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It’s thought that clients are the ones who choose the location for their portraits, but more often than not, choosing the right location is left entirely up to the photographer. In this article, we’ll outline a simple formula to help you and your client settle on the perfect location for the session.
When you talk to your client about possible locations, change the language you use. Instead of “have you thought of where you want your session to take place” with “what look and feel would you like your photos to have?”
That simple change in language will help your clients to visualize their final images. I’ve listed a few words that can help your client choose which look and feel they want for their final images. Thus, helping you to choose the best location for the session.
Another way to set a location for the portrait session is to find out what kind of home decor, theme, or color scheme they already have. This way, when it comes time to hang beautiful photos in their home, you can be sure that it won’t clash with the rest of the home.
Your clients will appreciate that you took the time to find out what would look best in their home before even taking a single photo. This makes you look even more professional because you are going to choose the perfect location so that when they are ready to frame, they are reassured that the photos you took will match their home decor perfectly.
This can also help you to upsell items like albums because you’ll know the right album cover and color to choose for each one of your clients. It will make them see that you care more about how their photos will match their home rather than simply choosing an easy location for all of your photo sessions.
For example, choosing a black leather cover for an album can look great in a contemporary modern home whereas a fabric cover album would look better in a more country style home. Or another example would be if the home has brown, beige, and reds in the decor then a perfect location would be a field of flowers.
Time can be a huge factor in choosing the right location. Some families need to keep nap times and energy levels in mind when scheduling a session. For example, if your clients need to keep in mind a little one’s nap time at 2 pm, you can choose to have the session in the morning or in the evening when the child is at his best. Photographing in a park that is rich in trees and greenery can help shade you from afternoon light or keeping the sun off your clients.
Or, you could schedule the family during the golden hours at a nearby beach or lake so that the child can play and still have had his nap time earlier.
Sometimes the time is dictated by the location itself. For example, photographing in an urban setting where tall buildings can shade the sun during sunset means that you might have to photograph your client at an earlier time to have enough light.
Or, if you’re photographing in a field, sometimes the early morning hours are best when it’s cool and not so bright. Golden hour is also perfect for fields and beaches.
Talk with your client to see if time will be the determining factor in choosing the right location.
Chances are, your clients have already looked through your website and have fallen in love with your style! This is great because this can also help your clients to choose the perfect location for their portraits.
If your clients are having trouble visualizing what they want their photos to look like, have them go over to your website and point out a photo that they like the most. The one that just jumps out at them and had them convinced they wanted you to photograph them.
If the location is nearby or accessible, offer that same location to your client! They loved the photo and it is what led them to contact and hire you, so why not photograph them there? It’s guaranteed that they’ll love the final photos.
Even though you’ve gone through all the steps above, some clients don’t know what they want for their photos. They’ll look to you to offer up the best locations because what they want is to have the best photos possible so any location, look, and feel is okay with them.
When this happens, don’t be afraid to take charge. Choose a location that perhaps you’ve been wanting to photograph in for a while, or a location that you know has great golden hour lighting.
Sometimes, clients just need more of a visual to get an idea of what they are actually looking for. Send your clients links to two or three specific locations that you’ve chosen so that they can see with their own eyes what the images will look like. Blog posts and images from your website would be perfect examples.
This way, even though they don’t know what they’re going for, they can choose the one that seems more interesting to them. Giving them the final decision on where they would like the location for their session to take place.
Depending on your portrait business model and what you have offered your client, and if you’re willing, you can do one session in multiple locations.
For example, if you are photographing an engagement session and they are going for a natural park look but got engaged in front of the downtown theater, then you could offer your clients to photograph in both locations for their session. Either on the same day or on different days.
Photographing in multiple locations offer your clients a variety in their photos so that they can showcase different photos in different rooms in their house as well!
Of course, sticking to one location where there is variety in looks can also be an option to add variety to the photos without having to go somewhere else.
Each session is different and each client is different, using the tips above will help you to determine the perfect location for all of your sessions. When you guide and help your client visualize the perfect location for their session, you will not only look more professional, you will be giving your clients a very personalized experience that they will appreciate. Resulting in more referrals and return clients!