Learn to say “YES”

This is Mark Johnson’s Advanced Photojournalism Class at UGA’s Grady School of Journalism. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/80]
For the past ten years or so Mark Johnson has invited me to speak to his advanced Photojournalism Class at UGA on business practices.

One of the tips I always share with the class is Learn To Say YES.

I learned about how to say yes from my friend Tony Messano who is a creative director as well as voice over talent. This one tip had a major impact on my life in so many ways.

Tony was not advocating becoming a “Yes Man” where you are agreeing to “anything” regardless of how crazy or stupid – and sometimes illegal – it is. You still will say no to things that ethically you disagree with doing.

Patrick Murphy-Racey keeps things positive for his clients by solving their problems rather than becoming a problem. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/160]
Tony was advocating that we turn ourselves into problem solvers for our clients and bosses, rather than becoming a problem.

The way this whole topic came up in the first place with Tony was over me trying to deal with clients that kept on saying since you are here can you do _______. Tony helped me to see how to take this request and not only meet the request but make more money.

I learned how to price for the project and then when this type of request came up I could say “Yes”. Yes I can make that happen, however since this wasn’t part of the proposal and is outside the scope of it I just need to charge XYZ for the additional work.

The way I had been handling these requests or similar variations for my whole life up to then was responding with a “NO”.

What Tony helped me to understand was that when I was saying no I wasn’t really helping the client at all. If they still needed it done then they would find someone who could make it happen and often then I would no longer be used for future projects.

Why do I want to say no?

Before I could say yes I learned I needed to know why I wanted to say no.

When I was in a staff job I often said no because I didn’t have time with all the other things on my plate. As a freelancer I was saying no because they were asking for more without offering more pay.

Had I learned this tip earlier in my career I would have become a more valuable team member. When someone would ask me to do something I would now be saying how I really want to help them. I would be saying YES–IF.

Yes I can make that happen for you if you can tell me which of these other projects I can delay or not do to be able to take on this extra work.

As a freelancer I am saying YES–IF you decide what on the list we were shooting comes off because I don’t have time to do all you have or I might be saying yes if you agree to the extra XYZ cost.

On the far right at the computer is Akili Ramsess, executive director for NPPA, who is reviewing the work on a student at the Southwestern Photojournalism Student Workshop. What I like here is not just that Akili is helping and the student is engaged, but it reminds me that others are watching us help.

Let the client say NO

Tony said my goal is to say yes as much as I can and to be sure the client is the one saying no and not me.

As the freelancer the client asks me to do something and my response is I would love to help you. The additional cost to make this happen is XYZ. Just sign right here to the changes on the contract and I will make it happen.

The client will then respond by great or no we cannot afford to do that. If they really have to have this done then you are not the reason it gets done, they don’t have the resources to make it happen or maybe the request then no longer important.

As a staff person I am not asking for more money. I am basically taking the burden of what is on my plate and the difficulties to make it happen back onto their plate.

My boss asks me to take photos of their event and in the past I would have said no I am already booked. I now say I am already covering another event at the same time. I am more than willing to cover this event if you need me to. Which event do you want me to cover and would you like me to get another photographer to cover the event I cannot cover?

Seeing this photo of my daughter with Bell from Beauty and the Beast reminds me of how the Beast had to change and learn to love. The latest movie really gives us the back story of how self centered the man was and why he was turned into a Beast. He said no to the old lady rather than helping her.

Saying No makes you a problem–Saying Yes Makes you a problem solver.

Every time you say no the person requesting your help will now have to find someone else. Had you said yes their problem is solved.

Today when I get a request for something and I am already booked, I always offer to find someone for them. One of the best ways to keep those clients coming back is to handle the booking of the photographer and have the photographer work as a subcontractor for you. This way they show up shoot the project and you handle the billing. This way they continue to come back to you.


Another tip I share with the students is about how to network. I tell them to act like a freshman and not a senior. Here is a previous blog post that I did explaining this tip for you.


 

A side note about speaking to the class is I get to spend time with Mark Johnson. Every time I go I have lunch with Mark and each time I learn so much.

This time I listened and watched how Mark works really hard to present content to the students in a positive manner. He doesn’t speak down to the students. He challenges them in a way that he is also communicating that he know they are able to do whatever he is asking of them.

