President’s Message: It’s Not About Us

©Dana Niemeier Photography

Photographers often find ourselves in discussions about technology, trends, and the future of our industry. While these topics are crucial, we sometimes overlook the most essential aspect of our profession: clients. A photographer’s role isn’t just to capture stunning images; it’s also to understand clients’ needs and provide solutions. How well we’re able to do these things is what sets us apart from competitors.

Do you really know your clients? Not just their names or the type of images they require, but do you understand the essence of who they are and what they need? What keeps them up at night, and what makes them jump for joy? To create meaningful connections with clients, we need to dig deep and explore the lives they lead, their aspirations, and their challenges.

Imagine you’re photographing a family of four—two parents and two kids. They live in an affluent neighborhood, both parents working full-time jobs, both kids with extracurricular activities, and they all take a vacation twice a year. What concerns might they have? Perhaps they want a family portrait that reflects their love and happiness, but they struggle to find time for it. Your job is not just to take a great picture but also to provide them with a stress-free experience that fits into their lives seamlessly.

We must remember that we’re not the main characters in our clients’ stories.

Kira Derryberry

Or consider the office manager who needs 20 employee headshots before a critical presentation. Their main concern is efficiency: They need a photographer who can deliver exceptional results in a tight timeframe. Can you address their dilemma by providing a quick turnaround?

We must remember that we’re not the main characters in our clients’ stories. Clients’ worries, joys, and dreams are the heart of what we do. Understanding clients’ pain points and offering solutions is the key to standing out in a crowded industry.

One approach to this client-centric philosophy is the StoryBrand system developed by Donald Miller. This framework is based on understanding the needs of clients and crafting your messaging to address those needs directly. By applying this approach, you can connect more deeply with clients and tailor your services to resonate with them.

My corporate photography clients rarely care about the professional organizations I belong to or the accolades I’ve received. They seek efficiency and expertise. So, I’ve made it my mission to provide a seamless, stress-free experience that meets their needs.

Our clients aren’t necessarily photography enthusiasts; they are seeking solutions to meet their specific challenges. Whether it’s a headshot that exudes professionalism or a family portrait that immortalizes love, we are in the business of providing solutions that touch the lives of those we serve.

Imagine you have a young client who’s planning a destination wedding. She hasn’t realized yet that she may not even know what she needs to plan for. By understanding her situation and concerns, you can offer not just photographs but also guidance, making the wedding planning process smoother and more enjoyable for her.

Our clients have unique stories and needs, and it’s our duty to be attuned to them. Being a great photographer is about more than just taking amazing pictures; it’s about understanding the problems clients face and providing the solutions they crave. This client-centric approach will not only set you apart from the competition but also create long-lasting relationships with those you serve.  

Kira Derryberry is a studio owner and portrait and  headshot photographer in Tallahassee, Florida.