Making yourself attractive to commercial clients
To attract and keep clients, you need to be versatile and adaptable, explains commercial photographer Chris Shain.
“You have to be a helper and a collaborator, both with your client and other people your client hires, such as designers, external marketing consultants and even other photographers.
“Clients often don’t care who does the work, they just want someone to front up and get the job done. I might be wrong, but I think the days of hiring a passionate photographer because a client thinks he or she is a fabulous image maker are becoming less common. Maybe it’s still important for agency work, but we’re working for clients direct. They just want service and good imagery, they don’t need prima donnas.”
Not everyone can just slip into industrial photography and the areas Chris works in are often quite specialised. He needs to have a White Card, a rail industry worker card, steel capped boots, ‘hiviz’ clothing, and be prepared to do a site specific induction course for half a day (for which he generally invoices the client). He also has a NSW work-cover licence to operate large cherry pickers.
“The pictures I take sometimes seem irrelevant in comparison to all the other aspects of the job. The ‘White Card’ is a construction induction card which provides proof of completion of general construction induction training in work health and safety. All states in Australia now require one for workers on construction sites, including photographers, even if an inducted person supervises them on the site.“
You apply for a white card through a registered Training Organisation which provides the course for a fee. Search for White Card on Google for more information. The good news is that a card in one state is valid in all other states.
“The course takes a day and it’s not rocket science, but it shows your client that you will do whatever it takes to do the job. We’re currently working for an industrial client whose previous photographer said he couldn’t be bothered getting a white card. So they rang us up – a cold call from a Google search – and now we get all their work. Having a white card was as important for this client as the quality of pictures we take.””
Clients expect a professional standard of photography. It’s what you offer in addition to high quality photos that will get you the work.
Chris Shain is a commercial photographer working in Sydney. He is very active in business and legal issues for photographers and holds a board position with the Australian Copyright Council. www.imagesforbusiness.com.au