See the true potential of the client and help them to celebrate themselves. 

Steve Saporito, with his alluring Australian accent, took the podium and commanded the attention of a nearly packed Presidential Ballroom at the Imaging USA 2020 conference.  More than a simple photoshoot/sitting, Mr. Saporito noted that the main focus needed to shift to the experience and away from the technical nature of the photograph.  By helping your client to capture the memory of their moments, by shifting the focus onto the experience, the cost becomes less concerning and business will improve. “If you give a client a value and a great experience, they do not pay near as much attention to expense.”   By getting to the root of their story, by simply talking with them, you help them to remember the moment.   People want to pay for the memory of the moment and not for a picture.  

How many people have taken several personal photos, only to leave them on a computer or in an album somewhere?  Your clients have likely met with other photographers, have likely had several photoshoots that failed to capture their moment.  He relayed a quaint story about a couple who wanted to be photographed.  The female wanted to have her boyfriend photographed to show his resilience, his always-there mindset, and dependability. Mr. Saporito recommended that the couple get photographed together, as men tend to be anxious/nervous. Despite his recommendations, she was worried about cost, as she had spent several hundred dollars previously.  He asked her what was important, why she wanted this, what was the key point that she loved about him.  By learning about the couple, by doing a little research, they verbalized the type of photographs that they wanted. The photograph experience led them to spend several thousand dollars on the photography session.  Interestingly, the female asked “Why did we spend so much money on that other photographer?”  Thus, the goal is to “connect with clients and help them find their purpose… to make them the hero in their experience.”

Mr. Saporito noted that there were a few main methods to increase/improve your business.  You can attempt to acquire new/more clients, but this will be the most expensive method.  This process will require advertising, education, and a large amount of TIME.  Or, you can try to get clients to use you more frequently by listening to them, and helping them to get what they want.  Additionally, you can also increase the types of products to sell.  By providing meaningful products, people want to buy them.  It is important to realize that people are not paying you for your work or your value.  They are assessing how much they are worth, how much they believe their family is worth to them.  Photographs provide a way to capture the moment of a busy hustle-bustle life.  This will allow people to stop, even if for just a moment, to actually see their children, their families, their love, or what is important to them.  It reminds them of what is important, rekindles love, nurtures nostalgia, and permanently captures the emotion of the person. Furthermore, Mr. Saporito detailed the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs.  He mentioned the science of what motivates people to take action. They need to feel that their physiological needs, safety needs are met and then that they are loved/belong before they can reach esteem and self-actualization.  You cannot move up this list until the level has been met.  Most of our current society has peaked at safety needs.  The key is to get them to realize love and belonging, which will then improve esteem and then they want to hold onto the love of the moment.  “This is a gift we give from the heart that changes everything.”  We should be giving people a photographic experience and not a shoot.  

There were several people who entered into conversation with Mr. Saporito throughout the class.  One discussed the relationship with his daughters/wife and another discussed a struggling business. He repeatedly stressed the importance of psychology in the business world and the goal to help each client to shift the focus from cost to experience.  “Expensive has nothing to do with how much people spend…”.  Rather, “expensive has everything to do with your clients’ PERCEPTION of the value they received.”  The goal was to help people to find out what was important about their family, partner, children, or event and then to sell them that feeling. Since “Opportunity is everywhere,”  everybody you meet can be a client.  Everyone can use a little more love, everyone can enjoy the moment to remember the magic of playing with their children.  Sitting on a plane, riding a train/bus, or even waiting in a restaurant, can turn into a networking moment.  At the risk of sounding cliche, it is up to you to Carp e Diem. 

As another example to improve business, he discussed his methods to improve the wedding photo experience.  The photographer must remember that they are shooting more than just the bride and groom.  Even though it may seem like a single event, you are photographing someone’s son or daughter, or perhaps their brother, sister, or best friend.  Imagine asking family members to relate what the bride/groom means to them, who is your son or daughter, what makes them special, or perhaps who you are as the parent?  Without much effort, you can help the family to fall in love again.  He noted again that men were more uncomfortable with the photoshoots.  Nobody gives men the opportunity to speak emotionally.  By getting the parents involved, they often will come in and buy their own albums.  Mr. Saporito noted that their sales tripled as parents were interested in their own albums and not just a copy of what the bride/groom received.   The more questions that you ask a client, the more prepared you will be for them.  Session times were reduced, both parties knew what the expectations were and the event transformed into an experience.  Bookings post-wedding increased thanks to the bridal party booking events and packages expanded.  Design times dropped, fewer photos were needed as the Goldilocks photos became more evident. Clients spend more money on the atmosphere and both parties win.   

To summarize, the power of photography is realized when you accurately capture the heart of someone’s story, someone’s moment, someone’s permanent memory of that point in time.  Creating these moments, asking several questions can provide the space to stop and to focus on the important parts of the people in one’s life.  People will choose “wall art over files” when you make them remember the moment.   They want to be surrounded by the memory and the ambiance.  The “Maslow Hierarchy of Needs” describes what motivates people to take action.    Physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem, self-actualization.  You cannot move up this list until the level has been met.  Most of our current society has peaked at safety needs.  The key is to get them to realize love and belonging, which then improves esteem.  They want to hold onto the love of the moment.  “This is a gift we give from the heart that changes everything.”  We should be giving people a photographic experience and not a shoot.  These events start with phone calls and research. 

Connect with clients and help them find their purpose… make them the hero in their experience. The overall goal is to humanize photography again.  Step away from the tech, and step away from the transaction.

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