Fruit of your Labor

We displayed the fruits of our labor at the county fair. What have you accomplished? Where is the fruit of your labors?


If you are like most you also measure a lot of your self worth from what you do. When you do this the next most likely thing done is then to compare what you produce to others.

The Citadel’s Lacrosse team competed against Reinhardt during tournament at Northview High School in John’s Creek, Georgia on April 23, 2016. [NIKON D5, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Sport, TC-2001, ISO 560, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, Focal Length = 440]

Georgia Tech’s #2 Isma’il Muhammad slams one early over NC State’s #11 Gavin Grant during play at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia, February 13, 2005. [NIKON D100, 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 , ISO 400, ƒ/6.7, 1/180, Focal Length = 67]

How good is your game? That seems to be what drives many photographers. They compare their work to other photographers.

Oxnard Chick-fil-A soccer team. Oxnard, CA [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 50, Ä/11, 1/200, Focal Length = 14]

Once I started to do freelance full-time I shifted my focus to observing successful photographers. I started to watch those who were busy and not basing that decision on how their photos looked.

Island Breeze was founded in Samoa and has multiple locations around the world. Our team’s main focus is sharing the true essence of Aloha to the ends of the earth. [NIKON D3S, 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/500, Focal Length = 14]

About eleven years ago I started to hire photographers for my clients. That is when I got to see really why certain photographers were busy.

Photo Skills

First of all for a person to get hired to shoot for a client there work must meet some bare minimums for that client. Let me explain that the skill level is a lot lower than many photographers think it should be, but that is reality.

To be considered the photographer must produce photos that are well exposed and in focus. Now the fascinating thing about hiring photographers was all the other stuff that made me either want to hire them again or never use them again.

Naomi Ouattara plays with her older sister Anne in Soubakamedougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa
Negotiating Skills

When I would call photographers asking them to do some work how they handled that first phone call and negotiating our contract determined pretty much the rest of the relationship.

I need to know the price, the terms and when I will get the photos. It was a two way street on this. The photographer also needed to know this from their perspective.

If a photographer after we have agreed on everything then wants to negotiate more then this was a clear indication of someone who was going to take too much of my time. I need the photographer to shoot and deliver with as little problem as possible.

Mark Adams enjoys cup of coffee with David Velázquez Just Coffee Cooperative farmer. [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 9000, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 14]
People Skills

What I was really surprised about is that there are many photographers who can get some really great photos of people’s expressions, but have poor people skills.

However, I must say that most of the time those photographers with good expressions in their photos of people tended to have better people skills than most.

Most of my clients are concerned with how did the photographer do with the people when they were shooting more than just how were their photos. You see the photographers are representing them when they show up. This is why many clients will put a staff person on set to go between the photographers and the subjects because they don’t want problems later.

I hired many photographers once that I would not hire again, because the word came back that they were difficult to work with. Then there are other photographers that actually make the client look better than if they were there.

Final Product – The Photos

I am surprised as to how many photographers take way too long to get the photos to the client. When I am hiring photographers I need them to rename the photos with a very specific file naming nomenclature so that the photos will work with the database that they are put into for the client.

In addition to the file naming I need the metadata filled out as well. This is all part of the negotiating I have done with the photographer when first hiring them for the job.

You would be surprised as to how many do not follow through. So, I get the photos numbered the way they came out of the camera with no metadata. Now this creates a problem because I have to contact the photographer and ask them to fix the images and upload them again. This delays now the client seeing the images.

I have had a few photographers get the photos to me after the deadline and we couldn’t use them for the initial purpose.

Final tips to increase the fruits of your labor
  • Negotiating – Keep it simple. Don’t use industry jargon unless absolutely necessary. Be realistic and do not over promise.
  • People Skills – Listen, communicate & relate on a personal/professional level. Good people skills also extend to include problem-solving abilities, empathy for others and a willingness to work together toward the common good. Reply to your emails promptly. Value your client’s point-of-view.
  • Photos – Deliver to the client photos in the way you negotiated. WOW clients by under promising and over delivering.
  • Be clear and transparent –Customer loyalty increases also based on how mistakes are being handled. Studies show that up to 70 percent of unhappy customers transform into loyal customers if the mistake has been fixed exceeding their expectations.