by Gary Rabenko


There is measured enthusiasm and the measuring of enthusiasm. How does one measure enthusiasm? Is there good and bad enthusiasm?

I am usually very enthusiastic, loving what I do for clients and most appreciative of their enthusiasm for what I have done. Enthusiasm is good because it spurs adrenaline and grows creativity. When I am photographing people, it’s as if I am on stage, using personality to help me get the magic that my clients will value in their photographs. Being enthusiastic does not mean losing objectivity or overlooking potential problems. As an artist I can be optimistic, but as a technician there is no room for optimism.

While I enthusiastically get joy considering possibilities, I temper many with a consideration of Murphy’s Law, which really helps to avoid undesired consequences. Though I can be brimming with enthusiasm, sometimes I rationalize that a more measured approach might be a better road to thrilling the client by meeting the client’s enthusiasm with caring, concern, and competence. For visitors who appreciate that reserved manner, my decision not to go into a burst of omni-directional creativity will be a comfort. For others who are shopping for a mirror of their in the moment enthusiasm, is it possible I might come across as less than eager. I hope not.

Clients vary on how they view photography. For many, the photographer is booked only after the venue, often after the music, and sometimes after the florist.

People come to me because to them photography and video are important. They call me first, even ahead of a venue, because they understand full well how while everything else is enjoyed for one day, my work will continue to be a meaningful pleasure, way into the future. They say that the photography and video are the tangibles that will last.

As the months pass before their event, it is nice when clients keep in touch and share their plans and progress with me. I enjoy hearing how they have made their other decisions and what large and small details they are considering. Sometimes that can help me know of something that will be important to them on their big day, and it tells me about how they see and value things as well and helps me be prepared for anything special that they are building or presenting.

Often, I will hear how they switched vendors, not signing one they first planned on. One reason they might decide to go in a different direction might be that they did not feel they were reading the same level of enthusiasm reflected from the vendor that they themselves were feeling. I have lost projects because in the moments I might have been attentively listening, and making notes, a prospect interpreted me as being less than over-the-top enthusiastic, or that I was too analytical. Other times I am certain my overflowing enthusiasm was misread as either over eagerness, mere salesmanship, or a lack of depth in appreciating the prospect’s plans.

What does enthusiasm say? Could it lack substance, or be just a mask? Is genuine enthusiasm always obvious? And of course, sometimes a client will rationalize getting a discount because I am so excited by their project. Should I suffer for the very enthusiasm other clients would value? For me it all comes down to taking more time to communicate, share, and explore, which is not easy to do, especially when time can be so limited.

Some feel that someone with a new business might be more enthusiastic because he has fewer customers. There are established entities that might have lost their purpose. But being new in business is not a reason that anything would be better. And most customers do value experience and the skill that accrues from that experience. Genuine enthusiasm is real interest. And with that also develops ability to appreciate the intricacies of a project and its potential — not just for success, but also the pitfalls it can present and what to be prepared for. Preparation can mean more work, time, crew, gear, materials, etc. That all can cost more than the prospect wishes.

Early enthusiasm will not make up for under delivering later. The cynical shopper might discount enthusiasm as being eagerness or desperation to book the job. I know many vendors are most enthusiastic up until they have the signed contract. After that it becomes wholly a secondary consideration. How sad!

I love personality and passion and for me it’s all about emotion. That is what I work to bring across in my photos. How wonderful when a visitor is bubbly, upbeat, exuberant, excited, and enthusiastic. It can be contagious in a good way. Enthusiasm can ebb and flow during a project, during preparation and even in the big day. The most emotional people are sensitive and always changing. I think the right vendor can help leveling out the little bumps and encouraging the big wins. Some shop more cautiously, carefully, and have more controlled exuberance. Pure enthusiasm on the part of a vendor might be off-putting to them. Enthusiasm can sometimes be based on ignorance of what the client really is imagining and referring to, just as the lack of enthusiasm might come across as a lacking in creative ideas. Clients can develop enthusiasm for a process, product, and vendor as they see things take shape. Sometimes the best results and those most appreciated can in fact be 180 degrees from the direction the client first planned to go.

There can be enthusiasm for the big project, while experience and judgement may lead a vendor to less enthusiasm for certain ideas. That could be sound advice.

You may shop after a long workday or between other commitments. You have limited time and want the facts — just the facts. To that more analytic mindset the face of an enthusiastic vendor is not always read as a positive thing. Maybe you want a person who listens well and is not so quick to jump with excitement.

Evaluating someone on something as nebulous as a perceived enthusiasm at times might be misreading a vendor who does care, is conscientious, and will go above and beyond what is expected when the time comes. It is wrong to compare one’s fourth visit to a vendor with your first visit to a new one. Your new vendor has not had three visits to start doubting if you are serious. And you too have evolved in your presentation and view of your project from having benefited from your first vendor’s feedback.

Discussion of a future project, while important, should never be as important as the project the vendor is about to do, or is in the middle of preparing for. That current, active project really should be getting the vendor’s attention, which should be viewed as a positive, not a negative factor.

I ask a lot of questions so I can paint an internal mental picture of the whole project. It is not something I already have done, as many as I have photographed over decades. Each project is different. Each client has their own way of seeing and responding to things. Once we have a contract and I know we are working together then I can be fully enthusiastic and then you certainly will know I am 100 percent committed to making the most of every moment… for you!

Rabenko Photography & Video Arts is located at 1053 Broadway in Woodmere. To learn more, contact, 1-888-RABENKO, 888-722-3656, or visit


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