It is a joy to visit UGA and spend time with the students and Mark.

How to handle client negotiations

Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/200 – 4 Alienbees B1600 with 40º Parabolic reflectors

The Slam Dunk

A Slam Dunk in business is when you exceed the expectations of the client. I have made the mistake many times throughout my career of not doing a great job of managing those expectations.

We have all had the client call and also had the bills stacking up and due to our need of getting the job we rush to do whatever is necessary to just get the job. This is like going to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will make unnecessary purchases.

Nikon D3, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/1000

Know the client’s expectations

When you have a brand new client managing expectations is so important. You need to not just listen and hear what they are saying, but I often ask for examples of what they are used to working with or if they have not worked with a photographer examples of what they would like that they have seen some where before.

Just this week I had two new clients, which I have never done work with before. In both cases I asked if they could send me some examples of what they are looking for so that we are on the same page.

I had one client send me work that would take little effort on my part to meet and exceed the quality of work they showed to me. However, the other client was talking to me about a photojournalistic coverage of where I was just shadowing someone, but then the photos they sent to me were well crafted lifestyle photos that would be used in a major advertising campaign.

The funny thing is that one client’s budget was more like champaign budget the and other was a beer budget.

In the case where the budget was cheap the taste was luxury for sure. This is where your attitude and negotiation skills come in to help educate the client or at least price the job properly so as to be sure you can deliver the product to meet those expectations.

Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

It is a conversation

Be careful to not jump to the very end of the process and write a contract that is a take it or leave it situation. Pace yourself.

I talked with my contact and let them know that the price range would be three to four times more than we had first been discussing if the images they showed was exactly what they were wanting. I also asked if they were showing a situation or more the quality that they are looking for in the photo.

Basically I don’t need to spend a lot of time producing an estimate for a advertising shoot when they really just need a ground breaking photo.

I always do my best to start with how I am able and more than willing to meet their expectations and can make it happen for them. I let them know my concern is to always get them the most for their budget.

Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.3, 1/500

Don’t be shortsighted, Have Foresight

Your creativity should not be limited to your work with the camera. You need to make the entire experience for your client so special that they love your work and tell others about you.

Your goal should be to surprise your client. One of the ways I started to surprise my clients was to use off camera flash. Just like here with this family photo.

Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/60

In this photo of the hunter it was raining. My flash is covered in zip lock bags. Had I not used the flash the skin color would not be as accurate and the dynamic range would have made the photo look extremely flat.

One way I continue to surprise my customers is quick turn around. I shot a client’s son’s wedding where before the Bride and Groom had left for the honeymoon the next day they had all the photos in an online gallery. As compared to most wedding photographers who take a month or two to get those photos to the bride and groom I had surprised them.

I have a good number of clients that are always changing things at the last moment. My response is always that is OK. I am here to make it happen for you. [Side Note: I do price to cover my need to be flexible]. Many times my clients make changes and I will do my best to move things to still work to get their project done. However, if I cannot make it happen for me to be there I line up a photographer/video person to give them the same quality as me or better.

Nikon D4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 10000, ƒ/10, 1/2000

Take care of your photographer colleagues

This just reminds me to be sure you are developing great friends in the industry. You want to give them work when you can and they should be doing the same for you over time.

If a job is not suited well for you take care of the client and find them the photographer who will be a good fit for the job. They often will come back to you for other jobs when you show to them you are looking out for their best interests over just yourself.

On The Same Page

When you and the client are working from the same page of notes, your ability to meet and exceed their expectations is something you can manage. However, if at any point you make assumptions and don’t verify what their expectations are for a job you can often find yourself reshooting for the same underestimated budget and therefore losing money or just lose the customer over all.

Here is a little secret I discovered over time. When you ask these questions to the client to clarify the scope of a job it makes you look more like an expert and their trust goes up in you.

Do you find online social media and photo tutorials lacking something?

This photo just begs for information. What is ASMP president Theresa Carol Sicurezza doing here? What does this have to do with a professional photography association?

Last night the ASMP Atlanta/Southeast had their Holiday party at Kevin Ames Studio. There was no program, just a time to socialize.

