President’s Message: Make 2024 an Even Better Year

©Kira Derryberry

Now that the holidays have come to a close, it’s time get back to work. Let’s make this year even better than the last. What can you do to keep clients coming back while also generating referrals? Become their hero. With no shortage of photographers out there, you have to stand out and give them a reason to see you.

Plenty of clients come to my studio with a worry on their mind. Maybe they have work that’s piling up while they’re here or they think their kids won’t behave. Whatever your client’s worry, it’s your job to understand it and alleviate it. You have to become the person they need in that moment to be at ease.

Identifying the elephant in the room is a great way to do this. Your client walks in the door and says, “I hate having my picture taken.” Counter it with, “I get it! I’m like the dentist, right? You don’t want to be here, but you know you need to? I’ll make it quick.” Be lighthearted while validating their concern, and they’ll relax and let you do your job quickly and efficiently.

Sometimes this happens at the end of the shoot. If you see client feeling uneasy toward the end of the session, assure them that you got some amazing images you can’t wait to show them. It’s fun to see their faces when they see the gorgeous shots you got of their children when all they could see in that moment were unruly kids.

Clients like to be told what to buy and can easily get overwhelmed by too many options. Understand why they need these photos and show them products that will serve them best.

Kira Derryberry

Another technique is to reassure them with positive reinforcement. I like to see how a client moves in front of my camera for a moment before I start posing them. That helps guide me on their ability to follow directions for posing. But many times, I’ll try to pose a client, and they can’t get there with me. When something isn’t working, I’m careful not to tell them that. I simply take the photo and move on to something more accessible to them. If you tell them something isn’t working, they may think they aren’t doing well and their confidence rolls right downhill. Point out all the good they’re doing, and you’ll see their esteem build up, which leads to authentic expressions and movements.

While you’re guiding them to look their best, it’s also your job to lead them through the end of the sale. Clients like to be told what to buy and can easily get overwhelmed by too many options. Understand why they need these photos and show them products that will serve them best. My clients come back to see me again and again because they know I’ll let them leave only with what they need. If I’ve been a good listener from the beginning, I can anticipate poses and products that will solve their problems. Making sure they have exactly what they need—and maybe a few things they didn’t realize they needed—will gain their trust and respect and avoid buyer’s remorse.

As we embark on a new year filled with endless possibilities and opportunities, remember the magic that happens when you become the hero your clients need. Be a chameleon, effortlessly adapting to their energy and concerns. Identify their unspoken worries and dissolve them with a touch of lighthearted reassurance. Offer positive reinforcement generously, building not just photographs but genuine connections.

Guide your clients through the process, not only in posing but in choosing the images that will become cherished memories. It’s not about pushing for more, but about understanding what they need. As we navigate through the intricate dance of client relationships, let’s be the trusted advisors who turn moments into timeless treasures.

Kira Derryberry is a studio owner and portrait and headshot photographer in Tallahassee, Florida.