Ever heard the saying “Image is everything”?
In the case of a small business owner, your entire business rides on your image. Not just the image you portray with your photography or with your marketing materials; literally the way you look, dress and act.
I once visited a photographer who wanted help with his business. As I walked through the front door of his home, I had to set over a few boxes that were waiting to go to the post office. The photographer had to move a few stacks of paper from a chair so I could sit down. And as he showed me some things on his computer monitor, I couldn’t help but notice bills and accounting documents all over the desk in front of me.
I visited another photographer who had a great studio, props everywhere, a clean background area for posing. The sales room was well decorated, was laid out to watch a presentation of the final images, and had a full array of framing and mounting options to select from. But when he met me at the studio door, he had on a t-shirt and an old ratty pair of jeans – he looked like he had just finished painting and cleaning out a back room.
In both cases, image wasn’t maintained from beginning to end.
1. Dress to impress your clients.
Who is your target audience? How can you dress the part to impress from the moment you meet? Living here in Denver, I’m a jeans fanatic, and rarely have anything else on. But I always have my designer jeans, a great looking sweater, and shoes and accessories to match when I show up for client meetings. If you are meeting a corporate client, you may need to switch to a dressier outfit or even a suit. While clothes generally aren’t a deal killer, they do make a very big first impression. You never want your first impression to be negative or a let down. When in doubt, overdress.
2. Dress Appropriately.
Should you wear a tux to a wedding? Not if everyone else is in casual or semiformal attire. Likewise, you should never stand out at any event you are at – you are there to photograph, not to be noticed. At every wedding we photographed, Andrew and I both showed up in a black suit. I quickly learned a colorful dress showed up in the photographs. And a dress was too difficult to work in – try going up and down fixing the bride’s dress, and not stepping on the back of your hem. I ripped more than one dress before I figured pants are the best option. Pants also allow you to lie on the floor, jump onto a stage or chair, and not worry about how you look.
3. What About The Shoes?
A great outfit can quickly be ruined by an old pair of shoes. You’ll be working hard in them, so invest a little extra and buy a fashionable pair that allows you to comfortable.
While your camera bags are simply there to hold your equipment, they do symbolize who you are. If you have a hodgepodge of colors and styles, some completely worn out, they will create an image on their own. Bags don’t have to cost a ton, but they should be both functional and supportive of your look and your brand.
5. Meeting Space.
You have ultimate control over how your clients enter your meeting space. If they come to your home, make sure they have a positive experience from the front door to your meeting room and back again. Pick up extra books, equipment, and stacks of paper, and put them out of site. Make it homey and charming. Would you want to book with someone that has a space like yours? Always look at it through your clients’ eyes, and you’ll see things in an entirely different way.