Let’s face it, these days, professional photographers aren’t only competing with other pros – they are competing with anyone and everyone with an iPhone. Before you get upset and kill the messenger – ask yourself “What is my value proposition?” What do you offer that your competition doesn’t’?
I started making a list of things that professional photographers could offer to boost their value to potential clients:
- Skills – Do you have any unique skills that can set you apart from your competition? If you define yourself by a specialized piece of gear that’s new – keep in mind, you may have just 5 years or less before ‘everyone” has it.
- Vision – Make sure your “vision” comes from you and isn’t just a copy of what’s “hot” or trendy at the moment.
- Access – Do you have access that others don’t? I realized when I was shooting for National Geographic that I was given access to a lot of photo opportunities that others didn’t have. Sometimes these opportunities yield photo opps that are off limits to others and make some stand out portfolio samples.
- Rapport – If you are working in video and part of your job is doing interviews, then having a good rapport with your subjects will give you results that only you will get. Good interviews are dependent on social chemistry.
- Your audience or following – These days, even getting a commissioned assignment may be dependent on your own social media following. Advertisers want to capitalize on that if it’s the same target audience they are trying to reach.
- Project management skills – Getting the shot is only one skill set that photographers need to compete. Clients expect you to manage the project from soup to nuts and deliver the goods. That could mean wrangling large crews, getting access or simply making sure that everything that needs to get done to complete a project – is done.
- Sensitivity – Be sensitive not only to your clients’ needs and problems but to whomever you are working with. I know a very good photographer who began burning most of his bridges with his clients. He was more interested in getting his point across and making demands than he was listening to the needs of his clients.
- Likeability – Similar to above. There are just too many photographers out there to choose from that if you aren’t likable – well – you may want to look for work that doesn’t require any social skills.
If all this sounds simple – it is. It’s applying it that’s the tough part. But if you do, you will set yourself apart from your competition.
Thinking of moving into motion? Check out The Craft and Commerce of Video and Motion