When you are involved in any business, you will most likely run into
Managing a good photography business does not rely solely on having excellent photography skills. As I've discovered in my time around Roanoke and Raleigh, offering and maintaining exceptional customer service is a key part to running a business in photography. Even if you have a well organized business, take great photos, advertise, and manage your finances, you really won’t see growth in your business until you learn how to have relationships with your clients. This is not hard to implement into your business, but it does require effort and a focus on putting your client first. In the following paragraphs, I have listed a few ways to improve your customer service.
Communication with your Team and Client
This is perhaps the most important factor in your client relationships and customer service. How you communicate with clients will either make or break your customer service. First, remember that your communication with clients should always be timely and consistent. If you receive an email from a client, try your best to respond in a timely manner. You shouldn’t wait longer than 24 hours to email someone back. Create consistency in your customer service by emailing and following up frequently. You don’t have to overwhelm your customers with a ton of emails, but find a good way to stay in contact.
In addition to being timely and consistent, always remember to be considerate of the client’s needs when communicating with them and focus on how you can best fulfill those needs. If you have this mindset, it will show through in the way you talk with a client. In a world full of photographers, you need to distinguish yourself. Genuinely caring and putting your clients first is a great way to stand out in a crowd of photographers.
Set Expectations on Deliverables
When communicating with clients, make sure you set their expectations well so there is no miscommunication between you and your customer. If you assume a client knows something and you don't communicate something well, then your client’s expectations won’t line up with your expectations. Be very clear and tell them exactly what they should expect upfront so there is no confusion. In particular, focus on explaining your timelines, prices, availability, and the finished product. If you have a website, you can explain your policies so that potential customers visiting your page can have a general idea of what you have to offer. When you communicate personally with a client, go over all the details in those four areas to avoid any miscommunication. Always remember that clients will already have preset expectations from previous photographers or their own opinions, so be sure not to leave any details uncovered.
Go the Extra Mile
Going the extra mile is a great way to show a genuine care for individual clients. It doesn’t have to be much, but show an effort in what you do and go above and beyond their expectations. You want this to communicate that you care about them as people, and not just customers. Think about applicable ways you can go the extra mile in your own photography business. For instance, if you set a timeline expectation of two weeks to edit and send a client their photos, try to do it in one week. Surprise your customers with your willingness to go beyond their expectations.
Always put yourself in the shoes of your client. Try to understand what they need and try to meet those expectations in exceptional ways. Doing this will set your photography business apart from others and ultimately start to increase your client base. These are only a few ways to increase the quality of your customer service, but putting these into practice will drastically help your business.
As a photographer, gear and equipment is often very expensive. If you are hesitant to invest in pricey equipment, consider using DIY hacks to create your own gear. Obviously, low-budget DIY gear will not always be the highest quality, but it can be a great way to experiment with different equipment or even different styles of photography before investing in full price equipment. Especially when you are starting out and want experience with certain gear, try out a few of these hacks to help improve your photography.
1. DIY Reflector
When I first started taking pictures, I didn’t have a reflector to bounce light on a subject. Instead of buying one, I used a piece of cardboard wrapped in tin foil as a makeshift substitute. As long as you tape it at the corners to avoid the tin foil shifting on the cardboard, this trick is very effective for reflecting light, especially for portrait photography.
Another great way to make reflectors is by using insulation board with reflective backing. These are usually available at home improvement stores and are a cheaper option than buying reflectors.
2. Soft Focus
I enjoy taking photography with a soft focus effect, but have never bought a soft focus filter. There are several other ways which can help you achieve a soft focus effect in your photographs. One way is to use plastic fastened around your lens. I cut an “X” in the middle of the plastic and use a rubber band to secure the plastic in place. By allowing the edges of the plastic to partially drape over the lens, you can create a nice soft effect.
Another way is to use uncut plastic pulled tightly across the lens and secured with a rubber band. You would then smear vaseline slightly around the edges to enhance the effect. I have never tried this for fear of getting vaseline on my lens, but I have seen others use it and it creates a more dramatic soft effect.
