After 23 years as a professional photographer, I'm always mindful of the importance of being willing to continually adapt to new trends.
This not only applies to lightening-paced developments in technology, but also to new photographic equipment and more specifically, to what clients want. Fact: Change is a vital element of today's business climate.
The trick is to blend all these concepts into value - added services that keep your clients happy and your business flourishing. Best selling American author and motivational speaker Denis Waitley's advice; "the extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning," sums up what all pro photographers should heed if they want to survive in this extremely competitive industry.
Speaking of other approaches; take hybrid photography for example. Some may call it a fad, but it's a new upcoming trend that professional photographers (me included), should not only embrace, but also accept that it's here to stay.
What exactly does hybrid photography mean? It entails going beyond stills photography to broaden your professional offering. I'm referring specifically to the use of video and virtual tours in marketing a wide range of services and products. Both can be used very effectively to augment a company's presence or present a more personal experience of their brand to clients.
Take for example, a recent shoot I did for a large pharmaceutical company, doing its bit for Mandela Day by performing various charitable deeds at a local school. The pictures captured snippets of the event, but it was the additional video footage that really brought things to life! The company can use the engaging 3-minute video clip to boost its corporate social responsibility and share it on various social media platforms.
In addition, video clips like these can be downloaded onto a company website. Smart move, since stats show that a short video clip is often the most clicked upon feature of a company's entire website. Quite simply, a video clip is an effective way for a business to communicate its message and proactively grab the viewer's attention with something more engaging than static images and text.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting videos should replace still photography; rather that they become an additional way of enhancing your client's presence. Despite the ever encroaching presence of digital media in all spheres of life, I'm confident there'll always be a place for good, professional still photography. The old adage 'a picture says a thousand words' still holds true, but now it's a question of imagine what a video can add to your message.
Embracing new trends
Speaking of adapting to new trends and changing client demands, international author Wayne Dyer's quote - "Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change" - is especially apt. That's because I've been thinking about ways to enhance my existing professional offering to both established and new clients while still advancing my business.
For some time, I've noticed a distinct shift in what clients regard as important and what they are looking for. For me, adapting in my business basically boils down to finding new creative ways to reinforce a client's presence in the marketplace. And that's why I've introduced videos and virtual tours as a value-added service.
Clients still want a CD of professional quality digital images. But now, they have the option of asking for a video add-on, which is recorded simultaneously while capturing photographic images for their event. For a little extra, they'll receive a short professional video clip, complete with audio and additional visuals all in a neat package.
Video allows you to capture movement, nuances and the whole 'feel' of an event in a far more dynamic and compelling way than just fixed images alone. Of course, a huge plus is that video clips can be easily shared with others on an array of media platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, mobile devices, tablets and websites.
Another exciting add on service is virtual tours, a video walkthrough which can be a potent marketing tool for many companies such as hotels, businesses, shopping centres, guesthouses, game lodges and private properties. Click here for an example of a recent virtual tour
A survey by a leading realtor's association on the importance of photography at real estate sites found that around 60% regarded virtual tours as 'very useful' when viewing properties. My advice to clients considering incorporating a virtual tour is to ensure they commission a photographer with the experience and expertise to produce a quality, professionally presented video walk-through to maximise a property's appeal.
One last thought: There's no shortage of online advice for professional photographers on how to stay ahead in an industry that is becoming tougher and more competitive. The advice that resonates with me is that 'the successful photographers will be the photographers who adapt to the changing marketplace, specialise, stand apart and put in lots of hard work.' I aim to stay part of that group. How about you?