My exact client process

Have you ever wanted to book a session with a photographer and just felt completely lost on what was going on? I really hope not. But, I wanted to go ahead and tell you what my processes were so you could follow along and also learn what I am doing behind the scenes.

First, I receive your inquiry.

This is where you tell me that you saw something you liked and may be interested in hiring me. As soon as I get this message, I get to work. I send you a welcome email with information regarding going forward from that point. I will send a few more emails including information with my pricing (I like to be super upfront about them because I want you to be able to make a good decision), as well as a questionnaire to get the ball rolling.

Now, you fill out the questionnaire.

I have you do this so that way when we are in the consultation (the next step) I am not going to ask you a lot of these questions. I can do my research and try to make the consultation more about the details instead of “What are we doing the photos for?”

I want to get to know you and make sure I am a good fit for you. I send you all of these things before I even meet with you so that way if you can’t hire me for any reason (i.e. cost, style, not the services I offer) then we don’t waste anyone’s time. I certainly don’t want you to come see me and then realize that you can’t afford me, etc. I am very transparent and these steps will really help with that.

I also want to have you fill out this questionnaire before hand so that I can get a good idea of what you want and I can present you with ideas during your session. I look at inspiration from different photographers, my own work, as well as Pinterest.

Consultation time.

This is the time I get to know you, and vice versa. I want to make sure I am the perfect fit for you before you even hire me. I offer these either over the phone or in person. I understand that people have busy lives to live and can’t always meet in person. We can talk about anything you want to know about me and I will get to know you so that way I know what it is that I am going to capture during the session. It can also give me great ideas when planning your session. For example, I could have a high school senior that they are going to Indiana University in the fall. I will tell this person that we can totally showcase that in the session and I will make it a priority to get photos with him/her in that gear. It also gives you the time to learn about me, and ask me how my process goes.

Crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s.

So at the end of the consultation I will ask you if you would like to hire me. If yes, we will then go ahead and come up with a location, date, and time. Once we have all that information, I will create a contract for you to sign which will include the retainer payment attached to it. The retainer is to secure your spot. It will be due midway before your session with the final payment due before the session date. The contract must be signed before I can continue with booking your session. It’s not just to protect me, but it is especially meant to protect you, the client.

Session time!

Here is the fun part. The session. I will show up, snap the photos and give you an approximate date that I will have the photos ready for you. I do this the day of to make sure I don’t have anything else super crazy going on around that same time.

The behind the scenes magic.

This is where I do my work. I go through and pick out all the photos I plan on editing. This is where I take out anything that may not be in focus, someone is blinking, someone moved while I snapped the photo, or anything else that wouldn’t work. It’s not that I don’t want to show you every photo I took, but you would have taken those out to begin with so let me do that work for you. Then I go through and make any touch ups needed (lighting, composition, etc.).

Once I have done all of that I prepare 3 types of photos for you. One folder includes the high resolution photos for printing. Second, is the smaller version for online purposes. Third, has my watermark on it. You will get access to the third one. The first two are for me to use on social media, my website and to get your photos printed.

You’ll receive the gallery!

Typically I try to get a blog post sneak peek for you before I send the gallery. I typically do that the day before. Once I send the gallery, you can look through ALL of them. Pick and choose your favorites. You can even send that same link to anyone you think may want to purchase some as well. This is when I will send you information regarding ordering prints.

Order and receive.

Once you order your prints and pay the invoice I can get my lab started on it. I have my lab send everything to me first. I want to make sure you receive these pieces in tip top condition. Plus, some items take longer than others and I want you to get the WHOLE package all at once. (Also, if you decide to have these items shipped to you, it will cost you less to just put it all in once package). I’ll let you know when everything has arrived and I will get it to you as soon as possible.

Last, but not least.

The last step is to fill out a survey. It’s mainly so I can see how I did and how I can better my business. I want to make sure that if you didn’t think I did something right or if there was a way I could do it better, I would LOVE to hear your suggestions. I don’t know what it’s like getting any of this stuff from myself so I need to hear it. Tell me all.

I hope this post gives you better insight into how I run my business. I would love to hear any suggestions from you as well. Feel free to comment below anything you can think of.

How I scout unique locations for sessions

Every time I get a potential client, I send them a questionnaire regarding what they would like from their session. One of the questions that I ask if they have any particular places they find special or would like me to check out. I do this to try to get some information about them and see what they like. However, most people just say, “no I trust you” which means I have to come up with something special for them.

Challenge accepted.

I wanted to take you through my exact process on how I scout for unique locations for sessions.

First step

Get a city/town location. I at least want to get this from the couples so that way no one is traveling too far. I also can see which cities are around that I have already been to or know I will be heading to in the near future. If I have already been to some of these places, I can choose to either use some locations I have already used or try and find new places.

Step two

Whether I have been there or not, I try to go before hand and scout out some locations. I want to make sure I know exactly where I want to shoot the day of the session. I will take photos of different places I think will work. I will even try to bring someone along with me so they can pose for me in these locations so I can test out the lighting and if each place will actually work.

