unsplash-logoKinga Cichewicz

What makes your favorite images “pop”? What helps you recognize the work of some of the most emblematic photographers of the century? How is it that two almost identical images in terms of subject, lighting, and composition can look so different?

The answer is simple:style.

As an artist, you were likely drawn to photography because you have something to say with your work and your style is thex factorthat makes your work unique. It’s the thing that seperates a good photograph from a great one. And doing that consistently, is what separates good photographers from great photographers.

So, what is a style and how do I get it?

Style is what makes your work recognizable at first glance. It’s not something you will magically obtain one day or something you can decide you want to have: it’s the result of a never-ending process of developing and refining, job after job, shoot after shoot.

Every photographer has been faced with the decision of whether to go with past preferences – the things we know that work – or experimentation – the techniques we’d love to try out but we’re not sure what the result may bring. With every photo you take, you need to make a ton of decisions; technical decisions such as aperture, shutter speed, or white balance. Artistic decisions like poses, composition and angles. These are all opportunities for you to play with. Every time you decide to experiment and you like the result, the choice will become a preference.

As you evolve, you begin to apply your preferences subconsciously rather than something you ‘force’ onto your images. Your preferences accumulate, complementing each other and culminating into the elusive goal: your own unique photographic style.

There is no silver bullet, but if you’re struggling and unsure how to begin discovering your personal photography style, here is some practical advice to help you get started:

Hone your technical skills

Any amazing image, whether it’s a drawing, painting or a photograph, is the result of a harmonious marriage between the eye and the hand. Your eye is what tells you what you want to achieve and the hand is the means by which you create it. You must have good hands (technical skills), if you are ever going to satisfy the eye.

This cannot be emphasized enough. Even if your style emerges subconsciously, it is still a product of your technical skills and expertise.

While there are a myriad of technical skills that you need to be aware of (and there seems to be more every day with the advancement of equipment), there is no skill more important for a photographer than mastering light: photo comes from the Greek word phos, which means light.

You should not only be familiar but possess a strong knowledge of how exposure works, what the effects of lighting on different shots can be. Learn how to “read” light – you need to intuitively know how, for instance, backlighting might affect the image (by causing overexposing, loss of contrast or a flare), how short-lighting can transform the figure of your subject and so on. These technical aspects can make a world of a difference in your work.

The key to mastering your technical skills is repetition and analysis. With time, this skill will become second nature, something you can do automatically without even having to think about it: this will free up cognitive resources which you can lend to experimentation.

Your equipment should not define your style, knowing how to use it should

Some photographers are gear heads and are infatuated with these wonderful instruments that truly seem magical. However, it is usually a mistake to rely on your equipment to define your style. In the end, they are means and not the end in themselves.

Whatever your equipment consists of, the key to becoming a better photographer and achieving what is in your mind’s eye, is mastering the technical limitations of your tools and figuring out strategies to compensate for them. For instance, there are cameras that might be better at capturing details in the highlights than in the shadows. This might mean you need to settle for slightly over-exposed images to compensate for the gear’s particular limits. Again, practice and experimentation are key to understanding this. Resist the urge to buy new equipment to further your quest in developing your style – it’s likely that your equipment is not the thing holding you back.

Get inspired and then become inspiring

We all need inspiration and nothing happens in a vacuum. Maybe you’re inspired by a certain color pallette, architectural elements, geometric shapes or by specific locations. While we all seek to find our own unique style, the truth is you will probably, at one time or another, emulate another person’s work that you find inspiring. That is perfectly ok, especially when you’re getting started. It’s a process. And once you start successfully imitating another’s work, you will be learning a whole lot along the way. You will be finding your voice while reciting someone else’s. You will be building confidence in your skills and when enough time has past, you, like every other artist before you, will have developed your own preferences and just like that your voice will begin to emerge and express itself.

The thing to remember along the way, is to be analytical. Ask yourself why you are drawn to another’s work and learn how to analyze what makes it good. Learn how to speak about art. And if you continue to hone your skills and your voice, eventually you will become an inspiration for other artists.

