When it’s going well, a photo session should be a fun, creative, and empowering experience.
But when it’s not, then it’s stressful, unproductive, and a disappointment for everyone involved.
As the photographer, it’s up to you to create an atmosphere that puts the client at ease. You need to let them know upfront what is and what isn’t possible and manage their expectations of what the final product will be.
That’s all down to preparation.
How well you prepare yourself and your client makes all the difference.
So what can you do to give your clients a great experience before the day of the session arrives?
START WITH THE FINAL PRODUCT
Find out what the client intends to do with the photographs, then work backward. Are they going to hang them over the mantelpiece or above the staircase? Will the portraits end up in a printed album or on a website? Once you have that information, you can decide what kind of photographs are best for that environment and work towards making it happen.
PICK THE RIGHT LOCATION
One of the first decisions you need to make together is where the shoot is going to take place. Will it be in a studio or at a location that is important to them? Clients who are not professional models often find it easier and more natural to be on location, in a place that is meaningful to them. Keep in mind the story that you’re trying to tell with these pictures and let that motivate your decision of where it’s all going to happen.
GUIDE YOUR CLIENT AROUND WARDROBE DECISIONS
Good photographers know that clothing shouldn’t distract or overwhelm the photo. Advise your client to select pieces without logos or distracting patterns. Discuss short vs. long sleeves, light vs. dark colors. Talk to them about layers, textures, and other aspects of clothing that can make the images richer and more interesting. Find out what kind of clothes make them feel good and what they don’t enjoy wearing. Help them work with color palettes that accentuate their skin tone.
HAIR & MAKEUP
Just like in the clothing department, you should provide guidance on hair and makeup. Don’t presume that your subjects will show up on the day looking perfect and camera ready. Maybe they think it’s your responsibility to offer a hair and makeup professional. Are you prepared for that? The last thing you want is to rush to make a last-minute plan on the morning of the session.
If the client can afford it, a professional hair and makeup person will add value to the work that you produce and make your life a whole lot easier. You should set up relationships with hair and makeup professionals that you can then offer to the client as part of a complete package deal.
And don’t forget to remind them to have their nails camera ready too!
DELIVER A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE
On the day of the shoot, it’s up to you to create a comfortable, creative working environment that ends up being a memorable experience for the client. Use lighting, humor, and music to show that you’re in control and that this is going to be a fun, rewarding experience for them. Build up their confidence by talking about how good the pictures look so that they look back on the experience with positivity.
Having a good pre-session routine is something that will dramatically set you apart from the rest, leading to better results and happier clients. By taking the time before the shoot to prepare your client, you are not only saving time but laying the groundwork for a wonderful client experience that will leave both you and your client happy and lead to more referrals and work.
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