Two weeks ago, I talked about how to prepare for your session as a client, as the person being photographed. Today, I want to take a different approach and talk a little about how I prepare for a session as a photographer. Just like a client, I have several stages of planning that I do.
1. Educating my clients about me.
That first meeting with a client is critical. It's the only chance I get to present myself in a positive light and make a good first impression. Most people who call me for portraits already know me, which makes this a little easier, but not all of them know me as "Marie the photographer." I'm "Marie the dance teacher" or "Marie the writer". It gives me a chance to show off my work, and walk them through the investment. I am a full service photographer, and I assure them that their photos will be retouched before they receive their prints and digital copies. This meeting is also a chance to go over my cancelation policy and deposit requirements.
2. Feeling out the theme or tone for the session.
My first priority as a photographer is to make my clients feel wonderful about themselves and their experiences. After the initial meeting with the client and booking the session, I create a Pinterest board to share ideas with them. It is a huge thing to be able to create the look and feel that my clients want, without directly copying another photographer's work. I like to advise my clients on what to wear and how to do their makeup to get the best look for them, as well as for the style that they are wanting. It's during this time that I ultimately decide on a location in which to do the shoot.
The Day or Two Before:
3. Confirming the appointment and scouting the location.
The day or two before is the perfect time for me to get a quick look at the location we're using ahead of time, especially if it's somewhere I haven't had a chance to shoot yet. I look for the best place to have the ideal lighting, for interesting backdrops (like pretty flowers or an abandoned warehouse).
4. Charge batteries, gather props and equipment, and overall, make sure my stuff is where I'll remember it.
I cannot overstate how crucial this part is for me. Ordinarily, I'm very much an organized person, but for whatever reason, I almost forget something right before a big shoot. The night before, I charge up all of my batteries, make sure my CF card is formatted, and that I have all of my cords together so I can immediately go to a Starbucks after my shoot and download the pictures from the camera.
I also make sure that any extra equipment that I may need is where it's supposed to be and in good condition. Going to a product shoot, I make sure I have my soft box ready to go. Any sort of diffusers or special effects have to be in my main camera bag, or in the tote that almost always comes with me on shoots. Once it's all together, it has to go somewhere where I'll remember it, or on my way out the door I'd forget my camera.
The Day of:
5. Arrive early to the location. Then enjoy the process.
There's a reason I always try to arrive early. There have been times where I did my homework, had everything planned out, and then I arrive at the location to find a kid's birthday party in the main area I was going to be shooting! There's nothing like having your plans changed last minute, but at least if I arrive early I'm able to think on my feet and not be caught off guard by something unexpected.
Once the shoot has started, it's my job to make sure that everyone is relaxed and has fun. It's a daunting task, but it is always so worth it to make sure that my clients get the photos they want. It also makes my job easier if everyone is relaxed, as it makes the photos so much more enticing to look at.
6. Enjoy the editing process.
For me, the hardest part of any session isn't the session itself. It's the editing process. There are so many different styles of editing, and so many ways I can make a single photo look. Black and white, Sepia tones, color splashes... the list goes on and on.
The first place I start is by creating a list of my favorite shots. If I have a number of poses, I try to pull one or two from each one to edit. That limits the number of photos I have to edit before showing the client. On any given shoot, I may take 200 photos, but of those, only about 15 to 20 will be edited from an hour long session.
7. Share the photos with the clients.
The best part of any session is getting to share the finished project with my clients and getting to see their reactions. I've done it different ways, depending on the client. Some, I message on Facebook to give them a preview with watermarked photos. Others, I do in person to show them how amazing they look. It depends on the client. After that, I give them the digital copies of the photos they selected with a print release.
8. Follow up.
About a week or two after the client receives their photos, I make a point to reach out to them to see how things are going. I make sure that they're able to display their photos in some way. This is the most important part, for me, because it tells my clients that I value them and their patronage.
Until next time, y'all!