Take chances and push yourself

Most artists always set out to make the perfect image but sometimes you take the perfect image – completely by accident. The best way to create these happy accidents is to put yourself in situations that encourage them. Try pushing yourself to work outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to work with a certain lens or just one light and this can yield some of your most interesting work. If you’re open to failure and analytical you’ll be able to discover small successes and perhaps big accidents that you can recreate and add to your arsenal of techniques that will help you define your unique style.

While researching this article I discovered, Josh S Rose, and in particular the following two articles of his. I believe this is some of the best writing about art and photography I have ever read. I bet you’ll enjoy it as well:



Proofpix - Client galleries and studio management



How to gain new clients for your photography business

Even if you’ve just started your photography business, you probably already know the struggle of finding new clients.

Worry not! Gaining new clients is a challenging step but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. We’ve gathered some of the most helpful tips and tricks to help you start your photography business on the right foot:


Figure out your target

The key to gaining new clients is knowing who – and what – to look for. To help define your target, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who would pay for my service?

  • Who has already bought from me?

  • What do my friends and peers think?

  • How will I sell my product or service?

  • What assumptions am I making about my target that may be wrong?

Once you have a clearer picture of who your target is, it should be easier to:

  • know what channels to use to reach them

  • establish branding that will appeal to them

  • construct the products and services you think they will appreciate

  • price your products and services accordingly

Build your book

Every professional photographer has had zero clients at one point. If this is you, your first step should be building your book. After all, it’s hard to gain new clients if you have no samples to offer them. The best way to do that is to tap into your friends and family network. Offer to do some free photo shoots and make sure you treat the whole experience as if it were a paying gig. This is also a fantastic opportunity to get feedback and learn from it.


Get online

It’s the 21st century: we don’t need to persuade you of the power of social media. If you don’t already have a photography website and a Facebook/Instagram page – create one! If you have a page, go through it and make sure it’s spotless. Get rid of everything that’s outdated, underwhelming or plain bad: as an artist, the aesthetic of your page speaks volumes about the quality of your work. Make sure your website is optimized for local and industry-specific keywords. SEO is not the most fun and can be quite time consuming, but done properly, it is a great way to drum up new business.

Focus on existing relationships

The good news for photography businesses, like yours, is that you don’t need a big marketing budget. To be successful you just need to deliver the best possible experience to your clients so that they will become your most valuable brand advocates. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective marketing strategies and when your clients are happy with the service you provided, they’re far more likely to spread the word to all their friends and family members!

Don’t forget to ask your customers to give you a written testimonial. Testimonials go a long way to building trust with future prospects. You can also offer referral discounts – say, $20 off their next photo session if they also refer a friend.

Stay in touch with your customers by emailing or better, sending them a handwritten note. Staying top-of-mind will definitely help them help you.

It’s also a good idea to reach out to vendors and venues. Send them some of your best photos of their work or space and tell them they can use it on their website or in their marketing. They will be super pleased with you and this positive relationship building will lead to more referrals.


Networking is a key skill in the photography world. Find yourself some photography buddies – they can be a great source of referrals. Sometimes they will be too busy to take on a job, or away on location and they may just hand you your dream project.

Make sure that your friends and family know you’re a photographer and actually looking for clients.

Post on local Facebook groups and make sure you leave pamphlets, flyers and business cards at places where your ideal clients are likely to visit.


Learn how to promote yourself

Social media is your best friend when it comes to building a client base. When it comes to the visual arts, Instagram is perhaps the most powerful tool. Make sure you profile yourself in the same way you profile your clients; if you only post photos of weddings, people are likely to believe you only offer wedding photography. Make sure to display your best images but also the ones that reflect your style best.

