©Bethany Ellen

Up the Ante

When you have tunnel vision and stick too tight to a particular plan, you squander the chance to grow as an artist and a businessperson, says Bethany Ellen, CPP. “I can’t tell you how many times I go in with the plan for the big, dramatic shot that will look great on the client’s wall but then walk away to the IPS [in-person sales] appointment realizing I have 40 shots of the same thing—meaning, I lose the album sale.”

Instead, the Cincinnati, Ohio, portrait photographer recommends keeping in mind the ways you can upgrade your client’s experience. As she’s working her client through portrait poses, Ellen reminds herself to take a moment with each pose to see if she can add another perspective she’s never tried before. She might photograph the pose from behind an object such as a plant to frame the subject in an interesting composition. Or she might shoot from a high or low angle or add another light to create a different mood.

Another tactic Ellen uses is selling upgrades to clients pre-session. Brides are offered engagement, bridal, and boudoir sessions (including underwater); maternity clients are tempted with a discounted newborn session, extra gowns for a styling fee, upgraded locations that require permits, and hair and makeup.

“This adds to the client’s perception of service and value offered,” she says. “Combining that with creative imagery outside of the typical box of poses we see on Pinterest adds to the client’s excitement and gets them way more hyped to be working with our studio.”  

Amanda Arnold is a senior editor.