On the other side of empathy is trust

If empathy is on one side of the coin trust is on the other. 

In my last post I talked about the importance of having empathy as a photographer and also mentioned that I was getting my own portrait updated. So if the photographer needs empathy what does the subject need? A little empathy for what the photographer is trying to do is appreciated but more than anything – TRUST.

I have heard it said that doctors make lousy patients. Photographers also make lousy subjects. It’s frustrating to set out to do something only to have someone else tell you exactly how to do it. Would you think to tell a surgeon how to do an operation or a lawyer how to write the letter you needed. You trust them to use their expertise to do their best work for you. 

I showed my friend Rob some samples of portraits that I liked. We talked about the lighting and the way the photographer had created an image that looked more like a painting than a photograph. We discussed the mood and the feeling that I was looking for in the image.  I knew that I then had to back off. Rob has his own style of lighting and he is a master of posing. I had to shut up and trust him.

I should have known better.

I was a typical client; even though I should have known better.

I offered to show Rob the three outfits I had brought. There was a black shirt, a dark grey shirt, a black sweater to go with both, and a blue checked shirt. I knew when I picked up the blue checked shirt that it was wrong, but I like that shirt. My wife says I look good when I wear that shirt with my jeans. As soon as I took it out of the bag Rob chuckled and said “Didn’t we do a clothing consultation?” It went back in the bag.

On this matter I had thought with my heart and not my head. I wouldn’t have been happy if a client had shown up with a shirt like that and I knew better, but I let my emotions get the better of me and now I had to trust Rob to do the right thing.

I had chosen Rob to create my portrait for a reason.

There is a time for questions.

There is a time for questions. That’s in the investigative process when you are trying to determine which expert to hire.

Sometimes you have a choice, sometimes you don’t. When you have a medical emergency and you have been referred to a surgeon you don’t always have an opportunity to compare their credentials or success rates with other surgeons. But, often there is time to check the work and reputation of someone you’re thinking of hiring. If you have hired someone because they had the lowest price then yes, you probably have reason to be worried. On the other hand, assuming you have done your homework and believe the person you have chosen is the best for the job and that they have your best interest at heart then it’s time to trust them and let them do their job.

I know one photographer who had a very strict policy that he only did outdoor portraits from one half hour before sunrise until two and a half hours after sunrise and again from two and a half hours before sunset until an hour after sunset.  If you didn’t want to do the portraits then – well then you needed a different photographer. “That’s when the light is best and that’s when I’m going to get the results I’m willing to put my name on.”

Remind yourself why you hired this person.

Remind yourself why you hired this person and then trust your judgment and let them use their expertise to WOW you with their expertise.

After my recent portrait session with Rob I had several images to select from but narrowed it down to these four. They are all a little different and they all make a slightly different statement about me. I trusted my decision to get Rob to do my portrait and I wasn’t disappointed.

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