While I am searching for these locations, I try to find places that include neutral backgrounds, and even have texture. I even look for layers, and try to find natural things as well. Some examples would be in a park surrounded by nature, brick walls, or even something that stands out but isn’t distracting like a colored door.

The key is to find something that won’t take away from the subject (the clients). You want them to enhance the photo and could even use them for props. You just don’t want them to be the center focus of the photograph.

If I can’t get there before hand, I will try and do some research. I use Instagram and Pinterest to help me out with this. I use the geotags and just search locations throughout that city/town. I look for articles relating to places to photograph. I have actually done this for my sisters session as we HAD to get these photos done on a certain day because of time constraints for holiday cards and we were all busy the other days. It was going to rain that day. I had to come up with something that we could do indoors. My roommate found this article with the Indy Star on top Instagramable places in Indy. We ended up using the Indianapolis Public Library and it worked perfectly because of all the windows that were in it. Lighting was perfect.

Three

Once I have come up with some places, I will let the client know that I have come up with some ideas and will let them know if they are all in close proximity or if we may be doing some walking or driving. I will tell them where to meet and I will do my best to find a spot with free parking or the lowest cost parking. Depending on the session type will depend on how many of the locations we will get to. I end up finding way more than I need so that way if we go through a few quickly, I can have more up my sleeve if need be.

All it takes is a little planning and exploring and I can easily come up with great places for every session.

How to write a testimonial

One of the ways that any business gets more business or how they get their name out is by referrals, reviews or testimonials. However, not many people know how to write one. I honestly didn't for the longest time. I thought to myself, "Why does it matter? No one's going to read this. I don't have anything important to say and even if I did how should I write it?" Today, I am going to show you how exactly to write one and where you should post it.

First, you will want to choose where you end up posting this review. There are many different platforms including Yelp!, Google, Facebook, and a lot of places - like photographers - have niche websites that you can find reviews. Example: Trade workers - Angie's List, wedding photographers - The Knot, all photographers - ShuttrPlace, Airbnb for rentals. This list could go on forever, so just look up some different search engine websites for your particular service.

Second, the star rating. Not all places have this in their reviews, but if they do, it is very helpful for you to fill this part out. Some may have sections where you can rate different part of the services (like Airbnb for cleanliness, communication, location, etc.) or they may just have one for the overall experience, such as Facebook pages. This is very important because it's the first look that other people will get when reviewing it. I always like to look at the low end and the high-end results. Unless your experience was just so-so, try to end for one end of the spectrum instead of in the middle.

Next, the actual writing portion. When I am writing a review, I like to make a small list off to the side of things I liked and did not like. It can be as long or as short as you like. I try to aim for 3-4 of each. It's great if I can't make the bad part that long. After I had made my list, I will come up with a few things to say about each point. One to two sentences unless I need to go into more explanation.

Finally, organizing the post. The best rule of thumb is if you are giving them an overall positive review, but you have a negative comment somewhere in it, put the more positives on the outsides like a sandwich. For example, "I loved the location of the house of our Airbnb. It was right near the city. However, it did take quite a few steps to get there. But, the view from the room was totally worth it." That's a sandwich. Make sure to do this either for the whole post or each individual point. You can also do this vice versa if you had a negative experience.

Now, what if your post is negative? That's okay. However, you want it to be more of constructive criticism rather than bashing. Company's read these. When writing a negative post, think about how you can help them improve or give them a guide. I know when I had no longer wanted to be contacted by a service because I was dissatisfied, I wrote that in the review that they did not have a system in place that all departments could see about not calling anymore. Maybe they should have one in place so customers wouldn't get frustrated with the constant contact that they no longer wanted to receive. That's helpful to them. It gives them something they can work on.

Here some examples of well-written reviews (the names have been blacked out to protect the privacy of reviewers and companies).

How to show sincere emotion in your photographs

When I ask a family, a couple, or an individual to send me their Pinterest board of ideas, it's not for the reason you think. I want to get inside the heads of these people so I can understand what they like and don't like. They hired me because of one reason or another, but I also want to know what their favorite photos are so I can try to produce something similar for him or her. 

One of the things I notice the most is candid photos or ones that show a lot of emotion - which is great because those are the photos I love to capture. As a client, you may want to know how to make yourself give this emotion without feeling weird, awkward, or like you are making a fool of yourself. I have decided to give you some tips to give that emotion and make it sincere. 

One, pick a moment. 

Photo by Lauren Dahlhauser Photography

Photo by Lauren Dahlhauser Photography

What do I mean? Do you ever see those photos of the "first look" from wedding photos and how they look so happy and so in love that they are just in awe of each other? They are overwhelmed by emotion they can't contain it. Unfortunately, with your other photos, not everyone has those overwhelming feelings brought forth. So, we have to improvise to get those photos. 

I want you to go back to a moment you were truly happy, and I do mean truly happy. You can go ahead and close your eyes and imagine this. Now open them. Are you smiling? Good. That's the trick. You can use this for almost any emotion you want to convey.

Doing couple photos? Think of that moment when you fell in love with them, or even that first moment you had a crush on them. Did your heart just flutter a little? How do you feel when you are looking into his/her eyes? Picture this in your head.

