Just over 6 years ago, shortly after launching my professional photography business, I did some business portraits for a client. The other day he contacted me as he couldn't find the file I'd given him, and he needed another one for a project. When I looked at the file I had given him, I quickly realized that while the lighting was good, the editing no longer represented the quality of editing that I’m now capable of, so I re-edited it. Comparing the 2010 edit to the 2016 edit made me think of some lessons I’d learned along the way.
Lesson #1: always keep your files, especially the ones that a client has purchased. You never know when they might come back to you for a replacement. Having that file undoubtedly earned me some good will with the client.
Lesson #2: keep your files organized. It took me longer to open the software than it did to find the file, because I have a system that I rigorously follow to keep files tagged and organized. A file isn't much good if you can't find it.
Lesson #3: always, always keep learning, practicing and improving! Let's face it, a professional photographer cannot compete on price with all of the '$100 for a disk' fauxtographers out there. To succeed you must be able to do what they can't do, in order to attract clients who value your work and are willing to pay what your work is worth.
Lesson #4: the details matter. Being a nitpicking perfectionist, I probably spent about an hour re-editing the file with things like background colour adjustment, skin softening, wrinkle relaxing, sharpening, colour corrections, detailed work on the eyes, lint removal, etc.. While the client will never notice that I removed a 1mm piece of thread from the button hole, or that I removed several tiny pieces of lint from the jacket and many of the other tiny details that would only show up on poster size print, they will know that the overall look of the image is very professionally done. Attention to detail is just another way to set yourself apart from the masses of amateurs who charge money.
Lesson #5: don’t rest on your laurels, but do be cognizant of your growth as a photographer. It’s rare that I’m truly satisfied with any of my images, but when I put the 2010 edit beside the 2016 edit, I was proud to see how far I’ve come. Like a lot of photographers, I’m sometimes guilty of comparing my work to those whose work I really admire. While it’s great to continue striving to reach new photographic heights, it’s good to glance back at your own footsteps and see how far you’ve come.
At the moment I'm almost completely booked up with outdoor fall sessions for families and kids. However, if you're in need of a new business portrait contact me for a November session at my studio in Stevensville (Fort Erie) just 15 minutes from Niagara Falls.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 289-407-8559.
Check out some more samples of my business portraits at this link