Another fantastic way to promote yourself and gain new clients is by blogging. A photographer is more than merely a service provider – your clients trust you to capture their most intimate moments and create shots that reflect their true personality. They want to know you and what better way to offer them a glimpse into who you are than by blogging about your skill and life? The added bonus is increased visibility and credibility: the winning strategy is making sure you showcase your work and skill and letting your clients get to know you.

Last but not least, get creative with your pricing. This doesn’t mean undercutting your fees but rather, running booking specials or offering discounts. Consider offering limited mini sessions (with fewer images included or without certain extras) and give your clients the option to buy more. You can also offer a free session in exchange for exposure. Make sure to ask your clients to spread the word and leave a review on your Facebook or Yelp page (preferably without saying that they got a free session out of it).

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Photo credit: Arali Melendez

You’ve just booked your first wedding and if you’re like most amateur wedding photographers, once the initial thrill and excitement fade, anxiety settles in. How are you going to handle photographing a place you’ve never seen before? What if you forget to take a shot of the bride and her favorite grandma? Do you really need a second shooter and should you have gotten that second camera after all?

Take a breather and relax: we’ve got you covered.

Make it legal

Before anything exciting happens, you need to establish a clear business agreement with your client andprotect yourself from liability with a signed, written contract. Contracts clearly state the expectations for the photographer and their client and also establish grounds for recourse should either party not fulfill their end of the agreement. Contracts also have the advantage of setting one's clients at ease.

A clearly laid out contract actually helps reduce stress and will be one less thing to worry about on the big day!

Develop a shot list

As tempted as you might be, don’t wing your first wedding. Preparation is key and the difference between the amateur and the pro is the shot list. Develop a well-curated list of around 20-25 “must-haves” and memorize it. This could be particularly helpful when taking family shots and ensures no one will feel left out.

Try to commit the list to memory – walking around with a piece of paper while you photograph the wedding doesn’t necessarily speak volumes about your professionalism. Flick through a couple of wedding magazines to get inspiration but make sure you develop a unique shot list – this will be your signature.

Have your gear handy

It’s also a good idea to have a list of the gear you’ll need during the big day. If you plan on taking macro photos of the couple’s rings, for instance, make sure you have your macro lens. Store each piece of equipment in a separate space in your bag to save time during the wedding.

Make sure you have plenty of spare memory cards or film, backup batteries, and equipment as well, and that the backups are accessible while you’re shooting.

Know your location

Make sure to research the reception and ceremony locations beforehand (the info should be in your contract). Look into photography policies – some churches and places of worship have strict rules about when and from where you can take photos. If there are any restrictions, communicate them to your clients well ahead of the wedding day to avoid any disappointments.

Research the lighting conditions and, if possible, visit the location beforehand. If you’re up for it, you can even do an in-person visit with the couple and take a few test shots. These will help you make sure the big day goes as smoothly as possible and will make for fantastic engagement photos!

Be there for the small details

Photo credit: Arali Melendez

Your shot list probably includes classics such as photos of the couple with their friends and relatives, as well as intimate shots of the vows and rings exchange. However, photographing the small details such as the back of dresses, shoes, flowers, and table settings can add an extra dimension to the wedding album.

Make sure to be bold but not obtrusive when photographing the wedding. If you need to move around to change your perspective, try to coincide this with the change of songs, or the sermons and longer readings. And, we’re sure we don’t need to tell you this – make sure you turn off the sound of your camera during the ceremony.

Master diffused light

One of the key skills you’ll need as a pro wedding photographer is knowing how to use diffused light. In most churches, the lighting conditions will be poor at best so the ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is of the essence.

Keep in mind that many churches won’t allow you to use a flash (it’s best to check in well in advance) and in that case, you’ll need to either use a fast lens at a wide aperture or increase the ISO. If you can use a flash, consider whether bouncing it is the best option and steer clear of colored surfaces as they will add a colored cast to the picture. If you want to soften the light, get a flash diffuser.

RAW is your friend

The RAW usually leads to extra processing which might not make it the most time-efficient option. However, if there’s one occasion where you should definitely consider going RAW is a wedding. The RAW mode offers much more flexibility when it comes to manipulating the shots after you’ve taken them, which could be a life-saver if you’re dealing with tricky lighting conditions.

