Shameless Self Promotion

For those of us that were raised in the protestant ethic this sounds like something to be ashamed of but as businesspersons it is something that is absolutely necessary. I started to use the term “shameless self promotion” a couple of years ago to describe what I saw in an information packet for a photographic workshop. As the years have gone by I find this easier to identify in the advertising of all types of professions. I read a article a couple of years ago written by Dewitt Jones (Basic Jones, Outdoor  Photographer, June 1996) that said we all have three parts of our creative personality. All three have to be fully developed for us to be successful photographers. They are the Artist, the Judge and the Warrior. The Artist of course is the creative self, the Judge is the self that evaluates our work, and the Warrior is the self that markets and sells our work. If we are to make a living at photography, we must develop the warrior. Shameless self promotion is part of this.

As professional photographers, when we promote our art we are really promoting ourselves. If for example you are photographing seniors, odds are you are marketing packages that are roughly the same as every other senior photographer. What you seem to be marketing are 8 x 10’s, 5 x 7’s and wallets. What you are really marketing is service, your experience and your vision. Service can include speed, retouching, studio sets, the pleasurable experience of having your photograph made and more. Most anything that you provide as service can be copied or even improved upon by other photographers. Consider this; I attended a lecture given at the Pierce County Professional Photographers Association by Scott Bourne. He stated that his policy, and he tells his clients up front, is that he only schedules one wedding per weekend and only one portrait session per day. That way he can give them the personal service that they deserve. If a portrait session takes 15 minutes, great, if it takes all day he has the time to do it right. That, is a great statement of service that most of us would find hard to match.

That leaves us with our experience and vision. These are the things that are unique to us and cannot be reproduced. Marketing these intangibles is what shameless self promotion is all about.

“The feller that don’t advertise may know his business, but nobody else does.” -  Kin Hubbard

A good example of shameless self promotion is the promotional brochure for the Pacific Northwest School 1998. Each workshop had space for information about the instructor and describing what would be covered in each workshop. There was a work shop taught by Bambi Cantrell who is a nationally respected photographer. The space given to this work shop told about Bambi, her style and accomplishments but nothing about the workshop content. Everybody who attended the workshop at Pacific Northwest School did so on the “star power” of Bambi Cantrell. I did not attend this workshop but I did talk to others that did and was told that it was great. The point is that Bambi knows shameless self promotion.

My partner Chelle has a letter of recommendation that states, “If it is humanly possible to walk on water, I would believe that Chelle can do it”. After viewing the web site of Don and Steve Emmerich of Emmerich Photography you will believe it is not just a possibility, it is an undisputable fact that they can walk on water. The use of powerful words and expressions on their web site is stunning. I quote as an example:

"Based on our undisputed record of achievement and our legions of satisfied customers”


“His (Steve Emmerich’s) meticulous attention to technical details makes him a virtuoso of product and photo-art shots. This ability has made him a feared and respected gladiator in state and regional competition.”

These are just two examples of many on just the first page. Next there is a visual comparison of the Leonardo da Vinci’s achievements and the Mona Lisa with Don Emmerich’s achievements and one of his portraits. All of this is on just the first half of the first page! There are eleven pages in all (though some are still under construction at the time of this writing). A person would have to be crazy not to hire Don and Steve to do their photography. You should check out their entire web site, it is great. I got to meet Don and Steve at the International Wall Portrait Conference. They were very knowledgeable and were open with that knowledge, and simply put, very nice people.

Now for something really different… Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP - a law firm. Their web site is truly an exercise in shameless self promotion.

Below is the first paragraph of their “about us” page:

If you want focused legal pressure applied appropriately and unstintingly. Our attorneys are known for seizing the initiative and resolving cases quickly when that is possible and in our clients' interest. However, we are also prepared to go to the mat by trying them. We do not simply handle cases before settling on the courthouse steps. Our business is winning cases--and we do.

The page goes on to tell you about their percentages of won cases, level of service and just about promise that your opponent will be left penniless, broken and possibly in jail. All in a very informative and factual manner. After reading this page you know exactly what to expect of this firm and the results that they are capable of. You know that you are going to win and that they will represent you with the dignity and give you the service that you demand.



Now that you have seen these examples of Shameless Self Promotion keep your eyes open for more, and let me know what you find. Try to use what you have learned from these examples in your own marketing. I know I will.

[ Home ]


Please note that this page is copyright © Eric David Rehn.