Photographers—What are you trying to accomplish?

Hurricane Sandy destruction in New Jersey

When a crisis happens you will quickly realize how you go to your strengths. I remember many people who took personality tests like Myers Briggs and when they went through a disaster is when it really confirmed their traits.

Disasters is what often brings out our very best. If we could boil down how we want to act in these situations we would most likely get to the essence of what we think we are trying to accomplish every day.

What do you want to accomplish? 

I highly recommend photographers think about this so they can pick their true North for setting their compass, otherwise you will be wandering around and stay lost.

Stanley’s Mission Statement

My goal is to provide storytelling images while building life-long relationships and great experience from beginning to end with my clients.  I want to always look to create remarkable moments by exceeding expectations.

I have changed this mission statement numerous times, but no matter when you asked me the essence of the mission statement stays the same. I have internalized it. How I might phrase it today has a lot to do with my experiences up to that moment.

Shooting products all day long verses covering a hospital in West Africa might have me in a different mood and affect how I word it, but I am always seeing myself as helping others tell their story through photos.

The pediatric ward at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana.

The Disney corporation’s mission statement is:

We create happiness by providing the finest entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere.

While every cast member [employee] may not quote this word for word but most have internalized it and would say something about creating happiness.

How this plays out every day at Disney is in four keys for every situation:

The order they put these in priority are:

  1. Safety
  2. Courtesy
  3. Show
  4. Efficiency

All are important, but if someone might get hit by the headless horseman riding on horse down the street then the cast member will pull them out of the say. Yes this means safety was a priority over the show.

All four are important and number four is not the least important, just in crisis people’s safety takes priority. Even in the everyday food service they want to be sure the food is safe to avoid crisis.

Here are what I think are my core keys.

Stanley’s Core Values

1. Relationships
2. Dependable
3. Creative
4. Passionate

Core values are 3-5 terms that describe the forces that drive you to form and grow your organization. If you are the founder, they are the same as or closely related to your personal  values. Your values tell you not only who you are as an organization, but who you are not.

How this plays out when I hire an assistant for the day, I talk with them about my core values.  I emphasize we want to protect those relationships with the client and subject more than getting the shot.

I have process in place which makes my deliverables very dependable. This is more important that the skin tones are correct as well as exposure before I go and give the client something as a surprise, which is more about WOW factor in creativity. You cannot WOW if you do not give them what they expect and for me this is being dependable.

I do all this is passion. I love what I do and I want everyone to experience the desire for getting the absolute best the team can produce.

Because I have thought about what I want to accomplish and be known for I am more likely to achieve my goal than the photographer who hasn’t taken the time to decide in the big picture what are they doing today.

If I get to the photo shoot and the client has an emergency, it is easy to do what I can to help them. I have established the relationship is more important than the pictures at that moment.

Disney has taken on creating happiness. If families come and forget where they have parked their car is it their fault? No it isn’t, but they don’t want the family to go home and someone ask them how it was and the first thing out of their mouth is that “Bob” forgot where the car was parked and how many hours it took to find the car.

Disney cast members came up with their own solution. They had always told the people getting on the trams they picked them up in say Daffy 40 & 41 three times before they leave the tram to enter the park. When they get on they tell them, half way through and then before they get off.

Even after doing that the people would forget. So when the park visitor asks for help they ask them what time they came in. They have recorded the times they filled each section and name of that section.

What are situations that happen all the time with your customers that isn’t your fault, but it is your problem?

If you don’t have the bigger picture in place as to what you are about and your core values, how will you grow your business when you need to have everyone working with you representing you consistently as a company?