Wednesday 12 June 2013

When something is just not your job

I know, I promised it. And promises are to be kept. This is why I will try to have some decent business talk for small business owners for the next days...

A few months ago, I was challenged by the phrase "It's not my job!!!"

And it really challenged me. As a service based business owner, my aim is to deliver the best and greatest amount of service to my clients possible. What should I do with such a challenging phrase?

Now I know. As a business owner, more than knowing your price structure and the next steps of your business plan, you have to be aware of where your services for a clients starts, and where it ends. This little two letter word "N-O" will not diminish your clients' experience, as they are dealing with you. It will rather re-adjust and configure the gap between costumer needs and expectations on theirs and your business response to these needs on the other side. Do not feel ashamed educating your clients about things you do not offer, after telling them what to expect. The more a costumer is educated by a vendor, the more this costumer will value a vendor's importance within a business transaction, be it booking a wedding photographer, or selling premium jewellery.

Be true to yourself and evaluate the core of your business. If a service or a task is more of a giant stone than a pair of wings that is expected to lift you to new heights, you may kindly respond: "Thank you, I appreciate you requesting this service. Fortunately, responding to this type of client need is not my job."
For me, there are several things I usually deny, as I believe that responding to these is not my job:

Being as cheap as possible
I'm sorry. I invest hours, sometimes days and weeks talking to my couples, researching on their wedding themes, watching movies, reading books, talking walks. Working hard to improve my style every day, every moment, I really am convinced that it is not my job to be the cheapest dude with a camera in town.

This will surely mean, that I will not be booked for weddings that are driven by thoughts to give the photographer the smallest stake possible. Instead, my job is to honour your preparation, to honour your time and effort for this big day and capture the best images possible. The more planning you invest into your wedding, the more you should care about the choice of photographer. That is where my job starts.

Copy another photographer's style
A few weeks ago, a fellow photographer responded to one of my images from a free shoot. That comment was very strange, but I did not really care. It was just weeks later, that I saw that this  photographer had a photograph that ressembled mine. Can't tell you how annoyed I was, as I have always the goal to be unique.
If somebody asks me, whether I can imitate another photographer's style, I will refuse. It is not my job to mimmick other photographers. You should really not ask this to a photographer, if you are looking for some one to capture your wedding in a memorable way. You would not ask another couple if you could just copy their wedding theme and details up to their officiate, right :) R-I-G-H-T :D My job is to tell a couple's story with my voice. Nothing else. And to stay true to myself.

Fine Art or Documentary
This is probably a question that has kept me busy without leading to new streams of clients. Couples are taught nowadays in wedding magazines, that they have to ask their photographers if they rather do fine art or documentary. Good question. And I have started responding to these questions: Tell me the differences and what you see in my portfolio.
I am a wedding photographer. My job is not to pick a style. My job is to know who I am before I open my business doors. The more I know myself, the better my service will be for you. The more I get busy, trying to squeeze myself into the editorial or documentary or fine art niche, the more I will diminish my voice. My style is what it is. My voice is what it is.

I am a wedding photographer.