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As any photographer knows, their overall mission is to consistently create incredible imagery. However, technical skills are only part of the equation. Soft skills related to customer service, communication are also very important.
Soft skills require practice to develop. Developing them are critical when it comes to being a successful photographer.
How do Social Skills Benefit your Photography Business?
Here are some of the areas to focus on:
Bringing in Business
When getting started in photography, developing a reputation in your local area. While many photographers rely heavily on their web presence, this is only a part of the process. Many people still find or learn about their photographer from meeting them in person or through word-of-mouth.
A good way to go about building your business and attracting to new clients is to treat every social situation or business function like it’s a potential business opportunity. This doesn’t mean that you should be selling yourself to every person. However, mention that you are a photographer and put yourself out there. Networking is a powerful way to generate business prospects.
For the more introverted person, this can be a challenge. Start small if needed and social gatherings or other functions are overwhelming. Make a goal at these events to talk to one or two new people.
Discuss your hobbies or shared interests is a good way to bring up that you have started a photography business professionally. Many times, people will then ask to see examples or your work or even ask for a business card. This is a good way to create a positive impression of yourself and potentially bring in new clients.
Landing the Job
Social skills also play a crucial role when people are meeting with photographers. They want to know that their photographer is not only skilled but will meet their needs.
People want to work with a photographer that is friendly, flexible, and able to fulfill their vision. They tend to do business with people they like and relate to.
For example, a wedding photographer often has to go-with-the-flow as the day can be varied. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be detailed in your planning but also demonstrate that you can adapt as needed.
When meeting with potential clients, it’s best to come off as being professional but also friendly and flexible. Communicate well what you can offer. This is a good time to ask questions about what they want in a photographer.
After getting a clear idea of what they’re looking for, you can respond by outlining their vision clearly and addressing what you can do for them.
This type of reflective communication will help you to get the job, even if you’re not the most skilled photographer. When meeting with potential clients, communicating well during the process is a crucial skill.
During the Shoot
Communication during a photoshoot is also incredibly important. Make sure that you start the shoot by smiling and friendly. Explain the process before getting started so that your clients will have an idea of what to expect throughout the shoot.
Be genuine during the shoot and always show an interest in what others have to say. This ability to be positive will be helpful. It’s also a good idea to provide positive solutions to the often random requests that occur during a photography session.
Posing your clients, such as with headshots or family shoots, is an important area of communication. You’ll have to guide and direct clients.
Although you know the basics of what makes a good or bad pose, you also have to have the ability to guide your clients through the process. They often feel uncomfortable and awkward so it’s your responsibility to make them feel at ease.
When posing people for shots, it’s often a good idea to take their input as well. If the shot seems stilted or forced, never hesitate to ask clients for their input. Maybe they have a different idea in mind but are too shy to mention it to you.
By being positive and open, they’ll feel much more comfortable mentioning any problems that they have during the process and leave satisfied as well.
Their communication makes it essential for you to have the skills to understand what clients are saying. This is when you can ask targeted questions but take the time to listen. This is done through all stages of the process but is often essential during the actual shooting process.
When you take the time to understand their wants and concerns, it shows that you’re present in the moment and that they matter.
After the Shoot
You may think that after the photography shoot is done, your work is mostly done as well. However, in addition to touching up photos and delivering them to the client, you still need to maintain good communication.
Your client should have a clear idea of what their package includes and the cost for that package or any add-ons. It’s a good idea to remind them as needed. You’ll also want to remind the client verbally and in writing about the time-frame for the work to be completed.
Learn when to say no
Finally, one area of communication that’s needed during the final process of the job is knowing how to say no or turn down a request. The best way to do this is to come up with an alternate solution.
A client may ask you to make a touchup that’s not possible or some other request that simply can’t be done. You should never agree to something you can’t do as this will break the client’s trust in you.
However, you also don’t want to leave a bad impression. When you have to turn down a request, provide a positive solution that may still give them an option.
Difficult clients can be a challenge. Here’s our guide on how to handle them.
When developing these communication skills, the most important soft skills to have initially are good communication and being open and friendly. It takes time to build the skills you need but your career relies heavily on them so make this a priority.