Tuesday, August 6, 2013

[RANT] On "Venting" About Clients On Facebook (Feat. Photos of Greatness by Pam)

Photo of Greatness Greg Dor, Boston Rapper by Pam. Check him out on Facebook and look for his new EP The Layne Cobain EP III coming soon!

My family is one of those typical Boston-area families, with a lot of Irish genetics and pure Northeastern ice in our veins. We have the accents (though I’ve acquired the ability to “R” in adulthood), we can drink you under the table and we drive like life is a sequel to Mad Max. Because of these genetics, I am, on occasion, unable to shut my mouth when I have something to say. Today is one of those days. So join me, sweet friends, in a good old fashioned probably inappropriate in corporate life rant? 

James and I entered this business eager to network and learn from our peers, and have we ever. From the beautiful days spent sharing work in intimate setting of The Hideout forums to the brilliant workshops hosted on CreativeLIVE and Kelby Training, we learned just about every single thing we know from other photographers. We have a beautiful atmosphere blossoming in this industry that is turning away from cold competitiveness and toward shared growth. If you are better, I am better. Most of the time my head remains here, in this utopian place, but occasionally I make the mistake of joining a large Facebook group, AKA the poisoned wells of the photography community.

Greg enjoys long walks on the beach and occasional liquid lunches with Pam.

There’s plenty to be annoyed by in these large, unfocused groups usually set up to hype a product or photographer. With so many different personalities and styles in the mixing pot you get a lot of opinions and ideas of what is “good” which can be a great thing, but not always. Condescending gear-heads berate newcomers over an unfavorable shadow or pose while practically glowing with industry possessiveness, as if they’re annoyed there’s -yet another- photographer to take their jobs away and they must be punished for their crimes with poorly used sarcasm! Then there’s the constant stream of “UGH this client is the WORST” rants interrupted only by complaints about whatever product or service is hosting the forums. There’s so much negativity you barely notice the supportive posts wedged in between.

I’m torn between the pleasures I take in poking at the more obnoxious offenders for my own amusement (immature) and leaving to live a world where I never hear some uptight photographer complain about their paying clients again (mature).  That aforementioned New England blood wants the former, the 31 year old mother who should know better chose the latter. 

As with all lines of work, sometimes what you need is to vent your spleen to your peers and gain advice on how to handle challenging situations. I think that’s understood by everyone. But to do so constantly in a forum that hosts thousands upon thousands of people (who may know the person you’re complaining about) seems staggeringly unprofessional to me. I’ve seen posts about how to go about removing a woman’s beautiful arm tattoo because it wasn’t “classy” enough for Precious the Photographer to have her name attached to.  Ditto for “ugh this bride wants     –enter popular Pinterest photo here- and that is SO not my brand…how do I talk her out of it?” followed by 120 posts discussing how ludicrous such a request is and OMG DON’T YOU KNOW I’M AN ARTIST outrage. Listen, I don’t want to mimic Pinterest shots either, but can we kindly take a deep breath, close our eyes and get over ourselves? 

Follow Greg on Twitter @greatnessGD

In this age of Jasmine Star wannabes (not to say she’s a bad woman to want to be, much like Jesus her peaceful message gets twisted in the wrong hands) every photographer is obsessed with their brand, so obsessed that the lines between ‘honoring my brand’ and ‘slipping into my finest pair of judgypants’ is being blurred. Why not just write a list of things you don’t accept into your brand and post that online so you won’t be bothered at all?

“Welcome to Professional Photography Service, please no tattoos, green fingernail polish, or shot requests. I am an artist and this is my big day. Thank you.” 

Professionals establish brand by what they display on their marketing materials- blog, Facebook, business cards, sample albums, etc.  Professionals are open and honest with potential clients about what services they offer, and what they do not. Professionals do not sell themselves to a client and then go online to conspire ways to shove said client into a tidy little box of MY BRAND. If you have worked with James and me, you know we tell those cute, buzzing little suits that work at wedding venues that thank you, but we’d rather not shoot the formals at the gazebo. We don’t like gazebos. We find them to be the Ford Pinto of the wedding backdrop world. But would we ever go before thousands of people and say UGH this client wants a shot on the gazebo…NO! Double NO!
You know what we love more than we dislike gazebos? HAPPY CLIENTS.

Now I know what you’re thinking, aren’t you judging other people for judging other people? Yes. I am not only a hot blooded loud mouth at times, I’m also a hypocrite. What do I know anyway? Not much! But I do know this:
This is a service industry and without our clients we would have approximately NOTHING. 

In such a competitive industry does one REALLY want to be ungrateful? If you want to be a conceptual portrait artist that is serving only themselves, be one. You’re unlikely to be a well-liked one with that attitude but we all know Mel Gibson is an asshole but when Braveheart is on, we still watch it (for FREEEEEDOM!) But when it comes to the most important day in a couples’ life, you’d better know your role and make that couple’s photographic wishes come true using everything you’ve got including your “brand”. You don’t have to always like it, but you do have to be dedicated to it and give it 100% every time. 

The way we see it, every client is a dream client because every client is fulfilling our dreams by hiring us. RESPECT.