First Impressions - The Fundamentals of Subject Interaction
First impressions, you don't get a second chance at first impressions. This morning when you and I were doing our little interaction and I was giving you my gruff, I can't go back off that once I've started. What I want you to understand, however, is when a subject walks into your life for the first time, they bring everything from that day, and the day before, and their life's experience. Perhaps they had a negative experience with a photographer before or perhaps they've never taken a good picture in their estimation, and so they're bringing that baggage with them. Do not let that emotion or that tenor dictate the person you're going to present to them. You do not get a second chance at first impressions. Let's start with the idea that it takes just one-tenth of a second for somebody to judge you. My RBF. I do my best to make my body language, I can't help how my face looks naturally, I can't help it! It's an RBF, sorry everybody. But, what I can do is, I can control the body languag...
e in which I'm presenting to somebody. I'm going to offer up a nice welcoming space and say, hey, very good to meet you. Neutral hand shake, not gripped tight, not dead fish, hey. (audience laughs) Putty, putty, putty, putty. I don't have the luxury often times when I'm doing the veteran's portrait project for instance to even have had correspondence with them. Many professional photographers have the luxury of corresponding with people prior. Usually they've reached out to and said love your work wanna hire you, and that's when it begins. For me, I don't have that, it's sight unseen. So my first impression, start right away, face to face. First impressions extend to that other type of communication that we do, through text messages, through emails and telephone correspondence, all of these are an impression upon ourselves, and even how we present ourselves. Remember when you were getting ready to leave the house and you're, well, maybe it was just me. Mom's like, you're not leaving looking like that. But I like it, it's so pretty, cut these off myself. (audience laughs) Yeah, no, because you are what you wear. Perception is 90% of the truth. So you have to dress the part. Hey, if you're a surfer photographer, by all means wear your board shorts and if you wanna go topless, by all means do that too. If you're a hardrock behind the scenes, metal based guitar playing kinda rockin' band photographer for Rolling Stones, wear your leather pants. Do it. If you are a corporate headshot photographer making legit corporate headshots for business people, you might wanna dress the part, collared shirt, tucked in, looking neat and clean. Knowing who your client base is, and who you are trying to present to, dress the part. Now, like anybody else, and those rock photographers may go off set, and then walk onto your corporate client's set and be a complete distraction, because, dude are they with the band? Right? And then, grooming. For me, the big thing is, I'm in close proximity with people all the time. Most of my work is really in somebody's, we'll talk about bubbles in a minute, but when I'm in somebody's bubble I definitely don't wanna have coffee breath. I don't want to smell like B.O., I live in the South so it's pretty common. I'll keep like Febreeze on me and I'll Febreeze or essential oils to make people calm, and all the little things that help create a safe and sort of comfortable environment. My husband, who does not like the smell of essential oils, would probably be repulsed by that. But, grooming's a big part. I hope that makes sense. The other thing is, when we have our cameras in our hands, people are looking at your nails too, because it's in their face. That's what they're seeing, right? So, you don't wanna have... You don't wanna have, you know what I'm sayin'. (audience laughs) Take care of your business people. Okay, so correspondence is really big. When you're talking with somebody, one of the things that when I had my studio down on Kings Street in Charleston, I would have interns, and I would have to start with square one with these youngin's, by saying it's all about first impressions. When you answer the phone you don't say hello. Well hi, who am I talking to exactly? I know this sounds really trivial, but for those of you who are just getting started in the biz, what you wanna do is treat each and every phone call like it's gonna be your next client. It may come up on the Caller ID as your husband (laughs) but habits are everything. When habits become routine, you're going to get into the habit of doing this the proper way. Hey, this is Stacy how can I help you? That's how I answer the phone. It's cas, but it's me so even if it's my husband, he's gonna be like, uh hey it's me. Duh, Caller ID, but that's how I answer the phone. I try to let my personality shine through what seems to be sort of impersonal way of communication. Emails, for instance, I'm not a big fan of one line emails, when people treat emails like text messages. You're shaking your, what universal language is that? No, no, no, no, no. Hm, call me. Call you what, what do you want me to call you? I'll start from the list, start at the very top. All of 'em are super nice, I assure you. No, with all our emails I keep some level of casual formality and by that I mean, dear sir or m'am, whatever their name is if I have their first name. If I don't, or if they're older, like my World War II Veterans, I will always show a sign of very upmost respect by calling them by their Mr and Miss last name. But then, it goes from there. I always sign off, not with the sincerely, which is what, it was the go to right? But, something that's a little more intimate. If I know something about them, like for the military veterans I'll say salute. Or, until I see you again brother or sister, or thanks for your service, regards. All of these things are a sign of salutation and courtesy. One thing that I know absolutely, is the absolute truth about my particular community, military and veteran community, is that if you're not early, you are absolutely late and time is important. For many people, particularly in my community, time is a sign of respect. If I don't respond to somebody in a timely manner, they're gonna be like, obviously she doesn't care. If I can't get to it right away, I will just have an automated thing that comes, listen I'm on assignment at CreativeLive. I'm working with some amazing students in the studio right now, as soon as I get back to my office you are my first priority. At least they get an acknowledgement, they're not like total dead silence. All of these things are part of that first impression. Especially, if you don't have the luxury of getting face time first. Treat these opportunities as that initial face time.