The time devoted to your clients before a photo session is a critical step, but one all too often overlooked. Successful photo shoots begin with adequate preparation—not only for your clients’ benefits but also your own. Preparation is important for building a relationship with clients, understanding your clients’ needs, efficiency, and challenging your artistic talents.
Here are three easy steps all photographers should implement to help prepare their clients for a shoot:
1 // SEND A SHORT QUESTIONAIRE
Taking even just a few minutes to send your clients a short questionnaire is a great way to quickly learn a lot about their photography needs. It is also the perfect way to make contact to show them you care about their experience with you.
The questionnaire is not the place to ask your clients a ton of open-ended questions however—save that for the consultation (see below). Instead, use a questionnaire to get all the logistical stuff out of the way. Gather details about your clients’ personal information, who you can expect at the shoot, the reason for the session (is it a special occasion or just because), and who you can thank for the referral. You can also ask your clients if they have a preferred date, time, location, or type of session if you offer multiple.
2 // HOST A CONSULTATION CALL
One of the best things you can do is build rapport with your clients before a photo session even begins. Establishing a relationship will ease tensions and create a relaxing atmosphere for all parties involved. Offer your clients some insight into who you are, what they can expect, and take time to understand exactly what they are hoping to get out of the session.
A short consultation call is the perfect time to ask some open-ended questions that will give you all the insight you need to design a unique shoot. Challenge yourself to think outside the box and incorporate creative elements specific to each clients’ needs.
Here are a few examples of what you might ask during a consultation call:
How would you describe your relationship/family dynamics/personality?
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
What motivates you or inspires you?
Describe your fashion style.
Where do you most love spending your time?
Can you tell me about your brand? Branding colors?
The list is endless, but you get the point. Tailor your questions to the type of clients you serve. You can write things out ahead of time so you do not forget what you want to cover during your call, but make sure that the consultation feels like a conversation not an interrogation.
3 // OFFER GUIDES
Clients tend to repeatedly ask the same questions, which is why it can be incredibly helpful to create either an online PDF or printed guide of frequently asked questions for them. Provide information to questions you know clients will ask, but also include any additional tips that will help make the session run more smoothly. Clients do not know, what they do not know.
This is your opportunity to use experience and expertise to educate your clients. You will cover some of these details during the consultation call; however, a guide is a great resource to leave with clients for a hard copy reference. A guide will cut down on the back-and-forth emails or texts later.
What you include in your guide will again depend on the type of work you do, but here is a short list of some items to get help inspire some ideas:
Hair and Makeup Advice
Props to Bring
Ideas for Choosing a Location
Ideal Time of Day for Sessions
How to Prepare Kids for a Shoot
Suggestions to Prepare an Indoor Space for a Shoot
Early preparation helps clients ultimately have a better experience with you by leaving no questions unanswered and providing important information to help them feel confident in front of the camera. A bit of effort up front can save you lots of time and headaches down the road. Give these three easy steps a try and let us know how it impacts your workflow—leave us a note in the comments below. We love to hear from you!
—Written for Ilona Jade by Mandi Ann