Why You Should Always Have a Client Pre-Consultation

Why You Should Always Have a Client Pre-Consultation

Any time you have a client paying you for a certain type of photography, it is essential to get all of the details laid out before any real planning or photography happens. Getting all of this squared away beforehand can make the whole process go quicker. Everyone stays satisfied, and all involved know what to expect for the final result.

What is a client pre-consultation?

A client pre-consultation is where you and your client meet to talk about the details of the session or project. You can meet at your studio, a coffee shop, or the client’s home or place of business.

Whether it’s a portrait client, a model, a commercial project, or a personal project that involves more people, a pre-consultation is important because you’re able to settle lots of questions and details that will make the session go smoothly.

A client pre-consultation can also take place via a video conference service like Skype or Facetime. The point is to get in front of your client and talk about your project or session.

Choose a location or method where you can give your undivided attention to your client. Having distractions or being in a place that isn’t suitable for a meeting can often keep you from staying focused on the details.

For example, a coffee shop may seem like the best choice, however, choose a spot within the place that is secluded and quiet. Choosing a very popular or loud location can make it difficult to talk or hear each other.

Be prepared for each type of pre-consultation

Even though you need a pre-consultation for all photography sessions or projects, preparing yourself for each with the right questions and information can help you to have a more focused pre-consultation.

Wedding pre-consultation

Even though the process of weddings tends to be the same, each wedding is unique. That is why pre-consultations are really important, especially if the pre-consultation happens before the couple books you for the event.

Meeting with the couple before the wedding can help them to determine the days’ timeline in terms of photography.

Prepare your contract with a cover sheet that you can fill in with all the important details. For example, names of the couple, date of the event, details of the ceremony and reception location, number of bridesmaids, start times for important events, and any other notes that relate to the event.

Have another sheet or notebook prepared for essential notes during the meeting. As much as we’d love to have photographic memories, the truth is, when we meet people for the first time, we can get lost in conversations and forget small but imperative details. So a meetings sheet can help you write down anything you think is important without having to write it on the contract.

Write down anything. From the color scheme, types of flowers they are having, first dance song, how they met, through to the more important details like the photography style they like and if they want a second photographer.

All of these details are equally important to the bride and groom, and so they should be important to you as well. For example, it can help you on the day of the event to remember that the flowers they chose are in remembrance of a passed grandmother.

Leave time for the couple to ask you any questions that they may have. It doesn’t matter if their questions or concerns are a bit unrealistic. Settling any doubt in a friendly way can mean the difference between them choosing you or another potential photographer they may be meeting.

Also be prepared to showcase your work with your clients at the time of the meeting. Take a portfolio, albums, prints, a laptop with your website and galleries open. Sometimes, clients contact photographers by referral without really checking out their work. So, this meeting is a great way to have them fall in love with your work. Taking albums can also open the door to upsell and add products to the wedding coverage.

These are items you should bring with you to every pre-wedding consultation:

  • Portfolio, laptop, slideshow to show your clients
  • Albums and products you wish to upsell your clients
  • Contract and info sheet
  • Meetings sheet or notebook to write down extra information about the wedding
  • Copy of your collections pricing as well as a product price sheet
  • The contract for clients to view terms and conditions

Remember that you are the professional and the couple is coming to you not only to meet you but to get as much information about photography, the wedding process, and any additional advice that could benefit them. Your expertise will always be appreciated, and your friendly attitude can get the wedding on your calendar.

Portrait sessions of any kind

For portrait sessions, you may think that a pre-consultation is a bit much. However, once you do have a pre-consultation you will be happy you did. Each portrait session, be it a family session, senior session, or individual are all unique and important.

Here a face-to-face meeting may not be as necessary and can sometimes be done through email or messages. However, it might become a long drawn out process if you do it that way. If possible, have a face-to-face meeting with your client – whether physically face-to-face or via a video conference service.

Things to go over during the meeting:

  • Location and ideal time for the session
  • Wardrobe ideas and what would fit the concept of the session
  • How many people are attending the session
  • If children are present, their ages so you can prepare ahead of time
  • The style of photography they like, candid, posed, a mixture

During the client pre-consultation, it’s also important to have a portrait contract and a list of prices for your packages. That way, you can go over the pricing and what each package includes from the start.

Doing this gives your client the opportunity to ask any questions regarding the session beforehand avoiding any miscommunication or misunderstandings after the session has been completed.

Commercial or editorial projects

Commercial/editorial projects usually require quick execution and only allow a limited amount of time for you to photograph the concept. Depending on what your client is hoping to have as a result, you may have to have more than one pre-consultation especially if it is a new client.

Meeting with the whole team can also help the project go off with fewer setbacks. Everyone will be on the same page as far as concept, lighting, location, and all of the essential details of the project.

A pre-consultation is also a great time to go over the payment details of the project. The pricing and payment schedule is vastly different from portraits or weddings. Here, the circulation count should get discussed. Circulation covers how often the client runs your photographs in their marketing, advertising, or promotional material.

Also, discuss copyright and licensing during the meeting. You may want to be able to showcase the photographs in your portfolio, or sometimes, the client wants exclusive rights. Go over model releases and contracts during this time as well.

For these types of projects, the more questions you ask to get a clearly defined idea of the project can help you to get a better estimate for your work. The more information you get, the better.

In Conclusion

Pre-consultations are very important in all types of photography projects where you are dealing with a client who is paying you for your services. These meetings help you get a clear idea of what your client is looking for and what they are expecting to receive as their final product.

It can eliminate any doubts, answer questions, and help your client with your advice and expertise so that the project happens without any setbacks.

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Jackie Lamas is a destination wedding and portrait photographer based on the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She earned her degree in photography from California State University, Fullerton. Jackie has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer and teacher. When she’s not on the beach, you can find her writing on her blog and spending time with her baby and husband. See more of her work on Instagram.