I learned a few things from the recent snafu I had when trying to get a reenactment coverage gig for an event in a few weeks. While the guy was definitely condescending, I also realize that I made a few mistakes that could have helped the process go a little more smoothly, even if it still resulted in me not getting the job. Here’s what I’ve been mulling over for the last day or so:
- Never deal with a client through an intermediary. Always deal with the client directly. You can use an intermediary to introduce you, but that’s where their role should end. It’s too easy for someone else to misrepresent you or your services, which can lead to misunderstandings and possibly losing the client.
- I need to work on moving my personal “brand” even farther over into the photographer category. Right now among reenactors I’m known as “that reenactor who takes awesome photos” when really I need to be known as “that awesome photographer who also reenacts”. As long as I’m seen as a reenactor first and a photographer second, it will be difficult for other reenactors to see me as a professional.
- I desperately need to write both a “why you should hire me” page and a “what I do” page. These pages serve two very important but very different purposes. The first is all about marketing, and explains why it’s likely worth your money to hire me to shoot you, your family, your reenactment, your horse, etc. There are some very real benefits to hiring me, and I think that putting them out there is important. The second is a page that better explains what it is I do when I’m photographing people/horses/reenactments. Every situation will be unique to a certain degree, but there’s kind of a standard groundwork to how I shoot that needs to be explained. This will help people to understand that they’re hiring me for a professional shoot, not to stand around and take a few random snapshots.
- I have more friends in high places than I realized, and I need to start using that. I’ve always known that I’m fairly well-connected in the reenacting world, but in the last few months, I have realized that “fairly” is actually “very”. I know the directors of three major historical sites, assistant directors at a handful more, plenty of event organizers, and more unit commanders than I can count. I’m pretty well-known in the hobby for my photography, and now I need to start tapping those influential friends of mine to help with getting paid work.
So, while I’m annoyed at myself for how that particular mess went down, at least it has helped me to figure out a few more things that I needed to learn, and that’s almost as important as getting work.