Lifetime member Ron Sherman is talking here with Leah Overstreet who just moved to Atlanta in the last month. Leah mentioned how much she had enjoyed working in the past in a studio space where everyone was able to interact and bounce new ideas and old ones around with each other.

Now that Leah has gone freelance she has discovered the isolation that so many of us face. Staring at your computer for hours on end is not the healthiest thing one could be doing. Just getting together with anyone while this can be helpful it isn’t very productive for your professional advancement.

After all birds of a feather flock together and this is what was happening at the party.

Michael Schwarz talks with new members Anthony and his wife Stacey. First thing that Stacey said to me was I can see you too carry a camera everywhere. Guilty as charged was my response. I did tell them the story of my friend who didn’t have his camera and missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have also missed some photos by not having a camera with me in the past.

I think the cool thing last night was Anthony met other like him who have cameras around their shoulders when they are not working.

Kevin Ames had setup a photo booth and James Barker was helping take photos of members. Kevin commented that we didn’t setup a selfie booth but rather we wanted a photographer to take our photos.

Now are you reading this and wishing you were there? This is one of the many reasons photo associations exist. We need to socialize with one another. We also want to have some kind of a filter to be sure we have a lot in common with the others. So for ASMP you must make more than 51% of your income as a photographer. We are not a camera club. We talk business as much as photography.

We have about six or so events a year locally, but you can also go to the other chapters around the country and go to their events as well.

Where is your photography community? I would say that for all those who came last night that an online community and listening to tutorials isn’t satisfying the need for community. We like getting together and listening and sharing our concerns.

I invite you to join ASMP and be at our next event. Here is where you go to find out more Join ASMP.

London taught me that creating an EXPERIENCE is important in business

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/220

In business your product is just part of why people will do business with you. Now if your product is on par with the rest of the industry then the other thing that people are paying for is EXPERIENCE.

We just spent our vacation traveling to London for an EXPERIENCE. One of the major things we were paying to enjoy was to relive the Harry Potter movies. We wanted to experience the movies as if we were there in them. So here we went to Kings Crossing Train Station to 9 3/4 to get our pictures made as if we were going through the wall onto Hogwarts.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

We went to the House of Minalima. Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima met in 2002 when a happy coincidence of fates meant they were to work together as graphic designers on the Harry Potter film franchise. Here they had a unique opportunity to establish the visual graphic style from the outset of the productions. The design aesthetic they created for Harry Potter is still sought after, be it designing collectable merchandise or collaborating on the much anticipated Warner Bros Studio Tour.

Rather than just have a store with items on the shelf they created a self guided tour of their artwork and created moments like we remember of Harry Potter’s invitation letter to Hogwarts. They created an EXPERIENCE for us to enjoy.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 640, ƒ/3.6, 1/100

One of the biggest phenomena’s in the past few years as related to photography has been the selfie. While we have always done some form of this with photography through the years the selfie stick came along to help us include more people in our photos.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Here you can see all the women getting in close to the London Bobby to get their photo made with him. It is an experience that not only are they having they are now sharing this in their social media. Then their friends will comment on how much they: like, love or other ways of expressing their joy of the photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 640, ƒ/3.6, 1/100

In the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Brother’s Studio outside of London they had different things you could do on the tour. Here my daughter is being taught how to dual with a wizarding wand using a mirror to see her style as compared to the teacher on the TV screen to the left.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/70

We went on a Harry Potter Muggles tour where they showed us some of the filming spots in London as well as take us to places like Collier Street which was J. K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Notice the tour guide is dressed in Gryffindor attire and looks like she could easily just walked off the set of the movie. To help us with the EXPERIENCE she had screen shots of the movie [in her hand] that she would pull out at different stops and pass around to help us see in the movie what we were EXPERIENCING first hand.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/75

Now my daughter dressed up in her Gryffindor robe and enjoyed not only having people ask to be photographed with them, but she was excited to see this guy dressed up as Newt Scamander from the latest movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Even last night I heard my daughter yell out that the guy dressed like Newt was in another documentary she just saw. Again it is about an EXPERIENCE.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/45

One of my daughter’s favorite scenes from the Harry Potter series is when Harry Potter talks with Remus Lupin on the Bridge. She is standing where they stood when they filmed that scene. What an EXPERIENCE it was for her.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/90

For me it was the scale model of Hogwarts that just let me see the detail for which they created this mystic place that captured me the most.

