Of all the things that I do, from the late nights working on new lighting techniques to the hours of building wedding albums and retouching photos… nothing is a stressful as the client interview. When a client comes in to interview you about shooting their event, it’s like the worst job interview in the world. Unlike other jobs, photography is so subjective that just being able to convince someone you take good pictures isn’t enough.
You have to convince them that the pictures you take are substantially better than the pictures that your competitors take, or at the very least, possess some form of artistic merit that screams for them to hire you. While it’s true that they would not even be speaking to you if they didn’t like your work, it’s also true that there are usually at least a few other photographers in town who produce work similar to yours. This is why it’s important to differentiate yourself from those photographers during the pitch.
It’s a fine line when you are trying to explain to a client what makes you different than your competition. You have to be careful not to sound like someone who is simply trashing every other photographer in town. At the same time, it’s important to let people know what sets you apart. You would be surprised at the little things that can make a difference when a person is trying to choose a photographer. For example, when my clients purchase all of their images on a DVD, I deliver that disc in a custom case with a cameo photo on the cover and a custom label on the disc itself.
Recently, during an interview I was showing this case to some potential clients and I mentioned, “Some photographers will just write on your DVD with a sharpie and hand it to you in a paper envelope. I really don’t think that’s any way to present the images from your wedding.”
A while later, after the clients had come back to me and signed a contract, they admitted that during an interview with another photographer he had shown them a DVD in a paper envelope that had been written on with a sharpie. As they were driving away from the interview, the guy turned to his fiancÃ©e and said, “that’s exactly the sort of thing that Booray warned us about.”
I wasn’t really trying to “warn” them. The point I was making when I mentioned it was that I take what I do seriously and I believe that presentation is important. This may be something that your potential client hasn’t really thought about and now you have made it a concern. It doesn’t really matter what your examples are, but during your presentation you should give some indication that you are someone they can trust. People need reassurance. If you can show them that you deliver a quality product, that you delivered in a timely manner, and that you think it’s as important as they do, then you have already set the bar high for whoever they interview after you.