Few things are more certain to snag a gig than a positive impact on a potential customer. Unfortunately, knowing exactly how to smooth talk a client isn’t second nature to most photographers. If you’re still learning the ropes and working to master your wedding pitch, here are a few pointers to take to heart, courtesy of veteran photographer Robert Evans:
Learn about your client
Take some time to get to know the ins and outs of the people you’ll be working with. How did they meet? What drew them to your photography? Have they discussed their photographic likes and dislikes with one another?
These questions immediately build a connection with the clients, making them feel valued. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so be sure to spark some conversation right off the bat and listen closely to determine whether there’s likely to be any chemistry between you and the potential client.
Get on the same page
Be sure that your clients are educated on what to expect of the big day ahead of time. After all, you’re bound to have much more experience under your belt of what happens behind the scenes than a new bride or groom. There’s nothing worse than having a different set of expectations in mind and running into conflict the day of the wedding. Make sure to build time for hair, make-up, and transportation into your schedule. Also be sure to go over logistics, such as timing and lighting for each individual photo shoot.
Offer an engagement session
Other than good old fashioned conversation, one of the best ways to get to know a client is to get out there and stage a photo shoot with them. Suggest an engagment photo shoot 90 days or more before the wedding.
This can serve as a sort of trial run for all parties involved. With less at risk on this occasion than on the wedding day itself, photographers can get a preemptive feel for the event. Use the engagement shoot to provide what the client is looking for, but also take some time to experiment with ideas of your own. Once all is said and done, you can look through your results and determine which looks most align with the client’s vision.
Stick to your guns
When a client opts for something that you sense might be problematic in the future, try to convince them to change their minds. Be soft and polite, but straightforward. Share your personal experience and explain why a certain preference may not necessarily be a good idea. Avoid shutting them down and making a decision for your client; coax them in a favorable direction instead. Being difficult and unwilling to cooperate is an easy way to drive away a potential job.
Follow up, but remain flexible
Don’t demand an answer one way or another from a client concerning whether or not they’ll hire you the instant you part ways. Often times, a customer needs a little bit of time to contemplate and review before pledging to a specific photographer. However, it is wise to create a slight sense of urgency so that you’re not left waiting on an answer. Be forward and ask how long a client thinks it will take to make a final decision. Some people will book you right on the spot, others will wait up to a month before confirming a hire.
If you’re not one for weddings, keep in mind that the majority of this advice is applicable to photographers of all shapes and sizes. A lot of it—such as treating those you work with considerately—is common sense. But above all else, Evans insists, it’s important for any photographer to have confidence in their trade.
At the end of the day, you know what works best for you. Put yourself out there, and more often than not, sincerity and passion will take you far.
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