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7 Tips To Build Client Relationship for a Successful Photography Business

In the good old days, when businesses flourished, customers were put on a pedestal and seen as the greatest source of learning. If there is one field where customers are still viewed in a somewhat similar manner, it’d be in the photography industry. For one, without them, photography as a profession would hold little meaning.

Running a photography business, here’s what you can do more on your part to build a relationship that is not only professional, but professional with something worth remembering and valuing. Make this professional journey one where you not only make friends but also come across as a warm person.

1. Be Passionate Enough Yourself. First.
Work IS Worship. If you don’t love your work, and are a photographer for reasons other than the mere love for the medium, you should seriously give it another thought. The love for the camera and your subjects, and the ability to build happiness around your work is primary. A dispassionate photographer cannot bring life to his/her photographs. It’s important for your clients to know that you are a passionate professional.

2. Get Organized. Prioritize.
As a growing photography business, or a photographer aiming to truly connect with audiences, you’d want to be organized yourself first. Begin with creating a database of clients that are invaluable to you, besides having a general client list. Separate those with whom you had an unpleasant experience – and if errors can be rectified. An angry client is the last thing you’d want to give yourself.

3. Click Over Coffee. Go Beyond the Lens.

Cup of coffee

Coffee is known to be a great conversation-starter! Informally meeting client and bonding with them is a great way to get to know more about them. It can be a great opportunity to ask open-ended questions, particularly if it’s your first meeting with them. The answers to these can help you build beautiful, personalized stories around the individuals, or other subjects. It’s wise to keep these meetings shot, crisp and spaced out yet as and when you feel you feel the need to personally meet and touch base.

4. Use Client Relationship-building Tools.
Newsletters are tools of e-business that help photographers stay in touch with clients, besides updating them about latest offers, information on new/added services, reviews etc. Pick a weekly theme, choose the periodicity, and share things you know your clients will love to hear! Allow anyone visiting your website to subscribe to the newsletter. This will also help build a potential customer database. Sites like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor can help you make beautiful newsletters in a few easy clicks.
Another tool are personalized mailers that work wonders on almost all clients. Celebratory, their tone can be formal or informal. Offer freebies, run offers, contests and promotions. These can help build a loyal community that loves to hear from you. See if you can offer special perks to premium clients. This will go a long way in showing you care.
Testimonials too, have the potential to make clients feel privileged and that they contributed to your success. For example, you’ve shot some stunning frames for a real estate developer. They’ve loved your work, and given you due credits. Seize this opportunity to ask them for how the experience was like! Tell them how special they are and what it means to have them put a few good words on record on you.

5. Efficient Communication
Responsive, two-way and honest communication is the basis for any working relationship. So if you’re unable to deliver to the client their shots within the prescribed time-frame, letting them know about the delay with a sincere apology is the right way.
In an opposite scenario, well done is better than well said. Now that you have proved your worth, and the client’s happy, its always a good idea to remain in touch. Occasions like birthdays and anniversaries can be good times to send in a personalized mail, wishing your clients. This is sure to help you garner more clients via references as well, and add to the ‘word-of-mouth’ phenomenon.

6. Join the Conversation
Be a part of communities and events – JOIN in the where the conversations are about you. Have a website that is interactive and information giving. Ensure you reply and respond as soon as you can to mails, query and requests or comments on your site, particularly if they are from your clients. Respond humbly to appreciation and constructively to criticism. Make the extra effort to truly serve the customer – we guarantee, the ‘promptness’ aspect will get noticed.

7. Get Growing on Social Media
How can anyone ever negate this aspect of the web! For photographers, this can be a daunting task, however scheduling updates and limiting your presence to a handful of sites such as Facebook and Twitter is ideal. You can follow your clients, they can communicate over the web more often with you and provide great support on these platforms.

Connecting with your clients, doesn’t always mean business. Take a genuine interest in people – not just for the business you do with them, but also for who they are. Only then your heart-warming services and the way you present your products will make so much more sense and produce more fruition than just any other photography service.

