Professionalism is an important aspect of any business, but since photographers are often out at various venues, we have a bit more to think about. It is important to always keep professionalism in mind not only when communicating with clients, but also when communicating with venues and everyone you come into contact with while shooting.
My sister is a theater director and recently had a negative experience with a photographer who brought a client there to shoot senior portraits. His client was involved in theater throughout her high school career, so it was a good choice on behalf of the photographer. However, lack of communication between the theater, the client and the photographer caused resulted in a negative experience for the theater and reflected poorly on the photographer.
Here are a few tips to make sure that everyone has a positive experience in your photography shoot!
1. Make professional arrangements with the venue
If you are shooting somewhere that people work, make sure to call ahead of time to let them know when you will be there and how long you plan to stay. In my sister’s case, the photographer stayed over an hour after she was scheduled to leave. Of course, she could not leave as scheduled when someone was still in the theater. The photographer never contacted her or anyone else ahead of time to discuss shooting there. In addition to that, he was rude and vague when she approached him and asked how much longer he would need to finish the shoot.
2. Treat everyone like a potential client
Obviously, the photographer’s attitude in the above situation left a bad impression with a potential future client. If the photographer had approached her ahead of time in a friendly, professional manner to discuss use of the theater, and given her his business card, she may have contacted him for her photography needs. Now, guess who she’s not going to contact!
3. Be prepared to pay a rental fee, or discuss it with your client
Some venues might charge a fee, especially if your shooting is causing an employee to stay beyond his or her scheduled time. In addition, some parks charge fees, etc…First of all, make it clear to your client if you need to raise the price because you are paying the fee or if you expect your client to pay the fee, obviously let them know!
3. Be respectful of others’ time
If you say your shoot will take an hour, try to keep it to an hour. If someone else is waiting for you to leave so that they can go home, it is not polite to keep the person waiting beyond when you said you would be done.
That said, time constraints can be difficult for photographers! Sometimes a client takes a long time to change outfits, put makeup on, etc. Try to accommodate this, but also be upfront with your client about how much time you have. This maybe something you want to discuss with your client ahead of time as well.
4. Make the venue aware of any specific needs.
If you are going to need someone to operate the lights in a theater, a place for your client to change, etc.. let the venue know. This will make their job and yours easier! It will also make sure that you don’t inconvenience anyone while you’re on location, and you will know that they can accommodate your needs so that there are not any unpleasant surprises once you get there!
5. Always carry business cards!
Business cards are a great promotional tool. You can ask to leave them at venues where you shoot, at places you shop, eat, or with anyone you talk to who is looking for an awesome photographer! Remember, when you hand your business cards out, a smile goes a long way!