the session fee that includes nothing other than the time and talent of the photographer and still others include things like prints and products. There are various options and price points, so it is important that you understand what is included. Your photographer should make it very clear what is included with their fees, but sometimes they aren't and you should ask them to explain to you what you should expect.
4) You follow directions.
Many photographers will provide you with a prep guide prior to your session. These are especially important when it comes to newborn sessions, but are helpful with all different types of sessions. We will tell you everything from what to wear, to what to expect, to how to get the most out of your session in our prep guides. When clients read these guides, they are better prepared and will almost always have a more successful session. I say "almost always" because with newborn sessions, those tiny humans are in charge. You can follow the prep guide to a T and things can still go wrong, but following those tips are always a good idea.
5) You do not print your professional images at places like Target/Wal-Greens/Wal-Mart.
We spend time editing your portraits to what we see as perfection. Non-professional print labs are known to destroy the quality of the images that are printed there. They print cheaply, yes, but the loss of quality makes it not worth it. Your photographer can give you ideas on where to print, but some of us (myself included) say in our contract that we are not responsible for print quality through anyone but ourselves. That's because we want you to have the highest quality prints and products that fully represent your gorgeous portraits that we have worked so hard on.
6)You appreciate that photography is art.
Photographers will often be told "Your pictures are so beautiful! You must have a really nice camera!" This is where the photographer will nicely try to remove the dagger from their heart. Beautiful images can be taken with any kind of camera, including camera phones and that comment is equivalent to telling a dinner host that they must have a really nice oven after they served you an amazing, professionally prepared meal. Portraits are the result of hours of preparation, education, planning, editing and presentation. Because there are so many different types of photographers, this is another reason why you should choose your photographer based on their portfolio of work. Our art is a part of who we are and there are little bits of our soul within our images. When clients see our images as art, it makes our hearts flutter!
If you're a photographer, tell me, did I miss anything? If you're a client, tell me, what makes an ideal photographer to you?