How Choosing a Photographer is like Dating

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How Choosing a Photographer is like Dating

How do you stand out in a sea of photographers, designers, musicians, filmmakers and illustrators? Stand out and show your personality.

Recently, I had the opportunity to gather with over 100 other photographers from all over Boston to hear from Mary Marantz of Justin & Mary Photography.  Justin and Mary have quickly grown their high-end wedding business in a competitive market, touring nationally to help others.  Mary was fresh off her talk at WPPI, the photography industry’s major convention.  One important aspect of what she discussed was the importance of connecting with your customer.

When I first started my portrait business I was so excited when I would receive inquiries and crestfallen when someone failed to book a session.  It felt a little like the date who calls but does not ask you out.  But as the inquiries and bookings picked up I started to notice something important: The shoots that stood out all had something in common; like a good date, we had chemistry.  As I thought more about this I noticed that this good feeling started before we had ever even spoken.

A common scenario for me is this: Someone inquires about photography on an online forum for moms and one of my former clients recommends me.  The moms on the list look over the recommendations (if I know that I have been recommended I can watch the jump in my analytics).  Some are just looking for the lowest price;  I strike out there.  Some want a studio;  not me either.  Some want backdrops or props;  no go.  But there are a few who look around and decide that they want ME.  They want pictures of their families that feel like my pictures. Those are my clients.  These clients say things like, “we looked through lots of photographers’ work and chose you.” And inevitably these are the shoots where everyone has the most fun.  Like the best date–we are all being ourselves and feel confident that’s all that is required for this to be a long relationship.  In the end I want to see their kids grow up–and I really mean that–I don’t just want to be one of the photographers a family uses in a long line of photographers.  I want to be exclusive.

Mary rightfully pointed out that you should give people as much as possible to grab onto when choosing a contractor who will curate their valuable memories.  Give them as many chances to get to know you as possible.

• Make the “About” section on your website specific and attention-getting.
• Tell a story that is uniquely you- have a point of view and STATE IT CLEARLY.
• Have a “things I like” page.  Sounds silly, but it makes sense.  Post pictures of everyday things (with or without text) that you love.

What is better than seeing a service provider who likes your favorite sports team/food/vacation destination/hobby?  It seems like a Match.  Kismet.  The perfect photographer for you.  Better yet, like the best online dating profile, it gives you a point of connection, a starting point in common.  And the folks who don’t like what you like, they are not your clients.  And better to know that before you spend valuable time and resources struggling to build a relationship!

There are so many great photographers/designers/musicians/filmmakers/illustrators out there that you have to distinguish yourself not only in your art, but also in your personality.  Mary recounted a story of a bride who wrote to her and said (paraphrasing here), “…my fiancée loves, loves, LOVES your work–and just like you, he’s a huge Giants fan.”  What came first? It might not matter.  If you can do great work while helping your clients love you then you are much more likely to have a long term relationship on your hands.

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Lisa Seidel is a professional photographer living in Boston, Massachusetts. Most of the time she specializes in capturing the memories and personalities of children and families.  She does not shoot weddings (often). This spring she is unwittingly majoring in maternity shoots that culminate in adorable girl babies (who go on to newborn shoots!).  If you want to see more you can visit www.portraitsbylisa.com, catch the cuteness on her blog, or follow her on Twitter or Instagram @portraitsbylisa 

illustration © edfredned

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