credit: Chuck Vosburgh

You have a good friend and you find out that they hired someone else. What happened?!

This is a common problem and fortunately there are some easy answers.

Everyone knows more than one photographer

It’s been estimated that everyone knows at least three photographers. I think that number is higher. So who gets the work? Their favorite friend? The one who was friends first? The one that they owe a favor to? Nope. It’s going to be the one who comes to mind first and who answers their phone. The best way to make sure you’re the first one that comes to mind is to stay in touch with everyone you know at least once a month. That doesn’t mean you have to be selling, just be a friend. There are a lot of ways to get organized and stay in touch. One popular way is to set up a recurring monthly reminder to contact your top friends and prospects. Even if you simply send out a monthly favorite photo of the month email you’ll be doing more than most of your competitors.

When you get the inquiry, it’s vital to respond immediately. Even friends will go to the next person if they don’t hear back quickly. Even if you don’t have time to respond, text them and tell them you will get back to them asap. Just say something so they won’t move on to the next person on their list. As an interesting statistic, research shows that a response within 5 minutes increases your chances of closing the business by 2,000%!

How do they know you?

They know you as their friend but they don’t know you as the top professional photographer that gives great service. Sometimes it’s even harder to show a friend what a great professional you are because you are something else to them. Because of that, it’s important to always show up on your game no matter what, especially if you’re presenting to a friend.

You still have to earn the business

It’s natural to think that you deserve the business because of your friendship, but you don’t. No one is obligated to hire you. If you had the opportunity to talk with your friend about their upcoming project, did you show up with your best presentation or did you just show up to take the order, assuming you already had the job? Did you bring your samples and all your support materials? Did you show your friend that you’re a professional and give them a top-level professional presentation to earn the business? If not, you didn’t earn the business. We have a saying; “Friends is Friends and Business is Business”.  You want your friends to hire you and recommend you because you’re a top professional and the best one for the job, not just because they like you. Who deserves the very best, most professional service you can possibly provide? Your friends do.

Chuck Vosburgh has more than 30 years of experience as a commercial photographer and recently released an online course:How to Sell Photography Without Becoming a Salesman. Learn more athttp://vosburghphoto.com

Chuck can be reached atChuck@ChuckVosburgh.comor 727.319.2800


As another follow up to the article I wrote aboutfinding your own photographic style, Chuck Vosburgh offers his experience and sheds some light on how his style has influenced his work as a commercial photographer.

How have you developed your style and continue to do so?

My style developed partly from responding to clients' needs and partly from works that I personally like. I think it's vital to continue learning from masters of the craft. I remember when I joined the Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association, I discovered a whole new level of work that I didn't even know existed! Learning from the people in that group took my work and my career to the next level where I felt comfortable competing for work on a national level.

Where does your vision and/or your inspiration come from?

For commercial work, the art director or photo editor usually has a concept, then we collaborate to make his or her concept the best it can be. Sometimes, completely new ideas come from the collaboration and that's when it's the most exciting! In cases where I am responsible for the concept, I rely on my library of images that I've saved for inspiration. Looking through them will usually spark an idea that can be built on. For portraits, I've been heavily influenced by Dutch painters Rembrandt, Vermeer and others. The influence of their work finds its way into any portrait work I do.

How has developing such a strong style benefited you or held you back?

My motto has always been"if it's legal, moral and not a wedding I'll shoot it". That said, one thing I learned very early on is that you can't do everything. For example, I don't do weddings or babies. It's just not my thing, and likewise I don't know any wedding or baby photographers who do commercial work. It is a good idea to be able to have a bit of a range of style since many of my clients have come to me with something specific in mind.

Any advice for other photographers who are struggling to find a voice?

Don't obsess about it! It will develop on its own over time. I recommend finding someone whose work you admire and follow their lead. That will provide a foundation that you can expand on and make your own. None of us have invented our styles. Everything is an extension of those before us.I am certain that most if not all of the masters that I admire will say the same.

And any other thoughts or feelings you may have on the topic.

Remember we're providing a service. Service demands being flexible and understanding that not every single piece you do will be a portfolio piece. I know that goes against what some say, but I have 30 years of earning a nice living and it's worked for me. I've frequently asked clients why they chose me. There are plenty of talented photographers to choose from and without exception they all had basically the same answers: None of them mentioned the quality of my work. Excellent work is expected and it's the minimum requirement to be chosen. No one mentioned equipment for the same reason. All of them said it was that they knew I'd show up, come through for them and be pleasant to work with. It's just that simple. I've built my career on the promise that I will show up and get the job done no matter what and it will look great.

Chuck Vosburgh did his first paid and published work in 1984 and earned his PPA Certified Professional Photographer in 2014. He has been fortunate enough to have been awarded many honors over the years and loves to teach. You can see Chuck's work atwww.ChuckVosburgh.comand on his blog,www.LightingIsEasy.com. Chuck recently released a new online course titledHow to sell photography without becoming a salesmanwhere he condenses his 30+ years of sales and business experience down to a series of ten-minute lessons covering everything you need to know to be successful. You can learn more about it atvosburghphoto.com.

