In this series, we consider the three main types of business clients who hire photo-video services and how best to help them: The Outsourcer, The Doer and The Designer. Today, in our second instalment, we take a look at the relationship between Doers and photographers. In this article you'll learn who Doers are and what they want, how to land a job with them, and how to produce a successful photo shoot for this type of client.
In a similar way to that of the Outsourcer, the Doer will be looking to hire a photographer to help complete a project. The difference, though, is the role you will play when giving that help.
A Doer will be someone who is multi-faceted and talented. They have creative skills, but can’t quite get to the level they want on a particular project and so need to bring someone in to help.
An example of a Doer could be a small coffee shop. They may have handled their own marketing and website in-house, and even taken their own photographs, but now are looking for you to fill a skills-gap for them. Say they need some large pop-up banners for an event but can’t get photographs of a good enough quality to go on them: that’s where you come in!
You Are a Collaborator
For the Doer, you are a collaborator.
With an Outsourcer client you're a problem solver; with a Designer where you're a means to an end. A Doer wants to be able to work with you to reach their goals. You’ll need to be open to ideas, listen to what they say and make suggestions based on those ideas. You’ll probably start with your ideas and their ideas, and meet somewhere in the middle.
How to Land a ‘Doer’ Photography Job
As the Doer will have a good idea of their branding and values, they should have a much better idea of what they want than an Outsourcer would. As such, your creative vision and prices are going to be key factors when pitching for the work.
You should have good, solid reasons as to why hiring a photographer (aka, you!) is more beneficial to the Doer than attempting the job themselves. If we go back to the coffee shop banner example again: the Doer may be able to get some nice shots with their own camera which would look fine on the banner. But you could get, for example, macro images of fresh coffee beans, you could edit the pictures to subtly match the colour of the shop’s branding, you could even photo-manipulate images to show someone drinking a cup of coffee on top of a mountain.
As a collaborator, the key question is not if you’re capable of doing the job, it’s how you can work together with the potential client’s existing skills to complement and enhance their experience.
Getting to know a brand is important. The Doer wants to know you care about getting the images that are right for their business. Personality is key, too. Much like The Outsourcer, where we customer service is a crucial factor, the Doer wants good customer service. This time good service is in the shape of a creative partnership, rather than a typical client-supplier role.
Are You Experienced?
Hiring a photographer can be expensive and if a business can get relatively decent shots with their own DSLR or phone then why hire you?
There is much more to a photographer than taking a picture, and no-one knows that better than us photographers, but does the client know? Often, people genuinely just don’t understand what a photographer does other than own an expensive camera.
A couple of weeks ago, a client told me that they’d noticed my camera took better pictures than theirs. I was a bit stumped if I’m honest, but it’s not the first time that it’s been said, so it’s made me think a bit more about what it actually is we do.
Rather than being defensive, which can come across negatively, it’s best to offer solutions. So if the client tells you that they have a great camera but their pictures are coming out too dark, you might want to suggest how you’d be able to properly light the scene. If bridal boutique is having issues making their models look good in their dresses you can explain how you’d pose the models appropriately, work with their makeup artist, and the special touches in post-production you’d be able to do.
Be open and non-evasive about prices and be prepared to break down that cost if asked. Everyone wants to get their money’s worth and it’s no different for photography than anything else. Just let them know they get plenty of bang for their buck!
Set Clear Expectations with Your New Client
Once your Doer client is on board for the photo shoot, then a brief is the place to start, just as with any other job. Unlike the Outsourcer, who might look to you for a starting point, the Doer probably already has a pretty clear idea in mind of what they want, just not necessarily all the steps of how to achieve it.
Hopefully, you’ll have done your brand research before you sit down with the client, so it pays to start by talking through what their objectives are. It may be something simple like the example I mentioned earlier, good quality images to go on a pop-up banner; or it might be something less specific: ‘we want images which will encourage engagement on social media’.
Be confident about asking questions, the Doer knows their business inside and out and they may be able to provide information that gives you a much clearer idea of the best way to approach the project. Find out what (if anything) has worked for them in the past. Have they tried this approach before? You don’t want to find yourself proposing the same thing as someone else they’ve tried out and not liked.
