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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement

Working With Clients: The Case Against Discouragement

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Copyright Tamara Lackey

Guest Post by Tamara Lackey

For all the buzz out there, there’s actually never been a better time to enter the profession of photography.

The wide berth of education available to new shooters eager to learn about photography is incredible.   I’ve never seen more of a community in the way of small-group gatherings, major conventions, online forums, social media and discussion-based blogs … all offering education, support, and access to more information.

But for every source of information, there are equal opportunities to take in misinformation.  And, for all the support out there, there’s an even measure of discouragement. Sometimes, unfortunately, even more.

I recently weighed on an active online forum discussion where an emerging photographer posted her concern about delivering a portrait session to a client “a while ago” without hearing a response yet.  She asked if others had experienced something similar.  I was pretty surprised to see that nearly all the feedback was negative… “If you haven’t heard anything back by now, you won’t.” … “They’ve probably figured out how to scan your images.”  … “They weren’t happy with the photographs, that’s why they’re not calling you back”.  When I weighed in with a more positive response, the sentiment was that my optimism was nice and all, but I should really “face reality”, that I wasn’t doing the poster much good by offering false hopes.

I started a photography studio more than seven years ago and in that time have photographed more than 1000 portrait sessions.  Many of my sessions move along in a similar rhythm:  I photograph the session, my clients view the images, we walk through them together, determining how their images will be best presented – and then they purchase their custom order.  Often, this is a simpler, linear process.  Other times, not so much.

I have had clients buy just a few pieces now, then a few later, and then that big canvas in six months.  I have had clients finesse their ordering decision to the tune of five separate meetings and a subsequent home visit. I have had clients walk in my studio with color-coded file folders containing detailed specifications for which order will go to which family grouping in exactly which delineation, all before we even viewed the images.

And then I had this one client, a family session.  Our shoot had gone quite well, and I was thrilled with the final images from our time together.  I delivered a preview of the session and followed up to confirm the studio appointment time.  They didn’t call back.  Not that day, not that next week – not any week that month.  To put it succinctly, I hadn’t been expecting that.

Nearly a full year later, just before the holidays, they put a call in to the studio.  An order was placed.  Quite a substantial order – surprisingly so.  But, still, they never offered any actual feedback about the quality of the images or any statement regarding their enjoyment of them.  They simply phoned in their order.

Interestingly enough, I actually found myself feeling even more disappointed after the phone call.  I had wanted that feedback from them.  We’d had a genuinely good time together, I felt I had captured something very honest about them as a family, and I’d worked to perfect those images before presenting them.  See, that’s why a response matters to people photographers – we fall in love with our clients and often want to know if they could tell.

So I felt disheartened by the fact that they didn’t respond… until I finally recognized that they actually had.  Just in a different way than I’d expected.  On quite a different schedule, too.

But we all express ourselves in different ways.

And we’re all moving through the pace of our scheduled-out lives with varying measures of ability to manage the associated disorientation.

The bottom line is that, regardless of what anyone else might say, it can often help to understand that our own set of expectations may discourage us more than any other (mis)information that might come our way.

Recognizing that my rigid expectations were actually holding me back really opened me up to a whole new level of optimism about my career.  It reframed that entire experience for me – and set some great groundwork for new scenarios that might develop over the years.

And, truth be told, I am finding that to be a pretty auspicious way to face reality.

Written by scottbourne

April 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

Posted in Business

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