Upload & Sell: On
A few months ago I attended a business gathering with a number of the country's top builders and their architects. Our table was having a lively discussion about photographers and photographing residential architecture. I listened for most of the back and forth and what I came away with was really quite amazing, given the photographic business atmosphere. The people at my table alone had the ability to add a half million dollars to any photographer's annual income, in the blink of an eye. The majority of them felt that the product they were receiving was mediocre to "acceptable". Many of them felt that they had been deceived, and subsequently burned concerning rights and future use. None of them seemed to have a comfortable relationship with the photographers they were currently using.
I listened to the discussion, scarcely able to contain the smile within. Our place holders at the table had our names and our company name on them, so most everyone knew that I was a commercial shooter. Eventually they all looked at me and collectively asked what my feelings were on the issues they had raised, and how I work with my clients. You just couldn't have orchestrated a better scenario. I answered their questions, discussed shooting styles and tried to explain the preponderance of HDR treatment that they were seeing, which most of them didn't care for, but didn't understand. The perfect conclusion to this impromptu marketing opportunity was a visual presentation on a huge flat screen, about 75% of which I had captured. That was followed by my existing clients sweeping about the same percentage of the honors being given out.
Several of the people at the table have contacted me and I am now shooting for them, but Friday the architect for the largest firm contacted me to see if we could meet early this week to discuss building a relationship. They have thirty projects across the country that are finished, awaiting photography, and about the same number in various stages of completion that will need to be photographed.
What stuns me about this scenario is that some photographer literally gave this client away. I've said it before, no one can "take" a client from you, give them away by not building a relationship with them, turning them into an adversary over silly rights debates, or producing an inferior product. There is a lot of discouraging challenges facing people who aspire to be professional photographers (and who need to produce incomes that afford them a reasonable lifestyle), and they need to be viewed realistically before the decision is made to launch out on that course. Unfortunately, in good conscience, one cannot paint a rosy picture of today's photographic market, to the people who sincerely ask "how can I go about this?" A sliver of hope and good news to those asking that question is, surprisingly, if you keep your eyes peeled, there are established photographers whose game plan appears to be giving their clients to someone with a better plan, a bigger passion, a better product. They are there for the taking, and we should be overjoyed to oblige.