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Representing Yourself as a Professional Photographer in Your Community

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Representing Yourself as a Professional Photographer in Your Community

I recently had the pleasure of giving a talk to a group of business professionals in my area. Even though this is a group I see on a regular basis, this talk was important because it was the only opportunity I had (in this case, during the year) to make a big impression beyond my name and business.

There was a great deal of time and energy preparing for my talk – about 2 months to be exact. But I had about 10 minutes to effectively convey what I wanted without trying not to overwhelm my audience.

Reflecting back on it, the preparation and presentation got me thinking about how important it is for photographers to represent themselves – not just to their clients but other professionals as a whole. (And in some cases, those professionals will become the clients).

So, here are some tips to guide you in putting your best foot forward as a professional photographer:

  1. Be prepared. Have your business card on you at all times.
  2. Handshakes. Get in the habit of shaking people’s hands when introducing yourself to someone you’ve never met – and make that handshake a firm one.
  3. Dress appropriately. This doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a business suit when you’re out of the house, especially if you’re one to edit at night in your pajamas. But make the effort to dress a few notches up from what you would wear if you were working in your yard.
  4. Smile 🙂
  5. Never badmouth. Don’t talk negatively about other photographers. You never know whom other people know, so your first impression about your industry should be a good one.
  6. Educate people. Teach them what you do (besides take pictures). Don’t assume they already know or should know that running a photography business is (more) about marketing, meeting with clients, accounting, designing, editing, etc.
  7. Explain what you. Do this in simple terms, as if you are taking to a child. That doesn’t mean talking down to them, but using terminology (non-photography terms) that everyday people will understand.
  8. Be confident.
  9. Be interested. Ask questions about what other professionals do. It’s a great way to learn about someone else. Plus you may need his/her services in the future.
  10. Provide information. If someone expresses interest in your services, make sure to provide them with some supplemental information besides your Website. For example, a specific link on your blog or a printed document may better clarify for what they can expect.
  11. Follow up. Send a personal email or hand-written note thanking someone for his or her time.
  12. Welcome questions with enthusiasm! Regardless of how much of the same questions we may hear from the public (even if it obvious or redundant), be patient when responding. Remember, most people don’t live and breathe photography 24/7.
  13. Keep an eye out for opportunity. Or, better yet, create it for yourself. Even if someone doesn’t hire you, think of ways you can partner on events or even work out a trade.
  14. Give it time. Business doesn’t always come knocking at your door overnight. Like professionals in other industries, it takes a lot of hard work, persistence and relationship building to gain the respect of others in your community.
  15. Get creative. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box and put yourself out there. People may not always respond to what you do. But they will remember it.  And that is the most important impression you want to make to your community.

Shuva Rahim of Accent Photographics is a lifestyle photographer in Eastern Iowa, specializing in families with young children and engaged couples. She owes much of her continuing success to connecting with other business professionals.

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  1. Ann Steward on September 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Love this! And I see it’s written by Shuva! AWESOME, Shuva!!!

  2. maureenwilson on September 7, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for the great info!! Thinking now…

  3. Kai on September 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for the tips! Most of these should be obvious, but it’s hard to remember that when you work mostly from home. 🙂

  4. Kim Kravitz on September 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Such a great read!! TFS!

  5. Jennifer Chaney on September 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Awesome Shuva! Love it all… I’m always forgetting business cards! Thanks for the reminders!

  6. Mary on September 8, 2010 at 11:58 am

    did all the questions!

  7. Diginana on September 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I answered all the questions.

  8. Nancy on September 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I answered all the questions. Didn’t have a lot of suggestions as I think th site is pretty awesome as it.

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