Tips on Really Capturing Your Clients

Photographers, need a few tips on how to really connect with clients? This blog post is for you! Today I welcome guest blogger, Sarah Cornish of My Four Hens Photography. She’s a full-time professional photographer and writer for Artsy Couture, a professional photo lab. She shares with us an important topic near and dear to many photographers– capturing clients the way they want.

One thing we share in common is the love to help others as much as we love to create. Another commonality is we strive for storytelling in an image work hard to when clients to look through their gallery, each image resonates deeply.
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Sarah shares these six tips to that allows photographers to capture clients with fabulous results:

1. Set Solid Groundwork and Communicate Expectations

Before the session begins and your clients email you for the first time, design and create some form of client education on hand. Whether it’s a special section of your blog or a PDF, compile as much information about YOU and how YOU work. You want them to know that you focused on them and value their time. Send information on pricing so they know what to expect, avoiding sticker shock. Perhaps include your perspective on photography and why you love what you do, a bit of background, helpful tidbits on styling their session, to the process of booking a session to how your ordering system works. Let them know they are welcome to bring a change of clothes, recommendations for snacks for little ones, and what they should bring in their bag. Encourage them to bring anything of sentimental value. You want clients to feel like they can trust you, they have a sense of who you are, so they can be as comfortable during their session.

2. Be Transparent

Don’t be not afraid to post “personal” posts on your blog, share lots about your family, etc. Photography is a personal business. We pour ourselves and our hearts into our work. They are hiring now only a professional, but as a person. Our style, our vision is only part part of our work. WHO we are makes up the rest. Do what sets you apart from other photographers. For example, my tag line for years now has been “Heart Inspired Art” which sums up my work. The more my clients know about you, the more comfortable they feel comfortable with you.

3. Be Accessible

Follow up, answer ALL emails, and do you best to reassure. Photography is an investment in time. Strive to make clients feel that they really are getting their investment’s worth. Time is of the essence with family photography. While a lot of thought and planning does go into these sessions, communicate to your clients that you appreciate not only their time but them.

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4. Bring Your Support System

Arrive early to scout locations. Get a good feel for what the light is doing that day, even if you have shot there before. If it is a busy location, find distraction free ares.

My husband also comes to every single session with me, as he has an amazing rapport with guys / dads. My husband also helps me with gear so that I don’t have to run back and forth and scramble for lenses. If you can’t bring a significant other, try a friend or assistant.

5. Make Your Clients Comfortable

Once clients arrived, be warm, open. Get down on the children’s eye level, introduce yourself. I want them to know that I am a friend. Don’t start shooting right away, perhaps allow 15-20 minutes to “warm up” when possible. One advantage of not timing sessions is avoiding the rush. Family portraits are a process. Joke with Mom. Ask kids questions about their interests. Kids love to talk about themselves! Some common topics are family pets, school, television show characters (I.e Oh you love Dora?! I love Dora! I have even been known to break into full TV show theme song. Du-Du-Du-Du DORA!).

6. Communication is Key

The first fifteen minuets of the session may feel awkward, which is why it is good to give a bit of direction to the family. Remind them favorite photos tend to be created towards the end of the session. Once we are set up, chat away. Joke. Ask a bunch of questions (“How long have you been married, “Where did you meet?” etc.) and do this all while they are in position, which distracts from camera presence. Ask personal questions like recalling thoughts on their wedding day or about the day their child was born. It does wonders and focuses them on each other. If the light gets particularly gorgeous, let them know! Communication is a million percent important. If kids are overstimulated, take a break. Kids will get cranky, so be sure to communicate this in advance. Make flower crowns with girls or practice ninja moves with the boys… anything to get them to naturally connect and have fun! Be a big kid at heart and have FUN! If the kids are shy, don’t make them be something they aren’t. If they aren’t all smiles, don’t push. Your goal is to capture them as they are, not how you want them to be!
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Great tips, Sarah. Now time to turn to you!

Sarah, what’s it like for you to connect with your clients?
Sometimes as photographers, I believe we get so caught up in the normalcy of family portraits, we forget how exciting and sometimes scary they can be from the client’s perspective.

What do you do to help make this process easier for them?
Despite the pre-session consultations, emails and phone calls, getting in front of the camera is just not natural for everyone. I can attest to this personally. I am so often behind the camera that when I get in front of it, I freeze up. My heart literally races, my palms sweat. I stress. I believe as photographers it is our job to help and reassure our clients. To hand hold and let them know that you are going to be there and give them not only memorable and beautiful photos but an equally memorable and beautiful experience.

Do you ever get nervous on a shoot?
Being a photographer I do get nervous. Like, I am sure, many of you do. I think… a lot. What if they don’t love their images? What if they don’t like me? What if I do something embarrassing? Yes, I do think like that! Of course once I get to my session and begin working that unbelievably manages to fall away. I get completely immersed in my work. I remember why I love this. There are some things I do, however, to really prepare for my sessions.

Wowza, great info, Sarah! Thanks for sharing!

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For all you creative entrepreneurs, you might also enjoy reading other interviews by creative experts:

Stay tuned for future “Ask the Expert” interviews of those who love to create as much as share. If you like what you see, learned something cool, or have a suggestion for new interviews, comment away!

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