Photography Consultant- Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua

Photography Consultation Demo, Part 4 of 6.
See the other parts here: (1), (2) and (3).

I wanted to ask Leslie (Her website here) a few questions in advance of the consultation demo because, to be honest, I know nothing about her profession. This whole project came about on a whim. I was quizzing Leslie to see how she goes about consulting with photographers because I get asked to do it once and awhile and I thought, why not let the readers in on this conversation and luckily she agreed.

Why did you decide to become a photography consultant?

Cause Wal*Mart said my teeth were too good. <giggle>

Seriously, when I was repping I got lots of questions and as the
forums came into being, I got even more. I realized just how many
photographers were in need of good info and help, so I started
consulting. It quickly became clear that I had to make a choice
between repping and consulting, because there was the potential for
conflict-of-interest as I get intimate knowledge about my clients’
businesses which I could use against them if one of my photographers
was up for a project against them. I chose consulting because I could
help more people. It was a cut in pay, at first, but the satisfaction
of helping so many others made up for it.

Are there any myths about the profession you would like to expel?

The consultant profession? Well, I’d have to say the biggest one is
that any of us can fix your (any particular photographer’s) business.
We can’t do a damn thing beyond offering our best advice–it’s up to
the photographer to act on the information s/he gets. If the
photographer doesn’t work the plan I make for him (her), if s/he sits
on it and never makes the changes needed, nothing will happen.

What can photographers expect to get out of a consultation?

Continuing on the previous answer…whatever he or she is willing to
put into it. For me, each client is different and each project is
different so the expectations and deliverables vary greatly. I think
that generally speaking, a photographer should get a better idea of
her/his goals, where s/he is in relation to them, and concrete steps
to help get them closer to those goals.

What kinds of changes have you seen in your profession as a result of the digital revolution?

To answer that would take a book! :-)

Short answer is that when I started in the creative industries,
clients hardly had email and websites were things a few geeks had.
The portfolio was the most important marketing tool for a
photographer and it cost so much to make because of the prints, with
postcard mailers (and other print mailers) de rigeur and sourcebook
ads pretty much necessary. Now the site is the most important tool,
portfolios are much less expensive and printed on (good) Epson
printers, print promos have changed with email ones becoming as
ubiquitous, and print sourcebooks aren’t used much at all anymore
(though their web “versions” are).

All this, combined with the technology enabling pretty much anyone
the ability to make a decent image, means that low-end photography is
now off-shored like any commodity and the projects remaining are now
going to the right photographer, rather than just some “good enough”
guy with the technical know-how to use a good camera.

The good side of this is that talented, creative photographers can
live anywhere and get projects with clients across the globe; that
is, they don’t have to be a “just” a local guy with limited success
or move to NYC for any chance at significant success.

Please note that I said “talented, creative photographers.” That’s
important.

There Are 6 Comments On This Article.

  1. la.photo.assistant.

    bravo for bringing this out onto the web. I’ve always been curious about consultants and have heard of Leslie and seen her around the different forums – PDN, APA and so forth. Great to get a little back history !

    Also I applaud this unique turn of “reality show”/audience voted consultant-thing-a-ma-jig – it is a chance to listen in and see how this consulanting thing works. I’m damn curious to see how this turns out !

    cheers !

    e

  2. Ambrose Pierce

    “Eliot wrote:

    Admirable ambitions, but her own website is a disaster.
    Posted 01 Feb 2008 at 1:48 pm”

    Agreed. Why is it that most photography consultants either have lackluster websites, or none at all.

    10-15% is being bandied about these days in photography circles as the percentage of income a photographer should devote to marketing efforts, which among many things includes spending money on a website that is nothing less than stellar.

    Should that same % apply to the photographer consultant business, it doesn’t say much for their industry or their professional success given the quality of their websites.

    The irony is that a consultant will devote much of their time to how your work is presented through your website, so if they have a crappy website, what does that say. I’ve interviewed consultants in the past as to why they don’t have a website, and they’re usually avoidant, saying that they have something in the works.

    -Ambrose