Benefits / Resources / Articles
October 14, 2021

The Importance of the Customer Experience for Photographers

As a photographer, you’re frequently called to bear witness to milestones in people’s lives. Weddings, graduations, big games, performances: these are important experiences that people like to have recorded for posterity. This means there’s a massive responsibility on the photographer—not only to capture the moment beautifully but also to provide a great customer experience that doesn’t tarnish the memory of the moment.

Providing a great customer experience is the best marketing that you can do. In today’s world where people are moving away from material goods and towards experiences, a photographer can provide a brilliant experience with memories that last a lifetime.   


Understanding the Customer Experience

When your customer walks away at the end of a job, how do they feel about you? Are they happy with the service they received, how they were treated, the value for money they got, and the final product? The answer to those questions is the customer experience – and it’s not just about the product. You may have delivered brilliant work but been unpleasant to work with. Regardless of the work, the customer experience will have been poor.

Experiences are big business in the 21st-century economy, and as a photographer, you’re positioned to deliver a powerful experience. It’s all about the moment and creating memories. Refinery29, a women’s digital media company, has developed 29Rooms, a pop-up event where people can experience a “funhouse of style, culture, and creativity.” Even Airbnb is trying to add value to its accommodation offering by encouraging hosts to set up unique experiences for their visitors.

Financial powerhouse American Express writes in a blog that “building an experience-based business that considers its customers and their needs can lead to deeper engagement. So it's worth taking some time to contemplate the best ways to create a genuine experience that keeps you connected to your customers.”

As a photographer, keep in mind three things that you need to make a client happy – good people, a good experience, and a good product.

Tips for Improving the Experience You Provide to Customers

  • Help Customers Understand Your Systems: People often don’t understand all the steps in a process or why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s in your interest to be transparent about all the steps required to do a job and to involve the clients every step of the way. This is the moment for you to really set their expectations so they know what to expect.  
  • Guide and Advice Your Clients: Help your clients with wardrobe choices, makeup, and other tips to prepare for the session. You can meet with them for an in-person consultation, or provide them with useful guides with tips and images. Preparing your clients for their session will go a long way towards making it successful.
  • Ensure Your Delivery Matches Your Product: The way you deliver your work is so important to the customer experience. Think carefully about your packaging if you’re delivering a physical product, and about the user experience if your delivery is digital. Put yourself in the shoes of an expectant client. The way they receive your work contributes so much to how they will feel about it, and the long-term impression they retain about you.
  • Deliver a Booking Gift: Surprise and delight your new clients with a welcome or booking gift. You can send them flowers, a box of chocolates, or a little toy for their kid. Just a simple something to let them know you care and appreciate their business.
  • Send a Handwritten Note: In this world of emails and texts, a handwritten note is definitely going to stand out and surprise. Show them some personalized love!
  • Add a Little Something Extra: Who doesn’t love the feeling of being taken care of? Think of things you can do for your customers that make them feel special. Have some drinks and snacks available for the session, your client’s favorite music playing in the background, changing supplies for babies. Or maybe even throw in a small social media file for them to brag about their session with family and friends.

Get these simple but effective aspects right, and you’ll see outstanding referrals piling up and a long list of clients who want to work with you. For tips on succeeding as a photographer, Check out this very useful video from PPA CEO David Trust.

Remember that, for most people, a photoshoot is something out of the ordinary. Most clients have needs that are more emotional than logical. They may be buying your time and buying your photographs, but what they really want is a good feeling and some great memories that they can come back to over and over again. They get to be glamorous and the center of attention for a brief moment. Make it fun and do whatever you can to make your client feel like the most important person in the world. That’s what a great customer experience is all about.

Your Job is Making Memories

What is the power of a great photograph? It captures the moment, and it tells a story that can last through the ages and be passed down through generations. That kind of emotional honesty can’t be faked or photoshopped.

In order to capture those special moments, you need to create a pleasant, creative and productive environment that allows your subjects to really be themselves and open up to the camera. Work at making it something fun and unusual. Bring along some music, maybe some snacks...perhaps learn a few ice-breaker games...whatever you can to make the day special. That’s when great memories are born, and that’s what leads to a brilliant customer experience and a timeless photograph.