Question for You

What are you doing to create an EXPERIENCE that people will tell their friends about and want to do business with you.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Can you see your customers smiling at certain points in their interactions with you and your company?

Can you think of something that can create more of an EXPERIENCE than you are doing now?

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/110

My trip to London just reminded me that all those little details like clothing can help create something that keeps people traveling from all over the world to get the EXPERIENCE first hand.

Most importantly for everyone in business is to concentrate of creating a great PRODUCT and creating an EXPERIENCE that separates you from everyone else.

No longer available–Now What?

Our ice maker stopped working a few weeks ago. I first replaced the ice tray inside the refrigerator. While it worked after the repair the water wasn’t flowing to it to make the ice.

Above is the actual part for the water inlet valve. It controlled the water for ice and getting cold water in the front door.

The great thing about the internet is you can find parts from sources all over the world. However in my case the part was no where to be found. The “Currently unavailable” message was on every website that I went to and even calling around locally no one had one in stock.

I went to forums and no recommendations for anything other than having it rebuilt.

Problem Solving

While searching I realized this Kenmore part looked similar. The same number of inlet and outlets and similar switches, just a little different placement of the parts.

I took a risk and ordered the part. Cost was about $38 vs original part was more than $100 in many locations.

Took me about 15 minutes to install, minus one trip to Home Depot to get a $6 part to convert one water line to a bigger line. Turned it on and tried it. At first when making ice the water shot out the front of the door where you fill your cup with just water. Took about a minute to figure out I had switched the connections.

I made the change in the connection and now everything works.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100

This is what I do every day for my clients. I look and identify the problem needing to be solved and then I look for a solution.

Many people today can type in the model number of their refrigerator and find the part. Yes this is problem solving and would be helping a client. However, how many would be able to find a solution when the solution isn’t so clear cut.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/20

I will be honest that many times when I come up on problems and the solutions are not so clear, I pray. I have yet to have a voice talk to me and tell me the solution. What I have had happen many times after some time in prayer is the ability to let go.

After letting go and knowing I do not have a solution I then am able to be much more creative. I believe that the creator of the universe works through me in ways I cannot explain and helps me to think in ways I never would have done by myself and come up with some solutions.

Tips

First of all let me say that you cannot get enough education to know it all. Education is about a lifestyle of constant learning.

If you are starting out take formal classes at a college or trade school. Find a mentor and ask lots of questions.

Remember that if the solution is obvious to most anyone then there is little you can do to be of any service. Your value is helping solve problems that people cannot solve themselves.

All problem solving is creative thinking. No matter if it is accounting, childcare, food service, or something in the arts when you are up against a new problem and the solution isn’t something that has been done before, you are creative if you solve the problem.

The reason I make this last statement is that if you are an artist, like a photographer, as I am–You should take as much pride in doing the business part of the job as you do in the artistic part.

I will leave you with a scripture that to me reminds me that God is able to work through me if I only let God do so.

John 16:13

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

I want MORE civility so I don’t Unfriend more people

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Sports just might be the last area of civility I am seeing these days in our society.

Stephen L. Carter, the acclaimed author of The Culture of Disbelief proves to readers that manners matter to the future of America. says, “Civility represents the sum of all the sacrifices that one makes in a democracy for the sake of living a common life.”

Listen to Carter speak at Yale on the topic:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/20256014?title=0&byline=0
Is Civility Important? from Yale Law School on Vimeo
Now the reason I say sports is one of the last places I am seeing civility isn’t because people are not at odds, but yet they play hard and still try to get along after the game and during the game by respecting each other.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 22800, ƒ/2.8, 1/4000

Over the past 25 years I have watched so many institutions go through major changes. I watched my denomination, Southern Baptist Convention, growing up from a front row seat not just divide itself, but is now doing even less of what is was doing when it came to missions. I was laid off during the infighting because giving was dropping and they could no longer support my position.

