by Skip Cohen
Over the last few weeks we've had a couple of guests talk about building trust with their clients. Matthew Jordan Smith talked about the importance of the relationship in both his podcast and his guest post. Kirk Voclain has been mentioned in a number of posts and spends an incredible amount of time just getting to know each senior he photographs. His best images are the result of his subjects just talking about their friends, hobbies and goals. That's when he's looking for the perfect moment to click the shutter. Joe Buissink talks about the real benefit of an engagement shoot - getting the client and photographer to know each other. When Joe appears on the day of the wedding he's coming in as a trusted friend and no longer an outsider.
The economy is finally turning around and I'm hearing so many positive things about potential business in photography for this year. Yet, I know there are those of you who still don’t see a whole lot of light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not saying it’s easy and in all honesty, many of you already know I never believe very much from the media, good or bad, but this is about good news and optimism from your peers.
This is a slower time for most photographers and the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your skill set. This is where it all starts. If you can’t adapt to each opportunity that comes along then you’re stuck being a one trick pony. You’ve got to understand how to capture the very best images, which means composition, exposure, knowing your gear and trust. Hmmmm, seems kind of strange putting “trust” on the list.
Trust, may be the most critical aspect of working with any client. They have to know you, trust you understand their needs and trust you’re about to capture an image that will be their most favorite one yet.
Talk to any photographer you consider a leader in our industry and you’ll hear story after story of how they build their relationships with each client.
I've run this video a few times over the last few years. It was done by Justin and Mary Marantz. As you watch the video, pretend you’re a wedding client. Mary is talking about her relationship with her husband, Justin, not just how they photograph a wedding. She’s letting a potential client know that she and Justin can be trusted to understand the importance of their relationship and their romance.
(Just a fun sidebar here, while they won't be able to join us on March 8-9, Justin and Mary, Kirk Voclain, Matthew Jordan Smith and Joe Buissink are all members of the SCU faculty. You'll be hearing a lot from them in the year ahead!)
So, the ability to listen to your clients and in turn build trust as you get to know each other has to be a priority, just as much as understanding exposure and composition. Can you photograph people without trust, absolutely, but why would you want to hold yourself back?
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.