Communicating with Photography Clients: 5 Tips to Master

By Kyle Wilson

How you communicate with your photography clients is just as crucial as producing stunning images. It establishes trust, defines expectations, and ensures a smooth workflow. It contributes to an exceptional experience they’ll tell others about, helping you get more photography clients - a win-win for everyone.

Here are tips every professional photographer must master for clear, professional communication in all aspects of their business.

Concepts to Keep in Mind

It will be helpful to keep these three concepts in mind to guide your interactions:

  • You are responsible. There’s no one else to look to - you are in charge. Take full responsibility for mishaps even when they aren’t your fault (like lost packages).
  • It’s your job. It may have started as a hobby, but once you accept money for your work, it’s a business. Maintain professionalism and deliver on your promises.
  • Be human. Be yourself, act with integrity, and be genuine in your actions. Authenticity will attract the right people to you. 

With those concepts in mind, here are practical tips you can use today.

Five Tips for Effective Communication

Set Clear Expectations

Setting expectations from the outset projects a sense of confidence and avoids misunderstandings. It creates a framework for a successful session.

One way to do this is by creating guides that can save time and impress your clients by anticipating their needs. You know the most common questions you are asked by clients, like, “Where should we hold our engagement shoot?” Answer the questions before they are asked by providing all the information upfront in a simple guide. It shows them you care about their needs while avoiding repetitive work (and saving your sanity). 

Similarly, a guide on what to expect on the day can make all the difference for a smooth session. Providing details upfront sets up a flow for the day while projecting a sense of professionalism. It makes it clear that you take your job seriously and you are accustomed to receiving client inquiries. 

Think of how to educate your clients so everyone can be confident going into the shoot. 

Mind Your Digital Presentation

Before a client contacts you, they have likely seen your carefully curated Instagram and visited your website which you spent hours getting just right. They filled out a form to contact you and received an automated email letting them know you’ll get back to them within a specific time frame. So far so good.

Then comes your first email to them directly. Do you dash it off quickly because you have a million other things to do? This is a big mistake. Your first email needs just as much energy poured into it - it’s still part of your first impression. 

From how they find you through to deliverables, be mindful of the dialogue to provide the best experience.

Another thing to be aware of is your social media presence. If you say you can’t get back to a client because you are busy but post photos of yourself on the beach in Bali, it’s not a good look. Your indirect interactions are as important as your direct interactions.

Put it in a Contract

The contract is a vital communication tool you can refer to throughout the process. It clarifies details for both you and your client.

Say a client pays you a deposit for their wedding next year. Then they have some financial mishaps and can’t have the wedding they wanted, nor can they afford you. Whether you keep the deposit or not is up to you, but if you have terms written in a contract you can always refer to that to back up any decision you make. 

Putting details in a contract creates an opportunity to underpromise and overdeliver. If your contract says it will take 6-8 weeks to deliver their photos, but you get it done in 2 weeks, you have happy clients (pro tip: speed up your culling process immensely using Narrative Select). If you don’t have the timeline in a contract, prepare to be faced with emails and phone calls asking when it will be done. 

A contract is a legal document and a foundation for you to operate from. Check out these free wedding photography contract templates to customize your contract.

During the Shoot: Be Prepared and Be Yourself 

Your communication skills are put to the test in a shoot. You must make people feel comfortable, ease their nerves - and get them to do what you want.

Be Prepared

Practice makes perfect. Watch YouTube videos on improving your posing prompts, or take an online course like Jai Long’s ‘Posing and Lighting’. Hire some models to practice with, or get friends to help you. As you become more experienced, the best way to work with people will come naturally.  

Be Yourself

They hired you because they liked you and your style, so relax. Creativity comes from a genuine and unique place, not pretending to be someone you’re not. Being authentic will help you get more photography clients that you want to work with.

Admit Your Mistakes

This is part of being human. You will mess up at some stage, and your job and reputation are on the line. 

So, what do you do when you drop the ball?

  • Make unhappy clients a priority. Be open about what happened, ask for forgiveness, and do what it takes to rectify the situation. This might be complimentary prints, more spreads in their album, or even redoing a shoot. 
  • If it’s online, respond promptly. If people can’t get a reply from you, they’re likely to start asking about you all over social media, especially if they have given you money. Your reputation is at stake and can be saved by a timely, appropriate, ego-free response. 
  • Make your actions match your words. If you say you’ll reply to an email in 24 hours, make sure you do it. If you’re out doing a shoot in the jungle and likely won’t make the timeframe, put that in your automated email. Making things clear upfront can save you from having to apologize later.

Communication Matters

How we interact with others creates a lasting impression. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Set the tone for communicating with photography clients by taking full responsibility, treating your work with the professionalism it deserves, and being authentic.

Remember these tips:

  • Set clear expectations.
  • Be mindful of your digital presence.
  • Put everything in a contract.
  • Be prepared and be yourself.
  • Admit your mistakes.

The impression you leave with your clients is an intangible yet vital aspect of your business. Putting these tips into practice will help you deliver a memorable experience and build lasting relationships, encouraging long-term clients and word-of-mouth referrals.