5 Ways to Improve as a Photographer

  1. Saturate yourself with art.  Whether you are looking online at other photographer’s work in your field of enjoying looking at painted landscapes at a museum it inspires your creativity.
  2. Do things that inspire you.  For me getting outside does wonders so when I’m feeling cooped up or lack luster I find a good long walk outside with the dogs loosens up my creative juices.  Maybe a good book or pursuing another artistic avenue for a little while helps reset your creativity.
  3. Do work for free on occasion.  Only creating work for a paycheck with rob your joy for the art of it.
  4. Stay out of routine.  A little routine is good to maintain some sanity and humanity but in your daily life be sure to keep some spontaneity and especially be sure to keep variety high when creating your work.  This is the best way to stay out of a rut, feed your creativity, and fuel your passion forward to advancement.
  5. Mark room for leisure.  There is nothing that bogs creativity down more than stress.  Make sure you are getting sufficient rest but the most recent important thing I’ve stumbled on is making time for nothing.  When you simply take some time to sit and think ideas start to pour out.  Sometimes even a long shower or drive helps do this too if you’re not comfortable sitting in the quiet right away.

10 Things a Photographer Should Not Do

Do not…

  1. Spend too much time thinking about your gear.  Equipment is important, but it is not the core of photography.  In fact, I think it is good for every photographer to learn how to work well under the challenge of cheaper equipment.  Remember, ultimately only photographing makes you a better photographer.
  2. Leave your camera at home.  To drive this incentive home for me I have committed to “a Photo a Day” and am working towards getting a Kelly Moore purse so I literally always have my camera on my person.
  3. Forget to fuel your creativity.  It is good to have a repertoire of “go to” ideas when you are stumped but you will only improve as you let your creativity continue to flow and the best way to do that is to be seeking for new ideas at every shoot.  If you need help I suggest trying new lenses, new locations, or do some online research for new poses and great artwork to get your juices flowing.  Remember, you want to separate yourself from your competition.
  4. Ignore the value of your copyright.  If your copyrights are not valuable, why are people working so hard to get them?
  5. Take every assignment.  The best photographers find their niche and build on that.  At the beginning I found it valuable to take a little bit of everything.  In my opinion, how else are you going to find our what you like and what you’re really good at?  But as soon as you find that niche hone in on it.
  6. Ignore the math.  Are your expenses higher than your income?  You can only do so much work so be sure you are charging enough per session.
  7. Ignore blogging.  Blogging is the most “Google friendly” way to get your material out there.  I’ve found frequency to be the key.  CLICK HERE for more info on how to blog for your business.
  8. Ignore social media. Social media are the best ways to share your work with the world, especially if you get a network of friends supporting your work enthusiastically.
  9. Think you can fix everything by editing.  The bottom line of a great photographer is getting the lighting and the settings right first and only using editing programs like Lightroom and Photoshop to spruce it up.
  10. Stop learning.  Always be researching your field and looking for new ways to advance your work.  Look at art, look at other photographer’s work, and look into all areas of your business and continually seek improvement.  You will never know everything.

How to answer “How Much?”

I read an article this morning from Wedding Wire about this topic and I found it so helpful that I have decided to reblog it… here you go!  Enjoy!

Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

By:  Alan Berg

We All Ask “How Much…?”

We’re all guilty of it at times when we’re the customer. When I needed window tinting on some windows in my house to protect my piano from sun-UV ray damage, I emailed 3 companies and asked them “how much?” and it wasn’t that I couldn’t afford it, or that I was price shopping (at least not at that point). It was simply that I didn’t know what else to ask. Once I met with an expert, and therefore got my education on the process, I could then ask better questions.

Many, if not most, inquiries come in through email these days and “how much does it cost?” is often the first, if not the only question. So, how do you handle that? What are some ways to deflect the question?

Say: Thanks!

The first thing you should always do is thank them for their inquiry. They’ve just put you on the menu. I like to point out to my audiences and clients that in this economy, it is very common to be think “price first” when selecting their top Pros. Think about how many other companies there are that probably didn’t even get on their top list for your area of expertise. Be sure to acknowledge that it is a privilege to get a chance to communicate with them, and that your business is being considered.

Next, it is important to start a conversation with the engaged couple. Whether it’s in email, on the phone, a live chat, at a bridal show, or in your office— you’re having a conversation, so keep it conversational. Don’t write an email like a formal business letter, or as if your high school English teacher is looking over your shoulder. Write it as if you were speaking it to them. Use your “voice” because that’s the voice she’s going to hear when she actually speaks to you. It makes your business come to life, and gives a sense of who you are. Be professional, but friendly!

Get More Information

Next, acknowledge that you’re going to tell them how much it costs… as soon as you get some more information about their big day. Then, continue the conversation by asking a couple of questions at a time. Don’t bombard her with everything, all at once. You wouldn’t do that on the phone or in person, so don’t do that in email.

Should you try to get her on the phone? Yes, a phone conversation is great, but she’s probably at work and can’t call you now. Should you try to get the appointment? Of course, in person meetings are ideal at establishing a connection. But if she wants to continue the conversation via email, be prepared to do it, and be better prepared than your competitors!

Email Tips

Top email tips I recommend when communicating with engaged couples:

  • Mirror their tone – casual or formal
  • Mirror their energy – upbeat or reserved
  • Mirror how much they writes – if they send you 3 sentences, don’t send her 5 paragraphs
  • Don’t send attachments she didn’t ask for – do you open unsolicited attachments?
  • Don’t answer questions she hasn’t asked – it’s a basic rule of selling
  • Be careful with what you write, nothing in email is private – enough said!

Remember that it’s a conversation, so keep it conversational and let your personality come through. Keep in mind that they put you on the menu, so be genuinely thankful that they’ve given you a chance. Lastly, put yourself in their shoes. What would you want if you were the customer? If you do that, it’s hard to go wrong.

Additional Tips from a Sunshine Moment

I simply have a couple things to add that I find helpful…

  • Send a picture or two in the email – it is always good to give them a quick and easy reminder why they like you
  • FOLLOW UP – as a self-employed wedding photographer I find this key because my clients are typically looking for a relationship and a personal connection with the photographer they choose