Drone Photography – Tips on getting started

Photography, and especially aerial photography has an exciting new aspect – Drone Photography. Capturing images through a unique viewpoint that high-flying drones with cameras fitted to them is something that is not just more accessible now, it’s also a lot of fun. With the costs of getting equipment for drone photography dropping fast, professionals and hobbyists, both are increasingly using drones for aerial photography.

With lightweight cameras and drones (also known as quadcopters) becoming lighter, faster and technologically more advanced by the day, expect to see lots of amazing images shot from the sky as photographers experiment more-and-more with techniques.

Check out www.dronestagr.am for some of the best images shot by drones. Featured in this blog post are the winning images from the Dronstagr.am 2016 competition. See the winners.

 

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria, Italy By Francesco Cattuto

Winning Photograph(Travel Category) by Francesco Cattuto – IDPC 2016

 

Cable Beach by Todd Kennedy

2nd Prize Winning Photograph(Travel Category) by Todd Kennedy – IDPC 2016

So, Lets get started with a few tips you would need to master the art of drone photography .

Finding the right equipment:

There are a vast range of drones and quadcopters available now on the market. Consider these two factors when choosing the right equipment for drone photography:

  1. The quality of camera on-board,
  2. And the flying characteristics of the drone itself.

Like all other things in life, it essentially boils down to how much you are willing to invest. Low-cost models that can take very basic images are good for starters, but the pros have choices available that will make the big-boy DSLRs look like cheap toys.

GoPro Hero4 series are a popular camera choice for drone photography. It’s in selecting the drone, that you need to do a lot more research. The Phantom range of drones by DJI are the first choice for many, and the Phantom 3 series models are the most popular drone in the world, for good reason.

Planning your first aerial-photography adventure:

Most drones these days are reasonably easy to operate and can pretty much “Fly Straight Out of the Box”. Just charge batteries, get the app running and start flying.

 Piton de la fournaise, Volcano by Jonathan Payet

3rd Prize Winning Photograph (Nature Wildlife Category) by Jonathan Payet – IDPC 2016

While the drones themselves are easy to fly, it does get some getting used to start getting good shots. Start out slow in a wide open space – a park or even the countryside. Set limitations in the smartphone app in terms of how high or far the drone can fly and always keep the drone in the line of your sight. Making sense of and getting your bearings on what your camera is seeing through the smartphone app can get a little getting used to. Experiment with angles and zooms and click away. You would have to review your results and keep experimenting to develop a command over the exact shots that you want.

Study and follow the rules and regulations of your country / area:

Most countries have rules to follow, so make sure that you study the rules and check up with local authorities before you start out. Usually the rules are along these lines:

  • Always fly the drone to be in your Line of Sight (LOS) – you should always be able to see it.
  • Typically the maximum permissible height is around 400 feet.
  • Respect privacy of other people
  • Do not flying in no-fly zones like near airports and other such areas as specified in your location.

Getting better at Aerial Photography

Moab Rock Climbing by Max Seigal

Winning Photograph (Sports Adventure Category) by Max Seigal – IDPC 2016

 

Summer camp of Gran Canaria by Karolis Janulis

3rd Prize Winning Photograph(Travel Category) by Karolis Janulis – IDPC 2016

 

Mastering drone photography is a unique aspect that you can add your photography. Shooting from 400 feet up in the sky creates stunning and intriguing images that show our world from a completely different perspective.
As you start exploring aerial photography, you will find that it follows the same principals of other forms of photography – getting the light right, finding that unique frame and creating visuals that are expressive and tell a story.

Don’t forget to showcase your drone photography images with a Portfolio Website by Pixpa

 

Drone Photography  – Commercial Applications:

While creating stunning images of earth from the sky is its own high and can be pursued purely as a creative art, here are some of the other interesting applications of drone photography:

1. Studio lighting for photo shoots!

Lighting up a photo shoot involves an array of tasks such as setting up reflector discs, flashlights, convertible photo umbrellas, and a lot of power cables. This can not only be cumbersome, but also limiting because of the fixed position of the lights. The researchers at MIT recently discovered the portable and automated alternative in drones. A drone equipped with light, could be used by the photographers and shifted according to light needs, merely with a remote. This has proven to be a boon to the photographer fraternity and ensured unbounded creativity.