Continuous shooting mode

Lots of things happen during a wedding and most of them happen fast which is why the continuous shooting mode is your best friend.

Perspective is all

Photo credit: Arali Melendez

Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to angles and perspectives. Mix things up a little by kneeling down and taking a few shots from down low, or get up on a balcony to get an eagle eye’s POV. However, make sure the majority of the images in the album are formal poses – creativity is good but as with everything else, moderation is key.

Consider hiring an assistant

Even if this is not your first rodeo, hiring an assistant can help you a great deal. A photo assistant can carry and guard your gear so you can focus on following the couple around, and set up the equipment if you’re using lights or tripods. Additionally, a photography assistant can be invaluable in fixing the ‘little’ things – fluffing hair and smoothing trains – as well as making sure you stay hydrated.

Make sure to list the job requirements as clearly as possible – this includes the location and date of the wedding, as well as pay and how long do you anticipate the job will take.

An assistant can also help you with the emergency kit, and having one makes even the most hectic of weddings go smoothly. Pack up essentials like bobby pins, a small sewing kits, and baby wipes that will prove in handy when there’s a crisis, and consider larger items like makeup basics, first aid kit, lighters and a couple of rain ponchos.

Make your ego take a back seat

Remember that the day is not about you. Nothing will make a worse impression than showing your clients your stress or frustration. Your attitude will help set the tone and help your clients relax around the camera which makes for better pictures and better referrals!

A neat trick we’ve saved up for last is forcing a smile even if you don’t feel like it at first. Smiling can help you feel better (research has shown that even a fake smile boosts the level of the ‘happy’ hormone in your brain) and it will also put your subjects at ease so everyone can have a good time – and great photos to show for it.

And most of all deliver on your promises. Scott Evans ofscottevans.com, a 38 year wedding photographer veteran, offers this advice,

"There are no EXCUSES. You HAVE to be there on time or early EVERY TIME and you must deliver the product as necessary."

Relax and enjoy

Finally, make sure you don’t overstress before the big day. Weddings can be chaotic, that’s true, but they are also an amazing opportunity to share the joy and happiness and hone your photography skills.

Don’t try to be someone else, either – your clients will love you for the outstanding service and personal touch you offer, and showing them the real you bumps up the chances of them hiring you again!

Last but not least, have fun.

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Are you a photographer considering working on high-volume photo shoots like schools, sports clubs or events? Then you should know that this type of photography is not for everyone. It can be hectic taking photos of hundreds of people in a very short time as well as time-consuming to manage and fulfill the overwhelming amount of orders. There are a lot of logistical issues that need to be overcome as well as legal and ethical considerations. While the workload is hefty, this is the type of photography that, when done properly, can be especially lucrative if you prepare yourself with all the right tools in advance.

Reasons to consider becoming a high-volume photographer

  1. You can earn a lot of money in a short time

  2. You can amass a lot of new customers quickly which could lead to other jobs

Are you ready to be a high-volume photographer?

So you've got great cameras, amazing lenses and a good eye, but to be a successful high-volume photographer you need to make sure that you are also equipped with:

  1. Patience

  2. Planning and organizational skills

  3. Logistics and workflow

If you are lacking in any of these areas, then you're likely to run into trouble.

How to get the job

  1. Keep your portfolio up-to-date
    Having high-volume photography experience is a benefit but it’s not necessary if you come prepared. Keep your portfolio up-to-date so you’re always prepared for a meeting. If you have never shot for sports teams, then go and build a portfolio of sports photography so you will at least have similar shots to the job you’re trying to land. Your employer may not have a good imagination, so showing them what you can do in a similar vein, is going to make it easier for you to land the job.

