A successful session starts way before the session day. It starts at the very first interaction with your client, in the form of successful communication. Yes, the secret to a successful session can be summed up in one word: communication. Communication of all types, more importantly.
From the very first inquiry email to the moment you show them their final collection of photos, how you communicate with your client can take your session from a great experience to a memorable experience. And it is the memorable session experiences that clients always remember. It makes them remember your name the next time they need to update their photos and it encourages them to refer you to their friends and family.
So how do you practice good communication, in a variety of ways, with your clients? There are a variety of different types of communication you should implement throughout the client’s entire experience with you, whether it’s through written, verbal or visual communication.
- No.01Communication before the session.
As I mentioned before, a successful session starts with the communication that leads up to the session day. I always tell my clients to email me at any time, if they have a question or concern as their session date nears. Opening up inviting and comfortable lines of communication before the day of the session encourages families to share any concerns they may have about their session, which can prepare me as a photographer immensely! Some moms have told me that their child is extremely shy or that they would really like a certain photo, such as just them and their children or just their husband and their children.
Knowing this before the session, I am able to prepare for their personality types by either bring certain things with me in my camera bag or starting my session a certain way in order to help ease their comfort! I am also prepared to incorporate their wish list photos into their session since I know about them ahead of time and, therefore, can plan for them. Had I not opened up comfortable lines of communication before the session, I may have been unprepared, which could potentially lead to a disappointed client. So just chat! The more you know about your client, the better your session will be!
- No.02Communication at the beginning of the session.
Tell your clients what to expect! After I meet my clients and compliment them on their outfits, I always run through how the session will flow. It only takes a couple minutes and it makes such a difference! I love letting them know exactly what the next 60 minutes with me will look like. I tell my clients that we will start with the family photo, and then we will move to another location and try a variety of different poses.
At this time I also tell the client how I will pose them into position as a starting point, and then I will step back and let them naturally be themselves so I can encourage those candid moments. Clients really appreciate knowing what to expect. It creates a comfortable environment and allows them to enjoy the time we have during the session, instead of wondering what we will be doing next and where we will be going. I leave nothing to be worried or wondered about so my client can just focus on being themselves!
- No.03Communication while photographing.
Don’t forget to tell your clients how great they are doing throughout the session! Tell Mom how gorgeous she looks and compliment the smiles of the children! I always speak positive and encouraging words to encourage my clients, which helps to promote relaxation and eases any photography jitters that they may have about being in front of the camera. When clients feel comfortable, they start to show their genuine side. This is when you achieve the genuine smiles, genuine laughs, and genuine reactions. And those are the photos that the clients will fall in love with because you captured them truly being themselves!
- No.04Communication through visual examples.
More for the client than myself, I make a point to bring visual examples of poses. This simply means printing off a few pictures of poses on a sheet of paper that I want to try. I do this before the day of the session and slip the posing paper into my camera bag, just in case I need to use it. I bring examples because some clients learn better from seeing the pose visually versus through explanation. I don’t know how many times I have brought out a visual example of the pose that I am trying to achieve and the client sighs in relief! Once they can get a visual of what you are trying to do and what pose you want to put them in, they say, “Oh! Got it!”
Showing clients an example and having them position themselves is also a great way to create a natural looking pose because they can put their own personal spin on the pose that is comfortable for them. Making a pose more natural could mean placing a hand on the hip or in the pocket, as a way of showing their personality.
Just like in learning, some people are more visual so I make sure to plan for it. Most of the time, it is the men that love this. It helps me to quickly position them in the pose, and then I can step back and capture their true selves as they interpret the pose through their personality style. More often than not, clients thank me for taking the time to bring visuals for them. They’ve said it helped to make them comfortable and confident, which is an emotion that is very much reflected in their photos.
- No.05Communication at the end of the session.
Before you say goodbye, take a moment to explain to the client what they can expect in the following days. Just like I tell my clients what to expect during their session, I like to tell them what to expect following their session. At this time, I always share my social media card that lists my website and my Facebook page.
As I present this card, I tell clients that they can find their sneak peek on my Facebook page within two days and their entire collection on my professional website within the week or two. This eliminates my clients from wondering when or where they can see their photos. I always over quote on time, and deliver sooner. Even though I go through payments and prints at booking, I also always take a moment to talk to the client about when they can expect their final invoice and receive their photos. More communication is always better than less! I never want to leave a client wondering.
- No.06Communication after the session.
After I say goodbye and leave the session location, I always always always send a text or an email within the hour to thank the client. I express how happy I am to have met them and I express my excitement over their photos! I usually do this while I am uploading their session photos and say, “I just uploaded your photos and I cannot wait for you to see them!”
Most of the time, clients are still thinking about their session. Even after they have left the session, they are going over the poses in their minds and are curious about how their photos are going to look. I love to let them know that I am thinking about their photos as well, and build their excitement up for their upcoming sneak peek!
It’s the little communication that means the most to the client. Whether it is intended to ease their comfort before or during their session, or to simply let them know that you are available to chat at any time, clients love to feel comfortable with their photographer. Not only is communication the secret to a successful session, but it is also the secret to a memorable experience that will take you from being a one time photographer to their official family photographer!