30 Days of Wedding Photography

Lesson 25 of 76

In Person Meeting

 

30 Days of Wedding Photography

Lesson 25 of 76

In Person Meeting

 

Lesson Info

In Person Meeting

Now if you've got through this point and you've got to the point where the client says either by email or by talking to them on the phone or by talking to them via skype if they say we want to sit down and we want to meet you in person, how does all that go down? Where do you meet them in when do you meet them and what do you even do in the meeting and what do you bring to the meeting with you? How do you actually handle this? Because once you're sitting down face to face with somebody that's a lot different than just being on the phone there reading your facial expressions there reading your body language now how I handle the meeting is the exact same way that I handle a phone call to answer some of the questions that we were just talking about. Where do I meet clients all, anything a bunch of different places if their wedding is in new york, they're welcome to come to my apartment come to my home and sit in my living room I don't have a studio I don't work out of a storefront I used ...

to, but I don't anymore I don't have a set meeting space out of my home I invite clients into my home and to sit right down in my living room in my living room is decorated like a living room I have some of my own art on the wall shore I have my own wedding photographs on the wall that were not taken by me we're not so crazy that we shot our own wedding but I have my wedding images up I have pictures that I bought from my kia I haven't attempted to make my living room looked like a show room because it is where I live I try to be very careful about the number of meetings that I have in my home because if I'm eating at home my children are there and I don't want my children to feel like my meetings are intruding upon my life with thems and very careful with that if the client is getting married in philadelphia not only do I have a home in brooklyn I also have a home in haddonfield new jersey as well so I will meet clients out of my husband's studio in haddonfield which he so graciously allows me to use for meetings I also meet clients at starbucks now I've heard a lot of people say there's no way that you could book a high end wedding at a starbucks and that is absolutely totally and completely not true I have booked five figure weddings sitting at a starbucks but it's really all in how you sell that meeting at the starbucks so yes I would absolutely love to meet you I understand that you work in center city philadelphia normally I meet clients out of my studio in haddonfield or my home wherever, but you know what? There's a starbucks not far from where you are, and I'm actually gonna be in the city on friday. Do you just want to meet up for a quick cup of coffee? I could bring some albums, and we can just have a nice chat if I make it sound like it's a convenience to them to meet them at a coffee shop or a starbucks or anywhere that I might be meeting them that's not at home, then I sound like I'm actually providing a service to them, and people respond to that really well. So as I mentioned it's either my home in brooklyn, my studio, and hadn't field or a coffee shop somewhere in the ether out there somewhere, and I have great success with all three of those venues because I really think it's about how you conduct the meeting and less about where you're actually meeting them. So once we meet and we meet in person, it is following the exact same script as when we're on the phone open chat, ask about their day, listen to them, it is even harder when you meet somebody in person to not talk on top of them. You want to get your ideas out? You're so excited about a potential client in person you need to stop and listen to them I literally in my own head will say shut up, shut up, stop talking because I'm so eager to impress and I'm so eager to tell them all of the great things that I could do for them that it's really hard to not talk on top of what they're saying, but I will say, tell me about your plans shut up, shut up! Shut up, stop talking and I will sit there until there is a silence where and they either ask me a question are I moved the meeting forward in a different direction? Not talking on top of clients has actually been one of the very hardest things that I've had to master when I have meetings with people ask them what they want. I know I keep reiterating this point, but it has been absolutely massive for me to simply say tell me what you're looking for and then let them tell me maybe this is the first time they've art circulated it maybe they've never actually put into words what they're looking for with their wedding photography maybe this is the first time the two of them together are really actually saying it it's a very, very, very valuable bit of information what do you want and then listen to them. Listen until they're done talking until there's either a break in the conversation or they asked you a specific question, then if we're meeting in person, I bring two albums with me sometimes three I bring an eight by ten, which is my collection to album I bring in nine by twelve, which is my collection one album. I also have a ten by fifteen book that I will bring to show them that they do have upgrade options above and beyond the nine by twelve if I'm going to meet someone in a coffee shop, three books is a little much for me to handle, so a lot of times I'll leave that ten by fifteen at home and just sort of allude to it and that, yes, I do have bigger albums that you can always add on or upgrade, too, if you'd like, but if they're meeting in my home, I have to duck different sets of sample albums, three books that live in haddonfield at my husband's studio and three books that live in my home so that I'm not constantly taking them back and forth. I will offer to show them the albums after they've sort of articulated what they've want, what they want from me. I will say, you know, let me tell you a little bit about the work I do, and I would love to be able to show you some of these books now that we're in person, you can actually see them and take a look at them. So what I will do is I will actually hold the very first book and I'll open it up be like, listen, this is the eight by ten book the book that clock comes in collection too. You can see here it's what they call a flush mount book. You know, a lot of photographers will have different words for it. Some will say coffee table book some sake flush mount book what it really means is all just