Author Topic: What questions to ask the clients?  (Read 1164 times)

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Offline tanolam

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What questions to ask the clients?
« on: February 09, 2016, 04:30:55 AM »
Hiya,

I'm starting my own photography business in London. I was wondering what kind of questions I should ask the clients once I get phone calls or emails for jobs offer. I mainly do portraits, head-shots, corporate photography. Also, what kind of questions should I be expecting from them?

I'm confident with my skills but not so sure about the talking. I want to make sure I don't lose clients just because I don't know how to ask and answer any questions.

Any help appreciated.
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Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2016, 06:56:16 AM »
It really depends on the client and type of client. 

Sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm-- What questions do people ask Me either on the phone or during a session?  Then ask What questions do I ask THEM during a session?

After that, take a look at your contracts.  Are there things on your contracts that need explaining?

Just go through your process and see what comes up on a typical job.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2016, 09:54:37 AM »
tanolam, if you haven't read it yet, take a look at the thread at this link.  http://www.theprofessionalphotographyforum.com/forums/index.php?topic=8409.msg83770;topicseen#new

In it you may find a few questions to ask yourself as you make the plans to go pro.  This, especially, regarding how much to charge so that you make enough to survive and don't hurt other pros by undermining the fee structure in your area - both geographic and photographic.  Overhead in London or NYC is much greater than in smaller cities and towns, but that's the cost of the overhead, not the value of the talent we bring to bear.  These factors are among the things we add together to come up with charges.

Start your questions by trying to learn what the client wants to communicate; i.e. what kind of headshot?  Business, theatrical, what?  There are different expectations for different genre, so asking yourself whether you're fully aware of those differences and how to achieve them will inform what you offer.   Learn how to talk money, how to charge and how to politely say no to clients who want to pay too little.  Keeping a light touch helps in this, as in "Gee, Ms. Client, I love that you do and I'd be glad to trade photography for your product, but my landlord demands cash." And then drop it.  If they won't, learn how to say "I can't, for that.  I can for this...".

Be sure you maximize your skills so you can, with full confidence, command a good price (which you may not be able to afford yourself) because you KNOW you'll be able to deliver.

I realize that I haven't fully addressed specific answers as to how to talk to clients, because this is such a broad topic that there really aren't many one-size-fits-all responses.  But what I've tried to do, and I think Todd has, as well, is to inform you of the mindset you might want to acquire as you go forward.  Next thing, look into best business practices for the niches you want to serve and start Googling those.  The very best seminar money I spent almost 30 years ago was taking business of photography classes from people who were doing what I wanted to.  Learn how to accurately assess what your real cost of doing business is or must be.  Its much greater than you think if this will be your full time employment.  It's everything from those things we normally think of that center around photography, like gear, studio space etc, to savings for kids going to college.  And everything in between. 

Finally, if you're sure this is what you want, don't give up the dream too soon because it can be frustrating, and don't sink your peers by unfairly undercutting the market.  It is MUCH harder to bring cheap prices up than you might imagine.  Cheap is it's own punishment, because you'll become known for that.  Being new, you may have lower overhead and lower confidence in your ability to attain the best final results, but don't downgrade pricing as a substitute; change what you need to in order to be comparable to the best you know.  Only you can fix whatever it is that you think is holding you back, so do it now.  Correct that and ask for what's a fair fee in the market in which you work.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2016, 09:34:22 AM by Jeff Behm »

Offline Jenny Gavin-Wear

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2016, 03:58:54 PM »
Hi tanolam,

Welcome to the forums.

Great advice you've been given already.

I'd say, imagine you are your own customer.  What questions would you ask if you were booking yourself?

Define who your target market is.  Who do you want to be your customers?  Think about every aspect of your customers way of life, their businesses. 

Best of luck!
Jenny

Offline tanolam

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2016, 09:23:27 AM »
Thank you all,

Your advice are really helpful. I think I have a better idea about it now. I really want to sound confident when talking to clients.

Thank you.

Check out my website

http://www.tanolam.co.uk

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2016, 09:39:18 AM »
From your portfolio on your website, it looks like you're familiar with Rebecca Parks Litchfield's work from about a decade ago, just before she broke into high fashion and then into travel to decrepit places, like the former USSR's old installations.

Offline Joe Federer

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2016, 10:55:50 AM »
Depending on your market, you can look for what THEY are being told to ask their prospective photographer.  For example, this is from a quick google:  http://www.linandjirsa.com/15-questions-for-you-wedding-photographer/


As for what to ask them?   I just verify they are with the right person by asking "What draws you to my work?" or somethign similar.   Basically, it'll help you stay within style AND tailor to them specifically.   For example, I might have someone say my PJ work... and for them I would know I could cut the 'posed' stuff slightly... etc.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2016, 01:26:11 PM »
Yep, expanding on what Joe just said, I just got off the phone with a prospective headshot client who signed up for next week. 