Proofpix - Client galleries and studio management

Our new calendar widget allows you to view your upcoming photo sessions and appointments so you can manage your time and team more effectively.

Customers can book photo session appointments through your custom forms if you add a scheduler component to them. You can set up the scheduler to auto-confirm appointments or you can confirm appointments manually. When an appointment is submitted, you receive an email that allows you to confirm the appointment and add it to your Outlook or iCalendar with just a single click. Or if you prefer, you can confirm appointments using the new calendar widget in the admin control panel. Once an appointment is confirmed, your client will receive a confirmation via email.

We have also added custom appointment reminder emails so your clients automatically receive email reminders about their upcoming appointments. Your clients will be able to:
  • Add the appointment to their favorite calendar
  • Cancel or request to re-schedule appointments with just a click

You can configure a tailored message and choose the number of days prior to the appointment that the email reminder will be sent.

Hope you enjoy the new features! Please let us know how we can make running your photography business more efficient.

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You can now attach custom tags to your customers to easily segment them for quick searching and filtering.

This is especially handy, when you want to send a mass email campaign to a specific segment of your customers. Let's assume that you want to drum up some business from customers that you have not heard from in a while. Simply create an email campaign, and then filter the list of recipients by selecting the tags from events that were shot over a year ago. In just a few of clicks, you have narrowed down your list to the required audience, which will help make your campaigns more successful, and by extension, your photo business more profitable.

Check out this quick video introduction to customer tags below.

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Last week we published a post about finding your own photographic style. As a follow up to that, I reached out to a favorite photographer of mine name, Kristi Sutton Elias, who was kind enough to share some of her personal opinions on the subject. Kristi is one of my favorite photographers because her work embodies a very strong personal style that is artistic, distinct, and incredibly memorable. Kristi’s amazing work has earned her a litany of awards and recognition over the years, such as:

  • “International Photographer of the Year” - Professional Photographers of America- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

  • “California Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 PPA

  • "Photographic Artist Photographer of the Year Award " - 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

  • "Portrait Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014, 2015

  • "Illustration Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014

  • "Child Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014

  • "Judge's Choice Award" - PPA

A full list can be found on Kristi’s website.

How did you develop your style and continue to do so?

I create the worlds that attract me and visually I want to live in. Creative editing in Photoshop has been a big part of defining my style. I continue to try to refine my style with every session by upping my game in styling, propping, dramatic posing and editing.

My dramatic lighting choice, is also a big part of my style. I spent years learning how to light anyone and everything. I started to notice the images that I favored most, had a dramatic, directional light source. Now that same lighting style has become consistent throughout my work and helped to define my style.

Where does your vision and/or your inspiration come from?

A lot of my inspiration comes from what I am attracted to. I do not see in high key palettes, nor do I create with them. I am intrigued by low light paintings and scenes. When I enter a museum or gallery, I beeline to the darkest piece in the room. That is home to me. Where others see darkness, I see light. There is a richness of color, and warmth that can be seen throughout even the darkest of paintings. I am always looking for the stories and detail that can be found or hidden in the shadows and darkness.

No matter the medium, I create what I crave. I am drawn to art that is timeless, stoic, and drenched in a chiaroscuro palette. I strive to create stare-able portraits. A portrait capable of swallowing the observer. Each observer, on a different journey, unearthing their own story in the subtleties. I am constantly evolving, discovering how to be the best storyteller I can.

Movies are a great inspiration for me. I like anything by Marvel comics and fighting action movies. Not only do I find the story line entertaining but, the lighting, color palette and composition burns little visual memories in my mind that later I pull from for creative inspiration.

How has developing such a strong style benefited you or held you back?

My style is not for everyone, nor do I want everyone to be my client. I have developed a sought after niche that clients will not only pay for but travel from different states and countries for.

However I will only create in my low key chiaroscuro style, so I do turn away potential clients who are looking for high key portraits. I recommend other photographers who create in the style they are looking for.  It’s not that I can’t create in high-key, I simply don't want to. Holding true to my style and vision has tightened up my work and portfolio.

Any advice for other photogs who are struggling to find a voice?

I get asked, “How do you create a unique style?”, my answer is simple, “Leave behind any thoughts of acceptance. Create what you crave.”. Do not worry about what others are creating or what others think about what you are creating. You will never please everyone, so work on creating what amazes you!  You are the only one who can create what is in your head.

Spend your time shooting and editing instead of looking at other photographers work. What goes in must come out! If you spend your time looking at others work, your work will look more like theirs.

And any other thoughts or feelings you may have on the topic.

I highly recommend doing your own editing. If you want to create a unique style, editing is a big part of that. Just like anything else in life the more you practice the better you will become. Experiment, try new things just to see what will happen. A lot of my success in editing is from experimenting. Fail, a lot, for if you are not failing, you are not trying new things. Some of my greatest pieces started with an epic fail. Embrace happy accidents and write down the steps on how to recreate them.

Write down your ideas, you might think you can remember them, but you will forget. One simple idea, built upon, can become a Masterpiece.

“For the Art that we do not create, no one will.”

All images are the copyright of Kristi Sutton Elias.

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