COMPETITION PRINTS – ARE YOU READY?
YEAH, YOU, THE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER: LISTEN UP
It IS EASY TO DODGE COMPETITION – TELL YOURSELF YOU WILL ENTER NEXT TIME….
and maybe you will, but first ask yourself “what will I lose by waiting?” “What’s the big deal?”
For the answer to that, we went to our 2013 grand winner, MARV HESTON, and asked a few simple questions.
Give Marv’s answers a read, you will, as I did, find within them an “aha” moment.
How helpful are the judges’ comments to your work at SPPA competition? Does this competition help in creating your work for the next competition or for refining your art?
A. Comments from the judges help me to see images without parent eyes.
You know how parents are, they always think that their kids are perfect, even when that child has just been arrested for driving 125 mph the wrong way on the freeway after leaving the scene of a bank robbery, with a still warm pistol in his lap… and the mother always says “He’s a good boy”.
Well the same is true for photographer’s and their children, we take a good picture and we think it’s perfect, or at least as perfect as we could do with the circumstances the client/day gave us. Well hearing judges’ comments helps me see my images for what they really are and that helps me see where my images can be improved. Improved for competition and improved for my clients. Most of want to make the most wonderful images we can for clients and being able to see our images objectively helps us do that.
The other thing judges’ comments help me with is shooting better images to start with. A judge might say something like “I think this image could have been improved if the maker shot it from a lower angle”, so next time I’m shoot a “great” image I think could this be improved it I shot it from a different angle and this has made a significant difference in how I shoot.
Taking the highest marks for your work, does this help with your Marketing? Discussion with Brides? Displaying awards? Etc.,
A. Funny you should ask, I had a wedding in August where I learn at the Premiere of the couples images that they had hired me because I had won awards. I’m proud of my work and I do display my awards for clients to see, but the awards are a secondary to the images that won the awards. What I mean by that is, if an image wins an award or merits, it’s a good image by professional standards, if it’s a good image – my clients will see it as a GREAT image and clients are hiring me for my ability to produce great images. What the awards do is confirm for the client that their opinion is shared by my professional photography piers and that reinforcement helps them know that I am as good as they think I am. Wow that sounds arrogant, but you do have to sell yourself to clients and an award or two does really help.
Pricing is the cost worth the value?
A. ABSOLUTELY! First and foremost I’m proud of the images I can create because of having entered competition. I’ve learned to see my photo-children objectively, which helps me create better images for my clients, and creating really great images for clients helps me sell more. My typical wedding client starts by booking me to create a 20 page album for their wedding – and I do create a beautiful 20 page album, but then I go on to create a larger album that includes great images from their wedding with a little “competition polish” on those images. The result is, that on average my wedding clients spend an additional $400-$600 adding more pages to their albums. Why? Because I create pages with great “competition polished” images that they “just have to have” in their albums.
So I get “paid” back in several ways from entering competition.
- I get the pride of creating great images – and this boost my confidence to handle any client that comes my way and that comes across to the client
- My potential clients see not one or two but hundreds of “competition” images that Wow them and that leads to them to choose me for their event
- Clients see the awards I’ve been given at competition and it confirms for them that I am a good photographer and that helps them have confidence in booking me
- I sell more product because I can make “must have” images that the client simply cannot leave at my studio
I estimate that print competition generates $3,000 to $4,000 in Plus business for me annually. Now it has taken a while for me to get to that point, but I entered my first competition 6 years ago, so it doesn’t take that long in the bigger picture (pun intended).