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This past week I got back from my third road trip through Virginia and the Carolinas. While down there I worked with two new clients, one being Andi from AndiMarrs.com. Working with Andi was seamless and felt like I had known her forever. Which, got me thinking, what should clients be thinking about when they are booking a potential photographer. (And, honestly, these are also things that I consider when I am reaching out to a potential new client. So it works both ways.)
Look through their website, Instagram, etc. and seriously consider if you see yourself in those photos. Not just do you see someone who physically looks like you (although, that is important), but do the photos capture the range of emotions and expressions that you would want? I describe my work as joyfully editorial, so, while you are getting some of the high fashion elements, I also shoot people smiling, giggling, etc. That look isn’t for everyone.
The same goes for editing style. My photos are bright, but also have saturated colors. If you’re interested in a dark and moody aesthetic, you’re probably not going to call me. And, guess what? That’s totally ok!
Andi and I are a great match for everything above. We both love to create joyful and colorful photos that show off her personality. Her photos are also bright and match with my editing style.
When I first started out, I was obsessed with having a phone call with every new client. Its considered a best practice in the wedding photography world (for good reason) and I thought that I needed it to be taken seriously. Now, being a few years into it, I’m still happy to have calls, but don’t consider them a necessity. Folks generally booking me for one to two hours at a time and it isn’t the same kind of commitment as hiring someone to photographer your wedding.
However, I do think you should have some sort of chat, even if it is virtual. Email. Instagram DMs. Even texting. Something to help you get a feel for the other person. Sometimes I still do phone calls. Especially if there’s a lot of moving parts or someone has questions that are easier to answer over the phone. But, don’t get too caught up in how you talk to them. You can learn plenty about people through written communication.
Andi and I had been following each other for a bit before we talked about working together, so a phone call felt like it would’ve been a bit much. I really felt like I knew who she was and that we would click. However, we did chat over email and over DM before booking.
Aside from actually meeting someone, the most foolproof way to tell if you’ll click is asking a friend. Has the photographer worked with a friend of yours? Family member? Acquaintance? If so, great! Ask for all of the details. How did the session go? Ask about the three p words: promptness, personable, and professional. You can navigate any situation with someone who has those three characteristics.
Also, try to ask someone who is either somewhat similar to you in personality or understands your personality. For example, I tell a lot of jokes during my session. (Like, maybe too many.) I might not be the best fit for someone who is looking for a more serious experience. Hopefully the person you ask about me would know if that sort of demeanor would fit well with your personality.
Because Andi and I had been following each other, we also had mutual friends in common. Knowing that we had connected with similar people helped me feel even more confident that we would be a great match. I would imagine that it also helped her feel more confident in hiring me.
While all photographers take pictures, we also all do things differently. Think through what you are looking for and make sure you are communicating that clearly. That goes for everything from what you’re going to do with the photos to expectations about editing. This includes turnaround time. If you’re on a tight deadline, please say something BEFORE you book the session. Once again, for the people in the back, BEFORE you book. So many issues can be circumvented if everyone is upfront and honest before anything is ever scheduled.
I work with a lot of bloggers and influencers, so I generally have an idea of what they want. However, I’m always asking questions to make sure that we are creating photos that will meet my clients goals. I also review their profiles, websites, etc. to try to get an even more specific idea of what they want. Andi and I were very much on the same page with creating fun photos that show off her personality and her clothes.
While you should put thought and care into these type of decisions, just remember that the most important component of any shoot is really having fun and trying to relax. We can take the work seriously without taking the ourselves too seriously. The photos are always more fun if you are relaxed and enjoying yourself. So do your research, trust your gut, and make the best of it.
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Hi, I'm Dylan, a photographer in the Philadelphia Metro Area. I love iced coffee, red wine, and am always up for binging Gilmore Girls or Parks and Rec..