fancy terms for pictures printed directly on the pages. Now I have matted albums, I don't really sell them, so what? I show them our flush mount books on I hold the book, I'm like you'll be able to see these are handmade, they have leather or linen covers, and I kind of flipped through a couple of pages as I talk about the actual logistics of the book. I talk about the design and I try to keep the design really clean, I try to keep it not too cluttered, I really just want to tell the story here, take a look and this is the most foolish thing but it works every single time I close the book and I give it a little rub and I know that sounds dumb but I lovingly have held and flipped through the book and then I close it and almost like patting a baby and I hand it to them with both hands like I'm giving them something precious laugh at it all you want I swear to you that it works if you touch and treat the books like something precious it almost gives them additional value now once I've talked about the books once I've put the book in the client's hands for the first time once I've talked about my style as it pertains to designing the album then I actually leave them alone if I'm at home I make an excuse about needing to check on my kids if I'm in haddonfield I make an excuse about needing to get something upstairs I know we're gonna talk about rates and a little bit let me go print out a copy of the price list for you I'll be right back I'm gonna let you guys take a look at the albums if I'm meeting them in a coffee shop I'll say you know what let me give you guys a couple of seconds to just look through and you go find a bathroom or get a refill or do something I need a reason to leave them alone and the reason why I need to leave them alone is because they're going to be looking through these books together. They're not going to talk about the books, and they're not going to talk about the work in front of me, so I want to give them a good, solid couple of minutes to take a look at these books on their own, to talk between the two of them are the three of them or whoever is there at the meeting to take a look through everything and talk without me hovering over them? The last thing I want to do when they're looking through a book this whole life watch, hm looking at the book like all creepy like, I'm all creepily, like leaning over their shoulder, I want to give them a little privacy to flip through it at their own speed at their own time and to talk to each other as they go when that is all done when I come back, you know, is there? I kind of keep an eye on them, and when they're finishing up the last book, I kind of come back in, I say, you know, so at this point in time, you know, what kind of questions do you guys have for me? And then stop talking and let them ask questions because a lot of people either come with questions prepared or looking at the books and listening to everything that you've said so far has brought up questions that they didn't know they had. So then I say again as simple as what kind of questions can I answer for you guys? I'm making direct eye contact I'm being friendly and smiling and happy and then they generally segway into questions that air in varying degrees of good questions or not ah lot of people get stuck on how many images do we get, you know, talk to us about retouching some of the questions are the same questions you're gonna answer over and over and over again and some of them are unique, thoughtful questions and I don't care if they're asking you the dumbest questions that you have ever heard of in your entire life focus on them, make eye contact and answer honestly every single time for perspective client feels like you're phoning it in if they feel like you're giving this answer that you've scripted and given to everybody else, then they're going to feel kind of your lack of interest so I tried very, very hard to be very up very awake very present in every meeting that I have so that listen, I shoot fifty something of these every single year but this is their one wedding this is it, this is the wedding, and if I don't remember that every single time that I meet with someone or speak to someone and give them the respect that deserves, then I'm not giving them good customer service from the very beginning and that is a definite no no in my book, so after I asked them if they have questions, I will tell them if I want their wedding I mean, listen, if I if I meet with them and I'm like, oh my gosh there's so many red flags and I really hope they don't hire me the answer to that is not you know it's really great meeting you but I don't like you and I don't want to work with you that's not what I'm saying to dio but again when you're on the phone if you really want the wedding, tell them it's been really great to meet with you I would really love to shoot your wedding it would be an absolute honor thank you for considering me again reach out anytime with any questions that you might possibly have. I am always around for you, you if you want it, you have to tell them and a lot of times this kind of brings up the natural question from other photographers is how do you close the meeting? And I don't try to close the meeting I'm not trying to get them to sign on the spot. I'm not trying to get them to pull out a checkbook and write me a check I am not trying to like do a hard close, I don't give them a if you book today, here is the deal that you will get deal or if you book within the next forty eight hours, all throwing an engagement session, nothing like that because to me that's max of of used car selling and I can see that one coming like a mile away. So a lot of times I will actually do the completely insane thing when I in the meeting is encouraged them to look at other photographers because I want them when they come back to hire me to be one hundred percent dead on completely certain that I'm the person that they want to work with. So I'll say, listen, it has been absolutely fantastic to meet with you. Thank you so much for taking the time out to come and sit with me. It's been a pleasure. I would really, really, really love to work with you I would be absolutely honored to shoot your wedding I hope that you decide you want to hire me. Listen, when you guys go home, please do your due diligence you can google my name, it will show you more than you could ever possibly want to know about me, and if you haven't looked at other photographers yet, I strongly encourage you to do your research I and very hopeful and very confident that it will lead you back to me, but I want you to be