Is a fantastic portfolio enough to ensure the stability of work? What are your clients looking for in addition to the good photos?
I had the pleasure to discuss the topic in 2016 during the meeting in Katowice, which was part of the national route of "Oprawcy koloru" by Vitavision and Crystal Albums. There were discussed important aspects of the photographer's work.
"The quality of services counts – not what logo I have!"
Of course, the quality of services is the most important. The problem is that before your customers can be sure of it, they will go through a few other steps that will be crucial to the way they perceive your services. The illustration with the iceberg below shows it well.
Let's follow this path. What will your recipients get before they contact you?
- They will probably view your Facebook profile
- Let's not forget about Instagram, which is all about photography
- They may also come to your website
- Once you decide to contact you, you will probably send them your offer
In all these places, the important role will be played by how you present yourself and your services. These things are called "contact points" – the situations where there is only one thing between you and your potential customer – the way you present yourself.
Even if your services were recommended to someone (who does not get customers today thanks to recommendations?), it still does not exclude "verification" in the form of reviewing at least one of the listed sites on the internet. Well, we're talking about visual services, don't we?
Meeeh... Who looks at it anyway...
Customers do not scan your photos in an analytical way. They do not analyze how you took the image – what kind of lens you've used, how you set the lighting, what filters you used during retouching. Somebody could ask "Why set the light, crop, correct individual parameters... Who looks at it anyway?".
Well, you know exactly who – your clients. They see the effect. A picture that they like or do not like. Even without understanding and knowing the particular tools you used in the photo – it's easy for them to read its atmosphere and climate. Is it happy? Sad? Nostalgic? Calm? Dynamic? These things are simply visible, you know it best because you can control these parameters to achieve a certain effect.
Of course, the perception plays the main role here. That one thing that helps us at organization and interpretation of what we see. It allows us to understand the surroundings.
It works similarly in the context of how you present yourself as a brand (yes, you are a brand!). The top of the iceberg, which is the logo (that is identifying you and your services) is also perceived through the prism of perception and how we perceive shapes, colors, forms, etc.
No, it's not like that your potential client pays attention to the logo itself ("Hmm, nice color. This line is great!"). He simply sees it in some way, which does not require him to analyze. And he will look at it anyway. The combination of specific elements in a specific form automatically builds a defined impression in the head of your potential client. The only question is what kind of impression you want to make?
Every second count
How long will it take to review with your portfolio? Probably a few minutes. Maybe two. Maybe one, depending on the person.
And how much time will your recipient need to preview with the symbol that represents you? Few seconds. And within these few seconds, the potential customer begins to paint a picture of who you are and what you represent as a brand.
The fact that we are talking about seconds, not minutes, should not discredit their meaning here. Because it is not about time, but about what is happening at the time. Remember about perception!
Okay, but what for is all of this? For answering the four key questions that your client has.
1. Who are you? What style do you have?
Let's start with the basics.
- What kind of photographer are you?
- What is your approach to what you are doing?
- What style do you have - not only on the photos, but also how you work with people?
- What are you valued for?
A photographer's job is working with people. Very close to people. You accompany them in the most important moments or you are right next to them when they reveal their emotions to you during the photo session. For this reason, customers want to know who will take pictures for them. Or rather what you represent in the aspect of photographic work.
Before you meet them in reality, you can define yourself in the form of a sign that will be your "signature" in the virtual world and will represent you wherever you work. Perhaps not everything will be included in it, but it will certainly contain what is most important.
Remember, however, that the logo is not for hiding behind it. Nevertheless, a well-designed sign will surely tell more about you than the picture on which you are hiding behind the camera lens 😉
2. What makes you different?
Today, access to high-quality equipment that allows you to take photographs at a very good technical level is common. It is clear that skills and knowledge are the basis, but in practice, this fact really translates into the amount of competition that you have around you. Regardless of whether you are photographing: weddings, individual outdoor or studio sessions or reportage photography – there are many people around you who are taking care of this subject.
Therefore, the decisive factor is whether you stand out in the crowd. Presenting your works on your profiles is obviously a natural part of promoting your services, but will your recipients easily remember you as the author of the photograph that they saw on Instagram 2 days ago? Trends in photography (that often turns into the requirements of your clients) will surely make it even more difficult for them.
Customers do not simply buy "photo services" today. They buy a character, so if you identify yourself with your own symbol (whether representing you by name or by brand name), you significantly increase the chances of effectively attracting the attention of the customer. This way, the logo becomes a kind of "anchor" in the memory of your recipient.
3. Can I trust you?
Perhaps your clients do not ask this question directly. But somewhere between what they see and think, instinctively, they look for the answer. As I mentioned at the beginning, you build trust at any time when someone has contact with the materials representing you - primarily on the Internet. The whole is carried out in stages, which is why consistency and consistency in building the visual identity are also important, as I wrote about in this article.
The logo itself is a promise that defines you in the eyes of the recipient. It is also important to develop it in the form of a related website and a professional, clear and aesthetic offer. Such an "arsenal" helps build a solid brand in the recipient's mind.
4. How much does your service cost?
Exactly – an offer. Didn't your customers start with a question about the cost? Probably in many cases, this may be so, but it does not change the fact that before they ask for a cost they will get to know even a fragment of what you present on the Internet.
In terms of price, however, I would focus on the way it is presented. The offer sent to customers is an excellent platform for presenting the essence of who you are and how you work. Merge it with the created logo and "visual language", which you used (eg on the website) and you can gain a lot.
So will the photographer live well without a logo and identification?
Naturally. As long as the orders arrive, the recommendations go out the world, and calendar fills up, so the investment in identification is not necessary. However, if:
- you would like to handle more orders
- competition is increasingly "picking up" your orders
- you want to change the segment, and thus the rates for which you work
- you want to build and strengthen your brand so that you can avoid problems with the lack of orders in the future
...maybe this is the time to consider the investment in distinguishing yourself on the market.
Brand Identity Designer. I'm not designing pretty graphics. I help your business to evolve because of understanding the customers. I help you to talk to them in their language. I will take care of attracting them and reaching their trust. 10 years of experience and over 30 created brands so far allow me to consult strategy & ideas for brand communication. And I love to do it.