My first job out of college was for a small daily newspaper. The media which are the ones reporting what is happening in America are protected by the 1st Amendment, yet due to so many financial changes are a fraction of the size they once were to cover our country, yet in the same time our country’s population has grown.

I watched as predominately Baptist fundamentalist organized to be The Moral Majority and attach themselves to the Republican party. I would sit in small groups in churches through the years and it was assumed that you were Republican if you were part of the church, because many didn’t see them as separate, but the same.

In past presidential debates the candidates took their turns more than today, where they talked over each other and the moderators. This is only a reflection of how we as a society talk to each other today.

I applaud Andy Stanley’s message not that long ago to his church about the election. Listen for yourself:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsFgHhXU8tE]
I think Stanley’s points around the scripture are what can help us restore civility to our public discourse.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus answered:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.

I think those who are not Christians could also live by some of the guidelines that Stanley points out. I love how he encourages you to share your opinion and even argue your point. However this is where I think his wisdom from the scripture would help reunite America. We should not make our points at the expense of undermining our influence.

The Great Unfriending

This weekend I unfriended a few more people because they crossed that line. They jeopardized their relationship with me. I don’t doubt I have probably done something to someone in my life to do the same.

This election cycle will most likely be remembered by many as the time so many of us unfriended someone in social media.

Business Tip

No matter your political position be careful that you don’t jeopardize a relationship or the ability to have influence in your industry.

In my faith we believe that Jesus died in order to demonstrate how much God wanted to restore the relationship. We believe there is nothing one can do that God would not forgive in order to restore a relationship. The only thing we believe that can break this relationship is man’s rejection of God’s olive leaf.

Revelation 3:20

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

As business people we should live this out in our business. We should be trying to recover customers and doing all we can to keep the ones we have.

We should speak up when we disagree with a client. We should argue our point with them. However, as Andy Stanley reminds us don’t do any of this at the risk of losing your influence or jeopardizing the relationship.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

You will score with your clients when you treat them as people. You will continue to have influence when you respect their opinions as well.

By living out Matthew 22:36-40 you will be the most confident, curious, composed, compassionate people in the room.

Lessons learned from Shakespeare, Bill Clinton and Steve Jobs

Our house is quite busy this week. My daughter has not only been memorizing lines for her role as Olivia in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, but also she is has been making all the costumes for the actors as well.

When you study Shakespeare you soon realize how revolutionary he was and I think creatives today can learn a lot from him.

The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original.

In the Twelfth Night here are some of the words he created:

  • Improbable fiction
  • Laugh yourself into stitches
  • Out of the jaws of death
  • consanguineous
  • control (n.)
  • dexterously
  • hobnob
  • lustrous
  • malignancy
  • to negotiate
  • whirligig

Innovative

I think what creatives today can take away from Shakespeare is the importance of innovation rather than just variations within a style.

“Advertising” was created by Shakespeare–that is the word was created by him. Photographers use his word “exposure” a great deal in their craft.

At the root of his creation of words is that of a problem. I believe Shakespeare was just solving the problem of how to talk about life when the words just didn’t exist. He was helping the audience understand a storyline by addressing the lack of words to describe something.

The key to our success is our ability to tackle new problems and come up with new solutions.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta_SFvgbrlY]

“I feel your pain” – Bill Clinton

Your business success is based in your ability to have true empathy for a client and the struggles they are going through. Your ability to communicate that empathy is key to your success. Bill Clinton huge debate moment was when he was able to connect with the American people and talk about their problems and connect with them emotionally.

After the debate Clinton shortened this into his slogan “I feel your pain.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBmFwKH5bVY]
Steve Jobs, like Clinton, articulated the problem someone experiences with mobile phones before his introducing the iPhone.

“Business School 101 graph of the smart axis and the easy-to-use axis, phones, regular cell phones are kinda right there, they’re not so smart, and they’re – you know – not so easy to use.”

Jobs, like Clinton, then goes on to talk about how Apple is the right company to tackle the problem because they did it before.

“We solved it in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a bit-mapped screen that could display anything we want. Put any user interface up. And a pointing device. We solved it with the mouse. Right?”

Steve Jobs roll outs of new products are studied today by marketing experts just like we study Shakespeare in schools.

