Top things You Should Ask a Client Before You Agree to Shoot For the future couple
When it comes to any assignment a good one? Or, should you be careful about the brides & grooms that you agree to shoot?
10) What do you hope to get out of the whole experience?
Getting on the same page with a bride and groom is important if you want things to go well. After you determine what they’re really looking for, matching them up with the right services, even if it means less money in your pocket, can result in a happy customer who recommends you to others.
How do they plan to manage the experience from timing to money to albums and prints etc.? It helps me to understand their endgame and try to come up with a package that helps them do that. I have no problem steering a client to a package for less than their budget point because I think it’s the best approach considering what they said they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it.
In what form would like the images delivered (album, matted prints, Canvas/acrylic/famed print, HD resolution on disk etc.)
Another leading way of asking that is “How will you be displaying the images” (i.e. PLEASE don’t leave images on CD in a box.
9) Can you describe the location/venue?
Quite simply, will the location help, or hurt, your images. By asking questions that prompt them to describe the scene, you’ll be better able to plan properly for the job.
I want to know if the location will lend itself to make good images and to make images that fit my style. Yes, I a good photographer can make good images anywhere, but do I want to shoot in an cheesy 80′s wedding factory with fluorescent lighting on a Saturday in July? This will also let me know what to prepare for as far as lighting and remote equipment, etc.”
I don’t really care if there are 5 or 500 people there, but it helps to know if you will have space to work. It’s hard to move around and make an image when you stuff 400 people into a ballroom that holds 300. You are not only the photographer, but I think it is also our job to help them with the planning to make the day run smooth.
8) What are your expectations for the big day?
Many clients expect far more than is humanly possible. By asking them to describe –in detail– what they expect from a photographer, you will be able to decide if this is a job you’d be willing to take. It also opens up the opportunity to manage their expectations.
About a month before, I send my clients a form to fill out with all kinds of relevant info — timeline, contact numbers, other vendors, etc. — and I ask them to put down a list of all the family portraits they’d like to do. Doing this well ahead of the day allows time to make changes if needed to the itinerary. It gives me the chance to be the cold, hard light of reality when there’s a need to manage the timeframe and let them know what’s possible within the time we’ve got to work with.
7) What’s the plan for the day?
Weddings are usually filled with subtle, and not-so-subtle moments. By asking them to run through the plan for the day, it can give you a hit-list of things to look for. Shooting the moments that are important to them, big or small, will usually impress them with your attention to detail.
“Are you arriving to the venue via Parachute? Or on roller-skates? I want to know every detail of the day so I can be prepared for it when it happens.”
6) Who else are you considering?
This can be an awkward question to ask, but if you can figure out a creative way to say it, you should. Who is your competition? Knowing this will, of course, benefit you from a marketing and product positioning standpoint. But it will also give you clues about the style that the bride and groom really like. If you feel that you are in the right company, and your style is a match – then go for it. Otherwise, beware.
What are you seeing from other photographers that appeal to you? Prospective clients tend to be very educated and good at negotiating. Oftentimes they hold all their cards close and reveal very little in way of how they are making their decision. Instead of flat out asking, “Who else have you talked to,” think about asking what services or products they have seen that they like or really didn’t like and oftentimes, through natural conversation, you will learn a lot about who and what you are competing against.”
Have you heard about my services? This is a gateway question designed to open the door to some additional marketing. Use this opportunity to explain what you offer, how it makes you different and why the couple would love the service. Remember, the couple is not your client yet. You have to convince them through service, humour and friendship that you are the right photographer for them. Price can be a factor in photography, but it is more about relationships.
5) What is your budget?
This is often a tricky question, because it’s possible that the client hasn’t really thought about it yet – and if they have, they may not have a realistic number in mind. Once again, your skills at managing expectations may come into play.
“Oftentimes prospective clients are indeterminate about how much they want to spend on photography. Try finding conversational and friendly ways to ask what you really need to know, “What is your budget?” Perhaps you could let her know how you compare with other photographers in the area. “Good photographers in this market are charging X. My fees are X. Have you thought about what you would like to invest in the photography?
