We often talk about setting the right prices for our photography packages or having a great website but we often overlook this one fundamental factor that has a huge impact on the kind of photography clients we attract.
A key and seemingly obvious but often forgotten or neglected component of attracting the right clients for your creative business is the style of your showcased work.
Why You Need The Right Clients
Every photographer or creative professional who wants to grow their business, charge a premium for their services and be genuinely happy while doing so needs to find and attract clients right for her/his brand. These are people who will love your brand and aesthetic, will become brand evangelists for your photography brand and trigger a massive organic growth for you. Note the use of “love” instead of “like” and this difference is crucial because that is what spurs the most intense form of brand loyalty. This is why you need your own “right clients”.
How Clients Define Style
The key to attracting the right clients is to define “style” from the point of view of your clients or your audience. When asked to define a photography style, most people will use adjectives to describe the repeating patterns they see, for example, “Photographer X’s style/aesthetic is bright and edgy.” This is the description probably because Photographer X only shoots boudoir themed portraits predominantly with a 50mm prime lens and the aperture wide open in natural light outdoors to get the high key desaturated look. What this means is that, clients may not be able to define the finer nuances that make-up a photography style but if you’ve got a consistent look and feel to your images, they will be able to describe the repeating patterns in their own vocabulary. Consider asking some of your clients and potential clients to describe what they feel is your photography style to help you get started.
How Your Style Can Attract the Wrong Clients
As we grow our skills in photography or in any creative field for that matter, we tend to increase our range of achievable visual styles and effects. You may have started off shooting predominantly using natural light but over time, you’ve honed your skills in the art of off-camera strobes, or you may have started off shooting predominantly black and whites but have tweaked your range to include more colors, or you’ve now started compositing in your couple portraits, or you’ve finally bought a new 105mm macro lens! These changes or upgrades are accompanied with an urge to show-off your newly learnt craft so you start posting these new images on Instagram and your blog. And here starts the problem.
If the aesthetic of the new skill has deviated far from your previously showcased “style”, it will attract a whole new audience interested in your brand as a result of this new style. Now, when you get a client from the new batch, you will tend to mix the old and new aesthetics because old habits die hard. Often, this leads to clients’ expectations not matching with the end result. And you are left wondering why is the client not happy with the images! What’s worse, unhappy clients often scream the loudest.
How to Showcase Your Style to Attract the Right Clients
Angry or upset clients should not become a reason for you to not learn new skills and grow as a photographer. Here are some ideas you can use to showcase your work in a way that will attract the right clients:
One of the easiest things to do is to showcase your usual style on your website and keep the experimental new work only for the blog and social channels. The trick, however, is to ensure that regardless of where your client first found you, they check out your website portfolio in detail before contacting you for a quote/meeting. If that is difficult, you could even have a short five-ten minutes pitch in your first meeting about your style and take them through what they can expect in terms of style.
Alternatively, you could compartmentalize based on different streams of photography as well. For example, your wedding photography could be light, airy and sun-kissed while your commercial portraits could be much more contrasty, dark, and experimental.
Another thing that can help potential clients understand the difference is for you to simply say it. If you accompany your new experimental work with a description explaining what led to this experiment or how you went about it, your true evangelists will love your brand even more for sharing your vulnerability with them.
Curate, Curate, and Curate
This is probably the hardest one! For us photographers, our work is a representation of our own sweat, persistence, and genius imagination. And thus we end up seeing each of our winning photos as prized possessions which must be displayed with pride. I understand!
Get a friend or a fellow photographer to help if you must, but curate mercilessly. Think of your portfolio as a mood board where every photo should feel part of the puzzle. This includes your Instagram feed, Facebook album or any other avenue that you use to display your work. I recommend doing this every once in a while and eventually, you will get the hang of it.
These suggestions are not a definitive guide to managing your showcased style to attract the right clients but it should help you get started. Have you experienced this situation before? What did you do to manage or curate your style to attract more clients of a particular kind? Share your thoughts in the comments below.