My free checklist will help you get organized so you can finally run a smooth food photography shoot!
What would you think if I told you that the most important part of being a food and product photographer has almost nothing to do with photography?
Well, it’s true! An elevated client experience is the most memorable part of their entire working relationship with a photographer, period. While honing your photography skills is necessary to provide a top-notch end product, it’s the journey that nurtures existing clients into loyal, repeat customers.
How do we enhance that journey as photographers? I’m glad you asked! In this blog post I’ll cover some steps that I take throughout a project to ensure that my client understands my process, has their individual needs met, and feels comfortable from their initial inquiry to their final payment.
Forging a new working relationship is a delicate stage of the creative process. They’re getting to know how you work and you’re getting to know what they like. You can make this part of the project go smoothly by being proactive…don’t ever make a client guess what they should do next! I like to use the following three steps to set reasonable expectations from day one.
It helps me set the client’s expectations if I have some reasonable ones of my own! Sending out a client questionnaire at the beginning of a project will help you understand where their head is at. You can see what they’re hoping to get from this collaboration and what their priorities are. Not to mention you can gain an idea of their experience level with the type of work you do. If you can follow up with a call, all the better! I know it can be nerve racking at first, but I promise you it gets easier! And it helps create a personalized relationship with new clients. Remember that we always want to buy from people.
Some clients don’t know for sure what they want (or don’t want) until they see it. Mood boards can convey your ideas in a more concrete way to clients who have difficulty visualizing things on their own. Use them to suggest color schemes, angles, and other design aspects you think will work with the project at hand.
Putting together a shot list will ensure that you get specific shots your client needs. Use it as kind of a checklist for particular angles that are important to them, but also use this to keep track of different aspect ratios they’ll need. Every social media platform and website template has particular aspect ratios that perform best, so if your client knows exactly where they’ll be using their images you can be sure to check the optimal ratios for that platform off your list! I created a checklist to help you keep track of all the shots you need, make sure to check it out!
Sometimes it can feel awkward to talk about payment and image rights, but it’s incredibly necessary to lay out those details up front. Be clear about how your client can use their images moving forward, and work together to set fair deadlines. Give them time to review your contract and agree on a payment plan that works for them and allows you to manage expenses for the job.
Communication is key to an elevated client experience. In the previous section we talked about starting off on the right foot by laying out your process up front. But there’s more to good communication than landing the deal!
For example, I’m a huge proponent of Client Management Systems (CRMs). I use Dubsado to keep the lines of communication open throughout a project. This way I can create automations that serve the client while saving me time. That means I can send out specific emails that I’ve composed ahead of time, which address a client’s concerns before they even have them, talk about elevated client experience! I can also use Dubsado to trigger certain actions on my end in response to things the client does on theirs. So if they choose a package, a corresponding contract can be ready to go before I’ve even lifted a finger. I can also pre-populate invoices using packages I have saved from previous clients. (Love that one!)
All of that is a win for me in terms of efficiency, but it’s also a win for the client. They feel so much more confident going into a transaction that proceeds in a timely manner, with an organized stream of information headed their way at every step! And of course, with all the paperwork virtually managing itself, my time and energy is free to focus on the most important part: being there for my clients and providing them with my very best work. (If you’d like more information on my CRM, check out my blog post on using Dubsado in my workflow.)
Having a plan, a CRM, and some well-written emails is a great start! But as a photographer whose business is based on the power of visuals and images, having beautifully designed templates to walk your clients through your process and what to expect is the best part of an elevated client experience to me. It’s probably because of my background as a graphic designer, but I just love sharing those magazine style proposals and welcome packets!
I use those templates as much as possible in my business, because they allow me to communicate crucial information quickly, over and over again. At the same time, they offer a high level of customization that enables me to provide a personalized touch for every single client. If I’m working with a bakery, I’m going to want to feature my food photography, but I can an updated package ready in minutes if I decide to pitch a cosmetics client!
Or, let’s say that I have decided to raise my prices (which you should do regularly!), I can update my templates in a few clicks, making sure that any new client will get the updated prices! This kind of flexibility is great for several purposes:
If you want to get started with templates, I offer some as part of my UpWork Playbook bundle! You’ll receive my ebook guide to getting started on one of the world’s largest online freelancing platforms, along with six professionally designed template pages, which can be easily customized in one of my absolute favorite — and free to use! — online graphic design resources: Canva.
After your job is completed, your client’s feelings about their experience will be the most important thing they remember. Their impression of you as a professional and of your photography will always be colored by the way you made them feel.
So by all means, become the best photographer you can possibly be! Take all the classes, learn all the techniques, and buy all the equipment you can afford. But remember that creating a positive, elevated client experience will set the stage for a long-lasting business relationship! I hope you’ll use some of my suggestions to help you along the way, and I would love to hear what step you take to elevate your client experience!