It’s the first Wedesday of the month and we are going to be more consistent in writing some educational blogs, hooray! This has been a goal of ours that we are following through with, thanks to our latest book challenge books Rework and The Success Principles, which taught us to follow through and share out. These monthly blogs will cover everything from photo to business tidbits for people wanting to start their own photography business, people who are already in the business, or for those interested in learning how to take better pictures of your kid or cat!
April Topic: Engagement Sessions – Why they’re important & making your client comfortable.
This month we are writing about Engagement Sessions, which will be continuing next month. Recently it has come to our attention that engagement sessions are super important! There are so many reasons, but first and foremost is being able to connect with our couples again. We’ve talked, maybe even met, they’ve booked us and sometimes we don’t see them for a year until the wedding! Yikes, the engagement session is a great way to see your couple again, get to know them even better, and build trust that you will be amazing on their wedding day.
Some other reasons to schedule engagement sessions…
your couple gains confidence so the wedding runs smoother
watching how your couple reacts in front of a camera
seeing how your couple works together
having your couple get to know you
showing your couple how you shoot=no surprises at the wedding
giving your couple a set of casual photos they can use
using the photos to market their wedding
We find that most of our clients are actually not 100% comfortable in front of the camera. Either they are photographers themselves and are used to being behind the camera or they just don’t know what to expect and are nervous about the process of getting their picture taken. If you think about it, this could be the first time they’ve gotten professional photos since their senior picture days! And if you are close to our age you know that photography has changed a lot since then. (Although we do have some hilarious pictures posing with our fists under our chins!) We also remind ourselves each session how we felt when we had our engagement photos taken…nervous, excited, unsure of what to do. (Luckily we had awesome photographers, Adam & Laura Queen, shoot ours, which made it wonderful.)
Our first priority is to get our clients to feel comfortable. We start this process ahead of time by emailing surveys and tips weeks before the session. Also we always get to our location early to scout out some beautiful spots. This allows us to be there first! (Clients don’t like to be waiting, unsure of where to go, when they’re nervous already.) Our cameras stay in the car or in our bags so we can greet our clients without their first thought being…photos. We chat and tell them what our goals are for the day. We also tell them how we work and what to expect during the session so they know how it’s going to happen. We may say things like “if we aren’t giving you directions, keep doing what you’re doing” or “we will both be shooting, but we’ll make sure to tell you where to look if we want your eyes on one of us”. Then we start walking. It’s nice to walk a bit to ease your couple even more and most likely one of your first spots isn’t going to be too near the parking lot anyway!
This is a great time for us to practice active listening. Our couple is nervous and one of the best ways to calm them is getting them to talk about themselves so they forget about taking photos for a moment…what they did last night, how the wedding planning is going, where they got their cool outfit, etc. (Some amazing books that mention active listening from our book challenge are You, INC. and Rework.) We are purposeful in picking couples that we get along with so usually this is the easiest time because it’s like talking with friends. If this is not easy for you, however, think of some topics ahead of time or even practice with a friend. A large part of the wedding photo business isn’t even about taking great pictures, it’s about connecting with people! We take our time, don’t rush, and listen to our couple. Surprisingly sometimes we learn things in that first 10 minutes that end up helping us during the session!
Once we’ve come to our first location hopefully our couple is more relaxed, having a good time, and are ready to begin. This is where we’ll start off next month so stay tuned!
Next month we will talk about how we accomplish the type of candid posing we love and how we get our client to do what we want (no modeling experience necessary).
Lesson Learned: Engagement sessions are SO important.
~Erik & Marissa