You can have the best backdrop in the world but if your clients are uncomfortable during their session, it will show through in the images.
One of the key components to achieving beautiful photos is to ensure your subjects are relaxed and confident in your services, which can happen as early as their first communication with you.
Here are a few tips on how to make your shoot run smoothly from start to finish!
When They Inquire
When your client inquires and you send through your price sheet, make sure what you’re sending through is worth a read.
What I mean is, do you list your prices in the body of an e-mail or are you sending through a 10 page pdf with your best work, a bit about your business, and detailed explanations of what your client can expect with the package they choose?
Don’t just assume your potential client has perused your website; instead, include helpful information in your price sheet.
There are some great tools out there to help you do just that too; try a template such as Colorvale’s What to Expect Guide to give your clients the information they need to make an informed decision.
Putting extra effort into that initial document will instantly up the perceived value of the service you provide, and give the client confidence that they are investing in a professional.
After They Book
We use a special client website that is password-protected so when clients book, we give them the password to look around some cool areas of the website to help them prepare for the shoot.
This includes potential locations to shoot, examples of shots taken in these areas, and the difference between photos taken in the early morning and the late afternoon.
However, as your clients are looking through some of your best work, make sure you always maintain transparency - if you had an awesome sunset at a shoot you showcase in your portfolio and they want one just like it, let them know they are still going to get awesome photos but that sunset was super special; don’t let them think it’s a given for the sky to light up like that at every session.
Manage expectations, give the client information, answer questions promptly and let them feel confident they’re in safe hands well before the session begins!
A Few Days Prior to Your Session
Life can get hectic, so make sure to send your clients a session reminder and checklist a few days before your shoot. Make sure to communicate and include things like a meeting location (maybe with a pin drop from Google Maps), time, rain location, etc.
Don't just show up and expect them to be there! Maintain frequent communication between their first inquiry and shoot date, and let them know you value their business and want everything to run smoothly.
Also include reminders in your e-mail they might not otherwise consider. For instance, most of our shoots end in the water so we remind clients to bring a towel, spare change of clothes if they’re grabbing dinner afterwards, and depending on the beach we’re shooting at we’ll let them know if there are showers and toilets nearby.
Greeting Your Client
Hopefully you're running at 100%, but if you're having a bad day you sorta have to suck it up when it's time to shoot.
The first contact you have with the client will set the stage for your entire session. When your client arrives, greet them with a smile! If there are small kids in the group, get down to their level and introduce yourself and make sure they know they are going to have a GREAT time.
Connecting with little ones early on is essential! Don’t worry if they’re shy at first, and if they’re a bit grumpy let the mom and dad know it doesn’t worry you.
Patience is key - we’ve had a lot of parents apologize because their kids haven’t been in the best mood but it seriously doesn’t matter and usually the parents are more stressed than anyone else! Make sure they know you've got patience for days - and then, of course, you need to actually have it ;)
Provide Constant Direction
Want to remind your client why they hired a professional? Provide direction! Most families and couples we work with say they want candid shots, but those candid shots are a no-go if the client is nervous.
Even when they think they don't want it, direction is key. You need to provide guidance even if just at first, so the client knows they are standing the right way.
Very few people can launch into a portrait with complete confidence in how they are standing and it’s your job to have the posing flow smoothly so you give the clients confidence they are being photographed in the best way. Once they're in the best spot, make 'em laugh!
Be sure to gauge the client’s comfort level. If they’re a bit nervous, have them go for a walk around together or play with the kids, and tell them you’re just going to set up your camera… they’ll probably loosen up and you can get some sly ones when they’re not watching.
Create games for the kids and if they're the right age, have them help you take a few shots so you can get some of mom and dad alone!
After The Session
Send an e-mail to your client right after the session to thank them, and also let them know the next steps and when they can expect their images. With your timeline, try to under-promise and over-deliver! It’s better to receive your images after two weeks when you promise them in three, than it is to receive an e-mail from your client after three weeks asking when they can expect their photos.
Always stay one step ahead and provide value to the already stellar services you offer, and you're sure to see repeat business before long. Hopefully you can use some of these tips to better your customer service and ultimately build upon a client base that puts trust in to you and your business, therefore referring your brilliant services to their friends!