Thursday, March 01, 2012

Business Day Thursday: It's About Time You Got Some Inspiration (Boards)

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I can't believe the weather we've been having in Cincinnati this last week. We've only had one day of rain and the rest of the days have been full of sunshine blue skies and white puffy clouds with the temperature hovering in the low-to-mid 60s. It's almost like Spring has come early this year – and I'm loving it.

We are packing our bags once again and headed to Raleigh-Durham, NC for a big convention sponsored by the Professional Photographers of North Carolina this weekend [link]. PPNC12This convention has always had the reputation for being one of the best in the land and I'm looking forward to being part of it. Once again, we’ll have a chance to catch up with old friends and hopefully make some new ones as well.

My program is scheduled from 9 to 12 on Saturday morning. If you're in the area I sure hope you'll stop by and visit. Hey, can't make it to the whole convention then come to the tradeshow. They always have a great lineup of vendors. The nice thing about some of the smaller regional conventions is the fact that you get a chance to visit some of the vendors that many times just don't make it to the big national shows.

I know you all must think I'm crazy having just gotten back from WPPI that I’m saying I'm looking forward to yet another convention. Simply, conventions are in my blood. As I said before, there's no better way to enjoy the education available in this profession than being there in person, sitting in the front row, and soaking it all in.

That said, let's get right onto today's post.

It's About Time You Got Some Inspiration (Boards)

LaDawn and I attended many programs at the recent WPPI in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. She and I both took several pages of notes from all the programs we attended. One of the things that stands out for me was the suggestion that many speakers presented. That suggestion was to create an inspiration board for each client they were working with. The more I thought about this “inspiration board” idea the more I loved it.

How Do You Collect Your Thoughts?

We all have different ways that we brainstorm new ideas. Whether it be for new marketing ideas, new photography ideas, and for me, creating new  programs, collecting your thoughts and ideas in one place is a good idea.

Evernote_1_5My “inspiration board” of choice more recently has been Evernote, about the best cloud utility in the world to collect ideas. I like to just sit down in front of the computer screen and let the ideas flow. The ideas are in no particular order and there is no rhyme or reason to how I sequence them, at least in the beginning of my brainstorming sessions. That all comes later. But that's a subject to  a future post. Today I want to talk about something much more visual. Today I went talk about inspiration boards.

Business Building Is About Creating Authentic Client Relationships

Another underlying message that came through from many of the speakers at WPPI this year was how important it is to connect with their clients. I have to tell you, they're singing to the choir when I hear those words. I built my entire business on creating authentic client relationships. It's been that business strategy over the years that has allowed me to build lifelong clients in my business.

It's good to hear the younger photographers lecturing echoing the same sentiments today. But what I liked about their new ideas was the fact that they suggested it be more visual.  It's this visual inspiration board that more easily and effectively lets them connect with their clients.

In today's highly technical and highly connected world it's easy to put together a visual inspiration board for each event we shoot. Here's what I have in mind.

7 Steps To Creating Your Inspiration Board

1. Create a new inspiration board for each event you have booked for 2012.

2. Include on that inspiration board photographs of the church in which the wedding/event is going to be taking place.

3. Include photographs of the reception venue.

4.Interview with your clients and ask them what their likes and dislikes are. What are their favorite places to hang out? How about favorite flavor of ice cream? What are their favorite things they enjoy doing together? Favorite sports team? Favorite TV show, favorite movie, favorite book? What are their favorite restaurants? Anyway, you get the picture.

5. Now it's time you start getting the brain juices flowing. Begin some quick Google research on all the items that came up in your conversation with your clients.

6. Start collecting screen grabs of the various themes/locations that you discussed. Sure, you can print each of these images out and thumbtack them to a bulletin board but I think would be easier to just drop them into an Evernote notebook under your client's name.

7. Now, what you have is a visual representation of their tastes, their likes and dislikes, favorite restaurants, venues for the wedding and reception and anything else you can you need to know to do your best job for them.

The important thing about having visual references of these things your client is connected with is the fact that the visual reference now gives you a great starting point on how you might execute your photography for their event.

Just as a for instance, let's say you do an image search of the church in which they want to be married. If it's a fairly popular church, you'll be surprised how many images pop up for that church.

Works For Me

St_Patrick_27s_Catholic_Church_1_mMany times you have both interior and exterior views. I'm leading another wedding shoot-out at Photoshop World this year and once I got the name of the church, St. Patrick’s, I quickly Googled it just to see where I was going to be working. It is one gorgeous location. I began creating my inspiration board for my wedding shoot-out class at Photoshop World this year and now I won't be walking in blind. I'll have an idea of exactly what I want to do and where I want to shoot before I even get there.

Make It Work For You

This same thinking works with any event that we photograph. Technology makes it so simple for us to get a handle on what the challenges are and helps us avoid surprises. Most importantly, it helps us plan to get some fantastic images for clients.

You can see how this would be beneficial if you're working with the bride and groom. If I know all about their favorite things, I would begin my engagement session with the both of them including many of the favorite things and locations we discussed in our conversations and from my Google research. 

HAndshakeHaving these images on hand visually during your client discussions is just another great way to show your client that you really do care about their event, that they are important to you, and you want to do the best possible job you can for them.

Technology today gives us an opportunity to more effectively connect with the client than never before. And using our inspiration board with each one of our clients helps us build even more authentic relationships more quickly than we could in the past.

I know this discussion could continue on much longer and include many other ideas but, I just wanted to give you some insights into how I think an inspiration board for each one of your clients can, not only be a great idea and photo resource for the event you booked, but also become a great relationship builder between you and your clients.


Hey gang that's it for me today. We still got another bag or two to pack and refine my program for my presentation on Saturday morning. So, let me wish each of you a great rest of the day and I'll hope to see you again tomorrow hailing from the Raleigh-Durham NC area.

See you then, – David

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