THE MYTH OF THE IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY CLIENT
Finding the Ideal Photography Client… This beaming paragon that social media experts, business coaches, and huge name photographers tell us all we should be targeting and catering our business to specifically hone in on…
I gotta tell ya… I think it’s pretty gross AND I think it is hurting individual businesses, the industry as a whole, as it makes us all look exclusionary, and it is hurting our potential clients.
HERE’S WHAT GOT ME ALL RILED UP
I recently watched part of a live video with a well-known photographer who was characterizing their “Ideal Client.” They talked about how important it was to “zero in on what this Ideal does for a living, their education level, and even their looks…”
–Paraphrased from what I can recall, (but many words and phrases really stuck with me):
Their Ideal was an “athletic,” playful, “tan,” woman who has long hair, “maybe even really nice extensions,” a “boho” look who shops at X, Y, Z retailers, probably has a degree and preferably makes a six figure income, with a handsome fiancé, who also has a hearty income, and both were between the ages of 21-27, (but he could be a bit older, because “men age better than women, let’s admit it!”
They went on to say that while they weren’t ruling out “other types of people,” this was their Ideal and who they actively marketed to by showing only images this Ideal would like.
ARE YOU THE IDEAL? I’M NOT!
I turned that ridiculousness right off. And. Let me tell you a not-so-little secret… I’m definitely nowhere NEAR this Photographer’s Ideal and lots of us are in the same boat. I would be CRUSHED to fall in love with this person’s work, only to hear that I’m not their “type.” I’ve actually had clients tell me that they had reached out to other photographers along their journey and were ASKED TO PROVIDE A PHOTO OF THEMSELVES before the photographer would chat with them… And. When they didn’t meet the “looks threshold” (my client’s words), they were told, “…you aren’t the right fit for my brand.” GROSS.
Building a brand based on exclusionary tactics is not something I am ok with ever doing!
WHAT MY IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY CLIENT LOOKS LIKE
Let me tell you about MY Ideal Client…
1: My Ideal Client looks like themself.
2: My Ideal Clients are whatever age, weight, and vibe that they are! They come in all sorts of beautiful, different colors, shapes, and sexualities!
3: My Ideal Clients is 100% themselves, 100% of the time.
4: My Ideal adores their partner and can’t wait to celebrate and document their love for them. They do not ONLY fit into the narrow, heteronormative criteria the other photographer espoused above. And. Don’t get me wrong, I have shot this couple and love and appreciate them just as much as I do ALL my Clients, but I refuse to ONLY market to this couple.
5: My Ideal understands that even though things could go a little awry on their day or session, they still get to create memories with their best friend.
6: My Ideal Client is excited that the clothes they wear to their elopement, wedding, or commitment ceremony are gonna get a little dirty from exploring, when they hire me.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LOOK FOR WHEN IT COMES TO THE IDEAL CLIENT
7: My Ideal Client values my work and appreciates that I genuinely want to invest my time, energy, creativity, and hard work into telling their love story. They see my heart and know I fully believe it is an honor to bear witness and to document their lives and love.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO CHANGE THIS GROSS TREND AND FIND OUR REAL IDEAL?
Let’s focus on the fact that we have the privilege to create visual memories for the unique and beautiful people who hire us. We need to focus on celebrating the diversity of the clients who want to work with us, instead of targeting this narrow-minded Ideal the above photographer discussed.
Let’s show the images we actually LOVED creating, the ones that stir and amplify our creative souls… Images that will resonate with the people who are going to love our work the way we do… Not just images targeted to the wrong sort of Ideal Clients, where we hunt for people based on their looks and style, but the Clients we are excited to work with, because THEY ARE BEYOND EXCITED TO WORK WITH US.
I always tell my FACEBOOK GROUP this rule for social media: Share what you loved creating. THIS is the way to target the REAL “Ideal Client.” Because at the end of the day, I want my clients to be as excited to work with me as I am to work with them… I want them to look forward to the whole process of creating together and to know that I will be there to capture their story from the super magical moments, to the quiet ones that speak to their deepest connection.
It is time to throw out this played out playbook and stop listening to the influencers, social media experts, biz coaches, and photographers who spew this utterly disgusting mindset.
I have had clients from all ages, backgrounds, sexualities, religions, and styles book me… And. I have LOVED working with such a diverse group of humans. It has been a true joy in more ways than I can express, given me a broader view of the world, and been a gift overall.
AN IMPORTANT SIDENOTE
I’m using gender neutral pronouns for a reason. As I touched on above: My Ideal Client isn’t restricted to being a thin, white, blonde, cisgender woman, who is in a relationship with a tall, dark, and handsome cisgender male… My Ideal Client is WHO THEY ARE and LOVE WHO THEY LOVE. They come in all shapes, colors, and sexualities.
Period. End. Of. Story.
Check out part 2 on HOW TO MARKET TO YOUR IDEAL CLIENT HERE!