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Listening and Looking for Solutions

Success Story Series – Part 1

[by Todd Joyce]

Joyce KMK-Group-2FNLA very large law firm contracted me to photograph headshots for their company. It was stressed to me that the lawyers’ time is very valuable, especially if they were a partner at the firm, so we had to be as efficient as possible. The marketing director also said they would have me come in occasionally for group photos when their partners won awards (several being named to a “best of” list, etc.). Again, stressing the need for efficiency by telling me that if we kept a group of 10 attorneys for 30 minutes, it could cost the firm as much as $2,000 in billable time per session. She dreaded the thought of trying to arrange everyone’s schedule to make it happen too.

Taking the timing and the headaches of scheduling into consideration, I proposed a solution. What if we set up another lighting set while we were photographing the headshots for the partners to be photographed full body on white. We could photograph them in various poses as a library to drop into a group when needed. Possibly even in a scene. The added time taken for the full figure images wouldn’t take much time once they were prepped for the headshots and I could build the group photos whenever they needed. Joyce KMK-Group-8-FNL-A98Doing it this way offered no group sessions later and nobody would have to schedule it. The client loved the solution! It saved them money and everyone’s time. And, it made more income for me, by photographing all the full body images and creating the composites as needed. It’s an overused phrase, but this was definitely a win/win for everyone.

Todd photographs people for advertising and corporate.

By admin | Posted: April 13th, 2016 | No comments

Why Am I Here?

In Which I Write A Blog Post About Blogging And The Symbiotic Spokes In The Wheel That Is Social Media.

[by Barry Schwartz]

For the longest time I could not figure out what social media could do for me. So I did nothing. Or almost nothing: I had a mousy level of participation on Facebook, which I joined only so people from my past could find me and everyone else would not think I was a total luddite, including my girlfriend, who was very active, staying in touch with her friends, family, colleagues, and several hundred thousand cat videos. I’m more into dog videos, myself.

It seemed like I should have a blog, everyone said so, but with what content and for what purpose? I have always read lots of blogs, following deep into the links social media sent me to, but was not able to imagine myself as an active, rather than a passive, participant.

Then things got slow, business-wise. I had read many blog posts about how social media could impact one’s business, specifically how a lack of social media participation could be linked to a lack of business. My mind became more focused.

I was aware that potential clients and employers use social media to find out things about someone they want to hire: What is your personal work like? Who are you? Who are your friends, including professional colleagues? What kinds of hobbies or interests do you have? Are you obsessed with the Kardashians or Satanic practices or some combination of the two? Like that. You would think this would be old news for everyone by now, but that’s not the case, and it was not with me.

I got active, but knew that simply having a blog is not enough; a professional online presence has to connect to all the spokes of a social media wheel. I developed a semi-professional presence on Facebook, a thoroughly professional presence on Linkedin, put photos on Tumblr and Houzz, and got registered on Twitter, Instagram, Google +, and Pinterest without any other content than my contact information because…why not? It’s so easy.

Professional blogs need a reason to exist: what’s it for? In addition to my primary gig as a photographer, I also write and teach college classes and workshops on professional practices for photographers. My photography website and Tumblr, along with Facebook, serve as outlets for my photography. The blog is focused on business issues and showing off my writing (and a little photography) in order to encourage people to hire me to teach and write in the same way my photography site is designed to get me hired to make photos. Every bit of my online presence links to every other bit of my online presence, my own little social media universe.

As a bonus, just like my photography site, my blog offers another way to track the comings-and-goings of viewers, and that’s no small thing when you’re trying to figure out why people hire you. Or don’t hire you. The blog and my photo site feed and sustain each other. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The spokes of the social media wheel serve as a way for photography clients who visit my website to see that I am a serious professional, someone they can trust to act correctly without adult supervision, and proof I understand their own social media needs. For my blog, since my classes and workshops are about the photography business, linking to my photo website serves as proof I have professional grounds on which to base my teaching.

Each time I post on my blog, it reappears automatically on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google +, and Tumblr, and I regularly re-post on Medium. Videos of cats and dogs, none. A section on my photo website is devoted to cat and dogs, so that’s covered, even though no one has ever hired me to photograph any. I don’t care, they are something I like – same as my clients.

Barry Schwartz is a photographer, educator, and writer in Los Angeles and San Francisco, who has many thousands of photos of his dog, only one of which is on his website.

By admin | Posted: April 11th, 2016 | No comments
Get Connected

From Contact Form to Contract

[by Pascal Depuhl]

Before I ever speak to a potential client…

… I usually get an email that reads: “A lead has been assigned to you”. It’s my Customer Relationship Management system’s way of letting me know someone just clicked the button on the contact form of my website. By this time, that prospective client has already received a personalized email response, their information is already captured in SalesForce, and I’ve gotten a text message with their phone number all while they are usually still on my website.

If I’m not shooting, I’ll take a minute, open the SalesForce app on my phone which lets me see what kind of photography or video the website visitor is looking to have me create for them, and give them a quick call or fire off a second prewritten email.

Questions and AnswersA Guide To

Attached to the second email is a pdf that answers many of the questions that my clients have asked me over the years. It goes over the basic kinds of product photos, how to make a list of all the shots the client needs, etc.

“Your product photography guide really helped us think through the types and number of shots we needed for our project”, one client told me recently.

