Monthly Archives: November 2015

Find the Right Clients

I follow several photographers on Facebook, and am interested in both the images they post and the stories they tell. Today, one of them posted about an event he had shot on the weekend. He shot the event, edited and delivered 40 images, and was paid $200. This was $50 per hour and he had spent 4 hours in total on the job. He was lamenting that the client had advised that they previously had received 160 edited images and only paid $100. Then followed posts from others talking about all the gear required by professional photographers and the cost of that gear, that you can’t survive on only $100 etc etc. And on they went. This was a great reminder that you need to find the right clients, not any clients.


A mis match between client and photographer expectations will lead to frustration. Find the right clients.

It is possible to buy a t-shirt from K Mart for $8 – and a t-shirt from a boutique salon for $80. Essentially the shirt does the same thing, but you won’t be able to convince the K Mart shopper to spend $80 on one shirt. Equally, you won’t be able to convince the salon shopper that the $8 t-shirt from K Mart is comparable to the $80 shirt. They are different products, at different price points, for different consumers. Those consumers value different things. And so it is with photography. It is so important that we find the right clients.

Let’s take an example that photographers are sensitive to. To some people a $100 point and shoot camera is a good investment. To others, a Canon 5DS R DSLR body for $4700 is a good deal. It is about different consumers, with different needs, and different price points. The $100 shopper can’t be convinced to spend nearly five thousand dollars, and the Canon 5DS R customer won’t shoot with a $100 point and shoot. Can you see how important it is to manage expectations and find the right clients?


A professional photographer and a holiday snapper have different needs

So, going back to the photographer who posted on Facebook today. From the dialogue after his original post it sounds like the client was not happy, and the photographer definitely was not happy. This was compounded by his friends and professional contacts reinforcing he was correct. I can only see bad things coming from this job. Generating an unhappy client is bad for business.

So what do we learn from this:

  1. Different clients have different expectations of price, quality and quantity. The ‘problems’ which have come from this shoot could have been avoided by the photographer asking appropriate questions before the shoot. Take time in finding out if this is the right client for you.
  2. The photographer didn’t have to shoot this job. If there is a mis-match between the client and the photographers expectations, you are better to walk away and let another photographer shoot this job. Negative feedback from clients will ultimately have a negative impact on your business. Just as positive feedback is worth its weight in gold, and generates referral business.
  3. There will always be photographers who will shoot for very low prices. The same photographers may not be in business for very long, but there will be others to replace them.
  4. As photographers shooting for a living, we need to show clients the value of using a professional. Have you practiced the conversation you will have with the client? Do you know what questions you will ask to determine what is most important to the client? Do you know what are you ‘walk away’ signals from a potential client?
  5. And finally, I hope the photographers client doesn’t follow him on Facebook. Imagine the damage that could be done if the client read that post and entered the dialogue. Ugly.

Clients are not all the same. To find the right clients is a skill. Practice that skill. Look after your ‘right clients’. Treat them well. Give them even more value than they expect. They are a source of referral business. Don’t find any clients, find the right clients.


Launch in Your Popeye Moment

Last weekend I participated in a workshop where some of the content looked at the fictional cartoon character, Popeye. Popeye was a cartoon character who was very popular in the United States and around the world. He was originally created in 1929, and became an iconic cartoon figure in the 1930’s and beyond. I often get asked by photographers ‘what is the right time to launch my photography business?’. I have found that difficult to answer, but after last weekends workshop I am clearer on the answer – launch in your Popeye moment!

So what does that mean? One of the things Popeye was famous for was eating spinach and running to the rescue of his sweetheart, Olive Oil. He would exclaim ‘This is all I can stands, I can’t stands no more’! It was his point of exasperation. He could no longer just stand by, he had to act. Then he would eat a can of spinach and burst into action. This is what I call a “Popeye moment”.

you can

In your Popeye moment, you are compelled to act. Welcome it.

How is this relevant to photographers and their businesses? I see a lot of photographers who have drifted into running a photo business. Friends ask them to shoot family portraits or a wedding, or they sell a few images on a micro stock site. Suddenly they like the idea of being a paid photographer and they dream of quitting their corporate job and become a full time photographer.

It’s not long before they find out that running a photography business is not easy, and they become discouraged or lose confidence in their photographic ability. They haven’t had a Popeye moment to focus them and compel them to act.

So what is a Popeye moment? It’s when enough is enough. Popeye says ‘I can’t stands no more’! It is a line in the sand. It is a tipping point. It’s a decision. A photographer who has a Popeye moment, can no longer stand shooting only on weekends, working a job they don’t like just to pay the bills, and not having an outlet for their creativity. They can’t stands it no more! They are compelled to act. This is the time to launch your business. Your Popeye moment propels you. It drives you. It means going back to how things were is not possible. You must move forward. It gives you the strength to overcome setbacks.

Cherish your Popeye moment. It is what makes you take this path. Remember this feeling. You are compelled to act. It will give you the strength to keep going when times are tough. It will drive you – success is the only option. I can’t stands it no more!

Your Popeye moment will set you apart. It will change you. It will set you on a path to success. It will redefine you. Launch in your Popeye moment!


The sun won’t always shine on your business but your Popeye moment will drive you forward

5 Tips for More Compelling Wildlife Images

Wildlife  photography is a hugely popular field for both amateur and professional photographers. Here are 5 tips for more compelling wildlife images.


Look for pairs of animals to add a new dimension to your images.

Tip 1 – Look for Pairs of Animals. Solo portraits of animals can make compelling images, but pairs of animals add a new dimension. There is the relationship between the animals and the interaction between them. Look out for pairs of animals.


Baby animals are great subjects for wildlife photography

Tip 2 – Photograph baby animals. If you want people viewing your images to “ooohh and aaahh” then build a gallery of images of baby animals. There is something about the cute, vulnerability of baby animals – as well as the connection with the parent that is guaranteed to create compelling images. Koalas, like in this image, spend the first few weeks of their life in their mothers pouch. When they become too big, they are transported on their mothers’ back. This period is an ideal time to shoot images which include both mother and baby. Inevitably the baby will be looking small and cute, and mum will be alert in protecting her young one.

Flying fox

Animals in action. A flying fox carrying its baby.

Tip 3 – Look for animals in action. Animals in action, engaging in natural behavior are always more interesting than animals doing nothing. This is particularly why you get very different types of images when you photograph animals in the wild compared to animals in captive environments such as zoos.

In this image, the grey headed flying fox is flying through the air. If you look very closely you can see that it is carrying its baby at the same time. The baby is clinging to its mothers’ chest and will continue to do this until it is large enough and strong enough to fly alone. This image also emphasizes one of the key features of this animal – the spooky vein structure which is visible in the wings. When you are planning your wildlife shoot, consider what feature of the animal you are photographing you want to highlight.


A very low angle makes a compelling image of a common animal

Tip 4 – Shoot from unusual angles. Ducks are very common birds where I live in Melbourne, Australia. In creating compelling images of common animals, look for different angles to shoot from. In this case I lay down at the edge of the lake, to shoot an image from the duck’s eye level. For more about this shoot, please see this post.

Tree kangaroo

The Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo is an endangered species from New Guinea

Tip 5 – Photograph unusual wildlife. Unusual wildlife make compelling images. This image is a Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo. They are native to New Guinea and are now an endangered species. Images like these are compelling, not only for the beautiful colors of the animal, but also because most people will never have seen this animal. Look for unusual wildlife for more compelling images.

Thanks for reading 5 tips for more compelling wildlife images. Good luck with your wildlife photography.