I’m not trying to be the most expensive photographer in town or trying in particular to work with “high-dollar” wedding planners. It’s more important for me to have a price point and working style that allows me to not be overworked in order to earn a living but it’s also important for me to have clients, and other professional relationships, with people I want to work with because I connect with them in some way. So if they’re scrapping together their pennies to get just coverage and a disc or if they don’t blink an eye at a five-figure package the common thread and concern for me is the relationship and connection with a couple. I’ve found a happy place where that’s in a pretty good balance right now.
Also, I make certain they know of my pricing before we ever meet. No reason to waste both our time.
4) Are you using a planner?
If a planner is involved, getting the details you need will almost certainly be quicker and easier. Without a planner, you could end up spending a lot of time gathering information (and managing expectations) – which could end up increasing your cost-of-doing-business for the job.
Do you have a day-job? When a bride and/or her mother do not have full-time employment the wedding planning is their job. This is not to say you should suddenly feign to have the swine flu and decline the opportunity, you just may want to find an assistant who will do an effective job blocking and tackling before they consume hours of your time.
How engaged is your family in the wedding planning? This is the polite way of asking “Do I need to worry about your mothers?” Having a fully engaged and excited family can be great and make for some fun photographers. However, family members in disagreement with the couple over details can be a warning sign. one bad review can ruin your reputation. It is almost as important to avoid a bad client as it is to earn an income.”
Are you working with a wedding planner? What’s their name? If yes, then your very next contact should be the wedding planner. Impress the planner. Offer to do a little work for the planner. In the end, you will get referrals. When a planner is involved, they can be almost as important as the couple.
3) Do you understand, and want, the style of photographs that I like to produce?
Are they into you for your style, or because you own a camera and know how to use it? Are they going to let you flex your creative muscle, and are they encouraging you to apply your own style – or are they totally unaware of the subtleties of your approach and think all photographers are the same?
I ask them if they have seen my website. I know it sounds silly, of course they have if they are meeting with you, but you want clients to hire you for your style, not to come in and say “we want this and this and this” If they have seen your work, they know what you do (traditional vs. PJ, how you use light, etc). You want to make sure your potential client likes what they see, because that is how their images will look.” “I like to know what they like, why they called me. This usually leads to a conversation about how I am different from others, etc.
[Ask her to] Describe her perfect wedding pic
Have you looked at my work and do you love/like it a lot?
Make sure they understand my shooting style. I’m not there to take happy snaps of her sorority sisters.
2) How did you hear about me?
Marketing 101 teaches us this, but sometimes people either forget, or are too afraid to ask this question. But beyond the marketing benefits, it’s an important question to ask because it can often lead information that can end up helping you before, during, and after the shoot.
DO NOT PASS GO without asking this questions, period, end of story. You must know how clients find you. Otherwise, your marketing efforts or dollars could be wasted.
Why me? The power of this question is disguised by it’s simplicity. The answer undoubtedly leads to what the client wants from your services. Do they speak of the images, the services, or the products? If they talk about your reputation, chances are they want great service and no worries. Pay attention to what the prospective client wants. The question may also reveal additional sales opportunities for albums or prints.
If they do NOT book with you, I always like to ask them who they DID book and why for future marketing purposes. Sometimes its price, sometimes its just a personality thing and I tell all my potentials clients to meet with multiple photographers to make sure they have the right one FOR THEM.
1) I’d like to know as much as possible about you. What do you like, dislike?
This is obvious and quite simple to understand. You’re likely to produce much better work if you really know the couple. Ask questions and then really listen to them. Let them talk and pay attention. If the conversation is all about you and your photography, then you can’t possibly be learning enough about the potential client.
Do you prefer diamonds or pearls? Or any question that reveals her personality. Indeed, these questions are somewhat superficial but they begin to reveal her fundamental personality and how she wants the world to see her. Allow her passions and turn-offs to inspire, constrain and guide the partnership; but above all else, reserve judgment on the answers.
I want them to just tell me their story, who they are and what they are thinking. This gives me a chance to directly address what’s on the top of their mind first, eventually all of the things that are important to me will get into the conversation. I don’t have a script or fixed sales pitch so I have to tailor what I talk about to what my client is thinking about or concerned with. I hope that it gives the message that what’s important to them is what’s important to me.
What questions do you ask a bride/groom before agreeing to shoot their wedding