After hellos, etc,  we got right down to what did she want to communicate with her headshot, and had she seen my webpage?  She had seen it, and had even picked out some shots she particularly liked, which was great, because I usually have to suggest that.  We discussed what she liked about her choices which were fairly wide ranging, and got it down to the things she liked most, which simplified how I'd approach her session.  Then I asked about her hair color, complexion, and favorite style of dress for work.  Then how she wanted to use the photos - website, business cards, pamphlets, newspaper, black and white or color.  Based upon the answers to these, we discussed best clothing choices and colors, best background tones, whether she wore glasses and to choose loosely comfortable clothing, not tight or constrictive because that tends to restrict your comfort level if the clothes pinch or pull.  No short sleeves or sleeveless outfits, because the upper arm is about the same size as the face and competes for the viewer's attention.  No white unless it was necessary (like a nurse or doctor or financial guru), because the artificial brighteners fluoresce with the strobes, making the whites way too bright, and again, competing with the face.

People don't know how to dress or plan for a photography session, but we do, or we should - if we really want to be professional.  Discussing with them what to do and when necessary, why, is reassuring and adds to their comfort when they come in.   Comfortable, confident people photograph better.  We can do a lot to enhance that.

Offline Jenny Gavin-Wear

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2016, 06:26:14 PM »

+1 what Jeff said.   

For my actor headshots as welll as advising them on the phone, I send out a preparation guide.

For commercial I'd be asking them specificly where the image is to be used.  Shooting for context.  Again, it's about putting yourself in your clients shoes.

Offline tanolam

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2016, 05:29:21 AM »
From your portfolio on your website, it looks like you're familiar with Rebecca Parks Litchfield's work from about a decade ago, just before she broke into high fashion and then into travel to decrepit places, like the former USSR's old installations.

Who is she? I can't find her any where on Google or maybe I'm googling the wrong terms?

P/S: Thank you all for your really helpful advice. :)
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Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2016, 11:28:16 AM »
Oops, looks like she's remarried.  When I first met her, she was Rebecca Parks and about 23-24 yrs old, then Parks Litchfield with her first marriage, now Bathory.   I consider her one of the international bright stars of her generation.

Check out http://www.diyphotography.net/tag/rebecca-litchfield/

This is a Google photos page that is mostly her work (Google isn't terribly precise at times).  Her fashion stuff is very avant guard but is what financed her path to what she does now.  Very inner directed.

Rebecca's fine art is here :  http://www.rebeccabathory.com/home

In a bit of irony, she was just graduating with a degree in design and was interested in doing website design when we first came into contact.  She solicited a number of us photographers about doing websites and had built one using her own photos of women in distress, tied to a collapsing insane asylum by various gauzy and tenuous strands.  It was remarkable work and my first comment in reply was "Forget web design, your photography is brilliant!  Pursue that!"  I tried unsuccessfully to get her shows in the US.  I still think she's brilliant.  Obviously, so do a lot more people, now.

Offline tanolam

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Re: What questions to ask the clients?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2016, 08:42:20 AM »
Oops, looks like she's remarried.  When I first met her, she was Rebecca Parks and about 23-24 yrs old, then Parks Litchfield with her first marriage, now Bathory.   I consider her one of the international bright stars of her generation.

Check out http://www.diyphotography.net/tag/rebecca-litchfield/

This is a Google photos page that is mostly her work (Google isn't terribly precise at times).  Her fashion stuff is very avant guard but is what financed her path to what she does now.  Very inner directed.

Rebecca's fine art is here :  http://www.rebeccabathory.com/home

In a bit of irony, she was just graduating with a degree in design and was interested in doing website design when we first came into contact.  She solicited a number of us photographers about doing websites and had built one using her own photos of women in distress, tied to a collapsing insane asylum by various gauzy and tenuous strands.  It was remarkable work and my first comment in reply was "Forget web design, your photography is brilliant!  Pursue that!"  I tried unsuccessfully to get her shows in the US.  I still think she's brilliant.  Obviously, so do a lot more people, now.

Oh wow! Thank you for that Jeff. I think her work is brilliant. It's exactly the kind of work I've always been dreaming of doing.
It's great to receive a comment from you showing  me to Rebecca's art.
Check out my website

http://www.tanolam.co.uk