Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Q and A: Tips on Getting Paid Customers

Yeah! I've been getting a lot of comments and questions lately from readers and passersby of my blog, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. One of the hardest things about being a journalist is that you often don't get as much feedback as you would like about your work. And the only time you do is when you've just messed something up, so it's easy to get disillusioned or cynical. When someone takes the time to write to me, it really touches my heart, and the encouragement for my photography will never be forgotten.

I make it a point to answer people who respond to my articles that run in the Denver Post (even when they are telling me how awful they think I am); and I wanted to do the same here on my personal/business blog. To that end, I'm going to start a series of posts to show my readers some love and answer questions when I can.

REDTHEDUNNS ASKS: Any tips on how to get paid customers??? You know-to share the wealth of knowledge back with the Digital Photography School people?

ANSWER: Hello Redthedunn, thanks for your question. Here's one tip that I've learned along the way. Try to take advantage of every opportunity thrown your way because things tend to snowball. I got my first paid client thanks to Efrain Cruz, the owner of Illuminate Photography Workshops in Denver. A client needed Efrain to shoot at a dinner/reception being held by the Denver Womens League of Voters, but Efrain had another committment. So Efrain sent out an email to several of his students letting them know about the opportunity. All we had to do was email the contact.

Denver Womens League of Voters annual dinner

I was shocked to find out later that I was the ONLY student who contacted the source! I don't know why the other students didn't. Mind you, I fought with myself because I didn't think I had the experience. But how are you going to get experience unless you GET OUT THERE? I got the assignment (see photos here) and I passed out business cards to everyone who would take them. The following month, one of those folks who got my business card contacted me later to shoot for a similar event for the Allied Jewish Apartments (see photos here) .....and one thing led to another and another, and another. You never know who are you going to meet at these kinds of events or who might need your services later.

Allied Jewish Apartments 36th Chai Celebration

Lessons learned:

1) Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, at least until you are so busy that you have to start turning things down.

2) Take business cards with you every where you go and pass them out! You never know when that initial contact will lead you to your next assignment.

3) Take advice from clients when they are gracious enough to give it.

The "Grip and Grin" Shot

Nancy Ulrich with the Denver Womens League knew this was my first big assignment, and she was extremely helpful in telling me how to improve my skills. Organizations tend to need what I like to call "Grip and Grin" shots for newspaper society pages. Those are the images where everybody groups together in a photo and smiles. I personally hate those kind of shots, but Ulrich helped me see that what the client wants should be the most important thing. I didn't take enough of those shots during this assignment because of my own foolish personal bias. But I took more of them during the next shoot, which pleased that client.


Anonymous said...

This is very helpful. I read and heard the famous advice on "getting yourself out there" from books and various random people. For any unknown reason, that piece of advice clicked more from a person who went through the beginners experience personally (and still having those moments). Thank you.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Thanks Jessica. I'm glad I made some sense in that mumbo jumbo! It's hard when I don't have anyone backreading or editing me. Take care!

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