Benefits / Resources / Articles
January 27, 2020

The Most Important Part of a Photography Session Should Happen Before the Session

In photography, as in most of life, preparation is everything. By putting in the work before your shoot begins, you can create a comfortable working relationship with the subject. This will help you avoid unexpected hiccups, and will ultimately help you create better work.

A pre-session consultation sets everything in motion.

Whether in person, through a questionnaire or on the phone, a pre-session consultation should be non-negotiable in the days leading up to a shoot. The idea of the pre-session consultation is to design the session together with your client, understand their goals and vision for the session and the final work you will deliver.

Why Is A Plan So Important?

As a photographer, it’s critical to understand your client’s goals and vision . Why are they doing a photography session? What are they hoping to achieve? The worst-case scenario is that you find yourself changing everything, improvising, and trying to make a new plan as the session unfolds. Actually, that’s not true—the real worst-case scenario is delivering work that is not what they were looking for, and that may even force you into a complete reshoot.

Planning is everything.

Pre-session consultations help you get on the same page as your client. Seasoned professionals from WHCC explain how ‘the point of a consultation is to gain an understanding of your client’s needs and desires. Keep the conversation focused on them and be ready to answer their questions. Educate them about your process and products, assuring them they chose the right person for the job!’

It is important for you because this is where you lay the ground for how things will work, the different steps, etc. And it is important for the client because they know what to expect and can start getting excited about the session and feel comfortable.

What Questions Should You Ask During The Pre-Session Consultation?

You can approach it in any number of ways, but ultimately you want to know:

  • What they like
  • What they really don’t like
  • What they expect from a photoshoot
  • Why they chose you in particular for the job
  • What they are planning to do with the photos

Answering these five simple questions will give you a real sense of how you should proceed.

“Any time you have a client paying you for a certain type of photography, it is essential to get all of the details laid out before any real planning or photography happens,” explains

5 Reasons for A Pre-Session Consultation

  • It will make the shoot go much quicker.
  • Everyone will be happier with the results.
  • It opens the channels of communication.
  • It can lead to some unexpected, stunning results.
  • It potentially sets you up to make more money.

This is also the time for you to start pre-selling. You do not want the client to come to the ordering appointment and be on a different page, or clueless. So during the pre-session consultation, you can show them the different products you have available, explain to them why they are important, how they can be displayed in their home, and share some price range options.

That way you start planting that seed for when it’s time to purchase their final products and prints..

The Particular Case of ‘The Family’

Consultation is always important, but it’s especially vital when family photos are involved—such as weddings, christenings, or graduation photographs. We all have families, so we know how tricky family dynamics can be.

Try your best to get a handle on the family dynamic—figure out who’s the shy one, who’s the joker, learn the names of everyone involved before the shoot begins, and try not to stir up any dormant rivalries. Not an easy brief, right? Family photography is tricky and requires great people skills from your side.

How Should You Do It?

In a perfect world, you’d meet with the client on location, walk around looking at the space, the light, and various angles, and agree on how to approach the shoot. But that’s not always possible. If not, you should sit down for a conversation, learn all about the subjects, why they chose you to do the shoot, and what they’re expecting out of it.

If neither of those is possible, try to at least have a video or phone call where you can get to know each other and make sure that you are on the same page.

Make sure that you have a notepad to jot things down, bring along some relevant examples of your work, and be prepared to ask and answer questions that help both parties get to know each other a little better.

One last thing; try to make the session fun for everyone. Find out what music they like and make sure you have it loaded and ready to play. Bring some fun props and wacky costumes to break the ice and create a vibe. Do whatever you can to put everyone at ease and achieve results.

It stands to reason that the better prepared you are for a scenario, the better it is likely to go. This is particularly true when working in a medium like photography where confidence and a clear understanding of the end goal are so important in getting the best results.


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