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Know Before you Go!
After 6 years as a photographer shooting weddings, family & baby sessions, I’ve come up with a pretty solid list of things that clients usually want to know before their session. It’s best if you know exactly what it is you offer so you have an answer for your clients when they ask these questions, and it helps to tell the client everything up front so there aren’t any miscommunications.
Does your client know exactly how much they will be paying you? And Will they have to pay upfront before the session starts, at the end of the session, or can they pay later? You’ll also want to let your client know what forms of payment you accept, so they can be sure to get cash from an ATM, or have a check on hand if that’s what you prefer.
2. Picture Quantity
You’ll want to know an approximate number of pictures your client can expect to have. They’ll want to know if you’ll be giving them everything from the session, or just your favorites? How many of the pictures will you edit? And how much do you charge for extra retouching?
3. What’s Included in the Price?
Do you plan to give your clients all the pictures on a disc or USB? Are the digital files included with the cost of the session or extra? Will the client want to purchase prints from you or somewhere else? Do you include any prints with the cost of their session? And could you give the client a copy of your print pricing?
Do you have suggestions of different locations you like that your client can choose from? What about indoor locations if it’s cold outside? Do you have a studio, and could you transport it to their home if they request it? Can the client choose their own location? If there is a fee for shooting at the location, will you cover that cost or does the client? How far are you willing to travel, and what are your travel fees?
How long will the session last? Can the client change into multiple outfits during the session? Is there somewhere to change? And will you shoot at multiple locations during the session?
6. Extended Families
How many people are you willing to shoot for one session price, can families split the cost of a session? Will you take pictures of each family separately as well as the whole extended family together? And will you charge extra to take singles of each individual?
7. Style or Theme
Do you know what kind of style or theme your client is going for? I had one bride who showed up at our location and realized it was a farm, and told me she was going for more of a busy city feel. Knowing what your client is going for beforehand will really help when you’re choosing a location that will fit.
If the client has a theme in mind, you’ll want to know if they’re bringing props to go along with that theme, or if they’re expecting you to provide them. With baby sessions, I always ask my clients if they like any of the props I have on hand, or if they’d like to bring their own. With wedding clients, I’ve had several brides who wanted to do a vintage theme with an older car. So you might want to look around at rentals or ask if they’ll be providing their own.
Always check to make sure the weather is going to agree with the style or theme you’re going for. If you’re looking for fall leaves in the canyon, you don’t want to get there and have all the trees be dead with snow on the ground. If the weather comes unexpectedly and you’re already in the middle, you’ll have to have a game plan for terms of rescheduling. I’ve had sessions where we continued shooting with the wind and my bride ended up loving the windswept look in the pictures, and I then I had a session where we continued in the rain, and the bride ended up thinking her hair was too flat. So you’ll have to have a game plan for rescheduling a session as well.
So what if your client gets the pictures and doesn’t like them? Handling this situation professionally is really important to client loyalty. It’s often surprising that the sessions you think turned out the best are the ones where your client thinks otherwise. So you’ll want to be prepared to politely offer a discount for dissatisfied customers.
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