GETTING BETTER


THE BUSINESS END

 

QUALITIES of a GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER:
What does it take to be good in this field? Here is just a partial list:

CONFIDENCE
Comes from your training, using common sense and that comes from good preparation. You won’t have time to think while you are shooting. I call it left brain-right brain thinking. 

Everything about a wedding is timed and you must learn to work in these profiles. While the right half of the brain is automatically doing things repetitively, the left half is searching for the picture. In the Survival section, we discuss this more.

INTUITION OF THE HUNTER
Wedding photography is almost as, if not more intuitive than sports photography. In some cases, more so.  Sports are played on a designated field within certain boundaries. 

There are no boundaries at a Wedding. The individuals in sports all adhere (sometimes) to a given set of rules, work for a team, management driven and can be disciplined. At a wedding, emotions and alcohol generally fan the flames. Both work within time constraints. In sports it’s enforced, at a wedding it’s called “chaos”.

PREPARATION OF A BOY SCOUT
On the other hand, much of what goes on is repetitive, generally following carefully chosen small scenarios that we have all become familiar with. Till something falls out of its sequence or changes. All I’m telling you is you must know where you are, to know where you are going. You must carefully ascertain your own strengths and weaknesses. Saying no or bowing out is a good choice and a smart one for some.

BUSINESS AWARENESS
You need business savvy, since the modern wedding involves money, sometimes lots of it, we must protect ourselves and our clients. You have stepped over the line from amateur to professional when you write the first receipt. It’s the difference between a successful hobby and a successful business. To all of us our hobbies are almost always successful. A successful business requires work. Work is sometimes defined as doing what you should do and not what you want to do when you must do it. If you take the time to think this out and be honest with yourself, you make the call and if you decide to go at it, I wish you well.

 PRO’S and AMATEURS
There are two types of shooters. They are the Professional and the Amateur. In every sport, there is a definitive line between PRO and Amateur and in the legal aspect of the Photography business any kind of financial reward like accepting money is the line. Even as an amateur if you are shooting for film and print expense only, you have entered into a legal agreement. 

The rest of the accepted definition of PRO is explained below. It is by no means a legal version. That is why there is an institution in the States called the “small claims court”. I call it the "he said, she said" court and I will almost guarantee that if the claimant makes it to court the photographer or business owner will lose. In a juried structured environment, it will get worse. She could be the BRIDE FROM HELL but one tear in a courtroom and you lose.

PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE
Professionalism is the demeanor of a person, his or her moral and legal responsibility to perform services as required. One that derives the bulk or part of his or her income through his or her photographic pursuits and may be described as totally eschewed in the game or pretends to be. That means qualified, licensed, and skilled. This has nothing to do with whether this is full time or part time shooting. But it’s obvious the larger or more expensive clientele and weddings require a lot more personal attention. Getting there with too-little too late is as bad as not getting there at all.

ACCREDITATION
Accredited does not mean you have room on your credit card. It means certain tasks you have performed place you on a level with your peers. You can gain accreditation by joining national associations with stringent mail in photos for critique. They have juried critiques, required attendance at meetings, and classes.  Their recommendation for your membership is by their members and boards. There are several national legitimate organizations. And there are the others. few fail, read on…

The MAIL ORDER ACCREDITATION
Bridal Services, Welcome Wagons, Camera Clubs and BBB’s There are organizations who welcome members providing they remember to send in their dues on time. This gets you the membership card, stickers for your car, and secret decoder ring.  Many believe in joining other organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, or Chamber of Commerce will make them accredited.  Join them to be helpful to your community. Your legacy is what you accomplish, not what you joined, that's what people remember. 

BRANDIZATION
Some think you are professional by your choice of equipment brand. Those are the ones proudly displaying Nikon and Canon Professional Services logos on their business cards. You might as well put HANES on the card too. After all, it means you selected one of the best brands of underwear in the country and lets the world know nothing is creeping up.  I love these guys especially with a Nikon logo, and the bride and groom he’s interviewing just bought a Canon Rebel, T3i. I usually send these guys my monkey shot and a critique of their work.

 

FINANCIALLY AWARE
Common sense tells us it’s about levels. It’s critical to a PRO. In most of the Western hemisphere, Saturday is the preferred wedding day. There are only 52 of them in a year. If you are a budget shooter and only charge $200.00 a wedding and offer a CD-ROM, you have created a $10,000 a year business most of which you will blow on other gear. If you do $2000.00 weddings you have a $100,000 a year business. $3000.00 a Wedding and you are at 150,000 dollars a year and now the children can eat.

