Monday, May 16, 2011

Separating Yourself From the Crowd; Part 2

With DSLRs available to everyone, it seems as if every day we run across another "faux-tographer". You've met them as well; they're the ones with a fistful of brand-new business cards claiming they are available to photograph just about anyone or anything with a dollar. We can sit here and whine about it, but as my high school coach always said, "our best defense is a good offense."

Let's look at a recent scenario. Last weekend I was invited to photograph a formal benefit event at which there would also be other "volunteer photographers" (ie: dads with cameras) taking pictures. I packed gear, dressed appropriately for the work I'd be doing, arrived early for setup and was ready to roll when attendees came through the doors. Sounds pretty basic, right?

To my surprise, the volunteer photographer working next to me showed up in sweat pants, a t-shirt and sneakers! I was a bit shocked, given the fact that many of the attendees were wearing formal attire, or at least dressed up for a night out.

This really got me thinking . . . I've always been aware of my outward appearance and the professional image I portray to my clients, but does everyone else feel the same? What are you wearing when you are working?

Here are a few guidelines I use when choosing my attire:

1) I want to blend in with the bulk of the crowd. If I'm at a formal event and the only one NOT wearing a tuxedo, I'll stick out. The same holds true if I'm in a casual atmosphere; I don't want to be overdressed and attract attention.

2) Comfort is important, but not at the expense of my professional image. If I'm photographing a senior, I can wear nice jeans and a graphic shirt. When I'm photographing a family, a business portrait or meeting with a potential bride, you'll find me in Dockers and decent shoes (yes guys, women notice your shoes!) Women need to remember that their ability to move freely is to be considered . . . and footwear needs to be <gasp> practical.

3) When in doubt, err on the side of professionalism. Very few people will ever find fault with you for looking good.

Put yourself in your client's place; what impression are you making on them? Are your choices helping or hurting your cause?

- David Grupa

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