The importance of the pre-portrait consultation
It’s a wonderful feeling when we book our first client ì we get off the phone and realize that someone actually hired us to photograph their family, for money! It’s such an exciting feeling to know that we’re now earning something for our work.
On the arranged date and time, we arrive at the photography session and then reality sets in with a sickening thud.
Picture this: everyone’s wearing the wrong clothes; there are more kids than we thought and they seem grumpy; there might be one or more pets; dad’s ticked off because he’s missing his tee time with his friends; and mom’s stressed out trying to keep it all together. Then the horror of it all really starts when she looks at you and says, “Thank goodness we’ve got a professional to do this quickly and properly. By the way, how much is a 5 x 7 going to cost?”
Sound familiar? It’s amazing how quickly excitement can turn into sheer panic. But there’s an easy way to avoid this horror story.
The pre-portrait consultation
Leading clients through the hiring process, being photographed and purchasing portraits with is a series of baby steps. If we expect them to take too large a step at any of these points, we’re asking for trouble.
When they call to ask about photography, the goal should be for them to visit you for a consultation about what you can do. This is the perfect opportunity to:
- Ask about the family
- Discover any potential problems
- Meet the children if possible
- Find out what pets they want to include
- Advise them on clothing
- Let them know what to bring
- Educate them on finished portrait options
- Talk about the session itself
- Decide if the assignment is still a good fit for your business
- Collect the session fee
- Reassure her that everything will go smoothly
The consultation is a critical step
I can’t stress how important this has been to the success of my portrait sessions. There have been many occasions where I’m sure the session would have gone very badly had I not met with the client beforehand.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s a waste of time, or that you’ll sort it all out on the day. A pre-portrait consultation adds to your professionalism, and your portraits and sales will improve drastically as a result.
|Nigel Merrick is a full-time professional photographer and founder of the Zenologue Blog, dedicated to helping other photographers improve their businesses and to the preservation of the professional photography industry as a whole. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.|