2. Aquatic photography

How does the sea bed look like? How could one capture the moments spent underwater with family? Many such questions have been answered by Ziphius, the aquatic drone. Ziphius is the the first smartphone controlled aquatic drone which comes with multiferous utility. And guess what? It not only enables you to click pictures and videos but also plays with you!

3. Sports / Motion Photography

It won’t be long before drones would be used full-fledgedly in sports photography after already making a great show at the Sochi Olympics. Drones in sports photography not only mean accessible pictures of aerial sports like ski and snowboarding, but also distant and clear view of all sports. Now, there isn’t a need to fix multiple cameras on different location during a racing/sports event. A remote operated drone can capture the moves of the sportsman at different periods. A great example would be Airdog. It has created the auto-follow action sports quadcopter for this very purpose.

Complejo Acuático Norte de Santande by Losmanesdeldrone

2nd Prize Winning Photography ( Sports Adventure Category) by losmanesdeldrone – IDPC 2016

4. Filmmaking

Given the relatively low cost of drones (much cheaper than the costs of hiring a helicopter or aeroplane), drones are likely to change the face of cinematography as well in the years to come. The idea of drones is opening avenues to cheaply create crane/helicopter shots. Many filmmakers are excited for the round the corner technology which would enable better cinematography.

Swarm of sheep by Szabolcs Ignacz

2nd Prize Winning Photograph (Nature Wildlife Category) by Szabolcs Ignacz – IDPC 2016

5. Real Estate Photography

Using drones in your professional photography can definitely make you stand out from the crowd. Be it a wedding photographer, a landscape photographer or any other commercial photographer, drones add more value to your services and can increase your pay manifold. Real estate photography, in particular has also been able to flourish because of drones. The aerial panorama of the property site imparts a more lucid understanding of the property and its neighborhood.

A patch of pines in the middle of the forest : Kalbyris forest, Denmark by Mbernholdt

1st Prize Winning Photograph (Nature Wildlife Category) by Mbernholdt – IDPC 2016

Chugach Mountain Range, Alaska by High Angle Shot

3rd Prize Winning Photograph (Sports Adventure Category) by High Angle Shot – IDPC 2016

 

Drones are revolutionising the very face of photography in every way. Though issues of legality and privacy plague the advent of drones, it’ll be interesting to discover what new use-cases of the drones the future lays bare.

Do share your experiences with drone photography in the comments. Don’t forget to add links to the images that you have shot from the sky!

25 tools I use to run Pixpa – my SaaS startup

As the founder of a SaaS startup – Pixpa, I find myself juggling between many responsibilities everyday. Without the right tools, it can get overwhelming. Over the years, I have zeroed down on a bunch of tools that help me stay on top of my work. I have tried to keep this list small and smart, with several tools exiting and new ones entering every year.

This list is meant to help you get on with the job of managing your day-to-day job of growing your business rather than wasting time on finding the right tools to manage the laundry list.

So let’s get on with it.

Customer Communication

Intercom – Customer Success and Support

Intercom has transformed the way we engage with our customers. From on-boarding trial users, re-engaging inactive users, and supporting active users – Intercom has become the backbone of our customer communications, support and CRM processes. We shifted to Intercom just a couple of months back from Zendesk which we used for over 3 years and the impact has been felt big-time. With Intercom’s emphasis on conversations rather than tickets, the way we support our customers has underwent a complete transformation. With in-app visibility, customer-metrics and an almost-chat-like experience, our average support response and resolution time is down to 10 minutes! Intercom also enables us to run targeted campaigns based on several customer metrics. Its the absolute-must-have tool for any SAAS product and I sometimes wonder how we were living without it.

Zendesk – Customer Support for Billing

The trusted old-friend Zendesk still continues to play a role albeit a supporting one in our customer communications. We now use Zendesk primarily for billing related communications as billing issues many-a-times take a much longer time to resolve and email as a medium works fine for this use-case. Zendesk does really needs to up its game if it needs to maintain its leadership as the stand-alone customer success and support platform that it aspires to be.

