Underpromise and Overdeliver: The Best Way to Grow Your Photography Business

Underpromise and Overdeliver: The Best Way to Grow Your Photography Business

Creating imagery that’s “brandable” is part of many working photographer's bag of skills but still takes some know how with lighting, posing, and while creating a human connection to excel at a high level with consistent results. Let’s dive into how we can make our commercial and branding imagery simply while also growing our network and earning new clients in the process.

First off, how will the images that you’re creating be used? Do you already have a client you’re developing a campaign with and will be sharing part of the decision making with them? On the other hand, if these are for your professional portfolio will they be in the vertical that you are currently working in? If the imagery is outside your “wheelhouse,” then can you produce these images at a reasonably high enough level that’s still marketable for this new client vertical? These few questions may seem obvious and simple, but many photographers start creating imagery and place them in a portfolio that "jumps" around In style or subject matter far too much to entice a business to work with them. Consistency of style with repeatable results across subjects and shoots helps a brand or business to choose you. Make it an easy choice for them to choose you.

Photography is a valuable part of many commercial enterprises' marketing and advertising platforms, and if you are looking to make great imagery it’s almost compulsory to build a great network of connections and collaborators as a part of your circle. Having a team that you trust while each person benefits from one another’s professionalism is tantamount to success, especially when you’re working with clientele and have hard deadlines. Building that social capital should be highly regarded even when the images created may only become part of a portfolio as that is a central piece of your personal brand that coalesce your team’s advertising and branding expectations to future clients.

On top of the team you have created their connections to other businesses and entrepreneurs can help you build your business and vice versa whether it’s word of mouth, word of your commitment, word of your results, or the valuable social capital of personable relationships. Don’t just build a circle of people that you work with on a photoshoot, learn about the other businesses they work with and why they enjoy working with them. You may find that expanding that circle by a connection or two will open up opportunities that would have never developed without asking an extra question here or there while you work with and develop your team network.

Edited in ACDSee.

With these values in mind we should talk about the idea of production and delivery on a timeline. Where many creatives, including myself at times, have fallen off, is exceeding expectations at all times. There's always a little give with people and their expectations so try to do this as much as you possibly can. The idea of “under promise and over deliver” is not just a saying that makes a good point, it’s intrinsically valuable to the people you work with. It makes you dependable and and then the best choice for a job because you commit and stand behind deadlines. If you're dependable and consistently so then in many instances that can be worth its weight in gold.

Now there is a “trick” to under promising while over delivering especially on timeframes: know what you can reasonably do while balancing your other commitments, and then add some additional time just in case. If you think you can reasonably turn around a photo shoot in two days then add a few more days for the “life happens” moments that are absolutely inevitable. What would happen if your computer crashed or you had a car accident, then both those instances would take up valuable time away from your committed timeframe and would negatively affect your business’ brand if you didn’t have some buffer in your delivery. 

Now what else can help you keep deadlines at a distance while also being a part of a system that helps you deliver images fast, especially to the business relationships and project collaborators within your growing referral network? For many, if not most photographers, it’s the at-the-screen editing where we may spend the most time on individual photo shoots. Culling and basic editing can be time consuming but it’s incredibly valuable to have a system that allows you to deliver imagery quickly to those on your team when building a portfolio. Your network and team will be buzzing from working with you on a photo shoot day, but that level of excitement can quickly bottom out so you want to take advantage of that. You want to be able to show relatively final images quickly so they can advocate on your behalf with the authentic energy and genuine fervor they had at the shoot. You yourself can be your biggest fan, but that network and your business acumen is your calling card. Get a system together that helps you make those relationships and connections boast about your work. Let them help you drive a reputation of consistent and excellent results. Under promise and over deliver.

Edited in ACDSee.

Combining culling and editing software can be a huge time saver and ACDSee Photo Studio does both while being streamlined to help create images that have a “Wow!” factor that develop quickly. Some photographers want or need to use a high level production software with options like layered editing which ACDSee offers in the same application for Windows machines. For shooting imagery that is a part of a portfolio build while also being “relationship advertising,” I’m fine with getting as much right in camera and doing a basic edit to deliver. If I’m building an image in post then I can always send that final image as an update to the images already sent out. That’s a great way to get repeated eyes on projects over the course a longer timeframe so your one photo shoot provides repeated advertising opportunities to your new network of entrepreneurs and their connections as well. 

ACDSee really excels with the mindset of a photographer who wants to eliminate lost time while also providing valuable imagery. The scenario of creating imagery that hypes up your network and the team of collaborators you work with by being concise with your time aligns itself very well to photographers who want no non-sense and invaluable time savings, while upping their commitments a notch. Anywhere I can save time while combining that savings to exceed a clients and my team’s expectations is a huge win that I will take over and over again.

How are you making your network work for you? Are there any systems or applications that you have personally discovered that emphasize the under promise and over deliver philosophy?

If you're looking to streamline your post-production, check out ACDSee here.

JT Blenker's picture

JT Blenker, Cr. Photog., CPP is a Photographic Craftsman and Certified Professional Photographer who also teaches workshops throughout the USA focusing on landscape, nightscape, and portraiture. He is the Director of Communications at the Dallas PPA and is continuing his education currently in the pursuit of a Master Photographer degree.

Log in or register to post comments
1 Comment

When I first saw the headline I thought that underpromise and overdeliver would be a good way to make people appreciate you in any sphere. It also creates a good feeling of being pleasantly surprised, like when you didn't epect nothing but a number of well-edited pics and then you got them PLUS a smartshow 3d slides with your photos. It's a nice moment for the client that doesn't take much from the photographer, so cheers for this great headline. As for the real subject that is ACDsee I don't know much about it, but I really loved this article as it provides a number of psychologically good pieces of advice.