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Lead, Follow Or Get The ‘F’ Out Of The Way


Recently my business coach (View article here) created a video article for photographers that is a tough love type of video that asked photographers if they needed to get out of the photography business or if they were willing to do what it takes to make it work. I have to admit that I loved it.


I agree with her and many others that some photographers have gotten very negative about the business and about their clients, not to mention other photographers. For me, this is not the way to win the confidence of my clients. Sure it has gotten harder to make a living in the photography business. But it has gotten harder to make a living in any business! Business in general has changed all across the board.


Times are difficult. Just yesterday my 72 year old mother was laid off from a job she had for over 20 years. Her entire Human Resource department was outsourced. She is lucky, she has been contemplating retirement. Others she worked with are now in the market for work. They have to be prepared for change and so do companies looking to grow their business.
My clients are looking for photography services that are faster, cheaper and of higher quality. An example is one of my top clients. This past Sunday I had a shoot of a 15 bedroom, 34 acre estate where the images were needed by Tuesday for layout of a publication. Due to a short budget I had to shoot the estate alone. Normally I would have at least an assistant and hopefully a second photographer. In this case that was just not an option. Editing the images alone was going to take 25+ hours. The shoot took almost 8 hours in itself.

So what did do to solve it? The client agreed to receive un-retouched images in a low resolution just so they could use them as place holders. They understood that of the filtered images only about half of what they saw on Tuesday would be delivered as final images. However they were able to do their layout and have something to work with. I made sure to deliver as many images as possible (65% of those un-retouched images) in the highest quality as possible and by Wednesday end of business.


Together my client and I worked out a solution that just a few years ago would not have been an option. Why? Because so many photographers would not be willing to give anything but the final images. Sure I did what I didn’t want to do, let my client see my work only half done, but we came to an agreement, wrote it up in a contract and met halfway to assure that they got the product they needed in a way that worked for both of us. The client is happy. Their client is happy (or will be) with the publication and I got the work that keeps me working.

Together we took the lead to create a mutually beneficial solution. If you can’t lead your client to a creative win/win solution, or if you aren’t willing to follow those that do, then why are you in business?  Either get positive and get creative or get the ‘F’ out of the way of those that are.

2 replies
  1. Dan
    Dan says:

    Thanks for sharing both the article and your solution. It has been my experience that clients and publications are looking for solutions not excuses. Anymore, it seems that everyone in every business sector is in the sales-prevention business — they can’t produce, don’t want to produce, or simply won’t produce. I had a client just the other day thank me for being polite and respectful! It’s that bad out there. Kudos to you, and of course, nice work, too!

  2. Norman Franklin
    Norman Franklin says:

    I am a strictly a small time photographer and this business cycle is like no other in that ir has been longer and deeper then in times gone by but it is still survival of the fittest. The bad times weed out the riff raff and the good times bring them back but it is all about finding and surviving in your business niche. What % of “professional photographers” are just making a living doing just photography a very small one I bet.

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