When you are finished with your photo session or wedding, do you feel a bit like that guy that was recently dragged off the airplane, semi-conscious and bleeding? Because that is basically what it feels like when you’ve lost control of your clients.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. You just need to reclaim the power.
The most important part of cultivating a take-charge attitude is that it must come from a good place. You genuinely have to care for your clients and want to create the absolute best images and products for them. And because you are the authority on photography, it makes sense to guide them along on the journey to amazing portraits. But, if your mindset comes from a bossy-pants, tyrannical place, forget it! Check your ego at the door, peeps.
Clients want to be directed. They take comfort in it. Trust us, they don’t want to be in charge of posing themselves, or figuring out where to stand, or even what to wear. Your mechanic doesn’t ask you how to fix the car; that’s what you’re paying them for.
Now before you become Captain Bulldozer, remember that client input is critical to a successful session or wedding. As you’re working, make sure to ask questions, so everyone is on the same page. Asking questions about locations, backgrounds, and styling keeps them involved in the process. Letting your clients choose between two options that are both equally great, gives them a sense of control. And usually your clients will say, “Just do whatever you think is best. You’re the pro!”
Now we all know controlling the flow of a wedding is sort of like corralling a horde of wild animals. Weddings typically have a slew of “authority figures” which is totally unavoidable. But, again, remember that you are the expert when it comes to photography. Use language that suggests you will be in charge during designated “photo time,” such as: “Remember if we want to capture fantastic portraits…” and “To make the most of our photo time, we’ll need to…”. Educate your bride and groom by reminding them that in order to create the type of images you display in your samples, then you will need to direct the formals and the couple’s portraits.
Control is really just about very clear communication.
Clients should know who you are, what you do, how you work, and what they can expect even before the session is booked. Your website and welcome packets should be filled with content and images that paint a crystal clear picture of your work style, your process, and of course, your policies.
You will still receive that occasional email from a potential client that doesn’t fit the mold for how you work or what you offer. And for those, take a few minutes to listen and see if it’s a job you’re willing to consider. If so, go for it. However, if it’s not a match, simply explain that you have a different way of doing things. Taking control also extends to doing the jobs that interest you.
It feels good to have complete control of your workflow, your clients, and your job. So don’t be afraid to give a little direction in order to make things flow smoother. You’ll be glad you did.