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How a Commercial Photographer and His Clients Collaborate to Get Great Photography

June 25, 2015

How a Commercial Photographer and His Clients Collaborate to Get Great Photography

Running a commercial photography business isn’t easy. It often means long days and aggressive deadlines — not to mention battling with the competition. But creating compelling images takes far more than having a great eye and good equipment.

Success in this space means being as efficient as possible, so you're leveraging your talent (and time) to the fullest. All the artistic integrity in the world won’t make money by itself. You also have to make sure your processes function smoothly — pre-production (appointment setting, location scouting, set dressing, hair / make-up, equipment set-up tear/down, downloading, model releases, etc.), post-production (retouching, archiving, billing, marketing, accounting, taxes). It all takes time and requires careful management and organization of each client assignment.

How Greg Anderson Differentiates His Photography Business

Greg discovered his love for photography when he got his first digital camera on his 12th birthday. He’s always been creative, but never considered photography as a career. Long story short, since graduating college, Greg has created a powerful reputation with his own commercial photography business. Which means he's had to become a jack-of-all-trades — photographer, creative director, customer service rep, marketing guru, social media pro, webmaster, CEO, CFO — you name it.

Greg gets the power of word-of-mouth referrals. He’s seen how much more trust people put in a friend’s recommendation than any website or video with his photography. As a result, he works extra hard to get referrals. His secret? He uses his client collaboration workflow process to differentiate his business and put his clients at ease.

After a lot of experimentation, Greg chose a free online collaboration tool to help manage his business. He gives each client a unique and secure page. On each client’s page, he uploads their contract, a work calendar, and task list so everyone knows who has to do what and by when.

Greg treats each client’s page as a collaboration canvas. They all upload different files for brainstorming ideas before the shoot — documents, images, videos, etc. This helps them finalize the shoot details — location(s), wardrobe, models, product placements, special effects — and to finalize the shot list. Once the shoot is over, Greg posts the photos so clients can review them immediately. The discussion continues – which photos work best, any retouching or special effects needed, etc. — in real time.

This open and seamless collaboration workflow is a huge advantage for everyone because it speeds the project along. It eliminates any back and forth with lost emails, images too big to send via email, permissions issues when put on a cloud server, missed phone calls, and people inadvertently left out of the loop. And since all conversation is captured alongside the relevant assets (documents, images, tasks, due dates, etc.) all in one place, communication is crystal clear. Misunderstandings are now a distant memory because the context is intact. Best of all, his clients are much happier with the results. They keep returning to him because working with Greg is efficient, easy, and (dare we say it?) fun.

But that’s not all. Greg uses the same free online collaboration tool to manage the back end of his business. He keeps his list of clients and support vendors (e.g. modeling agencies, prop providers, and equipment companies, printers, lawyer, accountant, etc.)., He also plans his own marketing efforts, and tracks his leads and sales. He’s stoked because everything he needs for his business is in one centralized online location that he can access anytime, from anywhere, using any device.

Creating effective workflows to manage your business can be as simple as snapping a photo. When you bring together content and the conversation into one easy-to-use online collaboration tool — your business gets more efficient, your clients are happier, and you have fewer headaches. Just ask Greg.

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