Photographers often ask each other “how many images do you show in your galleries?” The answer for me is always, it depends! Each family I photograph is unique; they have different dynamics, different decorating styles and different reasons for wanting to book a session. If you don’t take the time to find out some of that before the session, you could be wasting a lot of your time processing images that don’t mesh with their style.
Before the Photo Session
Wedding photographers aren’t the only ones who should consult with their clients before the big day. Portrait photographers have a lot to gain by scheduling pre-session consultations too. If you are a high end boutique photographer, an in person, in home session would be ideal. That really is the best way to gauge personal style and get them thinking about their order before the session.
My pre-session consultations are done over the phone since I work 2 full time jobs. Some questions you want to find out about during the consult are:
- What is their decorating style? Do they like modern decor or is their home decorated more traditionally?
- What is currently on their walls now? Are they interested in a formal family portrait to hang or do they have collages of more informal groupings?
- Maybe they don’t have anything on their walls now, what is the reason for that? Maybe they would be interested in something easier to hang like a canvas or gallery mount?
- What have they done with their images from past photography sessions?
- Do they like albums?
- What do they want to do with the images from the session you have scheduled?
This last question is the most important. Most people really don’t know! They think, wow I love her work, I want her to photograph my family. But, most clients don’t really take the time to think about what they really want out of the session. Most say they want one really nice family portrait, but as custom portrait photographers, we want them to experience more and capture emotion and candid moments. It’s up to you to plant those seeds before the session. Let the clients go into the session thinking the possibilities are endless and be excited about being able to capture enough pure moments of joy that could fill an entire album… or a series of candid shots that could make up a wall gallery they didn’t think possible.
The pre-session consultation also gives me an added bonus of finding out more about the children I’ll be meeting during the session. The following excerpt is from my CMPro breakout session, From Inquiry to Sale: “Take some notes and find out about the kids! This is the time to really get to know your clients and get them to open up and get excited about your session. Find out what the children’s favorite colors are, favorite song, what kind of humor they have (varies so much at each age). Think about your own children and go from there. For example, if someone was going to photograph my pain in the butt 2 year old, some very helpful things they should know are: he really loves to sing Old MacDonald, he loves music in general, he thinks it’s hilarious to make funny faces and noises and he’s very ticklish. Whatever you do though, don’t mention guitars or he’ll get really upset that he doesn’t have one with him! Now… guess what? I’m smiling now that I’ve just told you all about the things that make my son smile, your clients will have the same reaction and now you have some communication going into your session to use on the kids! Your clients will feel like you’ve really taken the time to get to know their family. Make sure all of their questions are addressed. They will feel much more comfortable and hopefully a lot less anxious going into the actual session.”
During and After the Photo Session
Based on the pre-session consultation, you should have an idea on how you want the flow of the session to be. If they are very traditional and don’t particularly like albums, the session will be very straight forward with minimal proofs. You won’t need to capture 5-10 frames of the same set up with various expressions. You’ll go with the basic: few of the family, a couple of each child, one with each parent and bonus if you get the parents alone too! It also gives me a starting point of proposing wall galleries with traditional frames.
Families that are less traditional and talk about capturing connections will need a different approach. One set up could take more time as you talk with them, draw out emotions and capture the entire series. You could have 5-10 images from one setup with a child that really captures her essence. This series would be perfect for a wall display in her room or a spread in an album. Bloom frames are also great for something less traditional!
Choices for wall displays are endless! Getting an idea of their style will help you maximize your sales. Being able to visually please them may push them over what they were initially going to spend because they need that display on their walls! Same goes with an album; if you don’t take the time to create the sample, it’s very unlikely they will buy it. The displays shown here were created with Ariana Falerni’s Photographer Wall Display Guides. Here is a sample coffee table album:
We want to give a huge thank you to Shoot Proof for sponsoring today’s photography tutorial! They are giving away 1 Year of ShootProof’s 5,000 Photo Plan, a $200 value, to one lucky winner. To enter to win, simply comment on this post telling us how you like to display your photographs. The winner will be announced here on this post next Monday, May 13, 2013 after noon EST so make sure and come back to see if you’re the big winner!
Congratulations to Amanda who said, “I love photos in frames (one main color and then a few accent filled in) and in bundles, sizes range from 4×6 to 11×14.” I will contact you shortly about how to claim your prize!