In addition to the guide they can use my online Request-an-Estimate, another SalesForce integrated form that walks my next client through the basic ASMP Assignment Estimate Form.

Product-Photography-guide-page-4-300x169Once they’ve worked through the guide and filled out the form, my first phone call usually turns out to be very productive because many basic questions have already been answered.

With all the information in hand, I can create an estimate that gets sent out using a third SalesForce email template. (Check out what an actual estimate of mine looks like.) My estimate always contains a modified version of the ASMP Terms & Conditions, which gets integrated in any proposed agreement the client sends me. Once the estimate is signed and the deposit is received, we schedule the shoot.

Tools I use

Even before that signature, I start to build a “Production Book” in Evernote, which starts out as a blank template with room for the Description/Creative Brief, Estimate/Agreement, Schedule, Crew Info, details of all locations, Shot-list / Layout / Storyboard, Equipment Rental, Travel details, etc.  All these line items need to be priced out in order for an estimate to be created.

By the end of the shoot, this document will contain everything I need to plan, produce, shoot, process, and bill the job. Since it lives in the cloud, it’s always accessible and sharable. Plus, since Evernote automatically integrates with SalesForce, the production book is linked to the electronic job folder already.

Once the job is shot and the photos are prepped and/or the video is edited, I again rely on a template I’ve created in my CRM for my delivery memo. (Check out 10 more tools I use to keep me productive.)

During this process, many things factor into the decision of whether a potential client is a good fit – the type of photography they’re looking for – someone who is looking for a wedding photographer gets referred to a friend of mine who shoots beautiful weddings; the cost of the shoot often determines if I can produce the job that the client has in mind; the terms under which the client proposes to work together (transfer of copyright, requesting every file and all media shot on a job, long payment terms, or disallowing the use of the images we’ve created or the client’s brand in my self promotion, are red flags that need to be addressed.)

Have you created a work flow from first contact to filled out contract and beyond? Share what concepts and creative ideas have worked for you in the comments below.

Miami based product photographer Pascal Depuhl is always looking for the next online tool that can help him be a more productive small business. Read his most recent 3 real world client interactions on his blog, and learn how two of them went from contact form to contract (and why he turned down a 5 figure job).


By admin | Posted: April 8th, 2016 | No comments

Client Onboarding

[by Luke Copping]

You’re in your office working, you have your music on, and you’re just getting into that flow state where you really start to ramp up your productivity. You’re wrapping up post-production, taking care of billing, and it seems like things are just falling into place for you today.

And then the phone rings…

It’s a potential client inquiring about a project.

By all rights, this is a good thing — validation that your marketing is working, potential income to grow your business and keep a roof over your head, perhaps even an amazing opportunity that will catapult you past your current set of professional goals. But deep down in your lizard brain are a million worrisome questions: Is this another for profit company who wants free work? Does their budget match up with their usage needs? Is this even the kind of work I want to be known for shooting? What if I don’t get along with the client? Will they want a price over the phone?

We know these voices, and most of us have found ways to quiet them, and a process that helps us move forward effectively with potential clients to allows us to ask questions, to get the information we need, and to get them on board with our workflow. But every now and then we can be caught off guard. Maybe it’s one of your dream clients calling and in the excitement you forget to ask a key question. Maybe things have been slow, and in your haste to book the job you miss some serious red flags. Basically, this is the part of the infomercial where a guy clumsily drops an armful of dishes and shouts, “There’s got to be a better way!”

You need something you can rely on to help you gather information and keep you mentally ordered for when you have to deal with moments like this — I use a project intake form as part of my process to help me stay on track when it comes to gathering info and getting a deeper insight into the client’s motivations and needs for a project. The great thing about a document like this is that it can be used as a phone script with me asking the important questions, or sent out directly to the client as an interactive PDF that they can fill out and return to me with all of the important info I need.

Here are some questions you might consider including on yours:

Tell us about your business and your goals for this project?

Tell us about your customers — both current and the type you want to attract with this campaign/project?

Can you give us some background on your brand and what sort of you want it to evoke in those who interact with it?

How far along are you in the creative process of this project?

Are you already working with a designer or agency?

Do you have layouts or comps that we need to consider when shooting?

Tell us about the locations you envision for this project?

If travel is involved, will we be arranging that or will you?

Tell us about the subject/talent specifications for this project? Is there a talent budget?

Tell us a bit about the production scope you envision for this project?

This is a great place to start educating less experienced buyers about the importance of working with a good crew, begin conversations about things like stylists and producers, and give them a sense of all the little stuff that can go into a production that can add up — it can help prevent sticker shock when you deliver your final estimate.

Tell us about any production timelines or deadlines we need to be aware of?

Can you tell us about how the images will be used? 

I like to include and establish some common definitions here for them to work with, like Advertising, Collateral, and PR/Publicity, as part of this question.

How can we best reach you? 

You would not believe how many clients neglect to share their contact info.

Is there anything else you want to share with us about your goals for this project? 

What sort of questions do you include in your client intake process?

Buffalo NY Photographer Luke Copping specializes in commercial and editorial portraits of people and animals. His personal work documents the creatives and small business people who are busting their asses to bring new life to the Rust Belt cities of Western New York… He’s also the Vice Chair of ASMP National.

By admin | Posted: April 6th, 2016 | 1 comment

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