One of the most important aspects of my job as a photographer is to capture my subjects -- whether it is an engaged couple, a wedding event or even a family-- in the best light that best represents them individually. Each couple is unique. Each family is unique. The love they share for one another and how they display that love is different than the couple before. They are each living their very own love story, and the way you connect with them matters.
Building a connection with your couple enables a few things to happen:
Trust. No one is going to jump through a puddle or climb a mountainside for a photo if they don't trust you. To trust you, they have to believe you are on their side (you are!). You want the best for them; therefore, you will take the best photos of them. Remember, be genuine and gain the trust of your client.
Engage. In this day and age where connection is lost- I find this aspect of photography to be one of the most important. Brides have become my friends. Families I have photographed have been invited into my home to share their life with me. It's more than just a job. It’s a conscious lifestyle choice for me to engage with my clients. Choosing to genuinely connect with clients, whoever they may be, will lead to better relationships, happier subjects and ultimately better photographs.
Here are three ways I connect with my clients.
1. Get to know clients before they show up!
If you find out what makes them unique, you will be able to capture them the way they see each other. Ask questions. Upon booking, use a form they can fill out that helps you get to know them. How did the couple meet? Who is the rambunctious child? What are their hobbies? Who is the joke teller of the group? What are their ages, names, likes, dislikes, etc. Using a simple questionnaire or 'get to know you' form your clients can easily fill out and send back is a great way to get started!
2. Be present and invested.
Spend the first 10 minutes of the session "adjusting camera settings" and making sure you have their names right, saying hello, being friendly, and easing into the shoot. You can describe what you'll be doing, such as "At first, I just want y'all to stand over there like so, don't worry about looking at me, talk to one another, I promise I'll adjust and give direction where needed. This is going to be fun!'
I cannot tell you how many times I've had a bride tell me their fiancé "hates photos" or families say, “were difficult to work with”' only to have them leave with, “Oh my gosh, that was so much fun, I had no idea photos could go like that!”
When I'm shooting, I'm treating clients as friends. I laugh with them. I give them instruction without being bossy, compliment them (men included!) and don't take myself too seriously. Let clients be themselves and adjust them accordingly. If you are photographing children, there is no better way to build a relationship with the family then to get on their child's level. Literally, on the ground with them. (Even when one of them is having a mental breakdown, ensure the parents- this is normal) and do your best to make it seem so. Think of cute ways to get them involved. Example: Jokes, whispering games, looking at mom or dad. etc. Embracing their emotions is key. If you want to capture them being playful, then be playful with them. If you want to capture the love of a couple, have them whisper to each other or share a little secret.
3. Always under promise and over deliver.
If you follow the first two tips, you have a strong foundation with your clients. Now, here’s the finale of the interaction with you and your business. Except if you're like me, you don't want it to be the end. You want to photograph them again and want them to refer you! (After all, 84% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family are the most trustworthy sources of information. – Neilson)
The best customer you can have is a repeat customer. Leave an Impression! Fill your client with such joy and excitement that they leave only with the desire to do it all again. People have friends. Those friends have friends. Leaving a lasting impression will help your business spread like wildfire throughout their friends, acquaintances, etc.
So, you want them to think you're the bee’s knees?
At the end of the session you say, I'll have your images ready in 3-4 weeks. Get them back to them in 2 weeks with an email that says you were so excited to edit their session that you finished early! When you send out their photoshow them their portraits, include a few extras. Promised 15 images in their gallery? Show 20. Then of course, comment how you just couldn't leave out these precious moments… See where I'm going?
You are investing in their relationship (their moment). Don’t just tell them how much you enjoyed photographing them, show them! Everyone likes to get a little extra “bonus.”
Lastly, when you ship their order, don't just mail them it in a plain envelope with a "here ya go" on a sticky note. Keep your brand and their experience with you consistent, with beautiful packaging, a handwritten thank you note and maybe a little something extra just to say you care.
These are the steps I take when I am building a connection with clients. Truly connecting and building relationships in your business and within your brand will only elevate your business and your word of mouth referral rate.
Stay true to yourself! I have taken who I am as a person and my personal core beliefs and incorporated them into my business. Trust, Connect, Leave an Impression and build relationships along the way!
Marsais Urban is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer located in Texas. She has a love for film, handwritten letters and my family. She is a mother to three little boys and a wife to a handsome hunk of a cowboy. Together, they are living out their dreams in suburbia and working hard to create a new legacy for their family.