Just watch Steve Jobs bring up problem after problem and then show how the new iPhone will handle this for you. While this is an hour presentation, people were on the edge of their seats because he continued to introduce a new problem and the solution to that problem. The iPhone was to revolutionize how you will do life–and it did just that for our culture.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hUIxyE2Ns8]

What Problems Are You Solving?

You want to be successful–then solve the problems of others. Those who rise to the top are those that serve others.

Did you know that your problems tend to disappear when you focus on others problems and help solve them? The key to your happiness is by serving others and making them happy.

Why Instagram is great for photographers

Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. – Wikipedia

How do you find work?

To get hired you need to find your audience. This is where your potential clients are that you want to show your work.

Many years ago the way photojournalists and photographers got work was by flying to places like New York and making appointments at as many publications or agencies that they could pack together in a few days to a week.

It was common for a person to spend $3,000 to $6,000 on transportation, hotel and miscellaneous expenses to just show their work. Most photographers would have a few books. Each of these books cost were a few hundred dollars or more to produce. You often would drop off your book and hope they would give you a call. So having a few books was important to get your work out there.

Today clients are more likely to just ask you to send them a link to your website. Face to face meetings are more reserved for the actually projects than just seeing people’s work.

How do you get their attention today?

Now if you are a writer then Twitter might be the best way to get your work noticed.

Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. Registered users can read and post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them. – Wikipedia

It is important to note the difference between Twitter and Instagram. Twitter was established to share TEXT and Instagram was setup for PHOTOS/VIDEOS.

While you can post photos on Twitter the audience is expecting mainly text. Instagram requires an image or photo because that is what the audience is expecting.

People like Instagram because it is visual and this is the audience that will appreciate your images.

Your Target Audience uses Instagram

The odds are pretty high that your audience [Potential Customers] uses Instagram. Take a few minutes and go to Instagram.com and type in the search box the names of the companies you want to work with in the future.

Here I searched for Delta Air Lines and before I could finish typing it popped up first.

When you then go to their account they tell you to share your travel pics and use the hashtag #Delta.

Hashtags are a pound sign immediately followed by a keyword. They’re used for categorization on social media.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA]
Instagram is another hotspot for hashtags, and the good news for those who love to extensively tag photos is that there doesn’t seem to be a saturation point.

Interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags.

Now here is another tip. If you use @Delta then whoever manages the Instagram feed for Delta gets an alert/email that you have tagged them.

This is because @NAME is the account. Only the account holder will get an email, whereas the hashtag is something anyone who follows that hashtag will see.

Believe me there is someone at Delta paying attention to those posts. If they like it they may share your post and if they really like your style they may end up hiring you to shoot material for their Instagram feed and other projects.

Relevance!!!!!!

While I just showed you the backdoor to getting your work in front of potential clients it is important that you use this technique in such a way as to be relevant to your potential client.

If you tag your photo with @NAMEOFBUSINESS be sure the image is something that they would post on their account.

Here is a post where I and tagging Coca-Cola.

Here is a post that I tagged Nescafe.

I also used hashtags for the country and region of the world.

Now just remember that because you are using the correct account name and hashtags to get in front of your potential customers that doesn’t mean success. Your images must be compelling and they must think your style of work is worth pursuing.

Now here are some of the Instagram accounts I follow because I think they are relevant and reaching an audience:

I follow many others, but this is a good sample. Most of the successful photographers using Instagram in my opinion marry the text and images so there is a short story.
I have noticed that those who are most successful tend to stay on theme for their Instagram posts. 
Be careful how you evaluate Instagram accounts!!!! Do not base your opinions on what you think about their work alone. I highly recommend taking the time to analyze an account and figure out why they have 40K+ followers. Humans of NY has 5.5 million followers. Now if you are a trained photojournalist you may find fault with the work of some of these Instagram celebrities. Don’t discount them. Learn from them and then put your personal touch on your posts using some of their techniques.

Are you a Proactive or Reactive Volunteer?

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 36000, ƒ/8, 1/100

Last night I attended the ASMP Atlanta Chapter meeting where the executive director Tom Kennedy shared what is the status of the organization. He was here to listen to the members and what they are also seeing as a need for the organization.