  2. Be active in your community
    Approaching schools and organizations via email or cold calls can certainly be one angle for landing a meeting but these will be more effective if you’re already known in your community. Build up your presence by going to school events, sporting events, community events in general and take pictures of everything! Make a collection of the photos you’ve taken, put them on a memory stick and share them with the event organizer to help get your name out there. Being active in the community greatly improves the chances of you receiving a potential job.

  3. Be accommodating
    Emphasize your accessibility and willingness to adapt to your clients needs. Clients can be finicky about the things they want or even change their mind about factors you both agreed on in the beginning. Be willing to show your clients you can adapt to changes in a way that’s fair to both of you. Assure them that you are willing to be a part of the process every step of the way so they don’t have any anxiety about hiring you; not only does this help your client show you care but it can also make your job easier.

  4. Present fair and flexible offerings
    Keep your bundles/packages simple and flexible. Not every event is going to be the same. If you provide the client with ideas unique to their event and simple packages that cater to their specific needs and price-points, they’ll be more likely to hire you.

  5. Know your market
    Go to the meeting prepared by researching your market. Keep your pricing competitive within your community. It is not unusual for the organization to want to be paid or to receive free images to use. Figure out what the specific organization or school wants and work out something that is fair to both of you. Making sure that both you and your clients are benefitting from the business relationship you have will help to ensure the longevity of those relationships.

  6. Keep current & responsible
    Keep your resume, references, and equipment insurance up to date. This will give your client extra assurance that they are in good hands.

  7. Be awesome!
    When interviewing for the gig with a new school or organization, they will be impressed if you can provide them ways that save them time, such as handling the scheduling and payments. Basically, the more work you can save your client, the more likely you will be to get the job.

What kind of contracts are required
Every client will be different, so therefore, the contracts will be as well. Some organizations may not even require one, but it is usually a good idea to formalize your business relationship with a contract so both parties have a clear understanding of what is expected. Contracts should include:

  1. When and where the photo shoot will take place

  2. Provision of an alternate time and place should weather, illness, or an unforeseeable challenge should present itself

  3. How much and the manner in which the organization will be paid (if that is what is agreed upon)

  4. How much and the manner in which you will be paid (if they are paying you, or if the attendees are paying you individually via their own discretion)

  5. Describe in detail how many images the organization will receive for their own use and how they may use them (should they credit you, for example, when using them)

  6. An agreement on a time-frame to deliver the images and how that will happen.
    ie: will the organization be responsible for delivering the finished product to the attendees or will it be up to you to handle that directly with each individual from the event.

How do you organize an event

Organization is the cornerstone to any successful high-volume photo shoot. Every event is going to require a different set of equipment and personnel.

  1. Make a checklist for yourself and your assistants
    Plan ahead with a checklist. Nothing is more frustrating than arriving to a high-volume photo shoot and realizing that you’ve forgotten something. Using a checklist will not only give you peace-of-mind but it will also help save valuable time.

  2. Make a checklist for your clients
    Let your clients know exactly what to bring. Costumes, uniforms, sports equipment, water, payments.

  3. Hire the right amount of assistants or photographers
    Make sure they are well-prepared as well. If you hire too many assistants, you will lose profits. If you hire too few, you will be scrambling to complete the job and likely make mistakes. Having a system in place that allows attendees topre-registerfor an event is the best way to know how many assistants to hire. Have back-up personnel on call in case someone does not show up!

  4. Schedule appointments
    If you have a system in place that allows your clients to schedule their time slot, you will find that you can allocate your time and resources better. For example, if you are photographing a two day event and the majority of the attendees schedule their time slots on the first day, you may not need to hire as many assistants for the second day. Scheduling also reduces client frustration. Reducing the time they have to sit around waiting will improve their experience and increase your value in their eyes.

  5. Consider charging a session fee or taking a deposit
    Getting people to pre-pay will help ensure that they show for the event and will cover your expenses if they don’t.

  6. Know the poses you’re looking for
    Directing your clients before with a choice of poses will help you get the best shot quickly.“Spray and Pray” is NOT the way to go. A lot of lazy photographers will simply keep their finger on the shutter and “pray” that they got a good shot. This will render you with thousands of  pictures that you’ll have to deal with later.