Sendy with AmazonSES – Bulk Emailing

As our subscriber base grew, so did the cost per email campaign. It was becoming way too expensive for us to communicate with our customers and subscribers with most hosted email platforms being way more expensive than they should be. I searched around for a self-hosted platform that would enable us to send out email campaigns without worrying about cost or deliverability, and that is when I found Sendy. 

Sendy is a self hosted email newsletter application that lets you send trackable emails via Amazon Simple Email Service (SES). This has made it possible for us to send authenticated emails to tens-of-thousand of our subscribers at an insanely low price (Amazon SES rocks!) without sacrificing deliverability.

Skype – VOIP

I use Skype to connect with our customers around the world and it continues to be my tried and tested app for voice calls. Skypeout also makes it easier for me to have country based phone numbers that our customers can call into and have the calls forwarded to my mobile.

Billing and Accounts

Chargify – Recurring Subscriptions

One of the most critical functions in running a SAAS product is managing recurring billing. Its not easy to get customers to continue to pay you month-after-month. We started with the idea of writing our own code for managing the billing but soon (thankfully!) realised the futility of it. We chose Chargify and it has served us reasonably well over the last 3 years, but the platform hasn’t really grown in features or finesse and I am looking at making a shift now. ChargeBee looks very promising and we are in the very initial stages of playing with it. It is cumbersome to migrate customers to a new platform, so choose your billing platform very carefully.

Authorize.net – Payment Gateway

We use Authorize.net as our payment gateway connected with Chargify. Does its job well but is a little complex to manage and needs a separate merchant account. I am looking at shifting to Stripe because of its full-stack service, simplicity and transparent pricing. Credit card data portability is much better with Stripe and that’s important to me.

Quickbooks Online – Accounting

I use Quickbooks Online for accounting and while its never fun, its pretty easy to get the job done with it. Syncs with our bank accounts, is cloud-based and hence I can manage our accounts from anywhere.

 

Marketing

BuzzSumo – Influencer Marketing

BuzzSumo has been our tool of choice for finding influencers, identifying content that works well and researching for our SEO campaigns. If influencer marketing is your focus, I would recommend having BuzzSumo in your arsenal. It saves us a ton of time and lets us take informed decisions pretty quickly.

Ahrefs – SEO

Content marketing and SEO are our main sources of organic traffic and Ahrefs lets us track backlinks, keywords, brand mentions and know what our competitors are doing. Its a pretty nifty tool that combines several functions into one – the paid versions are a tad expensive but you can get going (to some extent) with the free version as well.

Google Analytics – Web Analytics

We need to keep a constant tab on our website traffic and track sources, campaigns, page views, bounce rates and funnels. Google Analytics is pretty powerful when it comes to tracking and analysing traffic. I have tried some of the paid products to track traffic but have still not found any other compelling product to make a shift. 

 

Productivity

Google Docs and Drive – Collaboration

I don’t remember the last time I used Microsoft Word / Excel. Google Docs has been the default document and spreadsheets processor for me for ages now and all my documents are stored in Google Drive. The fact that I can access and work on them from anywhere and share them easily from my mobile devices make it a no-brainer for me.

Gmail – Email

I have tried Apple Mail, Thunderbird and Outlook earlier, but the web interface of Gmail has been my default choice for several years now. With a few add-ons like Streak (for email tracking and scheduling), Gmail’s native interface more than suffices for my needs. 

Slack – Team Communications

We use Slack for team communications. Slack lets us form small groups and keep conversing on any idea or task.  Its a simple and effective platform to keep the team on the same page and keep the communication flows open and active.

Asana – Tasks

Our product road map is recorded and evolves everyday in Asana’s simple task-based interface. Asana lets me create projects, assign tasks, set timelines and sequence tasks visually. Its the one tool that keeps our team and the product road map on track.

Evernote – Archives

I dump everything in Evernote. Notes, favourite links, images, references, quick task lists and much more. Its searchable and syncs across devices and makes my life easier.  

Alfred – Productivity App for Macs

Alfred is my favourite productive app for my Macbook. It helps me be more efficient everyday with search, hotkeys, keywords, text expansion, calculator (I need one) and more.

