Business

Work With Clients: 8 Rules of Maria Mitrofanova

What should represent the image of a leader, what needs to be included in the contract and other recommendations of a business-photographer

BUSINESS

Work With Clients: 8 Rules of Maria Mitrofanova

What should represent the image of a company leader, how to prepare it for shooting, what needs to be included in the contract and why it’s best to avoid free test shoots — recommendations of a business-photographer.

In our series of materials “Work With Clients” Bird In Flight asks experienced photographers of various specialties to share the work principles they try to follow. Today’s issue is about rules of business-photographer Maria Mitrofanova.

Maria Mitrofanova, 37 years old

Graduated from Moscow’s Institute of Engineering and Physics, received her MBA from the Russian National Wealth Academy. A graduate and a former professor at the Academy of Photography. From 2006 to 2014 – a staff photographer for magazine RBK. Shot for Russian publications Hello!, Icons, Mercury, Tatler, Viva. Partnered with BHS/British house, ENKA, MAX Film Company, Mos City Group, Panasonic, Star Media, Visit Britain, Visit Cyprus, Cosmo+.

Your subject needs to be trustworthy

As a rule, the corporations PR-departments are the ones that order business-portraits. They will tell you that they need a photo for the leadership page on their site, for a press release etc. However, the main task of professional portrait is to gain confidence of a potential client. People must not be afraid to entrust the company with their money. In order to achieve it you need to make that person in the photo look successful: charismatic, intelligent, friendly and healthy.

Define what’s expected of you

While discussing your future photo session, request examples of what the client wants you to accomplish. It can be illustrations off the internet. It’ll give you a general idea as to what interiors you should choose, what lighting and so on. You can ask for samples of unsuccessful, according to your client, photo sessions in order to narrow down what they absolutely do not want.


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Contemplate on the interior

If you’d like a professional portrait to turn out well, you need to shoot in within the environment that is not easily recognizable, yet distinctive to the business space of your subjects. Most likely, your model wouldn’t want to drive anywhere for the sake of the shoot, therefore you need to find an appropriate location at the company’s office. One of the acceptable settings for a group photography is a white wall in the conference room.

Arrange makeup

It’s difficult to agree on applying makeup, but it’s necessary, — otherwise your retoucher will be very busy trying to photoshop the portrait. It’s the PR-department duty to convince the management that they need to do makeup. You can help them by offering to pay for the makeup artist services or additional editing of the photos, while making sure to slightly increase the price.

Of course, you’ll have to do photo editing either way. I don’t normally include it in the price of the shoot. People need to understand that they should pay for it separately. That’s why I make a point to mention in the contract that the customer will receive all their photos with only basic retouching. The further editing can be ordered — but for an additional payment.

Sign a contract

Make sure to discuss full or at least a 50 per cent deposit in the agreement — while working with corporate clients you’ll have extra insurance that you’ll get paid. Otherwise you might fall victim to hidden inter-corporate intrigues. Let’s say, you get hired by an HR-director, and you do the work that satisfies everyone. There will always be someone who doesn’t get along with the HR-director, — for instance, a financial director. And he will, to simply hurt his opponent’s feelings, announce that the pictures are bad, and may very well refuse to pay you, or at the very least will drive you nuts for a while.


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Send out recommendations on appearance

Before the photo session, PR-department distributes a letter on your behalf which persistently requests that the participants avoid tanning, stay away from overindulging into alcohol, shave, get a haircut and have their nails done if their hands are be visible in the shot. It’s a painful topic for both men and women as the first rarely get manicures, ant the latter misinterpret it as “paint your nails bright red.” Therefore it’s important to clarify: “Please have your nails manicured (for ladies a neutral color is preferred).”

The attire must be professional, or in any case must have long sleeves and be free from any contrasting print, so it doesn’t distract from the face. The same applies to female accessories. Women should wear heels – any medium-sized heel improves posture. It’s a good idea to set up a consultation with a stylist beforehand, but that hardly ever proves to be possible.

Approach things as a psychologist

Even though the corporation places order for this sort of work, the businessmen themselves, most likely, do not want to be photographed and think of all this as unnecessary and silly, and a waste of time. Or they might show up for the shoot in bad mood after fruitless negotiations. Be prepared to not just interact with them, but also cheer them up. It’s easier to pull this off with western management. They treat photo shoots as part of the job and don’t consider the time spent on it wasted. They were brought up that way and even know how to pose.

Do not drop the price

Your letter of recommendations on the appearance standards and other nuances might get ignored, and the portraits won’t turn out ideal. Also, if the photo shoot will go well it might not end up in your portfolio — because companies often forbid any mentioning of it. That’s why you should only agree to work for the price that makes it worth while to you, since it’s unlikely that, besides gaining more experience, you will receive any additional bonuses. And one more thing — don’t ever do any unpaid test shoots.

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