Earlier, I mentioned how getting to know my clients better is a goal of mine in business. Somehow, I’ve been blessed to serve some pretty amazing clients, and I regret that I haven’t had more time to get to know them deeper and spend more time with them!
Building genuine connections with clients is so important. If I’m going to point a camera at you, you need to trust me. Being in front of a camera is a vulnerable, intimidating place. And believe me – being behind the camera photographing someone you don’t know is just as intimidating. My mind is a MESS of wondering, “Am I making them comfortable? Do they like me? Do they trust my abilities? Are they feeling awkward? Am I talking too loud? Too softly? Are my jokes falling or failing? Oh shoot, the wind just blew her hair out of place… does she care? Do I tell her? Or do I keep shooting?”
Yeah… lots going on up in the noggin! That’s why the “getting to know you” process is so important for me. It helps both of us relax, and makes our session feel more like a hangout between friends rather than a formal photo shoot. So here are a few ways I try to build real relationships with my clients.
- Asking light, personal questions about them BEFORE they even book! This helps me determine if we’re a great fit, or if I know of other friends in the industry that could serve you better / fit your personality better. That way you get the photographer you click with MOST.
- Meeting up via FaceTime, Zoom, or in-person (when safe to do so… thanks, COVID). I always prefer clients are able to see my face and hear my voice over just reading an email from me, especially in the first stages of booking. It helps reassure them that I’m not a robot, and I can be relatable and even likable (or at least, I like to think so)!
- Checking in on them right before our session. I like to make sure I’ve texted or emailed about a week out before our scheduled booking. This gives me a chance to ask how they’re feeling prior to their session, if they need help choosing outfits, or just generally asking how their week is going. Asking about their week helps prepare me to be sensitive if work has been rough, if any wedding-planning drama has occurred, or if they’re riding the coattails of an exciting week… then I can respond accordingly to make their session the cherry on top.
- Getting to their session location early. Arriving early helps me calm my own nerves and be there to help guide them if they get lost. Some venues / session locations have complicated parking, especially near D.C. If I get situated first, I am there to take phone calls if they struggle to find their way. Again… all about building trust!
- A little small talk before we begin. Correct me if I’m wrong to assume this, but NOBODY likes a businessperson who jumps straight to the point. Nobody likes a boss who arrives at 9 AM and automatically has a new assignment for you, without first saying “Good morning.” Nobody likes a car salesman who whisks you off to the most expensive vehicle in the lot the moment you walk through the door. And nobody likes a retail clerk who follows you around asking, “find everything?” the moment you start flipping through the racks. So I would bet nobody wants a photographer who is already clicking the shutter button as soon as you step out of the car. Tell me how the drive went, let me make sure you found the place ok. Let’s talk about how great of weather we got lucky with for your shoot! And WOW you guys picked amazing outfits, your photos are going to look great. Did he buy you those earrings? Please tell me where you got those shoes… I’m not being insincere either. Not only am I trying to make you more comfortable, I’m genuinely trying to learn more about you in the way you respond to small talk.
- Walking you back to your car. I try to make this a clear habit of mine at the end of my sessions. Most of the time we parked near each other, but even if I walked from home and you drove, I will always try to walk back with you just to finish up any conversations we had, talk about turnaround times for your gallery, and ask what you have going on after this. It’s polite, and it gives me one last chance to interact with you without having a camera in my face 🙂
I’m sure there are more ways I can get better at building relationships with clients. If there is a specific way you love to connect with your wedding vendors / people you do business with, I’d love to know! Drop your ideas in the comments… what is something photographers can do to make you more comfortable and help you enjoy your photo session more?