“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” This from the book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles, by author Marianne Williamson.
Upon that reflection, you know that personal connections are more important than ever for a creative professional to find and keep clients, especially for photographers. Due to the intimate nature of the photo assignment process, clients really need to get to know and trust you. But many photographers still don’t have the commitment to put themselves out there and let their “light shine”. In the workshops I give, I still find photographers telling me they are hesitant to put themselves forward, to let their “light shine”. This is of course exactly what you need to do to promote your business. Maybe you are good at managing your business, handy at social networking and even doing brilliant creative work but are you still “playing small”?
Many negative emotional connotations typically come to mind when thinking about self-promotion, all of which unfortunately keep most creative professionals from feeling comfortable and confident when doing self-promotion. I say, leave your emotions at the front door and act confident! Work on pushing yourself past any discomfort, make a good first impression and make your personal connections with clients.
Here are a few of some of the best pieces of advice on this topic I have collected from people I call our “creative explorers”:
Jeffrey Thayer: I tell myself that no one is going to hire me if they don’t know I exist. I remember I need to run promotions when I am busy or I won’t be soon. I know that just because I sent an email campaign, or postcard, or whatever it may be out, it does not mean I am ever done. I need to continue to do it on a regular schedule. The people I want to work with need to see that I am working on new images and staying on top of my game.
Andy Batt: When we promote, we see results 6-12 months later. When we don’t promote – we see the (lack of) results 6-12 months later. It’s very rare the promotion directly turns something around – it’s almost always indirect and on a much longer timeline than you would think (or want). It’s a discipline to promote – if we’re busy, it’s easy to ignore, and if we’re slow, it’s easy to put it off.
Therese Gietler: I think the best first impression, aside from what your marketing does, is being able to speak intelligently about your own work. When someone asks “what do you shoot?” you need to have an answer immediately and confidently. “We shoot people in motion, performers in many categories, like athletes, and dancers and musicians”. Not “um, well, I shoot a lot of stuff, it’s really hard to describe, um” (you’ve heard this a million times). Photo clients want to know you are confident.
Rick Becker: To make a good first impression to clients in my studio, I just try to be happy. I enjoy my job, I enjoy photography. I am happy they are here. I will do whatever it takes to make a great photograph and make my clients look good. I make them as comfortable as possible mentally and physically so they can feel I have experience and that I know what to do (or that I will figure it out).
Andy Batt, photographer and Therese Gietler, producer www.andybatt.com
Rick Becker, photographer www.rickbeckerstudios.com
Jeffrey Thayer, photographer www.jeffreythayer.com