So many Idiots With Camera (IWC) go out, and make our lives more difficult. Whether acting up on TV, or being unprofessional in the execution of our photographic duties, the world sees us as less and less a professional, and more and more a nuisance.
Recently, I received information on two separate, and distinct demonstrations where professionalism was lacking, or simply devoid.
The second is the situation where a wedding photographer was found to not deliver professional results - in fact, results not consistent with the portfolio they presented. (PhotoResearcher, by Joel Hecker, Esq) Further, the photographer did not deliver on the terms of the contract. Specifically, they did not bring an assistant they had said they would. Thus, they were found to be in breach of contract for this, and other reasons.
In an odd way, there are benefits to these incidents. Perhaps, people will become more discerning when they select a photographer. When I get a call from a 5-star hotel who wants to send me their "vendor agreement", which dictates how we may act, and comport ourselves while on site for the event (press conference, wedding, and so forth) and they require us to provide proof of insurance, I smile and send along the appropriate documentation, knowing that at-least 75% of my competition just got nixed from consideration, or, perhaps, when it's a last minute call for an event at those same venues, it's because other photographers (among that 75%) got nixed after the client had signed them because they could not meet the terms of that vendor agreement. It's surprising that I am among the minority of photographers who have liability insurance. One lost job is more than enough revenue to carry that insurance in the first place.
Over the years, I have covered countless movie premieres and events, and worked with many many A-level celebrities. It's easy to illustrate how we are different - ney professional - and clients fear the possibility of hiring an unprofessional photographer who does not know how to co-exist amongst the VIP's at their event. I recently received a call to travel to five countries this Summer over 12 days, for a premiere project. The client has indicated to me, when I asked "who have you used in the past..." responded about the trials and tribulations of working with an unprofessional photographer. This five-figure assignment was won not because I was the most talented with a camera, or because I had the best eye/vision, but because I have a track record with this client of being professional as I make my images.
Would I love to have all my assignments conveyed to me because of my unique vision? My creative capabilities? Absolutely! But, in the end, I am more than happy to that the assignments that come to be because I am 1) the only one available; 2) I was the only one who called back; or 3) I was the only one who had the right professional attitude to accomplish the assignment.
I see often clients who come to work with me, and then, for no apparent reason, stop calling. Then, they start calling back again. Over time, I've learned that these clients get lulled into a false sense of security thinking that the service level I deliver is comparable to that of others in my community who deliver at a price 30%-40% less than me. So, for a few hundred dollars, clients go elsewhere. Soon, they learn that there is a difference, and they return, with a new understanding and respect for a level of service that they expect on a continuing basis. These clients remain, over time, and are among my favorite long-term clients. Some of them have been calling on me for over 15 years.
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