Stay The Course; Find Your Own Style...And Clients For Your Style Will Come To You
With such a strong balance of business and photographic skills, Bill Bachmann is the successful author of five books, his two newest books being Images of Woman and Send Me Anywhere. He is also a best-selling stock photographer.
Bachmann was destined from childhood to be a photographer; his mother was
a photographer and writer and gave him a Brownie camera at age 4. An early lesson
that served him well later in life, she encouraged him to photograph his friends
and to make mistakes. No matter what turned out, his trying--and even sometimes
failing--was the first big truth he learned to "stay the course."
He feels strongly that his education in business has really made a difference in his career. Bachmann majored in mathematics (as a back-up career, he claims!). He minored in photography, studying at the Rochester Institute of Technology, then went to England to graduate school and started shooting in Europe. By the time he returned to the US he had many magazine assignments--including covers--in his portfolio. To further his business skills, he went back to school for a Masters in Business Administration, which has helped his business tremendously.
On a special assignment for Kodak, Bachmann traveled more than eight times
around the world over a two-year period to photograph the world's monuments
in his own personal style. His website, www.billbachmann.com,
shows much of this work, and highlights the importance of setting yourself apart
from your competition.
His proposition to his clients is "hire me and I will handle everything needed to get the image you need." The proposition itself is not unique, of course, but what sets Bachmann apart is that he works in fields of photography where "getting the shot" is a risky business, at best. Need a close-up of the penguins at the Antarctic Circle? No problem. Can't get access to the Pyramids of Giza at the right angle? Bachmann can. Ever wonder how close a polar bear will come up to your tour bus? Got that shot. Need a portrait of a Papua New Guinea warrior? Done. This proposition is strong enough to pull new customers to Bachmann's work. He can be sent anywhere by any client and come back with the shot.
Bachmann has strong feelings about finding what you love to do, sticking to it and not copying someone else's style--to adapt, not adopt. In his books and workshops, he advises photographers that when you find your own style and--if you are really good at it and own it--the clients for your style will come to you. He does not disavow the importance of marketing, however, and in fact excels at it. But his first truth is to "stay the course" when you have found your passion.
Shutterbug: You emphasize the importance of setting yourself
apart from your competition. How do you do that in your business?
Bill Bachmann: I set myself apart in several ways. I shoot mainly lifestyle and travel accounts. I feel that art directors and clients know what they are getting when they hire me...someone who can produce under the best and worst conditions.
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