The Business Of Being Creative With Sean Low: The First Meeting
In the moments before your potential client contacts you for the first time, their perception of you is all they have. This is marketing. Everything from your website and all things social media to your reputation among past clients and vendors alike makes up what your potential client knows about you, your art and your creative business. Except they cannot possibly know you. The actual you (including your art and creative business) is vastly more diverse, nuanced and, hopefully, interesting than the illusion you have worked so diligently to craft. So why is your first conversation almost always about the details of what you will do for your potential client rather than talking about who you are and, more important, listening to who they are? You do not sell things, you sell creation.
Creative business is fundamentally about the construction and maintenance of meaningful, trusting, intimate relationships. Your past art is not a short cut to that relationship. If you are to be successful, you are going to have to reveal yourself to your potential client and have them find comfort in the revelation. It makes no difference whether you design hotels or weddings, photograph a product or babies, style flowers or chocolates, your art is meant to transcend the vision and ability of your client. Why else would they need you? So the first step has to be to move beyond the objective “here is what I will do for you” and into the subjective ,“I understand you, see you and am the one to bring your vision to reality”. Practically then, how about working to ask questions that shake your potential client's understanding of who you they know you and your creative business to be?
For instance, if you are a florist, instead of first asking your potential client's budget, favorite flowers and colors, what if you started your conversation with a discussion about her nail polish or shoes? Can you disrupt your potential client's perception of you so that the actual you can have the opportunity to come through? Real conversation allows you to show (i.e., not tell) your client everything about you, your art and your creative business. Or you can rely on the illusion your marketing effort has generated. Live by your resume or die by it. Every artist I have ever known lights up when they start talking about what drives their art and what they hope to create. Past work is a point of pride, but the future is infectious. It makes ultimate sense to me that you would start your conversation in a manner that draws upon your enthusiasm, your bubbling passion for your next project. If your potential client engages your enthusiasm, then the logistics will take care of themselves. Yes, your willingness to start with the implicit truth, the fabric of who you are and what drives your impulse to create will open the door for iconic process. The wrong client will reject your enthusiasm out of hand no matter how much they like your work. The right one will be inspired and will inspire you to do your best work. Such is the foundation of trust. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you want to allow your clients to see beyond the illusion you present to the world. Trust has to be based on faith in the relationship, not that you will deliver in the end. Start there.
*Special thanks to Kate Harrison Photography for the lovely image.
Well, hello! I'm a boudoir and wedding photographer from Pennsylvania; I am based in both in Philadelphia and in the mountains of Northeast, PA. I have a love for shooting film, vivid colors, fluffy dogs, salty snacks, binge watching Netflix, sarcasm, and napping. My road to becoming a photographer isn't a very poetic or adventurous story: I was a painter and had always pursued the thought of going to school for fine art. I took an introduction to film photography class in my senior year of high school and just fell in love with the medium. I've pursued my own photography business ever since and am still shooting with film!
One thing we love about living in Portland is the strong emphasis on sustainability and a genuine concern for the environment. The natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest has obviously inspired locals to care and take action, to protect the lushness surrounding them. The name of the game here is conservation and preservation - with multiple trash/recycle/compost bin options in every restaurant and coffee shop, to chicken coops adorning backyards aplenty. We’re so pleased to see this positive trend hit the design and technology spheres, as hard copies become a thing of the past and the Cloud becomes the Internet’s new storage bin.
I’m Cheyenne, and I’m a body positive, self love boudoir photographer based in Philadelphia. I love my mama, my puppy girl Penny, my babe, and cheesesteaks. When I was 13, I picked up my first camera. Two years later I started a little business photographing families, babies, and a very tiny wedding! I continued to shoot through my time in art school and eventually decided to fully dive into creating a well rounded business for myself. I left college after my junior year and worked my butt off to build up my business.