10 Things Clients Look for when Hiring a Photographer
10 Things Clients Look for when Hiring a Photographer
You have a camera and you’ve been gaining experience in the field and now it’s time to drop the hobby charade and get down to brass tacks. You want to be financially appreciated for the great photography you’re capable of and there’s no time like the present. But in a world where everyone and their neighbor is a photographer, standing out in the sea of entry-level DSLRs is a daunting task. However, people do it everyday with confidence and gusto. There is not a reason fathomable as to why you shouldn’t be able to do the same! Of course, there are some things worth noting, as the professional world is a beast waiting to be conquered -and conquer you will!
Here is what your future clients are looking for…
Attracting clients is very possible via social media, but an Instagram or Facebook page doesn’t quite cut it. Instagram is a great photography outlet, however the people expecting to pay good money for quality images aren’t looking to see the personal input on your work so much as they are trying to see an organized flow of credibility and consistency. Clients want a catalogue of images to inspire them to shoot with you. Give them what they want. No matter the site provider, (Wix, Squarespace, Wordpress etc.) your site must be attractive and flow like a large river into clean, fresh tributaries. In other words, there should be no inconvenience nor distractions when people want to explore your photography. Keep your site neat and simple. Imagine yourself entering someone else’s website. You want the photographs to be the main attraction with few distractions, like outrageous fonts or wide arrays of colors elsewhere. It should be simple, organized, and to the point.
Find a theme that you enjoy and stick with it! The photography world begs for new ideas, experience, and techniques all the time, but volatility in the professional photography world when hiring a photographer is a red flag. When a prospective couple sees that you have taken some lovely shots of past couples in a grassy field with warm tones and lights, they don’t want to see your experimentation in Russian Minimalist fashion photography right next to them do they? Not really. Clients want to feel confident in their general expectations as to what their shots will come out like. So, make like grandma and keep it cookie-cutter because we are a species of habit and no one wants to feel like their photos might come from left field.
Make sure to check your emails, DMs, and even voicemail (if you’re into that) for messages and inquiries about your service! If someone is trying to get in touch with you to get photos taken, they’re probably asking elsewhere too. Be snappy and prompt. Losing business to a lack of replies is pitiful and should be avoided at all costs. When you do reply, make sure to give options. A lot of times, people aren’t exactly certain on what they want, which leads directly into the next point.
A lot of clients will have an idea of what they’re looking for, but they won’t know the depth of the field like you do. (Pun totally intended.) Understand that, conceptually, they don’t see what you see. Often a client’s frame of reference is from the photos hanging on the walls at their friend’s place or your website. So, when you discuss concepts, location, and clothing for your prospective clients, paint the picture for them! Have an array of mood boards ready for them to browse with the different shoot locations, postures, clothing etc. that might appeal to them. Zone in on what they want and sculpt the shoot with them. Bring your prospective clients into your world so they will have much more confidence in your ability to satisfy their needs. Pinterest is a great place to create a mood board or even a Google drive of images will work just fine.
Whether you’re working with professional models or the minivan-Nancy down the block, your clients want direction. Make them know that you’re attentive to their posture. Before each position change, act it out before-hand and make sure that they have a good idea of what’s going on. Be patient with your clients. They are putting their trust in your hands to make their photos look as natural as they feel awkward. Even if their positioning is all kosher, make sure to give frequent reassurance to ease their anxiety of being in front of a camera. It’s all good, you just need make sure that the clients know that!
Shooting can get monotonous and sometimes every shot will feel redundant, so mix it up. For instance, if you’re out in a field with flowers, ask your client to pick a flower. Ask them what it smells like. Tell them a joke to ease the mood and if they think its funny, snap away! If you’re in an urban environment, have them take sunglasses off and on and snap the in between shots. What time is it? Do they wear a watch? Snap! Snap! Snap! Keep it interesting and simple and make each moment count!
Hobby photography starts with, “This place looks cool let’s explore …” but as a professional, that won’t fly. Make sure you have a decent knowledge of your locations. Is it important to know where the sun hits best in different locations and which shadows cast where and when? You bet! Is it worth the trouble when it not only gives you better shots, but an edge on your competition? Absolutely. Know where you’ll be shooting, know which poses are shot where. Map it out. There will always be room for spontaneity -the perfect candid shots, but standing there, with a blank stare on your face, to figure out the next part of the shoot never looks good.
- Post Production Updates
After the shoot, when all the pleasantries are exchanged, give your clients a time frame of edit completion. Your clients will feel better about the shoot and will not have to worry about the time between shoot day and when they receive their photos. Make the time frame wide enough to accommodate for edit delays, because they do happen. Or, if you give them a short time frame and be prepared to email your clients to ask them for more time.
We live in a society of services and consumer goods. It is very easy to slip into the habit of making each new client a part of the same ritual. People pick up on that, so get to know who you’re shooting. What are they like? Where have they been? What music do they like? Getting to know your clients makes it a relationship beyond mere finances and you never know what could come from a good referral!
When all is said and done, just be yourself. There is no persona or expectations you need to have of yourself, and the clients aren’t going to feel comfortable when they get the feeling you’re putting on a show. Just relax and let each shoot become a new experience with new people.
IMAGE CREDIT photographed by Kenneth Willardt