Family photos? Imagine the happy moments together. Imagine the funny moments together. If there are younger kids involved, this may not be an easy concept. So practice with them and associate a word with this moment. For example, "Remember that time Mommy ran around in circles so much she got dizzy and fell down? Wasn't that funny? Mommy fell!!" and keep repeating Mommy fell so that they associate how funny it was. Then during the photos, you can say "Remember when Mommy fell?" to start the laughing. 

Photo by: Lauren Dahlhauser photography

Photo by: Lauren Dahlhauser photography

Now, when you get in front of the camera, start thinking of these moments and bring those emotions forward. This will create amazing sincere emotions that will be shown in the photographs. 

Two, be yourself. 

This may sound obvious, but when you are standing in front of the camera all thoughts typically go out the window. Trust me, even I do it. So I am going to give you the tips I use when I stand in front of the camera to help me be myself. 

I know I am an awkward person in front of the camera, so I make faces at myself and then I end of laughing about it which in result gives great laughing photos. 

I also tend to dance, a lot. Sometimes that works out well and others it doesn't, but it makes it so fun. 

Smile. And not that awkward smile. Truly smile. Be happy. Imagine something that makes you happy (back to tip one). 

Being yourself brings out the greatest REAL emotion. 

Three, get comfortable. 

If you are someone who has a comfort space or a comfort outfit that makes you feel confident, be in that space or outfit. 

Why? Confidence is the strongest emotions you can capture. Plus, if you are comfortable, the other emotions come much easier to convey. Why do you think the saying is "Confidence is key"? 

Imagine a space that you feel comfortable in when you are not in that space. I promise you will feel that comfort come to you. 

When you are in uncomfortable clothing what is the one thing you are thinking the entire time? "My shirt is too tight, my pants are fitting weird, my choker is literally choking me and I can fall out of these shoes at any time." Was I wrong? You're not thinking about your emotions, your mind is on other things and your face is telling your photographer that you are not comfortable. Please wear something you are comfortable in to your session. 

In conclusion...

Pick your moment, be yourself, and get comfortable. 

I hope these tips will come in handy on your session date. 

If you are interested in booking with me, click this link to send me an inquiry. I can't wait to work with you. 

Tips on what to wear: Couples Edition

With this blog post, I do have a guest blogger, Trendy in Indy, as well as myself to give you some of the best tips on what to wear to your couples photo session. Up first, some great words of advice from Trendy in Indy, an Indianapolis blogger who has all the latest fashion advice and has a knack for shopping local. 

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Engagement photos or just couple photos in general are so much fun. My husband and I do them every year when our anniversary rolls around. Knowing what to wear for these can be a challenge, but here are a few helpful tips:

One, color coordinate

As silly as this may seem, color coordination is critical for photos. Also think about how various colors compliment both of you. Don't pick a color that one of you looks great in and the other, not so much. 

Two, pick a theme

It's always fun to pick some type of theme for photos. This past year, Collin and I did a unique spin on a forest theme. You don't normally wear a button up shirt or heels in the woods, but we had a blast with it. 

Three, think about location

Speaking of theme, location goes along with this. Think about where you want your shoot to take place and considering dressing to compliment the background.

Four, don't overdo the patterns

If one of you wants to wear plaid, the other should probably wear a solid. 

Five, check the weather

If it's going to be hot, think about that when selecting your wardrobe. You don't want sweaty photos after all.

No matter what you choose to wear, these photos will always be a memory for you. Here's to your next couples session!

xo,

Steph

 

 
 

All Photos are provided by:
DeKam Studios

Thank you so much for your insight, Trendy in Indy! 


I do have some tips for you and your significant other as well. 

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One, communicate with your partner. 

Make sure you are both on the same page. Topics that should be discussed is style, coordination, and practicality to name a few. 

Two, coordinate but don't match.

There is a difference. Matching means you are both wearing the same thing. Coordinating means you have a similar style and may have a similar color scheme. 

If one of you is dressed up, the other should not be wearing their chill on the weekend outfit. You both need to look like you are attending the same session. If you both want to be informal, that is fine. If you both want to be dressed up, that is fine. Just do it together. 

When it comes to color - If someone has mainly one color on, the other can have that color (or in the same color family) in a smaller part. Examples: Mainly red patterned dress and a similar red colored tie. Blue outwear vest and blue sweater. 

Three, consider your location. 

If you plan on going to the beach, I don't consider wearing your nicest outfit or those really nice heels. Think about where you are going for the photos. Are you going for a soft natural/rustic feel? Then sticking to soft neutral colors may be a great option. Are you going to be shooting in a city or urban area? Then brighter colors or a more “dressed up” approach may work with the setting better. It doesn’t hurt to look at sessions from similar locations and see what other people wore. It’s a great way to see what you like.

Four, be comfortable & practical.

The last thing you want is not to be enjoying your time because something doesn't fit right. Wear this outfit a couple time before a session to see how it feels. If it's not comfortable, do not wear it. 

Also, if you plan on being picked up a lot in this session, or walking around a lot, wear something that is practical for those activities. You can wear a dress if you want to have a lift, just don't wear something short enough that it may reveal a little something you won't want in your photos.