Photog Tip of the Week: Talking to Your Clients with Tyree Phillips
This week’s Photog Tip of the Week comes from Support Hero, print specialist, Lightroom whiz and studio photographer, Tyree Phillips. Lots of Pros love to shoot in the wild but sometimes the idea of getting a client comfortably into your space can seem a daunting task. Here’s some guidance to help you get your gigs off the ground.
Start them off at ease
Whether your client is a family, model, high school senior or musician, the most important skill a photographer can possess is how to speak to your client. This process actually starts long before the shoot, beginning with the very first contact you have with the client.
Making them comfortable before the shoot goes a long way to ensure the session will go smoothly and great images can be shot. When you first talk with your clients, listen to what they are saying and tailor the conversation to their needs. Present your product in a concise but informative manner. This isn’t about selling yourself to the client; they’ve already contacted you to book the session! Make them comfortable so they know they’re in good hands.
So, how do we do this? I have found the more you can describe the session to the client, the more at ease they are when they arrive at the studio. Taking away the unknown or the mystery of the photo session helps put the client at ease because they now know what to expect.
Find out a little about the client and what their interests are. Use this information to place the client at ease. You can ask them to think about their kids, spouses, pets or anything else they have said to you. You’ll notice a relaxed client with a natural smile and body language which will make for a more natural looking and less posed image. These little things can really make a difference in your images!
Having a shoot list is a great way to go. This is nothing more than a outline for the session and should include the number of changes or ‘looks’, how long each look will be photographed, the types of poses, and props to be used, if any. This helps to keep the session moving and on track in terms of time.
You’re the director
When the client(s) arrive, I like to take them through the studio and show what happens when strobes fire. Some folks won’t be used to this so it is a good idea to let them hear and see the strobes and get used to the environment.
Usually wardrobe and backgrounds are discussed before they walk in the door, so the studio should be set up and ready to go for the day of the shoot.
Once the client enters the set, direct them with simple commands. Commands like tilt your head, chin up or down, rotate, smile, and show me teeth, are commands that are understandable to most folks. Go over the commands you plan to use when the session starts. The client doesn’t need to remember them, but they will perform better if they are made aware of the types of commands you plan to use.
You would think photographing musicians that are used to being on stage would be a breeze, but they can be most difficult subjects to photograph away from the stage setting. Having props on the set from guitars or saxes to a full blown keyboard rig or drum kit helps to put those clients at ease.
Clients like models that are used to being in front of the camera respond to visual poses. I find myself posing them by doing the pose in front of them, and then they can visually copy the pose. You can have fun with this because the client will surely laugh at you posing… but it takes away their anxiety, makes them less self conscious and you’ll get the shot you were looking for.
Always tell the client they’re doing well, even if you’re not sure they are. Use adjectives like “great”, “wonderful“, “gorgeous“, “very nice” or “awesome!” to make the client feel good about what they’re doing. You’ll find that by staying positive, any apprehension they have decreases.
Developing good communication skills keeps the session light and fun and – most importantly – ensures the client’s experience is enjoyable. The images will be great and they’ll book you again.