We all want to give our photography clients a great experience! But when odd or unexpected client questions roll in, we can feel caught off-guard – and even a little defensive!
It’s important to remember that our clients aren’t photography professionals themselves. Client questions (and answers) about why we do what we do, how the process works, and what on earth all those fancy photo words mean are necessary for building trust!
These examples will help you craft engaging dialogue with your clients, inviting them into a greater understanding of your service, your artistry, and the intention behind what you offer!
Q: “Why is my picture cropping funny?”
A: “It’s called Aspect Ratio – and it confuses everyone!”
Every photographer has heard client questions about why their 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10 prints of the same image aren’t cropped the same way; and the mathematically-challenged among us cannot wrap our brains around the concept of aspect ratio!
Make your clients’ lives easy with this FREE, BRANDABLE Aspect Radio Download! Now it all makes sense!
Q: “Can we take 87 different group portraits at my wedding?”
A: “Let’s build your timeline and discuss!”
Help your clients connect the dots between:
- Family size
- Available time for portraits
- What they want to spend their time doing!
Most clients have no concept of the amount of time it takes to wrangle party-ready family members into neat lines for posed portraits! Walk your clients through the realities of making that many portraits. Our FREE Timeline Planner can help! So can this message:
“Family portraits are such an important part of your wedding day! I require approximately 2 minutes per portrait grouping to pose and photograph each portrait. At this rate, your list of 87 portraits will take at least two hours and 54 minutes. Perhaps we could discuss options for reducing this list so that it will better fit into your timeline!”
Then pat yourself on the back yourself for remaining calm and not retiring on the spot.
AMY GRAY – amygrayphoto.com
“If the group photos are special to the couple, their smiles are genuine. But when the group portraits are an obligation, the couple gets restless and their smiles become forced. If the list is too long, couples will say, ‘Forget it! We just want to dance!’ A couple should be doing what they enjoy most at their wedding – and for most people that isn’t posing for formal portraits! A few group photos are great, but I always encourage clients to limit them to a few key groups.”
Q: “Can I have the RAW files?”
Option #1: “NO.”
This is the most common photographer response to client questions about RAW files – and it’s totally justifiable! Instead of blindly, abruptly saying no, however, help your client understand:
“It’s so important to me that you only receive beautifully-toned, print-ready photographs! For this reason, I never release my RAW files. Every photograph you receive is a finished product, ready for display!”
Option #2: “Yes!”
If you choose to offer RAW files, consider the specifics.
- What will you charge for the RAW files?
- How will you deliver the RAW files?
- Will the client receive ALL the RAW images, or just the ones that correspond to the delivered JPGs?
- How will you respond if your client asks for technical support in opening or viewing the RAW files?
Choosing to deliver RAW files is not wrong. It may, however, create additional challenges that you should be prepared to address.
A wedding photographer agreed to deliver a couple’s RAW files to them after the wedding. Awkwardly, the bride had experienced several rather severe wardrobe malfunctions throughout the day, which the photographer handled by retouching the revealing photographs free of charge. Had the clients only received the final, retouched JPGs, they never would have known about the unflattering images. But because they received the RAW files (as promised by their contract), they were faced with a reminder of the embarrassing wardrobe issue.
Pro Tip: Client questions are best answered with stories and examples that educate as to why. Don’t settle for simple. Help your clients understand why you do business the way you do – and why it’s best for them!
Q: “My kids are insane and they won’t sit still for photos!”
Option #1: “That’s okay!”
Families get seriously worried when their squirmy little ones don’t want to cock their heads and say “Cheese!” If your approach is more lifestyle than posed, however, you may prefer a relaxed session with lots of interaction! Let your clients know:
“It’s okay if your kiddos are wiggly and wild! Laugh and smile and snuggle them close! Your favorite photographs will always be moments of joy and connection. No one likes photos of themselves scolding their kids, so just forget about making everything ‘perfect’, and enjoy the experience!”
Option #2: “Let’s reschedule!”
If you’re a studio portrait artist who needs a bit more focus from your subjects, prepare your clients for how to achieve this. Inform them of how to prepare for their session: meals, naps, cute clothes that won’t itch or irritate – whatever you’ve found that helps your young clients relax in front of the camera! Then, if it’s still a cranky day for the littles, you can resort to:
“It looks like we’re going to need to reschedule! Let’s discuss how to make our next attempt better.”
One child photographer used to charge a fee for rescheduling – but this created stress for her clients who had done everything “right,” yet still had a cranky kiddo on their hands. She eliminated this stress for future bookings by raising her rates just enough to account for the occasional rescheduling. “Now my clients don’t feel like they’re being penalized if rescheduling is truly necessary,” she shared. “Client questions about rescheduling are easy to answer now that I can put my families’ minds at ease!”
Q: “What kind of camera do you use?”
Option #1: Give a generic response.
If you’re a gear-fanatic who approaches every shoot with a mash-up of digital and film, vintage and modern, experimental and traditional, you might not have an easy answer to client questions regarding cameras! It’s okay to say:
“I use whatever tools I need to use to make amazing photos for my clients! Some of my gear is vintage and wacky-looking; some of it is the latest and greatest. Rest assured that the photos you fell in love on my website exemplify the types of photos I’ll make for you!“
Option #2: “This SPECIFIC kind!”
If you’re a die-hard brand loyalist with an unchanging equipment set, you can answer gear-related client questions openly and confidently! Don’t worry about whether your client will understand your fancy gear-speak. Just tell them what’s up!
