Monday, January 31, 2011

Guest Blogger: Photographer Melissa Mann Bean

Today I am pleased to have guest blogger, Melissa Mann Bean. I know Melissa from our days at Union University in Jackson, TN. I recently reconnected with Melissa on Facebook to find out that in addition to being a mom, she is also a working photographer and photography teacher. I hope you enjoy what Melissa has to share with us today:

Hello all you photography equipment owners and users!

Well, I just had a funny experience just as I was reading this email from Leslie to see if I would be a guest blogger. My best friend owns a catering business and this week she was asked by the local “hip and trendy” part of the newspaper to run a print ad in their bridal issue. She was very excited because the price was right for a decent sized ad. She gave the ad salesperson some ideas, then to meet the deadline, they had a person design an ad. Since I have both design and photography experience (and was trained in both), she emailed it to me. IT WAS REALLY BAD. And not only was it one of the worst designs I’ve seen from someone calling themselves a professional, there were misspelled words.

I quickly called my friend and told her I would design something that potential clients would not only see, but read and then call her for catering services. How does this relate to photography?

What I’m getting at is:
1.  If you have experience at what you do, and if you are classically trained, your work should SHINE. If you don’t have the expertise or time to get the work done with excellence, then either hand the client over to someone else or ask for an extension.
2.   Say you want to try something new. Use your friends or family first. You can even intern with a professional, or pick a photographer’s brain that lives in another city. Maybe you have been photographing portraits of children and want to get into wedding photography. By all means, you should try new things, but don’t go solo on such a big venture if you don’t have expertise with groups, emotional days or women. Let’s face it, if you are a woman, you know how emotional a group of women can be. Just imagine a room full of these ladies getting ready, trying to beat the clock. And, if you are a man, do you know how to handle when all these ladies seem a little on edge? Does your work show it, or does the work make it seem that this moment was a piece of cake? And the bride should look back and have pleasant memories, not one of angst – no matter how nutty those moments are before her wedding.
3.  When you say you will do something, you should do it right the first time. Yes, we all make mistakes, and early on I know I made a plethora of them. But, you have to learn from them and not keep making the same mistakes. For instance, I never charged enough for my work. I kept being told I should charge more. Not by just my family and friends, but from clients! Clients can set the pace for your business to grow, my friends. And, they can also give you helpful insight, but make sure you have met their needs first. The first time, because you may not get a second chance.
4.  Build a network. Like my catering friend, she knew that I would know how to word the changes that needed to be made to that ad. So, by building your network, and not just of other photographers, you’ll build your business. Go to meetings with people other than clients. Go to block parties. Hang out in cool little shops. Join in the chat with others about taxes, business ideas, art, design, photography... you never know who you’ll meet. You may just meet the next person who will build the best ad for you, not just for their portfolio, but to help you succeed.

For more information and helpful tips, feel free to email me. I would love to hear feedback. I can be found most days hanging out on a college campus teaching both photo and business for visual artists, playing with our one-year old son or taking photographs at weddings, of children, events or just photographing weird stuff around my house.

No comments: