I'm a free spirit who loves Jesus, traveling, and telling stories. I'm fuelled by black coffee, thai food, and my hubby's snuggles (they're the best.) I'm obsessed with national parks, twinkle lights, and making people feel valued and worthy. Welcome friend.. I'm so glad you're here. :)
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Client communication is one of my favorite things to teach in my mentor sessions, courses, and workshops. It’s something I think a lot of photographers overlook, because we tend to focus more on the photos themselves and not so much on the actual people in front of the camera! While high-quality photos are hella important, the way you communicate with your clients can 100% have a direct correlation with how successful you are as a business owner. To deliver the images that your clients are dreaming of, you have to go above and beyond for them. So let’s dive in to my top eight tips on ways to exceed your client’s expectations.
On your website, create a thank you page that your contact form redirects to once they hit submit. That page should include a link to download a freebie PDF or blog post that SERVES them with helpful content they need. Think about what your clients will ask you, and deliver that information to them before they even have the chance to ask. This shows your expertise as a photographer and business owner before you’ve even responded to them.
This initial step will save you so much time down the road, because you’ve already answered some of their most pressing questions before they’ve ever asked. It also preps them to know what to expect from you when you do respond. You’re basically crushing client communication before you’ve even responded to their email! Even if they don’t end up booking with you, you’ve empowered them with knowledge on the best way to achieve the session or wedding of their dreams. This small step is really a win-win for everyone involved!
Want to know what will boost your client communication level to infinity and beyond? Respond to them ASAP. This seems like such an obvious practice, but let’s be real. We are BUSY, and it’s easy to keep pushing emails to the bottom of our to-do list. Those sessions won’t edit themselves, right? Think again, friend! You’ve got to respond your emails if you want photos to edit! Try to respond same day or at the VERY least within 24 hours. It’s good business practice to be prompt, and it’s a reflection of the service you’re going to provide them.
Most couples are going to book with the first photographer they connect to, so be the first by being prompt! To get your response to be the first one in their inbox, have a selection of email templates for every scenario- weddings/elopements, couples, engagements- whatever your niche is! In each template, tell them how you’re different from the 12 other photographers they’ve probably also inquired with, but also be SUPER personable. Imagine that they are in front of you and frame the email like a conversation with a friend. Respond to their story and personalize your email to them. It takes me between 5-10 minutes to read, edit, and respond to an email! It may seem like a lot of work to establish at first (and it is!!) but again, it serves both you and your clients once your routine is established!
As much as we hate being ghosted as photographers, clients despise being strung along and having their time wasted. Put yourself in their shoes, and frame your initial email with all the information they need. Anticipate the most commonly asked questions and include a section that already answers those questions. I prioritize my client communication by including an entire FAQ section in my pricing guide. Tell them absolutely EVERYTHING they need to know in order to book you. Share your heart, your vision, and your experience. The more personable you are, the more likely they are to feel a personal connection with you!
On the same note, it’s so important to realize that you may not ‘click’ with every inquiry. If their initial email is absolutely NOT your vibe (or vice-versa!), understand that you may be doing them a disservice by trying to adapt your style to theirs. If they describe their wedding vision as a light and airy, princess extravaganza and you have a moody, grainy style, you are not going to be able to give them their dream photos and everyone will walk away unhappy with the experience. It’s OK to be honest with clients, even if that means saying NO!!
Don’t play games with them. It’s not fun to string them along.
Don’t be slimy. Never try and hook them before giving them your prices.
Be upfront with your method, your pricing, and your style. Don’t feel like you have to apologize for anything!
How much fun is it to get an unexpected package in the mail?! I personally LOVE it. And guess what? Your clients will love it too!
Try to send a thank you gift within a week of a client booking with you. It up levels your client communication and reinforces the personal connection with them. Spoil them, treat them like family, and go above and beyond what they’re expecting!
Structure your initial questionnaire and emails so that they are giving you a little more about themselves. In addition to using that info for the shoot, you can also curate a gift that is personable and specific to them; it shows you were paying attention to their story and their interests! You can also include a section in the contract for the client to list their shipping address, so you don’t have to awkwardly ask for that info.
Don’t overthink client gifting! It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. If they mentioned that they are movie buffs, a giftcard to the movie theatre could be perfect. If they are wine-lovers, send a bottle of their favorite red or white. I use One Hope wine to send a bottle of champagne to my clients when I deliver their gallery. Another option is to work with a gifting company like Marigold & Grey. I’ve been working with them for several years, and I am so happy I found them! They have pre-made gift boxes in their shop or you can work with their designers to create a custom branded gift box for your clients. No matter which option you choose, sending a gift tells your client that you care about them, which translates into an amazing client experience.
