In thinking about what to post today, I found a terrific quote by Fanny Brice...
"Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be,
because sooner or later, if you are posing,
you will forget the pose, and then where are you?"
I started out with the title of "Just Be Yourself...Unless You're a Troll!" Then I realized, especially if you're a troll or playing both parts of a remake of Jekyll and Hyde, it's even more important to be honest. The title became, "Just Be Yourself", but as I wrote, I realized there are a whole series of areas where people aren't really revealing themselves or their real skills.
So, here's how I tied it all to being a professional photographer and it comes in varying degrees of your business.
In regards to your "About" page - show your heart. Your clients aren't interested in how long you've been a photographer, what awards you've won or what gear you shoot with. Be sincere in sharing why you love this business and what it is that makes working with your clients so special.
In regards to your images - if they're not truly yours, don't include them in your galleries. A few of you aren't going to like this, but if the images you're sharing were taken over Bambi Cantrell's shoulder at ShutterFest, for example, then they're NOT really your work. Until you can set up the shot completely on your own, you can't claim the images as yours.
In regards to the quality of your images - I started thinking about some of the albums, portfolios and galleries I've looked at and within one artist's work there's often little consistency. So often it looks like a different photographer took the shot. Flesh tones of the same bride that don't match, but they're all captured at the same wedding. Images that have been thrown in to fill up space, but don't show the quality the artists knows he/she needs to have or just a bad image following a great image . It leaves a potential client questioning, "Which photographer will I get?"
In regards to your friends - stay true to your word. If you promise to do something then follow-through. Be the person your dog thinks you are!
In regards to your clients - be accessible. Listen more than you talk. Return calls and messages promptly, even if the background for being contacted is negative.
In regards to what you share on Facebook - if you hate somebody's work that's fine, but learn to at least put a few filters on your comments. I'm not suggesting you be a phony, just don't be a dream-crusher.
I meet so many photographers every year and so often the initial meeting is like a job interview. Even in just casual conversation, they respond as if they're carefully thinking through what their answer should be. The point is, if you just relax and let your passion for imaging come through, you can't help but build stronger relationships, because they're built on a solid foundation instead of the little pig's house of straw!
Illustration Credit - 1931 Theatrical poster from Wikipedia
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.