As with all jobs, you need to come away from your meeting with a clear brief that you’ve both agreed on. That’s not to say things are set in stone, but it will give you and the client a reference point if things start to get off track or suffer from ‘mission creep’.
Set Expectations Early
As the Doer already has an idea of what they want and how much that should cost, their expectations should be appropriate. While clients aren’t out to wring whatever they can from you, they’re bound to be excited and sometimes that means they can get carried away with what they want and what is possible. It’s your job to keep the excitement levels high, but expectations and goals realistic.
While you’re agreeing on your brief, it’s also important to talk about what happens after the job is completed. What do they do with the photographs? Do they have the skills for what they need? Back to the coffee shop example: are they designing a banner themselves or are they handing it over to a third-party who’ll take care of it all? Get all the information you need to make sure they get what they need. You don’t want to hand over resized, smallish images for large format printing, or huge images that then get shared on Facebook as-is and compressed to death.
Knowing what the end-goal is for the Doer will help you deliver a tailored package and keep things as simple as possible. Doing this can avoid weeks of emails back and forth asking for different sizes/specs/colours even. So when you’re setting a brief, don’t forget to agree on outcomes and delivery too.
Be Ready For Creative Compromise
With the Outsourcer, we talked about flexing your creative muscle. You can flex with the ‘doer’ client too, but you have to be ready for compromise.
They will often have their own, very strong ideas and you need to find
ways to negotiate these to a happy compromise if you don’t think they’re
appropriate. This might be that their ideas are not technically possible, or it
might just be a difference in personal taste. The trick is to keep the creative momentum going towards a solution that feels exciting for both parties.
One of the best ways to create a positive creative feeling is simply to enjoy your work. Have enthusiasm for all the stages in the process, and find ways to take an interest in your clients, their business, and the task at hand. Get to know them a bit. What motivates them? Where do they comes from? What is it about their work that they love to do? Come to the work with a genuine passion for what you do and, most of the time, people will rise to meet you.
Of course sometimes things do not go as planned. A technical impossibility is easier to defuse, but a clash of taste can be tricky. Avoid being confrontational or dismissive—you don’t want to upset anyone—but don't compromise your product or your ethics if it’s really not right for you. These cases are very rare, but if you feel so strongly about it then it might be best to walk away from the job. Doing something you really are against will just breed resentment.
Hopefully, by doing your research and having an initial chat with the client, you’ll be able to glean where their head is at and what sort of things they’ve tried before.
You Are a Hero
Clients who are ‘doers’ are great to work with because they can really
push you creatively. It becomes your responsibility to bring initial meetings
to a brief which suits both the client needs and what you’re realistically able
to achieve: it’s about gently guiding your client toward a plan that is doable and exciting, and where they feel a good amount of control but you still have room to operate.
It’s important to remember that ‘doers’ will have a great deal of knowledge about their business and are probably used to handling a lot of things themselves. Hiring you might require some justification, but don’t take that personally. Just remember what it is you do is more than having an expensive camera. You just need to be able to explain this in the form of offering solutions, rather than getting annoyed about lack of understanding.
Also, doers are watching the pennies by doing many things themselves so it’s important for them to feel like they’re getting value for money by hiring you. This could be your knowledge of proper lighting, your editing skills, the speed with which you work, your creativity or a mix of everything; don’t be afraid to shout about what makes you great.
When it comes to a Doer, price and creativity are going to be the main factors in landing the job, so understanding your pricing structure and pricing yourself reasonably (and justifiably) is imperative. They also want to know you understand their brand and goals, so make sure that everything important is nailed down in the briefing stages.
The expectations of every Doer will be different, but it’s up to you to keep expectations reasonable. Compromise where needed, but if you find yourself in an impossible situation then don’t be afraid to say that you aren’t a right fit for the job: better to be doing that at the briefing stage than half-way through when you’re both a lot more invested.
Keep the client motivated and excited about what you’re working together
on and they’re much more likely to come back to you for repeat business. Small
businesses thrive on word of mouth, so do a great job for one ‘doer’ client and
you could find yourself being the go to photographer for the other local proprietors
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