When we asked the question, “What is the value proposition of ASMP?” is when we found that we didn’t have a very simple answer.

WIIIFM – We realize that one of the first things that most photographers are asking is “What Is In It For Me?”

This is a very common theme that every business and organization must realize. We are there to serve our audience/customer. The really hard thing for most volunteer organizations to grapple with is that those volunteering for the organization are also the audience.

We as volunteers are more prone to give of our time when we are getting something out of it.

In the FOCUS meeting last weekend Greg Thompson, director of corporate communications for Chick-fil-A, talked about this from the perspective of hiring new people to his team.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/169081824

Greg listens for how long the person talks about what they want to get out of a job verses what they want to give of themselves. He went on to talk about Truett Cathy.

“When you focus on what other people need and want it is amazing how you get what you want.” –– Truett Cathy

I think while there may be some examples out there on how to truly be successful, I think for the most part that the way to truly be successful is actually counter intuitive and this is why it is so difficult for people.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 32000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

As we were wrapping up the meeting Tom Kennedy talked about one of the most influential words he remembers shaping America when he was just ten years old from the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” –– John F. Kennedy

Ah Ha Moment for me

Last night the Ah Ha Moment for me was hearing people talking about how they wanted to help the organization and were volunteering. The moment it clicked was when someone offered to go to the area colleges and art schools to talk about ASMP.

You see I have been doing that for the past fifteen years or more. I have been speaking to colleges and art programs regularly about business practices.

I realized that many of my colleagues were having the same trouble with volunteering as they do with talking to clients about work. They are more than willing to help out and really would if asked, but that is the problem.

By the way when I am speaking to those groups I am representing ASMP. I am also representing every other group I am a member of like NPPA, Roswell Presbyterian Church, Atlanta Press Club and many other hats I wear. You see ASMP is doing a great deal. Just see what our members are already doing.

We as members are acting on behalf of the organization informally all the time. This is how new members will decide to join or not based on how they see us conduct ourselves. Many people join organizations because they are impressed with the members or they stay away saying they are just hypocrites.

Now I am not sure we see that when we ask a client if there is anything we can do to help we are often creating another problem. Sure there are times that if you have a good relationship already with a client that they may be able to tell you something, but the reality is most of the time they would have to stop and think about their needs and then think about your abilities.

It is the same thing as someone coming to your house offering to help you. Often they would be embarrassed to let you see the inside of their house and then for them to know how YOU can help.

Possible Solution

Lets take a problem situation like a family has just had a loved one seriously hurt in some accident and they are now in the hospital. Calling the family and saying is there anything I can do is not as effective as offering them some specific services that you can do for them.

Here are some ideas:

  • Can I bring you a meal today?
  • Can I go by your house and handle some things for you?
    • Cut their grass
    • Get their mail
    • Check on their pets
    • Pick up some clothes for you
  • Your children can stay at my house and I can get them off to school for you – can I do that for you?
When someone is in a very stressful time for them to stop and think of things you can do for them isn’t easy to do. This is where those who are truly service oriented thrive and rise to the top.
Be proactive and not reactive. While you think that asking if there is anything you can do is proactive, it is really fishing for something that you can be reactive.

Volunteer Suggestions

I think I will be taking my own advice and reaching out to Tom Kennedy with some things I can offer to do for the organization.
  • Hey Tom I would like to volunteer by writing some blog posts and willing to coordinate getting others to write some posts as well. Would this be something you could use?
  • Tom I have been going to area colleges and speaking on Business Practices and could video tape one of my presentations or share my powerpoint if that could help others do that around the country.
  • Tom I would love to create a multimedia package on some of our Atlanta chapter members who are great success stories on how they are helping clients reach their goals.
I think it is easier for the organization to react to my proactive actions than me asking what can I do for the organization.
By the way I think all this proactive conversation about helping your associations you might be a member also works for how to get more jobs.

Faith Peppers asks, “What do you want to be known for?”

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 2500, ƒ/3.5, 1/100

Faith Peppers, the director of public affairs and chief communications officer for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, recommends that communications professionals ask themselves, “What do you want to be known for?”

Peppers says that she hires for character many times and then also may consider if someone has particular skills like storytelling.

Listen to her advice here:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/168774983