  

UPDATE YOUR IMAGE ON THE WEB
Have you looked at your web site recently? That’s the place that was supposed to earn you millions of dollars. Nothing beats the K.I.S.S principle with a little Peters Principles thrown in.  Of course, too much and you could wind up Kissing Peter.   Here are twenty-five or so simple rules that make your site friendlier.

COUNTDOWN

  • Kill the floating banners and pop-ups. There is a reason every browser offers pop-up protection, people hate them, and they don’t pay you enough for the loss of one client.
  • Page naming should be appropriate to what the page is about or at least close to what the page is about.
  • Kill the Wedding Music. If I hear another site with Evergreen on it I will puke.  People hate getting bombarded with your favorite musical mood swing and kill the long intro and registration.  
  • That’s becoming the number one and two turn off on the web.  All these specialized site makers make you as different as thin spaghetti and thick spaghetti. Same site, same colors, same intro, and the same music. 
  • Check out your links to see if they are still active. Create inbound links with viable sources. Builds trust and a better profile with search engines. And kill the dated info.
  • Make your site bright but not gaudy and avoid super dark backgrounds with “thin” text, it just kills the readability.
  • Use links for speed and avoiding mis-direction and again check those inks for accuracy.
  • Use your logo, when applicable on your home page and in other places where applicable.  Show them you are human.  Do an “about page”. Show them the real person on your site.
  • If your site isn't friendly, folks don’t hang around.  Make changes that welcome people and make them feel at home.
  • Bullshit is like superglue, it sticks and never goes away.   No false promises, back up what you should say and stick with it.
  •  Show why you are better without putting down the competition.  Use good phrasing like "a lesser cost wedding photographer" may not be schooled in traditional Roman Catholic Traditions and Customs, or, yes we are quite experienced in Southern Redneck Toasting Customs”. 
  • Break selections or options into tables and columns to facilitate easy selection. It has been proven that people who have been shown a simple comparison make quicker decisions.
  • Keep it consistent and simple to navigate. Avoid the complex stuff.  People get frustrated.
  • Light up your links and make them important (bold, italics, font change, size change)
  • Use features and benefits, the guy who sold you your car did. And you went for it.
  • Use testimonials, known people have a higher believability. If they are known
  • Pictures and if you get permission use a nice portrait of them.
  • Maintain common text in banners and paragraphs on all pages. Just like regularity, consistency is very important.
  • Use headlines with discretion, headlines should summarize the topic. Yes!
  • Make a passionate plea to follow your ideas and give them reasons that make sense. 
  • Keep important info in the top half of the page. If they like what they see, they will continue to read what you have written.
  • Remember dark and patterned pages are distracting and bad for the visually impaired. Smaller web pages load faster if your item does not require extensive verbiage to explain the product.
  • Dump movement in banners, JavaScript, and dump frames, old news, takes up too much resources. 
  • Use fonts sparingly and dump the weird ones, they won’t translate over in most cases to all programs and really can mess up your pages.
  • Make sure if you ask for info, that you state your privacy policy. Legally important.


MY SPACE, FARCE-BOOK, NIT-TWITS
In my quest to expand relationships and at the pressure of many customers and friends to join their teams of associates and acquaintances, I succumbed to those who suggested my entire world would change after I joined Facebook, Twitter and other social media organizations.

It did!  Unfortunately, I got more junk mail, more invites to debauchery, local area hookers hotline numbers, lust, promiscuity, decadence, and spam and offers I didn’t and don’t need.

It was a distraction, for nothing, it was not good for business, it opened doors to a lot of dead ends. I was not inclined to spend my days in the Mad Hatters Maze and make them rename it to “Alan in Wonderland”!

If you use it as an alternate open source for your product or skill you might be OK. If you add negative commentary and do your laundry on the web , you will be in trouble.

I suppose it's OK for my imaginary friends, but most of my real friends and business associates whom I communicate normally and privately with, that is the real ones, I care a great deal about.

 I enjoy and like talking with them not tweeting for the world to see.  I value real friends and customers who pick up a phone, see how you are doing and wish you well. It's so nice to hear a friendly voice.  

With help from the legal pages posted under "How to escape from Facebook", I happily hit the SUBMIT button for permanent removal. Three attempts later it took.  

I you do choose to stay with Facebook, make it a commercial site directing inquiries to you alone and no posted commentary.