Content

Pen and Paper – Ideation

There are times when I just need to doodle and visualise things using a pen and paper. It feels organic and more real and lets me play freely with design ideas. I use notebooks and sketchbooks from LetterNote and always carry one with me.

Recordit – Animated GIFs

Its always easier to explain concepts and workflows with moving GIFs and Recordit is a dead, simple tool for making just that. Its simple, bare interface and no-nonsense, limited functionality makes it my choice for creating GIFs quickly whenever I need to explain something quickly to customers. Saves a tonne of writing and screenshots.

Skitch – Annotated Screenshots

Well, you do have to take screenshots and annotate them many a times and Skitch works well with several simple annotation features and a timed-snapshot feature as well. Plus it lets me crop and resize images quickly. The only limitation is that it only lets you capture what’s on the screen. I use Awesome Screenshot (Chrome extension) to capture full web pages whenever needed.

Unsplash – CCO Images

Unsplash is an awesome repository of CC0 high-resolution images that are free to use for any purpose. The collection on Unsplash just feels more real and organic than stock photo websites. I use Unsplash whenever I am putting together a new theme for Pixpa.

Design

Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign)

The de-facto choice for all my design work – whether its UI design for the web or creating illustrations / infographics or designing print graphics. 

Hardware

Macbook Pro

My Macbook Pro is probably the most important tool on this list. Most of my work hours are spent on it and its a real work-horse with an I7 processor and 16GB RAM. Its my primary, secondary and tertiary computer all rolled into one.

Iphone 6s

Ties in well with my Apple based ecosystem. All my apps work well on my Iphone 6s and it syncs everything with my Macbook.

Kindle

I mostly read non-fiction books and prefer reading on my Kindle. While it does take away the charm of holding and reading a book, it just is way more comfortable and practical. Between my Iphone and Kindle, I never ended up using my Ipad Mini, which has now been taken over by my daughter. 

Bose Soundlink – Music

I love listening to music while working and Bose Soundlink has been the perfect compact, Bluetooth speaker for me. Both the sound quality and battery life are pretty good.

How Photo Blogging can make you a Successful Photographer

Among elements paramount for a photographer, is a blogging platform. Without one, the photographer’s portfolio site is perhaps a tad bit incomplete.

Photographers might not always choose to communicate with their photographs. A blog gives that perfect platform for the photographer to express, inform and keep his audiences updated and engrossed. As such,  the blog should be unique and specific, with relevant, capturing content, a blog name that appeals and relates to the character of the photographer or his photographs.

Starting and maintaining a blog can definitely be rewarding, and not just in the financial sense. To be successful you need a large audience so here’s what you can do:

1. Find Your Niche

Focus your blog on a unique aspect of photography or camera and make sure your subject is one that you’re both passionate about and feel you could write aplenty on. Remember, there are already established websites competing for the same readers and those that are repetitive, run out of vogue soon. Among the recommendations, measure your interest:

  • How many books you own on the topic
  • If there’s already an audience for your topic, and
  • Whether you can come up with different post ideas
  • Once you’ve decided on your blog’s theme, stick to it
  • Consistency is the key to getting the audience you’ve already attracted!!

 2. Keep Writing Good Quality Content

A great content makes posts popular and more likely to be shared. No matter how long or short a post is, format it so readers can quickly scan the content by using:

  • subheads
  • bulleted or numbered lists
  • blockquotes or captions
  • line breaks
  • bold fonts
  • images
  • and other formatting to break up large blocks of text
  • If you can build a habit of writing every day, awesome.
  • Publish when you have quality content
  • There’s no perfect blogging schedule for everyone, focus on what you enjoy writing about and carve out time to work.  So don’t get disheartened if you don’t see quick results.

3. Write Catchy, Head-Turning Headlines

Headline writing is one of the biggest drivers of a post’s popularity and success. Attention-grabbing headlines can make or break your post.

