When the going gets tough, how do photographers solve problems for their clients and be one step ahead to prevent hiccups from even happening in the first place? We talked to photographers to find out exactly how they keep the waters calm and anticipate problems to #makeclientshappy.
Remember, we’re also looking for your stories about how you’ve solved problems for your own clients. Tweet with #makeclientshappy or post a comment below and you’ll have a chance to get featured in an upcoming blog post this month.
1. Be flexible and accommodating
Commercial photographer and PhotoShelter member Michael Bageley makes a point to over deliver to stand out and keep his clients happy. When asked about his commitment to clients, Michael says, “From a business standpoint, I work very hard to be flexible and accommodate scheduling changes and challenges on set. I’m friendly, patient and kind no matter what circumstances arise. I also like to give my clients gifts to show how much I appreciate them – chocolate and framed pictures go a long way. It’s great fun to see the smiles that can bring.”
2. Make problem solving part of your workflow
Australia-based portrait & wedding photographer Hannah Gough knows that keeping clients happy and preventing problems has to be part of her everyday work routine. Says Hannah, “I try to implement customer service at each stage of my process. I’ve worked in the hospitality industry, too, and I think that has helped me understand what people need and how to keep them happy. The key is communication. I’ll try to be as available and communicative as possible at each stage. Once they’re booked in and confirmed I make sure that I’ve answered any questions they have. I keep them in the loop about my process, and when everything is done, once they have received their frames or prints, I follow up—I want to make sure that they’re happy!”
3. Get the client on your team
New York-based commercial and portrait photographer Monte Isom has definitely put out a fire or two while on set with clients.The secret to keeping things calm? Making sure you work WITH clients, not against them. Says Monte, “As a portrait photographer, you have to understand that there’s always a variable with people, and sometimes when you get on set, the subject, like a football player who you need to shoot in 4 different active scenarios, turns to you and says “I’m not doing any physical activity today.” In the photo world, that’s like a 4-alarm, entire building’s on fire kind of fire.
At that point, it’s on the photographer to manage the situation with the subject. When it comes to changing the mind of the subject, it’s all about getting them on your team. You need to find a way to connect with them and you need to communicate what you’ll do for them – which can include making them look fantastic in the shots, making sure they exert a low amount of energy or not taking up to much of their time. I identify with what is important to them and use that to get them on my team. If they need to make a flight or catch a dinner with their lady I communicate that I too have interest in getting out of studio and that if we work together, we may even get out early. Sometimes I’ll show the subject a 90-second video of images of mine, and reassure them that to make them look good makes me look good. If the subject can see that I’ve gotten great shots with many other celebrity athletes that can puts them a little more at ease, and gains their trust.
4. Be a good communicator
Documentary, commercial and editorial photographer James Bellorini believes that being accessible and open to client collaboration is the secret to keeping issues off the table. “Ease of access is key to avoiding any problems,” says James. “It’s really important to me that once the shoot is finished, the client still feels involved in the editing process, especially with portraiture as it’s a sensitive area to shoot in. They need to feel free to get the images they want and know that I’m not going to judge them if they start asking for me to remove some lines around their eyes or mask skin blemishes. I make it clear from the start that this kind of work is part and parcel of what I’m providing.
I back all of this up with the practical things that are the bedrock of most photographer’s businesses: easy to use online private proofing galleries, easy digital file delivery, hi-res and lo-res files as a matter of course (these days everyone wants their images to be available for social media or websites straight ‘out of the box’), re-touch options, creative post-processing, and print options.
5. When it doubt, food solves all problems
Monte Isom says being able to identify with clients can be what seals the deal. Also food. “On that second phone call with a client before you get the gig, remember that there’s one thing that everyone in the world does, and that’s eat. You start talking about the food you could get catered on set, and you’ve just moved the conversation away from details and onto an experience. Everybody can identify with that. Agencies and clients want to be taken well care of, and knowing the best restaurants in the region communicates that you’re not only familiar with the area, but also ready to have a little fun while on the job.
I also set myself apart by conveying the experience and overall atmosphere I create on my sets, which clients appreciate. As the photographer you’re in a position to make the ad agency look good or bad in front of their client. I try to communicate the value of showing the client an amazing experience that will leave lasting memories of the shoot.”
For more info on what we’re doing at PhotoShelter to help make you and your clients happy, check out our new: