CLIENT SATISFACTION: It’s Not Just About Your Images

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All photographers want to cultivate relationships with clients that lead to repeat business, enthusiastic referrals, and great word-of-mouth. But many talented professionals struggle to engender such loyalty despite producing superior and competitive work. That’s why
I strive to make sure my clients receive attention and service beyond the expected norm, catering to their individual needs the way larger adverting firms would.

I start with the tethering experience: By using Capture One Pro, I can show clients my images instantly after every take, enabling them to give me the immediate feedback I require to get the results they want. I usually have a Macbook Pro set up where my clients can sit and watch the shots as they come in. They can also see the images on any smart phone. Clients can check to make sure their product is being displayed properly; they know exactly what they are getting and can make changes on the fly should they need to. I no longer have to worry about a client complaining after a shoot, “I wish the model was looking this way” or “I wish the model didn’t have her hand there.”

Tethering software like this is a large investment in addition to your camera gear, but it’s an important one. This service alone will set you apart from most freelancers out there and let your clients know you will go above and beyond the competition to accommodate them.

I also advise assembling a tech team you can rely on. One lesson I learned early in the game is that you cannot do everything yourself.
I’ve learned to trust that my team will do what I want even when I don’t give them explicit instructions. As we’ve worked closely together, they have become an extension of my vision, often anticipating and making adjustments I desire before I ask for them. I could not have achieved the level of professionalism I have without such a talented, industrious crew.

Although you might have to charge far more to pay for your team, the benefit to the client will more than justify the higher rate. Having a crew to build your set and to arrange your equipment ultimately saves both you and the client valuable time–and, as we all know, time is money. It also frees you from the technical drudgery so you can focus on realizing your clients’ creative vision in your images.

Michael Imperioli from the Sopranos / Ad campaign 2014 2014 Ad Campaign featuring Primetime Emmy Award Winner: Michael Imperioli

While still a junior in high school, I got a job as a furniture salesman, where I learned firsthand that the customers are, indeed, always right. Working on commission, I developed a sense of the different signals clients give off when making decisions, which I now apply in my photography business. For example, when I’m reviewing images with my client in-between wardrobe changes and the
client says “hmmm” and sits there frowning over the image, I instantly halt the wardrobe change and get talent back on set to get a better shot. I never leave the set until I’m sure that my clients are getting exactly what they had in mind for every wardrobe or product change, and I can’t wait till the end of the shoot to address any concerns they may have.

When the shoot is over, I want my clients to walk away feeling excited and fulfilled. There is nothing more satisfying as a photographer than having the feeling that you brought their vision to life through your photography. To understand photography might give you great pictures, but to understand your client is to understand your profession.

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