Bedside Manner

Often associated with medical professionals I think the term “bedside manner” can also relate to any service industry. What got me thinking about this is recently spending a week in hospital as a support person for a family member during COVID19. Unfortunately there were some issues including postoperative delirium. I observed two different approaches to service. 

Even with the health system is under enormous pressure the level of medical care was always high and consistent. I’ve never been more impressed. The majority were empathetic, always starting by connecting with the patient first, then the clinical side. A few were very clinical with little or no communication with the patient. I’ve seen the same types of service in other professions including photography.

Clinical treatment
Apart from its medical term “clinical” can also mean detachment. Being competent and focussing on the technical details while serving someone comes across as ignoring the person. Concentrating on technique or equipment while someone is being photographed makes them feel less important. Perfect lighting or exposure is of no use if the person is uncomfortable and it will show in the photos.

If I’m having technical issues or need to concentrate on something I include the subject while resolving it. They may or may not be interested but I’m not ignoring them.


Empathetic service
For most of my clients being photographed isn’t a normal experience. Having been photographed several times I’ve had to eat my own dog food. I feel awkward in front of the camera and the photographer always helped me relax before photography began.

Photographers, by and large, are empathetic people. We want to help people and make a difference using our creative abilities. Not every photographer is a so-called “people person”. We jokingly say these types of personalities would do better as a product photographer because the subject doesn’t talk back. Regardless, people skills are still needed to deal with clients, suppliers, employees, etc, to run a small business.

Customer focussed
I’m not sure that you can learn customer service, I believe it’s innate. Over the decades I’ve be trained in techniques to serve customers with most looking at sales and retention. By nature I want to help people. However I could never even come close to and appreciate what I witnessed the incredible work doctors and nurses doing every day.