Give A Purpose

You just took a great photograph. You’re super proud of it so you post it on Facebook, send via email to your entire address book, upload it to your website, and if it’s a REALLY great photograph, you print it and put it into an actual hard-copy portfolio.  You’re a rock star now!  You’re super excited, and you want all your friends and colleagues to be super excited for you. In fact, they should be so excited that your inbox will overflow with emails, you’ll have comments on your FB post numbering in the triple digits, and your voicemail will begin to reject messages because your box is full.

Because, that’s what supportive people do, right?  They take everything important in your life and make it important in their life, too.  It doesn’t matter if they have their own lives happening at the same time. It doesn’t matter if they’re going through their own personal trials and triumphs, fighting off stress at work, balancing family life, soul-searching, or just trying to find some private time to unplug.  It doesn’t matter.  You took a REALLY REALLY great photograph.  This is a milestone for you, and all the people in your life who care about you should stop the world and give you the attention you deserve!!!

Did you check your inbox? No new messages?  Facebook kinda slow?  What just happened? Why isn’t anyone responding?

No one is responding because you didn’t ask for a response.  Take a step back for a second and look at what you’ve done to your photograph. Yes, you made it available for the world to see, but was there a call to action?  Was there a direct, explicit request for feedback or follow up?  More importantly, did you give your audience a purpose for looking at your work?

With everyone being so busy these days, doing more with less time and making the most of any opportunity, you have to really give people an incentive to halt what they’re doing and give you a bit of undivided attention.  Sometimes the reason is simple: They need a photographer and you’re one of the potential candidates.  But, if they’re not looking for a photographer or uninterested in photography, then what?  Why should they give your photograph more than a mere glance?  CREATE a reason why people should see your work.

To get someone’s attention, even those closest to you, you have to ask for it.  You have to personally go “door-to-door” and give them a reason to look at your work. Because, without a reason, why would anyone care? Without a reason, people will not stop their lives for you.  Time is a rare commodity these days.  If you expect someone to give you their time, the least you could do is give them a reason for their time.  Don’t just display your work and assume people will voluntarily provide feedback.  Ask for the feedback and let them know that their feedback carries weight.

Oftentimes, after a photo shoot, I will send out a proof gallery to friends and colleagues whose opinions I respect.  Some will never respond.  But some will reply back with detailed emails as to why the images work or don’t work.  When I get such feedback, I make sure to respond and let them know that I really appreciate their efforts.  I don’t just say “thanks.”  I let them know that their words matter and that I’m a stronger, more educated photographer because of their suggestions.  I tell them that it allows me to think on different levels.  Because it does.  And when I show them my appreciation, guess what happens?  Without even knowing it, I’ve given them the reason they needed.


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