  • Be useful to the reader
  • Provide him with the sense of urgency
  • Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow unique and
  • Do it in an ultra specific way

 4. Join in on the Blogging Community

Now that you have a blog, you’re part of the blogging community, and reciprocation plays a large part of that. A few things you can do to connect with other bloggers:

  • Link generously
  • Leave comments and trackbacks on fellow blog post
  • Update your blogroll
  • Try to turn random readers into loyal ones as well
  • Invite others to guest post or even ask readers to contribute to your blog
  • See if you can guest post or contribute to other, larger bloggers
  • Even getting a mention or link back to your post from a popular site can drive a lot of traffic and get your blog noticed, your content read, and more readers.

 5. Learn From Your Existing Audience

Perhaps the most important thing to do is know your audience and make sure your content continues to interest them.

Also, social media can be a really powerful tool for getting more readers so share your links on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

 6. Make Your Blog Google-Friendly

You may have heard the term SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, before. It basically means writing your blog in a way that makes it more likely to show up in search results, and while it seems like an annoying buzzword, it can be a big help. (Google does an algorithm change that affects search engine rankings).

  • Use unique, accurate, and brief page titles
  • Use the “description” meta tag
  • Make sure your site is easy to navigate
  • Use words for your URLs and avoid very long URLs
  • Write good anchor (link) text.
  • Use headings to mark important sections
  • Add an “alt” description to images

7. Write Like Yourself

While you’re crafting your posts, don’t be afraid to let your personality show through so you can really connect to your readers. You may share your personal experience or opinions about photography to connect to your readers, which may be your perspective clients.

There’s an endless amount to learn about making your blog more successful, but hopefully the basics above will get you started (ProBlogger, About.com Blogging, CopyBlogger, DailyBlog Tips). So build your blog well with better information for better response. After all in the end it’s the audience that matters.

Top Picks – 5 Best New Portfolio Websites of June

Here are our top 5 picks of stunning portfolio websites built on Pixpa by creative talents from around the world.

Erdem Akkaya / Fashion Photographer / Instanbul

Erdem Akkaya Fashion Photographer Istanbul

Erdem works as a fashion and advertising photographer in Istanbul, Berlin and Naples . You can view his portfolio by visiting his website built on Pixpa.

Gul Garg / Fashion Stylist / India

Gul Garg Fashion Stylist India

Gul started her career as a stylist at Harper’s Bazaar India, helping it make its mark on Indian shores. Whilst at the magazine, she worked with the top talents in the industry and photographers like Tarun Khiwal, Suresh Natarajan, Prasad Naik, Jatin Kampani, Tarun Vishwa, Farrokh Chothia, Vishesh Verma, Colston Julian and Diego Fuga.

Thereafter, she moved to Grazia India as a senior stylist, where she was responsible for overseeing the Delhi office.

Having travelled globally, she has an international approach towards fashion. Gul’s unique ability to work across both disciplines of fashion and still life, editorially and commercially, has led her to a position of being able to create beautifully elegant and modern imagery. Her minimal and chic style helps bringing timeless classics to life.

Currently, Gul is an independent stylist based in New Delhi/ Mumbai. You can view her portfolio by visiting her website built on Pixpa.

 

Michael Anthony / Photographer / United States

Michael Anthony Photographer United States

Mike Schmidt is a military veteran from Brooklyn, NY with a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts, NY. Mike attended the Eddie Adams Workshop for its 25th anniversary. Since then his work on the Staten Island Ferry debuted with an interview and publication on CNN. He has been recognized by PDN as a photo annual winner several years in a row and has been awarded as the Sony emerging Photographer of the Year in 2013.

Know more about Mike at his portfolio website built on Pixpa.

 

Anwita and Arun / Photography & Design / India

Anwita Arun Photography & Design India

Anwita and Arun are a husband-wife duo who work as a team and individually, across a range of creative disciplines including photography, illustration and design.

They are dedicated to craft – as an ideal, as a way of living and to its revival and protection.

When not on the road you will find them in Noida, where they work tirelessly, crafting and optimizing ideas, images and designs.

View their creativity and photography at their portfolio website built on Pixpa.

Frank Langeweg / Photographer / Netherlands

Frank Langeweg Photographer Netherlands

Frank is a portrait and wedding photographer. You can view his work at his professional portfolio website built on Pixpa.

 

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