by Tom Lee Published 01/05/2001
Professional Photography in Britain is generally perceived as a luxury item. The majority of our clients live to their means, and therefore do not have disposable income as such. They will only spend their hard-earned savings on a photographer, if your product appears to exceed their expected outlay (Value for Money). The customer must perceive you therefore, as being a cut above the rest.
Never show clients shoddy workmanship, or tell them how easy it was! If they don't think they are getting value for money, why should they part with it. Be free with your advice, after all you know what pitfalls will befall them if they decide to go to a friend with no interpersonal skills, but beware of arrogance, it can have the opposite effect. Don't try and sell them something they don't want. (They can get that cheaper elsewhere) Encourage them to think different, and not have something that anyone can produce by clicking a shutter button.
Another way we can promote our excellence is to present professional qualifications. Every member of SWPP and BPPA should (perhaps with a little help and advice) be capable of achieving a Licentiate grade. This will indicate that you are producing good work of a saleable quality, and exceeding the standard of a mere hobbyist. Photographers are like a good wine, they improve with age! However, this is no reason for complacency. There is a Distinction system is in place for qualified members wishing to submit themselves to self-assessment. Similar to a Licentiate submission, a Distinction provides the photographer with the assurance that their work is still achieving the required standard, and further promotes your prowess in the eyes of the consumer. There is no limit to how many Distinctions you can hold, and members should consider using this scheme as a means of promoting business kudos with their customers.
As a professional, only you have the specialist skills to produce a quality photograph, that the client wants, taken with care and understanding, and is happy to pay for. Any damn fool can press a shutter button, but it needs a photographer to take a picture.
Tom Lee ASWPP, CPAGB
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