I would love to say that all it takes to succeed in this industry is talent, passion and hard work. But of course, that’s not how it works. Yes it takes all of that, but it also takes good business acumen, and the ability to work with others. I’m still amazed at how many photographers get into this industry thinking that the work will take care of itself. Or how many don’t bother to shower or shave before a job. To illustrate, please allow me to recount a conversation my wife and I had recently while at the mall.

Jen: You need new brown shoes
Me: I know these are beat – but who looks at a man’s shoes?
Jen: Women and gay men, who do you mostly work for?
Me: OK, I wear size 11

When we got home (with new shoes) I looked at my client list and realized that 80% of my direct contacts at my clients fit into one of those two above categories. I don’t care about shoes, I don’t know shoes, nor do I covet or desire them. New Canon 17mm shift lens, drool. But the Nordstrom shoe dept. does not come to me in my dreams. But I really like my clients and if something matters to them it matters to me.

This all fits into the realm of respecting and honoring your clients. You obviously need to fill their needs from a photographic point of view, but also need to understand who they are and what’s important to them personally and professionally. Remember their kids’ names, ask about their sick mom. Remember that the only reason you can pay your mortgage is because they keep coming back.

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