You can also use burlap, cheese cloth, bubble wrap, or silk scarves to drape around the lens. Try out a few to see which one creates the effect you like the most.
When taking pictures with backdrops, I have to get creative. I usually use a white or colored sheet as my backdrop and tall furniture and clamps to secure it into place. Curtain rods have also been a very effective way to hold up my backdrop. If the sheet has trouble staying in place, placing something heavy at the bottom corners should help it stay put. While sheets are not the most effective backdrop, they can be a great way to start experimenting with backdrops and different colors. I’ve especially found these DIY backdrops useful in creating dramatic black and white portrait photography.
4. Camera Flash
Have you ever used the pop up flash on your camera and cringed at the harsh unflattering highlights? Try out this little trick to diffuse the light from your pop up flash. If you have a white business card in your wallet, all you need to do is place it in front of the flash and immediately, it bounces and diffuses the light from the flash to create a much more flattering effect. If the card doesn’t stay in place, you may need to hold it and experiment with different angles to get the best effect. I usually try to keep the card at 45 degrees.
These are the only DIY hacks I have personally tried, but a quick Google search will offer a tremendous amount of photography equipment hacks for you to try out! Some of them are fairly easy and you may already have the supplies needed. Some are definitely more advanced and take time to assemble. However, whichever DIY hacks you decide to try, it can be a great way to save you money and allow you to experiment with different types of photography gear!
Types of Lens Filters for Cameras
In the previous blog post about photography gear, I mentioned camera filters and how they can help with a variety of different situations. In this post, I wanted to explore in depth the different types of camera filters available to photographers. For some photographers, filters are used daily and are extremely important to the end result of an image. While we do have post-processing software to help edit photos, filters are still great to use and can often produce even better results than post-processing. As I’ve previously mentioned, whether you are reducing reflections, enhancing colors, or even just protecting your camera lens from potential damage, filters cover a wide range of needs.
The most common and main purpose of a UV filter is to provide protection to the front of a lens. It is much simpler, not to mention cheaper, to replace a filter than it is to replace a broken lens. It is also a lot easier to clean and maintain. When choosing a UV filter for your camera, make sure you don’t buy a cheap low quality filter. The most important reason to make sure your filter is of a high quality, is so that it does not interfere with the image quality of your lens. Avoiding cheap filters also reduces the possibility of increased lens flare and color tints.
Polarizing Filters are very important for landscape photography. These filters reduce the amount of reflected light captured by the camera and reduce glare and reflection from surfaces. They can reduce contrast and make skies appear darker, which can be good or bad depending on the photography situation. Polarizing filters can also eliminate haze from an image.
Neutral Density Filter
This lens filter is perfect for photographers using long exposure times. Normally, long exposures cause a lot of images to be overexposed which can create problems for photographers. However, this neutral density filter reduces the amount of light let into a picture. Neutral Density filters also blur movement in photos which is perfect for waterfall photography or other situations in which you want the subject to be blurred.
Soft Focus Filter
These particular filters reduce the sharpness of a photo, adding a soft airy feel. Soft Focus filters are most commonly used in taking pictures of people’s faces, because the softness creates a sense of flawless skin. These can also be used in a wide variety of different situations.
When shooting B&W photos, filters can be a great way to enhance the contrast in your images. Using B&W filters, you can often enhance the colors red, orange, yellow, green, or blue to see how it can add visual interest. B&W filters can also add lots of drama through the additional contrast which can be a fun effect to play around with.
These are only a few of the different types of filters which can be used in photography. I hope this short introduction to filters can help you get started as you practice and experiment with different filters. Even with these descriptions of the filters, it is good to try to figure out for yourself how these filters can enhance your photography. When shooting around Roanoke, I often experiment with different filters at different times of day to see the effects that they have on my images. Sometimes the images come out great, and sometimes the filters are not so helpful. But always try to experiment with the filters to find out how to use them most effectively.