Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LOVECAT: Zack Arias

Check out Zack Arias's Site all week long for great hands-on advice about how to rock a white background like a superstar!!! Zack is one of the true lovecats in the photography business and the knowledge he has shared with other photographers has seriously raised the bar for great lighting and creative work in our industry. The following photo is from Zack's site, click the image to get yourself some tasty knowledge....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The 5 P's

Often when I interview with a bride they tell me "Gosh, I'm not even sure what to ask! You're the first photographer we've talked to."

Here are the 5 P's that I go through with the client (after we establish a connection through some chit chat):

1. Photography - Do you like the photographer's style, range, quality, experience, etc?
2. Personality - It's gonna be a long day unless we're a good fit...
3. Professionalism - Does the photographer have a good grasp of contracts, punctuality, communication, etc.
4. Products - Does the photographer off the albums, prints, negatives, online proofing, etc that you are seeking?
5. Pricing - Is it in the budget? If not, can we shift our priorities to fit it in the budget?

I tell my couples (and truly believe this) that they need to find the perfect photographer for them and this is a great evaluation tool. I also tell them it's a two way interview...(but relax!). I'm looking for a couple who wants my style, fits with my personality, appreciates professionalism, wants the products I offer, and (of course) can afford my prices.

We walk through each P; I ask them questions about their expectations and wants and let them talk. Then I talk about how I work in each area, and point out where I align with their desires. If there are glaring differences (eg, they want 100 formal photo groupings) I mention those too. I want to set an expectation of honesty and I certainly don't want to be in a situation where my clients expect something that I don't want to do. When we reach pricing, I pull out my fancy price sheet, and just sit back and let them talk amongst themselves for a few minutes.

So I have a few questions for you:

1. Do you have a plan for when potential clients don't know what to ask? What has worked for you?

2. Do you know where you stand on each of the P's? Are you comfortable explaining your position, even if it doesn't align with what the bride wants?

All the best,
Jillian Kay

Monday, April 14, 2008

Get the Full Story

I'll be honest - I'm not the calmest, most rational person you'll meet. Just today I had a near melt down after reading the subject line of an email. (Just take my word that I was able to read the subject lines but wasn't able to access the emails.) I'd been planning for several weeks to go on a weekend trip with a friend, so when I saw the subject line "I've changed my plans" ...well, I immediately came to the conclusion that the weekend was over.

My mind started racing....why would the plans change? Am I just not that important? What about the appointments I'd turned down to keep our weekend? What about last weekend, when you also decided to change plans...are you avoiding me? Did I do something to upset you? What's going on?

At first, I felt like I had done something wrong to cause it....then realizing I hadn't....I became offended. My heart was racing, I wanted to punch something. It would be 3 hours before I would have full email access....and I knew that would give me plenty of time to work up a mean spirited email reply in my head!!

Then my better senses kicked in (it took a good 3 minutes). I didn't have all the information....what if the change of plans was reasonable? So I called to get the full information before my imagination ran any wilder.

"Hi, so, um, I can't read the email yet, but I see that you wrote me an email titled 'change of plans'...what's that about?"
" need to read your email more often."
"I wrote you that email last weekend, when I had to change plans."
"Are we still on for this weekend?"

Turns out, I was the guilty party. I missed an email buried in the spam and advertisements my personal account receives. Not only was this weekend still on, but last weekend was completely explained!

We are all prone to making emotional snap judgments. Clients write ambiguous emails, miss appointments, ask unusual questions, or a dozen other things that cause us to immediately start fuming. The longer we stew over it and try to come up with our own explanations, the more upset we become. And lets face it, even when we find out that we were wrong...we still hang on to that emotional scar. We're still hurt, whether we had a right to be or not.

So when you feel your blood pressure rising and a million possibilities are running through your mind...give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Give them a call and ask clarifying questions. Try to postpone reacting to the situation least until you really understand what the situation is.

Now if I could only find time to do some laundry before I leave for the trip....

All the best,
Jillian Kay