It wasn’t all too long ago when I was prepping for my first photo session with another photographer.
Weeks of planning outfits, looking at the perfect date, watching the weather like a crazy woman, and making sure we picked the right time of day for my little one to be in his best mood was less than a walk in the park. I quickly realized that planning the perfect photo session was A LOT of work! And it was something that I didn’t always think about as a photographer myself – planning the perfect session is a big deal!
Being a photographer for nearly a decade, I forgot just how stressful planning a photo session can be when you’re the client.
Think about it.
Your clients are paying you money (hopefully a very competitive wage), so the first thing on their mind is going to be how much they are risking their hard-earned dollars on you.
That’s a lot of pressure if you really put yourself into your client’s shoes. And if you put yourself in your client’s shoes more often, you’ll be able to serve them better.
All the pressure aside, there are plenty of ways to prepare your clients for a successful photo session & make you both feel at ease before, during, and after.
Work out the details
Communication is the key when it comes to knowing and trusting an individual, so why make it any different in your business?
Discuss the details of the session from the very beginning and get to know your client’s goals and vision long before you start taking photos of them.
You can also send them a questionnaire, survey, or some sort of paperwork ahead of time to get to know them better and to help fill in the blanks of their personality and what truly makes them tick.
There’s no such thing as being over-prepared with details for a session, so find a way that works for you and see it through with each client!
Meeting in person before your session can be extra beneficial to the success of a session for a few reasons.
One, you get to meet your client ahead of time – no awkward meetings at the session to get to know them right before you start snapping. Meeting before the session is a great way to break the ice and get to know your client’s unique personality so you’ll be able to capture it better.
Another reason this is such a great idea is that if you sell products, this is the perfect chance for your client to see them, touch them, and plan in their mind what they want to invest in after the session.
I personally base sessions off the ideas my clients give me. If they are interested in specific wall pieces, I get to know what groupings they would like done so I can execute that during the session. I also make sure to include a wide variety of detail photos if they are thinking about an album.
If you can swing it, definitely meet before the session – it will yield better results!
Send a welcome guide
Another way to help prep your client before a session is to consolidate all the information you’ve gone over with them and package it up nicely in a way for them to view over ahead of time.
Welcome guides are perfect for this!
After talking with you over the phone, or even meeting in person, your client will be on information overload and may not remember all the details you discussed.
Having a pre-made booklet or even an downloadable PDF can be the icing on the cake to communicating your session process and what to expect before, during, and after the session.
Consider giving your client a welcome guide to make a more memorable experience and to set them up for a great session!
The day before the session, get in touch with your client again to go over all the details (again).
Make sure they are on the same page with you. Ask them if they have questions about the process. Offer feedback on their wardrobe choices.
Essentially, make them feel at ease and as stress-free as possible before the session so everyone can relax and be on the path to a great session.
Reassurance goes a long way
Back to communication – you can never have enough.
Even though you might have shot 1,000 photo sessions, this might be your client’s first time behind the lens, so reassure them that you know what you are doing!
I see this a lot with family sessions: Moms and Dads getting into a tizzy and starting to get uptight and snappy when their children don’t “cooperate” they way they want them to.
What I do in this instance is let them know that their job is to have fun and enjoy this time making memories, and it’s MY job to make sure I capture the perfect moments.
If they happen to have a fussy baby, I let them know over and over again (if needed) that some of my best sessions are the ones where I had a crying, teething toddler (which is the absolute truth).
Don’t be afraid to let your clients know that they can trust you to capture these special memories for them!
The best way to create a positive session experience? Have fun!
Play games, encourage silliness, and just let your clients be themselves. Tell them jokes, be their friend, and laugh along with them.
By the end of the session, you and your client both will feel refreshed, fulfilled, and excited for the next step in the photo session process: viewing the photos!
If you’re new to this, one way to break the ice (for both you and your clients) is by using photography prompts. These are simple ques to give your clients so that they loosen up and show you their best expressions. Using prompts can cut the tension, improve client experience, and help you capture the best photos for your clients. Consider them at your next photo session!