Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Teachable moments

There are times where you are more succepible to learning-and retaining-knowledge than others. Take the proverbial parent who said to me once "Johnny, don't touch that hotplate, it's hot. That's what cooks the pancakes." and what did I do? Defiantely looked at my mother square in the eyes, and put my hand on it. Lesson learned.

It's when you sign a contract with bad terms in it that you learn not to do it again. It's when you estimate an assignment for a portrait that is outdoors and that you will be using a large softbox on it, and you don't include an assistant to keep hold of the soon-to-be airborne softbox, lightstand, and flash head, that you learn to always book atleast one assistant for an outdoor assignment. It's a costly mistake to repair that head, one that you cannot pass on to the client and must now absorb.

When you encounter a client who may not understand just why you've got a web exclusion in your contract, why you charge for post production services, why because they hired you doesn't mean they own the resulting work outright, or why your rates are what they are, this is not the time to get flustered. Take the time to explain, thoughtfully and courtesously, exactly why.

This, however, requires a strong grasp of the reasons. "...because everyone else does..." is not going to float, nor is "...because that's always the way we've done it..." going to cut it.

Explaining, for example, that the use of photography in a company or organization's web site is almost always going to be considered an electronic brochure, and as such, will require model releases from everyone in the photos, just as a printed brochure or advertisement would, will not only give the client a reason to take to their boss or their end-client your understandable reasoning, but will engender in your clients mind the fact that you are a professional and are knowledgable about the rights and responsibilities of producing photography for client use. Further pointing out to clients that you are, in fact, protecting them from a seemingly innoncent misuse of someone's likeness because you are precluding the use of your photograph in that way, and the sharing of these insights is an integral part of the services you offer as a professional photographer. In all of our estimates, we include the URL http://johnharrington.com/about-the-web so that clients can review this as well as provide this link to their senior staff of end-client which has always lead to a greater understanding by all.

Sometimes, it takes consideration by an organization's attorneys to concur with our position, but always the client comes away having experienced a teachable moment, and we have grown our relationship with our client.


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