  7. Keep the time in mind
    Most events will have a specific timeline they’re going to follow, so it’s your job to stay at the top of your game. If you calculate that each subject takes 4 minutes to photograph, then try to stick to that!

  8. Understand the location
    Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, each high-volume photography situation is going to require a different set of equipment or perspective. Ask the client if it’s possible for you to go to the location beforehand to get an understanding of the space and where you need to be in order to truly visualize your work. This will help you feel comfortable as well when you’re in the midst of it! If you’re shooting outdoors, consider shady spots for clients to wait in. Provide water or refreshments. Nothing says you care, like caring!

What to sell
What to sell can depend on many factors but knowing your client is the best indicator. You will definitely be selling different products when photographing a sports team in comparison with photographing family mini-sessions. The former will usually include a package with a group shot and a single pose whereas the latter may include high-end products such as canvas wraps or metal prints. There are other things to consider that can really affect your bottom line such as:

  1. Selling discounted products or packages during the pre-registration can help streamline your work-load and get you some cash-flow to work with for the event ahead of time.

  2. Bundling multiple products into packages can take the guesswork out of the decision making process for your clients while beefing up your profits. This makes it very simple for your clients to be more than happy to pay you. Offer multiple packages at different price points so you can appeal to any budget.

  3. Should you sell downloads? More and more clients want electronic versions of their images, usually because they like to share these on their social media accounts. While this is a point of contention for a lot of photographers who would rather see their work “printed” or don’t want their work misused or undervalued, it’s hard to go against the grain. If you do decide to provide electronic files then you can greatly simplify your workload and delivery headaches, but you should be very clear on how the images are to be used:

    1. Perhaps you specify that they can be shared but only if you get proper credit

    2. Perhaps you will deliver the files with your name or watermark on them

    3. Perhaps you will deliver the files in a low-res format unsuitable for printing

    4. Perhaps you will allow only a limited amount of downloads, or a limited amount of sharing

The choices are yours. Make sure you select a client proofing partner than can provide you with all of these options.

How do you get paid

Gone are the days of handing out envelopes to attendees where they pre-select their packages and include a check or cash inside the envelope. Nowadays it is simple to get paid online making it a smoother transaction for you and for your client. Set up a PayPal or Stripe account and link that to your online proofing service. No more bounced checks or chasing after your clients for payment!

Fulfilling high-volume photography orders

The process of fulfilling orders can become a huge bottleneck for you and can potentially make or break your success. There are likely hundreds of images to edit and many client questions to respond to. Fulfilling these orders will really test your metal. The sooner you can fulfill the order, the sooner you can do another photo shoot. Some things to consider that will help streamline this process are as follows:

  1. Employ a task system that clearly shows what work you have to do. This will help you stay on top of the orders and reduce your stress.

  2. Communicate with your clients quickly. Keeping them informed will manage their expectations and maintain their satisfaction.

  3. Consider outsourcing the editing. There are many services that will edit your photos and, while this cuts into your profit, it can free up your time to do other photo shoots. If that’s not for you, then be sure to have some reliable Lightroom or Photoshop presets that you can apply to your photos in a speedy batch process. You may consider charging more for advanced retouching and make sure you employ an event proofing system that will allow you to charge for it on a per image basis.

  4. Hand out coupons at the shoot or offer a discount if orders are placed before a certain date. The sooner you can start producing orders, the sooner you can complete them.

