A photography business question came in to the site from Eli -
My question to you is: should equipment or technique be part of your brand?
My gut reaction is “No, not for me” but then I dig deeper and realize it already is (a small part). I talk to my clients about have the right tools for any situation, making them look great (with lighting & posing), etc.
I had a second photographer working with me at my last wedding, and she commented that I use much more equipment than everyone else she’s worked for. I’m wondering if I should emphasize this stuff more because I know it differentiates me.
Equipment is a weak way to co-opt value from somewhere other than yourself. And to be fair, I’m guilty of it too. I thought I was going to switch to Leica because it would make me cool and mysterious and all kinds of other pretentious nonsense. People are shooting film or medium-format to try and buy some value or difference instead of creating that value through their work.
Yes, you can do it, I just think it is a bad idea. It is bad because anyone else can buy what you’ve been using and then you’ve convinced the market to hire anyone with that stuff, not just you. That’s simply bad marketing.
The other thing I hate about marketing one’s gear is that people tend to associate the work that you do with the gear instead of the person creating it. Yes, you can talk about all the stuff you are carrying, but they aren’t hiring your gear list, are they? Plus, as a side note, I can tell you that most wedding professionals (read – not photographers) think all the stuff we are carrying draws too much attention and takes too long to set up. Again, that’s a side note, but one I’ve heard over and over again. As far as I can tell only photographers think all that stuff is cool.
Technique is another thing, but honestly the clients are typically hiring us because they don’t know as much about technique as we do. Instead of marketing technique, I’d market the benefit of those techniques. Even so, I think technique is a tough thing to build value out of because it is so rooted in craft and separated from meaning. Again, you can do it, I just think there are better ways.
For some thoughts on better things to market:
- Do You Want to Be Hired for Who You Are?
- What is Branding?
- What your Brand is Not vs. What your Brand Is
- A Lesson on Branding from WPPI
- The Secret to Communicating your Value to the Client