I would like to take some time to talk about working with clients. Whether you work with happy couples getting married, seniors wanting portraits for their yearbook, or even Vogue magazine, this is good information.
Specifically, I want to get real with you about being there for you clients. I mean REALLY being there for them, not just taking orders and getting the “job” done. You have to become a partner that your client can rely on. This means rolling up your sleeves and being an integral part of the creative process. We are all creative people after all, so don’t let your camera be your personality!
I will break this down into two easy to understand parts: being a cheerleader and being the quarterback. I know, football analogies are tired but hey, the Super bowl just finished up and these types of analogies work.
Before we get to the meat of this post, however, I want to just put something out there. I am not a psychologist and I do not claim to be any sort of expert on people. But, as a photographer you learn about people and what makes them tick. I like to think that I have become pretty familiar with all sorts of individuals and have developed handy skills that allow me to work better with them.
This is the person that everyone loves! They encourage their audience and get them fired up about what they are experiencing. In the photography world, this means you are complimenting your subjects or you are getting excited about what you are creating. All of this becomes an effort to motivate your audience and put their mind at ease about the person making everything happen. Now, you may ask what makes people so nervous going into a photo shoot. Well, take your pick: stage fright, finances, deadlines, low self-esteem, etc.
Photo shoots can be a logistical nightmare, but it is a photographer’s life. It may not seem frightening or nerve racking, but to others it is. This means we have to add another task to your repertoire. You must become an advocate for your client. Be their cheerleader and they will start gaining confidence in you and your abilities.
Some things that I do to be a cheerleader include:
- Complementing the talent
- Make a fool of myself to break the ice
- Put on some music
- Take a few photos of yourself and let the talent see
- Have a pre-shoot meeting
- Bring food or beverage
- EVERYONE loves coffee (well they should)
- Step away from the camera and use a shutter release
This one can be tough for people. Being the quarterback takes the fun out of everything sometimes but it becomes necessary in many situations.
So, what is the quarterback’s job? The QB is the one who gets the job done efficiently. This means planning, pre-production, coordination, delegation, etc. You become the go to person on set. Think of the director for a film. They need to take on a lot of responsibility to get the job done right. Taking on that much responsibility is essential because ultimately you are creating the work. It is your vision that makes the images or video come to life.
Along the same lines as managerial duties, the QB must also be an advocate for the client no matter how hard it can be. Sometimes this means holding firm on your position even when the client insists on another way. Other times, this means standing up to paying clients to provide the best work possible. These are no easy feats but they are necessary skills in this industry.
The reasons for going into QB mode can be varied but some common situations include:
- Talent not showing up on time
- A client demanding something that is unsafe
- A last-minute change in venue or time
- Highly critical talent
Of course, the client comes first ALWAYS! However, a photographer has to instill enough confidence in everyone on set that you will get the job done quickly, correctly, and safely. By being confident in your work and your plan, you can prove to them that you are the right person for the job. Although, after all of the planning and fuss is out of the way, be that cheerleader and generate successful work using positive attitudes and a good time.
Good luck to you all!