Choose a good client proofing partner

Traditionally, customers had very little choice in the poses that they receive from a high-volume photography photo shoot because the photographer was responsible for choosing the images. With the advent of the internet, it is easy for customers to choose the poses they really want and photographers can fulfill the orders relatively simply. In fact, the entire process can be automated with direct lab fulfillment. Orders are received, reviewed, and sent to the lab where they  automatically produce and drop ship the order directly to the studio or the customer. So, keeping this in mind, choose a good online proofing partner who has the ability for your clients to:

  1. Pre-register

  2. Schedule

  3. Pre-purchase products & packages

  4. Pre-pay session fees or deposits

  5. Allow your clients to choose their favorite poses and provide the option to purchase additional products after the event

  6. Limit downloads sizes, quantities, or the amount of sharing on social networks

  7. Have lab fulfillment and self-fulfillment options

Evaluate and adapt

The true key to success is to learn from your mistakes and experience. Remember to evaluateevery aspect from pre and post production because when you take a second, third, or even a fourth look, you can pick up on your own budding original style. Don’t forget to ask for feedback from your clients and the organizations that hired you, as well. There’s nothing like client feedback to help you hone your performance. You’re likely to get referrals and references by going this route as well. Pleased clients will be more than happy to tell all their friends that you are the go-to person for their photography needs.

High-volume photography requires great organization, patience and, well, clients. It may not be for everyone but, if you can handle all the moving parts by being well organized and thorough, you can stand to make a good profit in a short amount of time while meeting a lot of new customers along the way.

Have any suggestions to being a great high-volume photographer? Please comment below.

Check out our video below to see how our GalleryMagic and SortMagic workflow tools can help save you hours on your high-volume photography events.

Proofpix High-volume photography solutions.

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unsplash-logoJon Tyson

No this is not a post about me trying to get into some athlete's pants. It's a post about a thing called a Minimal Viable Product and why it wouldn't work for us nor for our clients.

Before I explain what an M.V.P. is, I want to explain why I'm even thinking about it. You see our beloved new company, isn't new at all. In fact, it's already five years old. So the evil little dude that sits on my shoulder, weighing me down, with guilt, doubt and pessimism (I call him Norbert, he’s less threatening that way) was laughing at me the other day when my developer said he saw a date noted in some code he was reviewing from 2013. I shit myself. Could it really have been five years? Why had we taken this long to get to market? Am I a terrible team leader? Was I too caught up in features and code quality my customers may never see? Where did the time go?

I always thought that an M.V.P. is the practice of releasing a product as quickly to market to see if it is viable and then iterating on it from the feedback received to make it better. I have since read several variations on the same theme, the one I liked best says that it is the practice of Build > Measure > Learn > Repeat. Ultimately it is about taking an idea and putting it out there quickly to see if it will float.

And there’s the rub, “QUICKLY”.

Why hadn’t I done that? How much further along would we have been if I had? Indeed, I had seen some of our competitors launch and gain traction while I was sitting on a product that had features their customers were begging for.

I suppose M.V.P. makes some sense on paper. But in reality, I ask myself, what benefit would my customers see in us if we simply cloned the competition, or worse, appeared to offer less? Why would I release a product into the market that I was less than happy with? What if I don’t get a second chance to make a first impression?

Despite Norbert’s derision, I believe the answers to these questions are so self-evident that I am surprised at myself for even worrying about it.

I guess I’ve be focused on M.V.A. Maximum Value Added. And I think it is already paying off.

I had a call with a prospective client the other day, who explained to me that they wanted to be able to accept payments for their sports photography business but that they didn’t require client galleries for proofing. Since we specialize in event proofing, it took me a second to realize that they just wanted a way for their customers to choose from a list of products and pay for their order and they would handle the image selection in-house. It sounds simple, but when you understand all the different ways that photography products can be sold or bundled, you too will understand that no vanilla e-commerce system can handle the job. I blew her away when I said that, since our system can already take form payments and we have an incredibly robust shopping cart that can sell anything you throw at it, that we could start programming a solution for her immediately and it wouldn’t take long to merge the two.

So yeah, it has taken us longer then expected to get here, but the fact that we took into account, “what could be” in our development cycle and not the bare minimum required, allowed us to be faster on our feet in this case and impressed our client at the same time. And it is those “wow” moments that every entrepreneur should be pursuing. Those impressions are what make any business successful and meaningful. That's why I am in this.