If you take portraits are you really an artist? My good friend Jim Landers of Landers Photography and founder of Landers Photo School shares some words of wisdom which may current and aspiring photographers might want to consider. Even if you are not a photographer, it is still a good read because you as an artist will be able to relate to why it is important to treat photography as art.
By Jim Landers
I dare you to read this BLUNT message to all the lazy PORTRAIT photographers (does not apply to event or commercial photographers): I am specifically targeting portrait photographers who are "Shoot and burn"-ers and "Post and pray"-ers
First Some Concepts to Understand
In Person Sales
This method takes time -because as the name implies, you must show your work to your client in person! It also takes planning, professionalism, a bit of showmanship, and a lot of caring about your client. Although it can be done in multiple ways, the most effective form is by projecting your work on the wall of your client in exactly the place where they plan on displaying it; ensuring the appropriate size portrait every time. I have been teaching this method since 2010, years before I had even heard the term IPS, because it is the way it has always been done, the old-fashioned way.
Shoot and Burn
This is a 'corner cutting' process by which a portrait photographer puts the digital files from a photography session on a CD, DVD, or thumb-drive and gives/sells to their client (or they upload them to a file sharing site like Drop Box), forcing them to finish the job themselves, Only the most rude, uncaring, or more likely, simply ignorant photographers would do this to their portrait clients. For those of your well-versed in English vocabulary: ignorant, does not and has never been the same thing as "stupid", ignorant just means you do not know about something yet, that you are unaware. I am not bothered by the ignorant, but after reading this, you are no longer ignorant, so change your ways pronto! (BTW, this is a excellent tool for the event photographer, when the client needs those images fast! And this is NOT the same as a business headshot after digital enhancements that you email or Dropbox to your clients -this is a great use of the tool)
Post and Pray
Some are going to get mad at me for this one because they are emotionally connected to this tool. But I challenge you, analyze "why" I might say it, instead of losing your cool! "Post and pray " is a step up from the lowly "shoot and burner" but not by much. A "post and pray"-er is a photographer who uploads their images to an e-commerce enabled website. Such as SmugMug, Pixieset, and others and although they are great, they are not the right choice for the high-quality portrait photographers that are specializing in portraits as home decor. (only the best of the best choose this option, but anyone can choose this option, so choose to be the best of the best!!! Posting and Praying is convenient, but although this is extremely convenient, it basically says to a client, "here, I'm done with ya until you give me some money, until then, you are on your own, I have no intention of helping you find what is right for you." A photographer justifies this choice by claiming that is is more convenient for their busy client -and they are right, it is convenient, but totally passive, and because of that, in my opinion, uncaring. You might say, "So what if the photographer is crazy busy, this might be a great way to help them" it is, but this clearly proves it is a "cutting-corners" option. One potential exception: you are working with an out-of town client who is just in long enough for the portrait session, but not the Portrait Selection Consultation (IPS), well now this makes sense! (BTW, this is an excellent tool for the event photographer; Weddings, business events, personal events, sports, etc.) -I guess its an excellent tool for the lazy, uncaring, ignorant portrait photographer too! Sorry guys, I love ya, some of my friends are "Post and Pray"-ers, but this is the cold hard truth.
An Artist Completes their Creation.
All images that leave the artist's control MUST be in their completed form (this is defined solely by the artist, not the client (although it may be influenced by the client, you retain control)
Have you ever heard of an artist that does sculpture who, in their right mind, would be willing to sell an unfinished piece of marble and allow that purchaser to complete the artist's sculpture/vision? Of course you haven't, no self-respecting artist would EVER do this. So why are you giving away your unfinished digital images? -Go back 20 years+ -no film photographer ever even thought of being as irresponsible as you. Hey, maybe you didn't know, so now you do; Stop being ignorant about your self-proclaimed medium of art -get some education, hang out with people who are doing what you want to do.
Do Not Release Unfinished Work
Artists ALWAYS finish their work. They always finish because they are compelled to finish; they have real passion for their work. -not just words that describe them that way.
If you consider yourself to be an artist, a passionate portrait photographer, then you must, at once, stop this uncaring, selfish practice. No excuses, do your freaking job portrait photographers, the job isn't done until the print is displayed and has the ability to be enjoyed (on a wall, in an album, etc.) -if it cannot collect dust, then it isn't done.
A Honest Admission
Why would I know or be qualified to teach this stuff: I switched to "Post and Pray" (from what the newbies call "IPS") back in 2000 and I ignorantly continued this process until 2010. I didn't know that I was not treating my client the best way possible, I believed I was doing what the clients wanted, but that what makes it ignorant: you cannot know what you do not know. I did notice an immediate increase in the average sale of my portraits: I went from an average portrait order of a measly $500, to an average of just shy of $2000 overnight. My photographs were not 400% better overnight, but my process showed a 400% improvement.
Now in 2017, with an accumulated total of over 2000 area photographers that have trusted me enough to invest in my classes, sadly, not all have taken it seriously enough to learn this process in my program called E3. Why?
Well its partly my fault! I only teach this complete method once a year to a very exclusive group of photographers who are willing to subject themselves to an interview. I only allow a small number into the program (because it is very time-consuming for me) so only the best of the best are members of the Elite 3 -Lovingly called this because of the first three to be a part of the program: Angela Michelle, Silver Lane , and Sarah Naselli -if you want to do additional research, just ask them!
Landers Photography Studio and School
25290 I-10 West (5 miles past 1604, exit #550)
San Antonio, Texas 78257