A portrait photographer’s client asked that a gear list be included in the contract. The photographer saw this as a red flag. What if his camera was damaged and he rented or borrowed a different camera for the job? Or what if he simply chose to purchase a new system before the shoot date? He declined to specify his equipment list in the contract – but, thankfully, the client still booked him! Don’t be afraid to follow your gut and do what feels right for your business – even if it means saying no to certain client questions or requests!
Q: “Are my photos ready now? How ’bout now? NOW?”
Option #1: Underpromise & Overdeliver
Client questions about receivables should be addressed from the beginning. Your contract should clearly state a delivery timeline – and it should be an achievable one! If you typically deliver portraits in two weeks, promise them in four. If you need four weeks to edit a wedding, allow eight to ten weeks. This protects you should a personal emergency cause any delays, and sets you up to pleasantly surprise your clients when you invariably deliver their photos early!
Option #2: Stick To A Due Date
Choose a reasonable, achievable, sustainable delivery date, and schedule a viewing (or gallery publication or ordering session) for that date at the time of booking. Even if the photographs are ready in advance of the due date, your calendar will thank you for sticking to a schedule and not delivering early!
REBECCA ICKES – rebeccamarie.com
“Clients hear scary stories from people who waited months and months to get their pictures from another photographer. This is why I set the EXACT date for photo delivery PRIOR to the wedding day. The couple comes into the studio that day, and we have a little party and show them their photographs!”
Q: “What if I don’t like my pictures?”
A: It’s time to get real. Real honest.
Don’t let client questions like this one scare you! Client questions are largely influenced by their personalities and processing styles. While one client may ask this question simply out of morbid curiosity, another may have a genuine fear of being unhappy. Respond with care, concern, and openness.
“The photographs you see in my portfolio and in my sample galleries are indicative of the photographs you can expect from your own session. If you like what you’ve seen, I think you’ll be very happy with your pictures! However, if you’re feeling worried that we may not be a good fit, I certainly respect that! I’ll be happy to refer you to some other photographers if my work isn’t resonating with you the way I’d hoped it would. My number one goal is for you to be happy!”
Art is subjective, and you can’t ever guarantee that a client will love your work. But you can show them myriad samples of what you do, and communicate openly about their options. Don’t let fear of losing a booking lead you to making promises you can’t keep!
When a wedding photographer was asked this question, she answered with empathy and thoughtfulness. The client responded by sharing a story about a friend who was burned by a so-called ‘professional’ photographer who turned out to be anything but. This allowed the photographer and client to connect more closely, building a strong professional relationship that carried them through the booking, a wonderful photography experience, and a very happy photo delivery a year later! The photographer’s work spoke for itself, and her authenticity reassured the client and any future concerns would be heard and addressed with compassion.
Q: “Can you recreate this photo I found on Pinterest?”
Option #1: “No.”
Your soul is screaming “NO NO NO NO NO!”, but you know you have to respond professionally. Simply explain:
“I would never try to copy another artist’s work, but thank you so much for sharing your inspiration! I’ll take all of your input into account as I approach your session!”
Option #2: “Yes!”
If you love the challenge of bringing a client’s vision to life – however fantastical it may be – join in on their excitement!
“What a stunning photograph! My style is a bit different, but let’s definitely try to create something similar during our session!”
Q: “Will I get a CD of my photos?”
Option #1: “Yes, AND…”
Whether it’s a CD, DVD, USB, or carrier pigeon, many clients love receiving something tangible – even if the format is antiquated!
We recommend providing this in addition to online proofing – in part because online galleries are our business, but also because your clients certainly won’t want to make copies of a disc to send to their friends and family!
Option #2: “No, BUT…”
If you’re ditching discs altogether, reassure your clients that they’ll still have a GREAT experience viewing and receiving their photographs with an online-only system! To enhance their online viewing with a tangible experience, also deliver a small set of prints or a wall canvas of their favorite image.
MIKE GLATZER – mikeglatzerphotos.com
“I use Shootproof for my galleries and print orders because everything my client will need is in one place! The first time I talk to a new potential client, I show off one of my previous wedding galleries. This illustrates:
- that my batting average is consistently great and I’m not a 1-hit wonder,
- what their gallery will look like when delivered, and
- how they’ll download their digital files and order prints!
It only takes about 10 minutes, and it’s a great way to prove your consistent quality of work and get clients excited about receiving their own photos online. It also prompts them to starting thinking about the prints and products they’ll want to order!”
Q: “You’ll just Photoshop me, right?”
Option #1: “Absolutely!”
If you’re a whiz at retouching, you won’t stress at zapping a zit or two. Just be clear with your client about the level of retouching they should expect. There’s a world of difference between removing a blemish from a single close-up photo, and retouching a full face of problem skin on 624 final images! Your post-production promises should be clear – and covered in your contract!
Option #2: “No, but my editor can!”
There’s no shame in not being a retouching champ!
“My standard post-production can be seen on the images in my portfolio – beautiful skin tones and print-ready exposures! If you’d like more extensive retouching (for scars, skin blemishes, body reshaping, or adding/removing people/objects from a photograph), this can be discussed on a per-image basis, and is billed at rates beginning at $$ per image.”
Photo by RACHAEL OSBORN PHOTOGRAPHY via Two Bright Lights | Event Planner: Ever After Planning | Makeup Artist: Carly Pribich Professional Makeup Artist | Invitation Designer: Emily Rose Ink | Hair Stylist: Hair by Spair | Floral Designer: Pollen and Pastry | Cake Designer: Pollen and Pastry | Dress Store: Savy’s Chic Bridal Boutique | Venue: Warehouse 109
What tough client questions have YOU creatively answered? Tell us in the comments below!
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