Owning your own photography business means having the freedom to do things the way YOU want, right? But what happens when your client doesn’t seem to share your vision? Do you bend your style to fit theirs or move forward hoping they’ll love the end result? Neither of these options is ideal! The real key to happy customers (and a happy photographer) is to find YOUR ideal photography clients — the ones who love your work and trust your process — and build their trust.
When people trust that you can deliver an amazing result for them, they are going to lean in and let you as the artist lead the way.
It might seem like dream clients are magical unicorns that land in the laps of other photographers, but believe me, finding your ideal photography clients has way more to do with how you show up. So, how do you gain your clients’ trust and, in turn, attract more of those ideal photography clients who will help you build a photography business that makes your artistic soul happy? Here are my secrets:
1. Attract your ideal photography clients and repel everyone else.
This is the case for being niche in your brand, having a clear voice, and telling people what you do and what you don’t do. On the homepage of my website it says this:
“If you’re looking to preserve the real, natural & beautiful moments of life…
if you don’t want to be told to say cheese…
if you want photos that show your true connection and your authentic soul…
then you’ve come to the right place.
Because life’s not about being perfect. It’s about finding beauty in the imperfection…
It’s about living in the moment and taking a piece of it with you forever…”
I’m fairly confident that this not only attracts all of my amazing clients, but also repels those wanting a very traditional portrait. I think it goes without saying that there is nothing wrong with traditional portraits, it’s just not what I shoot. It’s so much better for both of us if those clients wanting a more traditional portrait find a photographer who will provide that service.
Throughout my website and social media, I continue to attract and repel with very specific words and images. For instance, you won’t find any photos of people who are posed or staring right at the camera, because that’s just not me and it isn’t my dream client either.
2. Provide potential clients with visual and social proof.
Once your ideal photography clients are finding you, you want to show them that you will deliver consistent, beautiful results. Visual proof is all of the images you show online — on your social media, your website, and anywhere else you are marketing.
Consistency and curation are key, especially on your website and social media. Your potential clients want to be able to envision what their result will be just by looking at the images on your website.
If you’re not attracting your ideal photography clients, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Are the images on your website consistent? Your style and voice must be clear, so that clients know what to expect if they book you.
2. Do all of the images you share portray the feelings you want your clients to feel? For me, I only display images with feelings of love, joy, and nostalgia.
3. Are you showing only your best work? I once heard (and I believe it’s true) that potential clients will hone in on your weakest image and question whether they’re going to get your best or your worst. This weakens their trust in your brand.
Social proof is important, too. This includes your testimonials, your reviews on Facebook & Google, features on blogs and publications, awards, etc. When potential clients read a glowing review that describes how great you were to work with, it gives them so much extra confidence. If you’re not asking for reviews, you absolutely should be, and you should be featuring the best ones on your website!
3. Tell your clients what to expect… then tell them again.
Once a client has decided to book you, it’s time for you to take the lead. Let them know your process and exactly what to expect along the way.
My clients receive all of this information in my welcome guide. In addition to knowing my workflow and timeline, I also give clients a pep talk at several points along the way (in my welcome guide, on the phone, and when I first meet them in person). I constantly reiterate that my sessions are natural and candid, that we want to capture genuine connections, and that in order to do that we’re going to relax and have fun.
Also, I assure my clients that kids will be kids, so rather than stress about it, we’re going to go with the flow! I think this goes a long way in getting moms to let loose and trust that I’ve got it.
4. Bring good vibes to put your clients at ease.
Bringing out people’s genuine emotion and facilitating connections that feel effortless has so much to do with the photographer creating that space for clients.
I really make an effort before my sessions to get to know my clients through emails, phone calls, and a questionnaire that digs much deeper than the surface. And, I try to make sure they know a bit about me. That way, when I finally show up, we already feel like we know each other, and I can be super open and conversational to help set the mood.
Positive energy, confidence and openness is so key for the first few moments of meeting your clients in person. Not only will it put them at ease and give them permission to open up to you, but they will also feed off of your good vibes. I’ll be going way more in depth on this topic during my workshop, Naturally Unfolding Moments, at Click Away in March, so if this is something you want to dive deeper on, I’d love to see you there!
3 Tips to helping your clients look (and feel) amazing.
OK, so now you’ve attracted your ideal photography clients and they trust you and feel comfortable enough to let you do your artist thing. How do you make sure they show up looking and feeling amazing, too?
First, I think it’s so important to remember that you are (hopefully) not in business just to photograph beautiful people in beautiful clothes. As a family photographer, your goal is probably something along the lines of preserving moments and capturing the beautiful, unique love each family has for one another. So, while it’s nice when they show up looking straight out of a magazine, the most important thing is that each family truly feel like themselves.
That being said, some people genuinely need and want guidance to look and feel their best at a session. Here’s how I do that:
1. Only show what you want to shoot.
You’ve probably heard this one before, but it can’t be emphasized enough. If you’d prefer not to shoot matchy-matchy families, then do not show a single image like that on your website or social media. Curate your portfolio to show the style you want to shoot and the types of clothing you want to shoot as well. Not only will this attract people who share your style, but it will also help booked clients decide what to wear.
2. Provide a style guide.
I use Canva to create a style guide for my clients. I give them a step-by-step process for planning outfits (which starts with selecting a color scheme and mom’s outfit first and then adding the rest of the family around what she’s wearing) and tips on what not to wear (including not matching exactly, avoiding logos, and more). In my guide, I’ve also put together some outfit ensembles by season, which I share to show them what will look great.
3. Offer help in styling.
Just this year I added a new styling service, which is free upon request to anyone who has booked a full session with me. For this, I create a private Pinterest board for them with pins that link to actual stores and outfits they can purchase. I also encourage them to text me pictures of all of their outfits together, and then I provide my thoughts and tips. All of this maybe takes 30 minutes of my time, and it builds additional rapport and trust. It’s well worth it when a family shows up looking amazing!
I hope it’s clear by now that magical unicorns (aka dream clients) are not found, they’re made. How you attract potential clients, build their trust, and guide them through an amazing experience will ultimately be the key in creating the images that you (and your ideal photography clients) are dreaming of. And when you find those people and make photos that speak to your own heart, I guarantee they will speak to their hearts, too.
Photos by Laura Barr