How to Help Your Clients Prepare for Their Photo Session
When it’s going well, a photo session is a fun, creative, and empowering experience. When it’s not, it’s stressful, unproductive, and a disappointment for everyone involved. As the photographer, it's up to you to create an atmosphere that puts clients at ease. To ensure your client's satisfaction, read more about how to anticipate and manage your client's expectations of what the final product will look like. THE PROOF IS IN THE PREPARATION How well you prepare yourself and your client makes all the difference. This is where pre-session consultations come in. This one-on-one meeting is for you and your client to design the session before the shoot takes place. In this way, you'll understand the goals and vision your client has for the session, and they will walk away with a clear idea of the final product they can expect. Pre-session consultations are useful regardless of your specialty, but they’re especially important for assignments that require close interactions with your subjects, such as weddings, portraits, commercial, and editorial projects. When you take the time to learn about your client’s personality and expectations, you lay down the foundation for a successful professional relationship which will very likely bring huge rewards both at the photo shoot and in the future. You can read more at length how to prepare for a successful pre-session consultation in the Pre-Sessions Consultations Guide for Photographers, included free with your PPA membership. START WITH THE FINAL PRODUCT Find out what the client intends to do with the photographs, then work backward. Are they going to hang them over the mantelpiece or above the staircase? Will the portraits end up in a printed album or on a website? Once you have that information, you can decide what kind of photographs are best for that environment and work towards making it happen. PICK THE RIGHT LOCATION Begin deciding together with your client about where the shoot is going to take place. Will it be in a studio or at a location that is important to them? Clients who are not professional models will often find it more natural to be on location, in a place that is meaningful to them. Keep the story of your client's vision in mind and allow that to inform you of the best location for the shoot. GUIDE YOUR CLIENT AROUND WARDROBE DECISIONS Seasoned photographers know that clothing shouldn’t distract or overwhelm the photo. Advise your client to select pieces without logos or distracting patterns. Discuss short vs. long sleeves, light vs. dark colors. Discuss layers, textures, and other aspects of clothing that can make the images richer and more interesting. Find out what kind of clothes make them feel good and which don’t. Help them work with color palettes that accentuate their skin tone. Here’s a useful guide to choosing the right clothing for a photoshoot. HAIR & MAKEUP Just like in the clothing department, you should provide guidance on hair and makeup. Don’t presume your subjects will show up on the day looking perfect and camera ready. Communicate with your client ahead of time about the importance of hiring a professional hair and makeup person. Explain how it will add value to the work you produce. It might be in your best interests to set up relationships with hair and makeup professionals you could offer to clients as part of a package deal. Remember, the last thing you want is to rush to make a last-minute plan on the morning of the session, after your client arrives assuming you would be offering a hair and makeup professional. P.S. Remind them to have their nails camera ready too! DELIVER A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE On the day of the shoot, it’s up to you to create a comfortable, creative working environment that ends up being a memorable experience for the client. Use lighting, humor, and music to show you’re in control and that this is going to be a fun, rewarding experience for them. Build up their confidence by talking about how good the pictures look so that they look back on the experience with positivity. Having a good pre-session routine is something that will dramatically set you apart from the rest, leading to better results and happier clients. By taking the time before the shoot to prepare your client, you are not only saving time but laying the groundwork for a wonderful client experience that will leave both you and your client happy and lead to more referrals and work.