Hooray- you’ve booked a client!! Now what?!
A HUGE mistake I see photographers make with their client communication: leaving client’s hanging for months once they book with you.
Even though their session/wedding may not take place for months, you still need to check-in with them periodically. Life happens quickly, and situations can change from the initial booking to the event date. Part of your job is to serve them however you can- not just to show up on the day of with a camera! Set up 6 month, 3 month, 1 month, and 1 week check-in emails to serve them, assist with their timeline, help prep them for the shoot and answer any questions they might have. Your clients are relying on your professional knowledge to make their wedding day or session amazing, and you can’t meet that goal if you haven’t communicated with them since they paid you!
Sending all those emails may sound like a ton of extra work, but it’s really not! You can automate this super easily in the backend of your workflow. I use Honeybook to store all my email templates and create workflows for each of my clients. Almost everything sends automatically- It’s a lifesaver! (If you’re interested in trying out Honeybook, you can save 50% off your first year right here! You’re welcome!)
From the moment you respond to their very first email and throughout the ENTIRE process of communicating with them, let them know EXACTLY what they can expect from you and exactly what the experience is going to look like. Be specific. If it’s a session, tell them exactly what to expect when they arrive to the location and what the evening will look like. For example, if they want to hike a mountain but also have amazing beach photos, they will be highly upset if they find out on the day of the session that they can’t do both in the time frame you agreed on if those locations are too far away!
If it’s a wedding, give them advice on their timeline, what your past couples have done that worked well, and what to expect on their wedding day from you (they haven’t done this before – YOU have!). Most brides have never been in a vendor’s shoes, so things that are vital (like feeding us dinner!), may not even be on their radar. Share your expertise with them and prep them for what to expect. There shouldn’t be any surprises on their big day!
No matter what kind of session/wedding they’ve booked, keep these client communication ideas in mind:
Trust me- your clients will thank you!
This is HUGE for over exceeding expectations and rocking your client communication. For couples sessions, I send an outfit guide immediately after they book. It’s an in depth guide I made just for my session couples letting them know what to wear that will look best in the environments I typically shoot in. It’s incredibly helpful for them to know what colors/patterns/styles look best and what to avoid. It makes my job easier prepping them on what looks good, but also serves them with information that helps them make their photoshoot the best it can be. They aren’t expecting it at all, but it automatically relieves stress, because now they are empowered with that info. They have one less thing to worry about!
For weddings, I send a welcome guide immediately after they book. Mine is a 50 page in-depth guide that covers ALL things on what to expect on wedding and elopement days. I talk about timeline, the benefit of engagement sessions, a la carte add-ons, first looks, lighting, group portraits, getting ready spaces, etc.. I pack my guide full of as MUCH helpful content as I can give because I want to exceed my couple’s expectations and let them know I freaking care. It also is giving my couples information that ultimately makes my job as a photographer easier (i.e. get ready in a room with lots of natural window light). Remember- they probably have never planned a wedding before, and they don’t know what they don’t know! Giving them a welcome guide makes their photos turn out better while also serving them with helpful information they need!
Finally, on the day of their session or wedding- don’t leave them hanging. I know a lot of times brides get to the morning of their wedding and can have that thought. “Are my vendors showing up today?!?” It’s mostly an irrational fear, but regardless, assure her you’re on your way, you’re so excited, and you’re pumped to see her in a couple of hours! I also love to ask my couples if they need anything while I’m on the way – like a coffee or something else simple like that.
For sessions, sending a quick text the morning of lets your couple know that you are already focusing on them. You’re showing them they’re a priority, even though the session isn’t for a few more hours. Your couples have made a significant investment in you, so sending a quick note of encouragement is an easy way to affirm their confidence in that investment! No matter how you go about it, SERVE SERVE SERVE as much as you can.
Do all of this and I can nearly promise you RAVING reviews from your clients. Go above and beyond everything you tell them. Do things they don’t expect. Your clients are hiring you knowing that you will show up and take pretty photos of them. Duh! What they don’t anticipate is for you to become personally invested in them and serve them in ways they never even imagined. Every time they look at those photos, they should remember what an amazingly fun adventure they had during the session. I’ve had many clients book me for a couples session, then return to me for their engagement and wedding photos! It’s all because of the experience from when they inquire until the final delivery of the gallery. Client communication is all about SERVING them, and when you acknowledge that, it’s a game-changer!
Lindsey Roman is an adventurous destination wedding and intimate elopement photographer based out of Oahu, Hawaii, but she travels worldwide. She lives for outdoor adventures, intimate moments, and candid images. Her style is raw, passionate, and authentic. She believes in chasing sunsets, laughing too hard, and most importantly: capturing moments that evoke feeling over perfectly posed photographs.
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