It’s Business: Educate Your Clients

As photographers, it is easy to assume that our clients, whether they are consumers or corporations, understand our business.  Unless they have hired professional photographers before, for the most part they will not understand the process of a professional photo shoot.  It is up to us as professionals to guide them through the process and set the expectations so they have a seamless shoot that stays on schedule and on budget.

Depending on the type client and the type of photo shoot for which they are hiring you, there can be many ways to approach the meeting.  For the purposes of this article, let’s use the example of two types of clients we work with; the consumer and the commercial client.  A consumer client hires you for personal reasons, whether it is a portrait to celebrate a milestone in life such as a pregnancy or an engagement, or an event like a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, or other type of party where they want professional photos.  These clients typically look for set photography packages which give them guidelines for their choices.  Let’s say you are meeting with a prospective bride and groom.  After speaking with them about their day, inevitably they are going to ask the types of packages you offer.  If you come back with, “I don’t have packages, I customize everything, so please tell me what you want,” this will inevitably lead to confusion.  When a client is confused, it makes you, the photographer, look less professional and does not give them great faith in you.  However, if you give them guidelines and parameters on what you offer, it provides them a sense of assurance that they are in good hands. For example, a bride and groom want information on your method for covering their day.  If, like me, you prefer to work from a shot list, ask them to provide a timeline and a shot list of who, what, when, where and possibly why someone should be photographed on the big day.  By setting the rules and explaining them in a nice, polite and professional manner, they will have a smoother, less stressful and more organized experience than you just showing up, taking pictures and expecting everyone to snap into place when you say so.

When working with a commercial client, especially if it is direct to corporate, it is always important to ask them if they have worked with a professional photographer previously.  If the answer is yes, start by asking them a few questions about their previous experiences.  Learn as much as you can about them so you will be able to understand their issues and learn the reasons why they want to hire you. If they haven’t worked with a professional photographer before, ask the questions anyway!  Gleaning as much information as you can from them and uncovering their motivations to hire you is key to helping you prepare and produce the shoot.  Once you find out all the information that you can from them, telling them how you will approach the shoot will put you in the driver’s seat and help guide them to have the best experience possible.   The same goes for photographing corporate events. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have photographed a corporate event where the speaker, who may not be used to public speaking, never makes eye contact with the audience or looks up while speaking. The result is a series of photos that an editor cannot run because it is of the top of the speaker’s head.  By simply asking the speaker to look up and pause occasionally during the shoot, and explaining the reason why, will enable you to get the best photos for your client.

Setting the expectations of a photo shoot will save you time and a headache on the day of the shoot. As professional photographers, we are so used to knowing how we work we sometimes have to put ourselves in our clients shoes.  By explaining the process of professional photography clearly and succinctly to your client, you will come across as professional and trustworthy and it will bring clients back to you again and again.

Header Photo by Daniel Foster /


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