I began professionally photographing clients over five years ago. What started out as a nearly life long hobby, turned professional the day the first client paid for my service. (Or maybe the second or fifth client?) Since then I have had the privilege of quite a few return clients year after year. I am so grateful for them and the friends they have referred to me.
My tip for getting return clients?
Clients are attracted not only to the photos they receive, but also the experience they have with you when they are in front of the lens.
1: BE YOURSELF & BE RELAXED
It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of photography, because there are A LOT of them. The more familiar and practiced you are with your camera and photography in general, the less consuming this part can be. My shoots go downhill (sometimes fast) if I am having equipment or technical problems. So try to nail those out before your paying sessions start. Posing also proves challenging for may new photographers. My advice is to have a game plan. When I started I even wrote it down. I had a list of shots I wanted to get (or the client wanted) in the order I wanted to get them. Sometimes you have to get creative depending on setting or people issues, but this will really help you feel like you have a handle on the session.
Let your personality shine. If you are very reserved, this might be more challenging for you and you might need to dig deep. Sometimes I have to jump around. Sometimes just being silly with little kids will help them warm up. With all children (who can speak) I spend a lot of time asking questions. I also do my best to explain to them when we are doing so they are not so freaked out in front of the camera. For older kids this usually helps take the performance pressure off of them.
2: MAKE THE EXPERIENCE ENJOYABLE
Being prepared with a plan for your session will really help with this. Be sure you have scoped out your location in advance and have a plan on where you want to stage your photos. If it’s a public place, I always check the city website to see if there will be any events happening at the time of our session.
When I look at photos of my own family, I don’t just see what’s printed on the paper, I remember the experience. I remember the mood, the weather, the smells, the laughter (and the sometimes fighting). So what I’m really seeing is the whole experience. Your clients do the same thing when they look at the photos you deliver. If they had a good time, felt cared for, had fun, etc.. those feels come back when they see their images. I’m always reminded of this when a client falls in love with an image that didn’t stand out to me. Instantly I realize they are having an emotional connection to that image. A connection I may or may not even understand.
This was the third year in a row I have photographed this family (others here and here). The first year a few of the boys were not so interested in having their photo taken. They were skeptical of me and what was going to happen. This year I am excited to share, even the most unwilling participant smiled and even talked to me! Yay! Patience and time are the best methods for clients like that I think. I anticipate next year’s photo experience being even better.