Buy Local / Shoot Local

While my primary business is Graphic Design (and education) I have had the opportunity to supplement my freelance income with photography.

A friend of a friend wants me to photograph a wedding, take headshots or simply photograph their family. Of course one of the first questions was, “How can I reduce my impact on the environment?” The question that followed that was, “How can I save myself some money while doing it?”

For me, the question can be answered by the bumper stickers pleading for us to “Buy Local.” The idea behind this concept is that we need to utilize the world down the road from us. This keeps our local industry strong and helps reduce environmental impact by transporting goods unbelievable distance. I knew somehow, in this idea of reducing travel I could not only reduce my environmental impact but it could also save money.

My bread and butter comes from taking environmental shots; that is, my clients are photographed outside. Being near Boston I have access to some pretty iconic locations. However, I found both my clients and myself driving an hour out of our way to take these photographs. I decided this would be where I would find savings both in my time and my costs.

Within a five-minute walk of my business I was able to find fields, stonewalls, bridges, beautiful natural landscapes. Within a ten-minute drive I found an arboretum, playgrounds, old libraries, orchards and museums. This use of local splendors was becoming more attractive as opposed to the hour commute into Boston.

So how did I accomplish this transition with my clients? For some clients, it was simple as their personalities endeared themselves to these local landscapes. For others it takes a bit of convincing. For these clients I will explain to them what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m extremely transparent when it comes to my motive. I simply say, “By doing this, we can both save time and save money on travel costs. In turn, these can help the environment.” Almost every time, they nod and even thank me for saving them some time.

However, I do have clients who aren’t easily convinced. For them, I keep a small book of photographs that show the various photo possibilities of these locations. I find that showing is often better than telling. They want to be swayed by something beautiful, not by financials or even the environment. I’ll even scope out new places and take scenic photographs and tell them, “This is one I’m excited to photograph but as of now nobody has had a shoot there.” Allowing them to feel unique and being the first to have them done adds to making them special.

When dealing with clients, I always recommend being up front with them. Explain why you are doing what you are doing. Explain how you’re attempting to do something positive for the environment. They will either be on board or not. I still have clients who want to travel great distances. But for every client who makes me travel, I have one who is content and mesmerized by the local beauty. I feel this is a step (even if a small one) towards being environmentally responsible.

How are you “shooting” local, no matter what services you offer?