I'm a commercial photographer specializing in architecture and product photography. Recently I've delved into the family portrait market, which is something I've been enjoying more and more. It used to be that, "if it didn't talk," I would photograph it. Now I rather enjoy the interaction with my subjects. There's a certain satisfaction in your subject smiling back at you from time to time--something a well-lit Colonial remodel or a provocatively shot set of jewelry can't give back.
Blanket Your Entire Customer Base with Marketing Pieces
The idea of sending out a DVD of my portfolio came about as I was doing a slideshow for one particular client. Once I finished putting it together, I realized that most of the work had already been done--why not send this out to my entire client base as a promotional slideshow?
The DVD was sent to my existing architectural and commercial clients first. I thought current clients would be interested in seeing what else I had been photographing besides their specific projects. It was a no-brainer to simply keep sending out the DVD to potential clients--people I would like to work with, or those who had shown an interest in my photography. This was a way of introducing myself to a whole new spectrum of clients.
The images on the DVD cover all aspects of my photography: architectural, product shots, and family portraits. Even when a client has a specific need, I found it helpful to share other examples of great photographs I had done. I try to include images that might inspire a client to think in ways he or she may have never thought of before.
Believe it or not, I've also discovered clients are people, too. They have lives and needs outside of the particular project on their desk at the time. I've always felt it was a good idea to approach them that way. An architect may discover he or she needs a family portrait. Or a product client may have an architect friend who's been looking for photography. The vast range of my work on the DVD shows clients that I have more to offer.
A photographer needs to have his or her photographs seen to gain interest. I found the DVD approach a more advantageous way to do this. It's easier to get my foot in the door of prospective clients by slipping a DVD under the door (and my feet get slammed in fewer doors this way).
Clients also find the DVD a convenient way to view images at their leisure, on their own computers or televisions, at home or at work. The images incorporate music and special effects that bring the photography to life. This lends itself to a pleasing viewing experience, rather than simply flipping through pages in a book. The DVD can be sent as a sample of all my work or can be customized to underscore any aspect of my work. It has developed into a terrific tool for keeping my portfolio looking and feeling fresh.
The delivery of my promotional DVD to clients has been a success. It created a new recognition of my skills to my current client base, and it's led to more clients inquiring about my services. This was a much more innovative and economical way to present my work. It increased the number of people I was able to reach and impact with my photography. Using the internet, my website, and the DVD, I can easily represent myself, and my work, to hundreds of new clients. I can also keep my current clients abreast of any new work I may be up to.
Response to the promotional DVD has been excellent. Many of my regular clients called back to let me know that my DVD impressed them, and they committed to future assignments. I received an approximate 45 percent return on photography jobs from the clients that I sent the promotional DVD to. This has encouraged me to continue thinking of unique ways to organize and present my images and work samples to new and existing clients.
The Place for Professional Photography
With the progression of digital technology, it's now harder than ever to compete. It seems almost everyone has a digital camera and access to downloadable images from various websites. I can see photographers in my area, as well as the big film suppliers like Kodak and Fuji, feeling the pinch.
Part of my job is giving clients an opportunity to recognize the difference between Uncle Joe's digital snapshots (or something Junior copied off the web) and professional-quality photography. The DVD gives me a tool to illustrate that difference. My services are generally called upon when a client needs special lighting and the creative eye of a trained photographer. My clients appreciate my experience, unique style, personal attention, and ability to capture the moment. I always strive to exceed their expectations, and I believe this is what professional photographers bring to any project.
We're also facing an economy that threatens the ability to sustain photographic services. My architectural clients are having a difficult time selling properties, which means a tighter rein on all aspects of selling those properties. This puts professional photographers on the front line of cutbacks. Although I understand their cost-cutting, I also recognize that a good marketing approach includes photography, which helps showcase properties--properties that might otherwise go unnoticed.
I try to help my clients realize this and show them ways to market their product(s) using creative photography. All photographers need to start thinking of new ways to engage our current clients, and ways to expand our client bases. We owe it to our clients, and to ourselves.
Phillip Frink's (www.phillipfrinkphotography.com) work has been published in Builder/Architect, Real Estate Executive, and Lens magazines. His work has also been featured in two books: Irish Pubs of Boston and What Is the Difference Between, a children's math book. He is the chief photographer for Rhode Island Novelty Company in Cumberland, RI, and operates his own photography business for clients in all walks of life throughout the New England area.