[B]ecker – being a great photographer
What is the best advice you have for photographers on how they can stand out from the crowd?
Everyone is different. When you see photogs that inspire you, be inspired, but do not try and be them because they are them. You may not have the same personality or the same talents, ambitions or aspirations. Figure out what makes you tick. I see photographers all the time that I love, like Jesh De Rox and John Michael Cooper, and they are doing something that is so different and out there and funky and cool and I respect it as another artist and say that is beautiful stuff but I am not gonna try and do that because that’s not me. I think Jesh’s work is beautiful but mine would look terrible if did that because that is not my thing. So my advice is figure out what makes you tick. Figure out what you like and are passionate about and make that known to the brides. …Find your nitch, find your thing.
It is not really just about the photographs. You have to be a decent photographer and develop a style, but the bottom line is if the people like you and enjoy you and your personality and the service that you give them on the back end, you will get referrals. You can take the best pictures in the world but if you deliver the album late and you do not return phone calls on time and if you are a pain to work with, the bride may love the photographs but she does not love you. And she is not going to be doing everything she can to get you more business… Think big picture as a whole experience and do not worry about the new lens or what shutter speed to shoot that at… those are all little things that do not matter to the bride that much. People get too bogged down in the technical stuff or even the art of it. many people can take a good picture but not everyone has the skills to take it into a successful business. There is so much more to running a business. Photography is one of the smaller parts of the pie.
What are the most common mistakes people make when they start a photography business?
They think that it is all about photography. They do not build their business on sound principles. Not everyone can handle stress of weddings.
Photographers when they start out worry way too much about if they should use Aperture or Lightroom or Bridge, or if they should get the Canon 1.4 or 1.2 like Becker. It’s like, if you are new and you are buying a 1.2, unless you just have loads of funds sitting around, you can use that money for better things. Or if they should buy this program or that, this lens or that. If you or your buddy designed your logo, hire a professional graphic designer and put together a brand identity or get a better site. Hire professionals to brand yourself. There is too much emphasis on gear and software – your money is better spent on marketing and branding from beginning. A lens is not going to make you a better photographer or a better business person.
What can any photographer learn from your experience as a wedding photographer?
Everything. I am not saying my way is the only way, but here is what works – “think big picture”.
It took a while to realize I was not the best photographer. It is important to have artist pride and passion, but early on I focused too much on the pictures. Good photographers are a dime a dozen. I like to be the first person to meet the couple so I set the bar. So I have them come over first thing in the morning. I show them what I do and paint the big picture of the experience that we provide. I know that they are gonna meet with other photographers later that day that are better photographers than I am and photographers who are cheaper than I am. But I do not know that they are going to meet anyone that can out experience me. From just how my living room and my gallery is decorated to my online presence with my blog and website to the lighting, the gallery the furniture, the candles, the plasma TV, the pictures, the iMacs, it is like wow, it looks nice. We give them that experience. Then it is like, did they connect with my personality, did they laugh at my jokes, could they hear the passion in my voice? Let me talk about what I love and why I love shooting photos and stuff, and then it is like “go meet with the other 12 and then call me at the end of the day with your credit card number.” And it happens like every single time. It is because I connect with the people really well.
Coming up tomorrow: part 3 – [B]ecker – on blogging and websites