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Old Sep 3, 2007, 10:55 AM   #1
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Dear "pro" photographers,

What is your experience when you are contracted ? Are customers looking first at your equipment or at your pics ?

I am doing aerial pics,from a plain p&s camera hanging on a blimp or a kite - and now from a mast. My customers buy my pics, maybe not so much for the quality, but alsocertainlybecauseit is so much cheaper than from a helicopter (see my website for more).

But when I try to make a contract with new customers before taking pics, and when they see my little p&s camera, they take me less seriously. Obviously, a DSLR with battery, etc... would give a more professional look of my activity.

Thus the question. What comes usually first ? Do you buy a good hardware and visit the customers showing off with the list of your expensive hardware, or do people contract youpurely based on your pics ?

I am not talking about professional photographers agencies which would immediately know about your hardware just by looking atyour pics. I am talking about customers with not so much knowledge about photography, like real estate agents, etc...


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Old Sep 3, 2007, 12:27 PM   #2
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Well, of course you're going to battle a perception problem. Like it or not, people carry an image in their head of what a PROFESSIONAL looks like. When you think of a lawyer, people tend to think of well-groomed in a nicely pressed well-tailored suit. If you see that same lawyer in sweat pants first, your opinion of him is going to be altered. Is he less of a lawyer? No, but perception plays a part.

So, what do you do? You should be meeting prospective clients with a portfolio not camera gear. They're buying photos not your camera. Having the camera damages their perception of you because it doesn't meet their pre-conceived notions of what a photographer should look like / use.

Your portfolio should be no more than 20 shots - 8x10 or 11x14 in a nice portfolio book. Be very critical of the shots you choose for the portfolio - you should not see any flaws in the shots. You need to be more critical than they ever will be. If you can't get 15-20 high quality 8x10s or 11x14s you're not ready yet to attract new business.

In my experience, when I show clients/potential clients my photographs they don't ask what gear I'm using - they either like my photographs or they don't. The only time I've had people ask about my gear is when they see me with it at the shoot.
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Old Sep 3, 2007, 12:39 PM   #3
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Photos, photos and photos.... the finished result is all that people are interested in. There are tools that help a photog get the shots they want but most clients are clueless to this, if they get the image they desire that is key.

I don't shoot with the top gear (JohnG is the man for that) but I'm producing work that is better than other guys I meet at some events even though they are shooting with the best kit. However there are guys I meet who produce much better work than me so I just try to learn from them but studying their work.

When you are shooting an event then people do come and chat to you about your kit and people will either see you as a pro or not. This is how I got into shooting sports for one of the local clubs, I had popped to a game just to try out my pretty new dSLR (going back a few years now) with a Tamron 70-300mm lens. One of the guys from the club started talking to me, asked if I shot pro (he didn't know much about kit) so I let him know I was just shooting for fun but he asked if I was interested to do more and that was that.

Once you have the shots in your portfolio then you have to ask yourself, with my skill (more important than kit) can I capture the shots required in the desired time and then ask does the kit I have allow me to do this. Let's use me as an example, I have the ability to take saleable shots for sports but I couldn't get them with a P&S so it is putting the complete package together.
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