Preparing your clients for sessions and going in with a game plan is the BEST way to make sure you are delivering a consistent product and I honestly feel like it is something that gets overlooked a lot! I believe we get SO wrapped up in pretty backgrounds, lighting, and camera gear that we forget that our clients don’t know what we actually need to create a great product! So let’s dive into the 4 ways to make sure you are helping your clients set the session up for success!
1) Don’t let the client decide WHEN the session will take place!
I hear this SO often that clients can’t come early in the morning for sunrise or in the evening for sunset, so the session has to be done mid day. While granted every once in a while that may actually be true but 9.5 times out of 10, it is just because the client isn’t educated enough! When my clients inquiry with me I let them know the day and time that I am open, not just the date. This allows me to tell them when the session will take place in a nice way because I know when the lighting will be best to give them the product they want! So for example I tell them, ” I have September 27th or 28th open at either 8am or 6pm, let me know which time slot you would like!” If I happen to get a response asking for a different time, which is rare, I then educate them on why it must be at this time!
One thing photographers tend to do is educate too much by talking about technicalities of shooting mid day instead of talking in a way our clients can understand! While I do explain that lighting isn’t good mid day I also tell them things like – The lighting won’t be as flattering at that time of day. It will be much hotter out at that time and your hair and makeup won’t stay well. Then I even show them a side by side image of a mid day portrait vs a sunset photo, and y’all this one ALWAYS works!
Taking control of your session from the start will take a lot of stress off of you and allow you to create the images you want to deliver!
2) Study the sunset calculator!
Before every session or wedding I check the sunset calculator so I know the exact moment the sun will set! I go to SunCalc to see the exact location of the sunset as well! So let’s say I am shooting in downtown Tampa! I hop on over to SunCalc and put the exact location in the search bar, and it will show me exactly were my sun will set in the city! This is amazing because I am able to know the direction I will need to shoot and if I need to adjust my session time any because a lot of times you lose light early in the city due to the sun sinking behind buildings! This allows me to come into the session with a full game plan and a good idea on my lighting situation!
3) Help your clients with outfits!
Every shooting style has ideal outfits that help pull the image together! I have had a good handful of outfits when I first started that made editing a nightmare and even prevented me from being proud of the final images! Clients usually don’t know how to dress themselves or their family for photos so it is always best to give them some form of a guide! This can be done in the form of a style guide, it can be a blog post, or even a Pinterest board (which I use )! Once my clients set up their engagement session they then receive the link to a Pinterest board to help break down clothing options as well as give them something visual to see!
Now I only add very specific outfits on this Pinterest board! I only add color tones that I know edit well and work with my style and I don’t add in overly casual outfits because I want to persuade my clients to dress up some!
Here is a look at my board!
4) Turn client request into your ideal images!
We have all been there, a client wants photos at a location that is far from ideal for your style! You agree to make them happy but aren’t sure how you will pull it off and still make images you are proud of! Here is the thing, again your clients don’t know what it takes to make the images you need to get! They hired YOU as the professional and they expect you to lead them in the right direction, so we need to do just that!
For example, I usually avoid red brick walls at all cost! They are just not my style due to the red and orange color cast they create. BUT even though I don’t love them a lot of my clients do and want images by the brick walls! Because I know how to make red brick work when needed, I am always more than happy to take those images for my clients! Instead of setting up shots where the entire background is brick, I just make sure that visually the brick is seen but doesn’t take over the entire image!
You can see above that I used the brick to create leading lines in the image, to create a soft texture background, and I made sure that in all of the images you could see the street at the end of the brick wall to create that airy feeling! I also shot nice and wide open ( 2.2 was my aperture ) with my 35mm lens to get in as much of the concrete on the ground so I could get lots of white in the image to balance the red tones! Y’all these were the first brick images I have shot in a long time that I actually LOVED and it was all because I stepped back and strategically thought through the request and how to honor their request while still putting my spin on it! I actually told my clients as well that red brick can be tricky and asked them to give me just a moment to strategically think through how to set it up in the best way possible! – They were totally fine with that too! It showed them that I cared about their request but also cared about the final outcome of the image!
When a client requests a specific location most of the time it means that they just like the look of it and want it incorporated somehow, it doesn’t actually have to be right up against that location! – Also don’t be afraid to take a photo of your clients request, then take a photo of your version of it and show it to your client so they can see the difference! I can almost guarantee that they will take your version over theirs every time!
Those four easy steps will allow you to have control over your session and allow your clients to be well informed with everything that is taking place!! From start to finish you are helping them with timing, outfits, and fulfilling their request while still making sure that you are receiving everything you need to make a gorgeous final product!
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