A little over 20 years ago I took a photo (on film). It was out of focus, blurred and too dark. It was the photo of my life. A photo that I could never repeat. A moment that was gone forever. It was the photo of my two boys the morning they were born.
My name is Andreas Bender and I swore at the time that this would never happen to me again. In April 2012 I quit my job at the bank. Since then I have been working as a freelance photographer. Today I’m 50. I learn something new every day and keep developing. I read books that many years ago I labeled hocus-pocus and money-making. I listen to podcasts from successful people and spend a lot of money on seminars.
I’ve managed to change my personality in the past 5 years. I approach people. I inspire my customers. When I was at the style pirate’s masterclass in October 2013, he said to me, “You have to infect your customers!” I had no idea how that should work. Today I get the majority of my jobs through recommendations and keep reading the word “enthusiastic” in my customer feedback.
I used to hide behind my camera, but now I work on my visibility.
My photographic focus is about 2/3 business photography and about 1/3 wedding reports.
At weddings it is very important to me that the chemistry with the bride and groom is right. I’m usually there for 10 to 12 hours (even longer), in the slipstream of both of them. That just has to fit! I must also feel like taking pictures of the wedding. The bridal couple must also like my photographic style. Yes, I afford myself the luxury and choose my bridal couples.
Why am i doing this Because I enjoy photographing weddings. Weddings are the emotional opposite of business assignments. A wedding in itself is usually very emotional. There is also a party and always delicious food?
But a wedding reportage is also very exhausting. 12 hours without a break, always looking for the next best moment. Always energized. Play as the animator for the group photos and have your head full of ideas at the bridal couple shoot.
I know too many colleagues who no longer photograph weddings because they just had too many before. I never want to wake up on a Saturday with the thought, “Oh dear, another wedding today.” I’m having too much fun with it for that. I would miss all the beautiful moments:
- The bride and groom standing in front of my notebook with tears in their eyes during my little slide show of the best photos of the day.
- The mother of the bride who falls around my neck after the slide show and gives me a big kiss on the cheek.
- The bride who told me she was crying on the bed because there wasn’t enough budget to book me until her fiancé shifted and topped it up.
- The emotional picture transfer and the great feedback from my great bridal couples.
I choose my customers
But there is another point that I want to exaggerate here. Suppose I let the location or whoever mediate me in an all-inclusive package. I see the bride and groom for the first time 10 minutes before the wedding and after 2 minutes I know the bride is a bitch. Or I notice that the bridegroom doesn’t like me. Then it can be played over for a certain time, but not 12 hours. Then at the end of the day I have a different result. Photos of a groom who doesn’t feel like it. Photos of a bride who just looks annoyed. In the end it falls back on me because I get paid for the photos and have to deliver.
Whether the build is a bitch or not. In the end it is said that the photographer was a mistake. I will never experience that because I choose my couples. Because I want to be able to provide my bridal couple with the most beautiful wedding photos, the most wonderful memories that I can make for them. That is my goal!
In business photography I portray managing directors and employees. I take photos of people in conversation situations and while working on machines. I depict the business premises in a visually appealing way. Basically, I create almost all of the photos that a company needs in flyers or the image brochure. I also document events.
When photographing people, it is important to me that I can take time for them. There is not Heidi Klum in front of me, who is there at the push of a button because she hasn’t done anything else for years. There are employees in front of me who are not necessarily there voluntarily, but because the boss has ordered it.
How often do I hear from them that they would rather go to the dentist than have me photographed them. Or “You can’t take nice photos of me.”
“Ameisenscheisseeeeeeeee” doesn’t help me any further. I need some time paired with warmth, empathy and appreciation. And when exactly these people see their pictures on the notebook and an “Oh, these are beautiful photos” escapes them. Then I did it again! These are the moments that I love so much in business photography.
Make people feel good and you will get a good picture back
The same applies to situational motifs in conversational situations or at work. I also let a worker at a machine first explain to me what exactly she is doing and am interested in what she is doing. Then I build up the picture and set the light. During this time, the worker is pampered by my make-up artist and can relax a little. That is also part of it. There is someone who makes sure that the “model” looks good.
The agency, the model and the customer can intervene at any time on the notebook if they have suggestions for improvement. And best of all, nobody can come after he wouldn’t like the picture.
But the same applies here: the customer has to suit me. I have my values and that’s what I stand for. I can no longer be bent.
My demands on my work are high. If the customer only needs cheap snapshots, he is not my customer. On the one hand because this type of photography does not meet my requirements. Not fulfilling me and leaving me dissatisfied in the end. On the other hand, these photos will be seen by my next potential customer, who may also ask who took the photos. “Oh, the Bender … no, I’d rather ask someone else.”
If the client thinks that it is enough to drag the employee out of the office after an unpleasant conversation with a dissatisfied customer, to “shoot him” in front of the white wall and to stick them back into the office, then that is not my understanding of appreciation To employees.
They won’t be the pictures I want to take either. That I stand for. Which the customer saw on my homepage, which is why he contacted me and ultimately booked me. These will be different photos.
And who was it in the end? Yes, the photographer was no good, they say. Even though I might need the job right now, I don’t want it because it will come back to me negatively at some point.
I have great customers. Customers who are enthusiastic about me, my way and my photos. Customers who give me great feedback. Sometimes directly from the management, where I find out afterwards from the secretary that she has never seen the boss write such a thank you email himself. Is that cool!