John Solano; First Impressions

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It starts with the website, which is a key element in wedding photographer John Solano's business. John's goal is to be pre-sold before the client even meets him. "The ideal is that I don't have to show them a picture," John says. "I do that, of course, but the work kind of sells itself, and if they've seen it already, the selling is pretty much done before they walk in. I don't ever really try to close a client when I'm meeting with them. I always feel that if it's meant to be, it's meant to be."

Photos © 2005, John Solano, All Rights Reserved

John doesn't force the issue because, frankly, he doesn't have to. Based in Beverly Hills, his photography appeals to upscale clients who appreciate his style and artistry. "I'm booking maybe eight out of 10 appointments," he says, "and the two that I lose tend to be a financial thing--maybe I'm priced out of their budget." Basically he books about as many jobs as he can comfortably handle. "We did 130 events last year," John says. "Seventy percent were weddings, 30 percent bar mitzvahs."

Clients learn about John's website through those old standbys--recommendation and word-of-mouth. "I'd say that at this point in my life I'm completely referral based," John says. As business savvy as he is imaging skilled, John adds, "Build your reputation on people walking away happy, and it all comes back to you."

As it turns out, in many cases it isn't the client coming in the door. "I'm often booked by coordinators, and I don't even meet the clients until the day of the event." Which is no problem for John. "I guess I'm really just very loose about the whole thing," he says.

Weddings are a lot like sporting events--both are about anticipation and reaction.

Easygoing, with confidence to burn, John approaches the wedding as if it were a sporting event. "They're both about anticipation...and reaction," he says.

"If someone gives a toast, there will be a reaction. If someone tells a joke, I'm looking for where the laughter is going to come from." For most of the day he doesn't even have to think about interfering with the event or trying to direct people. When he has to direct, casual is the order of the day. "If a situation isn't working, I'll say, `Let's move, let's go over here.' My whole thing is to be unobtrusive, to really not be seen," he says. "The biggest compliment I can get is someone saying, `I didn't even know you were there.'"

John Solano is a NikonNet "Legends Behind the Lens" featured photographer. The current "Legends" story and an archive of profiled photographers, including John, can be found at www.nikonnet.com. John's website is www.imagemakr.com.

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