Years ago (before the print market took a hit and before I found fitness photography) I was getting a fairly regular stream of magazine projects shooting environmental portraits. A chef cooking up something, an elderly couple taking a slow stroll down the street, a retired football coach sitting in his study and so on. I was not shooting for the biggest publication in town – but I was getting a steady paycheck and I was excited to be doing what I loved.

There was a bigger game magazine client in town that I wanted to be working for. Over the next few months I fired off a couple e-mails to them with very little response (even having a colleague who worked for the magazine). But when it came to hiring someone new; they ended up going with someone who had drastically less experience than I had.

“But wait! How could they pass my work up? I have better work! I have more experience!” I said to myself.

So in reality why did a publication hire another photographer who had visibly less experience?

Because they were more committed to the client. They did more than send off a few e-mails indicating their interest. They made some phone calls, they met with the editing staff in person, they followed up on a regular basis. They proved to the magazine staff that they were committed to them and to growing that working relationship.

So when it came time for the magazine to choose someone they wanted to work with – they chose the person they felt most comfortable with. The person who they know would be committed to them and their goals.

The true story serves as an analogy for the talent industry as well. My colleagues and I hear it constantly on our clients wanting to be considered as professionals in the business. They want the magazine covers, the sponsorship deals, the ad campaign contracts.

But are they (you) committed to achieving it?

If you are committed; what is your strategy of action? Are you simply just going to send off a few e-mails and hope someone bites? Or are your going to be relentless in your pursuit?

We had an incident recently of a talent feigning a family emergency to get out of a project. What was their level of commitment?

I had another message sent to me recently saying that the talent “did not have the time to market themselves or do research to find clients.” What was their level of commitment?

Being a talent; there is an astounding amount of competition. However; if such a large percentage of it is content in only sending a few e-mails, or maybe just starting a Facebook page and hoping to be found there – that is a tremendous opportunity for you personally to do more to show your level of commitment.

Think about the countless number of touch-points you have with a potential client. A phone call, your e-mail signature, something you mail out, how you are in person, how you display your portfolio, even the voicemail on your phone. Each of these is an opportunity to show your level of commitment.

Back to the magazine client that I was wanting to work with. I ended up increasing my level of effort to them to showcase my commitment. It took a few years; but I finally did get my foot in the door. It was a lesson that I’m fortunate I learned very early in my career.

This is why I’ve had the same clients for years. I prove my commitment to them and their goals time and time again.

What can you do to better your level of commitment?

James Patrick
Instagram @jpatrickphoto
Twitter @jpphotography