For many photographers, this is the time of year that you're filling out your calendar - especially if you're a wedding & event photographer.  Have you ever wondered how you can turn all of those client consultations into an opportunity to book more of the right types of clients?


Here are 24 things you can do to have better client consultations this year:

1. When someone sends you an inquiry from your website, assume that means they want to meet with you.  Respond accordingly.

2. Offer people 3 choices of times to meet, and ask "which of those would work best for you?" 

3. If you don't have a studio to meet a client, instead of buying them coffee, buy them dinner.

4. Always let the client pick the location (if it's not your home or studio). "I'd love to buy you dinner at your favorite restaurant.  Where should we meet?"

5. Leave the sample albums at home. They've already seen your work. They like it.  That's why they're here. They want to like you.

6. Ask questions.  Then listen to the answers.

7. Assume they are there to book you.

8. Stop trying to find ways to save them money.

9. Ask open ended questions (tell me about... what do you think about... what are you excited about... what is your favorite... etc).

10. Have a copy of your agreement (contract) with you at the meeting.

11. Have a way to accept payment (square, paypal, etc) if they want to book at the meeting.

12. You should be talking less than 30% of the time. People like to talk about themselves. They don't like listening to someone else talk about themselves.

13. Never have a client meeting without a client.  Mom or dad aren't your client.  Bride and groom are.

14. Make a list of questions and practice asking them naturally. (more on this tomorrow).

15. When you talk on the phone, smile.  It makes all the difference in the world.

16. Be prepared to answer their quetions: "why are you so expensive?" "why don't you include a disc of images?" the more prepared you are, the more confident you will seem in your business.  Confidence builds trust.

17. Ask closing questions. "It sounds like we have a package that would meet your needs. So that we can hold your date, we simply need a signed agreement, and your booking fee.  Did you want to take care of that with a check or credit card?"

18. Agreement is a much more friendly word than contract.

19. When you want information, ask open-ended questions (how do you feel about... tell me about...).

20. When you want a client to take action, ask multiple choice questions (would you like to take care of that with a check or credit card? I have three dates available for a meeting, which works best for you?)

21. Never assume you are out of someone's budget.  If you are, they will tell you.  Otherwise, act as though they will pay your asking price.

22. Did I mention - it's not your job to save your clients money.

23. Always send a thank you note, whether they book or not.  And always hand write your thank you's

24. If someone doesn't book at the consultation, set an expectation of what comes next. "It sounds like you need a little time to think about your decision.  If it's alright with you, I'll follow up with you later this week to see if you have any more questions."


Every time your phone rings, it's because the person on the other end has a problem.  They have a problem - and their hope is that you have a solution.  If they went through the trouble to call you, it's because they believe that you can help solve their problem.  

As a wedding photographer, it's tempting to believe that our clients have a wedding photography problem.  We think 'these people are getting married, and they want some photos taken, that's why they called me.'  Not only that, but they clearly want the best possible photos that they can afford - so they called me, the best in town.  

In fact, more than a wedding PHOTOGRAPHY problem, our industry has tempted us to believe that our clients really have a "wedding PHOTOGRAPHER" problem.  We seduce ourselves into believing that it's about our style, our personality, even our ability to entertain and impress.  We have convinced ourselves that it's really not even about our photography - but about US.

I do think that there is certainly an important connection that we make with our clients.   And I believe that connection helps us to solve their problem.  The mistake we often make is that we're trying to solve a wedding photography, or wedding photographer problem.  It's understandable - since most of clients believe that is their problem as well.  

Unfortunately, it's not.  I think there's a different - deeper - problem that our clients really bring to us.  I believe strongly that the problem isn't that they need pretty pictures of their wedding, it's that they want to remember the way they feel at their wedding.  See, our clients call us because deep down inside, they want to know that they'll be able to experience their wedding every time they look through their album, or watch their slideshow.  

Clients don't hire photographers because they want to remember what their wedding dress looked like - they want to remember what it felt like when they first put it on and looked in the mirror.  They don't need detail shots so they can remember what the reception venue looked like - they want to remember what it felt like to walk in and be surrounded by the people they love most.  They don't care about first dance photos - they care about remembering the first time they embraced as husband and wife.

They come to us because they hope and trust that we'll be able to offer them a solution.  They bring us a huge challenge - to create for them, images that bring them back to the emotion of their wedding day.  

It's about them.  It's about their wedding.  It's about the story that started long before we ever got involved.  It's about the details, the people, the moments, the smells, the light, the color, and the excitement.  It's about everything they've dreamed about, coming to life before them.

When the phone rings, they have a problem.  They want to remember the experience - and the feeling - of their wedding.  Our job is to be the answer to THAT problem.  The photographers who truly succeed, and build businesses full of happy clients, are the photographers who dedicate their craft and their art to solving that problem.

The next time the phone rings - or you get an email inquiry - think about being the solution to the real problem.  What might you do different?  


Ever feel like this guy?  If you're a wedding or portrait photographer - and running your own business, chances are - you have.  The truth is, most of us can be easily overwhelmed by the things we have to do on a regular basis: edit photos, meet with clients, track our income and expenses, purchase new equipment, fulfill orders, manage our clients information, and more.

Most of us operate with very little margin in our business - or our life.  I like to think of margin as the difference between all the things we're doing (our responsibility), and all the things we're capable of doing (our capacity).  For many of us, we have little or no margin - and end up feeling like our friend above.  If you scroll down, you'll see this post, where I share results about how photographers spend most of their time.

The fact is, most of us spend much of our time on things that don't necessarily help us grow our business - they just help us barely keep our head above the water.  So, what if we were able to create systems that helped free up some of that margin - so we could spend more time on things that really helped us build our business.

So what do I mean by "systems?"  Everything you do on a regular basis should have a system: a repeatable process to complete common tasks.  In my business, I have systems in place for our accounting, our workflow, client relationship management, sales, and ordering.  Each of these systems is designed to be efficient - saving me time.  

For example - I block 2 hours, one day each week for entering information in quickbooks.  I block time each day for responding to email and other communication that needs my attention.  My image editing workflow takes me about 4 hours on Monday, and my album pre-design takes about 1.5 hours on Wednesday.

I'm not saying you have to follow my schedule - but by having a system in place - that I know I can repeat, time after time, I'm able to save myself time for things that are critical for building a business.

Taking the time up front to put in a system that works, can save you time - and margin - later.

image from istockphoto.com