one hundred percent certain and then I let him go that's it? I don't want anyone to feel like I have pushed him into signing on the spot. I want them to feel like they have been educated, I want them to feel like they are wanted and I want them to go out and look, and I've already put the idea in their mind that they're not gonna find anyone as good as me. They're just not go ahead and love do your research, I'm confident it will bring you back to me in the end and again not when you look at these things on paper, they sound like I am being so incredibly arrogant, but I'm not. I'm confident in my abilities of what I can do for them, and I want them to look around and realize that if they're investing this money and me that it will be money very, very, very well spent and again I follow up in five days, five days for my last point of contact if we've talked on the phone, if we've met in person no matter what five days later you will hear from me again it was great to meet with you I would be completely honored to shoot your wedding you know, I hope you've had a great weekend that you've got really good plans for this weekend. Please let me know if you have any questions about my services on my style I'd love to work with you, I'm here if you need me and then let it go don't chase them again. A lot of this is back to the analogy that I had that trying to book a client into building and building your businesses like dating for the very first time they can feel your desperation a mile away, so if you're constantly contacting them and you're going back over and over and over again and have you had a chance to look at it, is there anything else I can do for you? Can I give you more information? Do you want to look at another gallery after a certain point? It's like okay, we get it, we're going to go in another direction now be confident and express your desire to book their wedding but then let them come to that conclusion on their own so what if they can't meet me in person what if you get the client who does that thing where they're like you know we would really love to meet with you but we're like so busy we live on the upper west side can you just come to us that's the line in the sand that I will draw no I'm not gonna go to you I'm not going to go into your house because the second I've gone into your house I've lost kind of my footing and I'm also with all due respect to all of my clients so I am very very very glad to work for I am not a servant I don't make house calls I want to meet either on ground that I'm comfortable with our on neutral ground so no I will not go and have meetings in my client's houses it's not because I'm disrespectful it's because I'm not in a good comfort zone and it doesn't make me feel good to do that I will go somewhere near where they are within reason now when I was in my first couple of years of being in business I would travel to meet clients I would drive an hour out of my way I would drive two hours out of my way just to have a meeting but now with the incredible wonderful invention of this thing called skype if it's too hard for us to get together in person I will suggest a skype meeting and if I have a skype meeting, I will do exactly what I do in a regular meeting, except the part where I talk about albums will be holding the album and flipping through it on my own, and generally I'll be wearing sweat pants and will do my best to not stand up so they don't see, but other than that, I conducted exactly like how I would conduct a normal meeting. Skype has has really taken away that part of the clients who say, will you come to me? Will you go really far out of your way? Because I'll say, you know what? I'm so so, so sorry, I'm not going to be coming up to the hamptons anytime soon, but we can definitely skype. We'll get to see each other face to face, you'll get to see some of the books virtually in person, and most clients go oh my gosh, skype I didn't even think of that, so that really, really, really helps in the what if they can't meet? How will you go to them sort of thing and has really made that problem much less of a problem in the past recent years, so above and beyond that, what do you do if they don't book you on the spot? Well, I don't want them to book me on the spot, to be perfectly honest, I have clients who come to meetings and they're ready to book and meeting me in person is really just a formality, and then at the end of the meeting there, like, listen, this sounds really great, we would love to go ahead and do the contract, and I say great, but I'm not aiming to book them on the spot. I'm not telling them a car, I'm not if you book now, I'll give you a free engagement session. This is a lot of money for people to spend, and I take that very, very seriously, and I'm very respectful of the investment that people are putting into their photography, and I need to let them make that decision on their own. So when I saw close and I send them out into the world, maybe there would have been some clients that ified kind of hard sold at the very end I would have booked them, but the clients that I do book enough of them have expressed how much they've enjoyed, how I end the meetings, you know, you didn't try to sell to me, you actually suggested I look at other photographers like we did everything you suggested, and we're totally sold on you, how do we go ahead? So how do I get them to book on the spot? I don't want them to book on the spot that's, not at all what I'm aiming for, not even remotely. Now back to what we talked about before clients that want discounts will I negotiate? You have to tell me what you mean by negotiation. Are you coming and saying, now, listen, we've got four thousand dollars and we want a five thousand dollar package and we want us to give it you want it for four grand? Well, that's not negotiating that's asking for a discount and I can't really do that for you. The only thing that I will not negotiate is my bass package, the eight hours and files is what it is that is the amount that I am comfortable going out and giving up a saturday for now, let's talk about negotiating as in time of year you getting married in january on a sunday and you want that eight thousand dollar package, but you need an extra hour and you'd really like eighty images in the book instead of sixty five. Well, I give that to you to book a sunday in january. I will I am willing to negotiate that because I have built enough profit into my packages that I do have a little wiggle room for off dates. If you want something a little bit more, maybe you need two hours of overtime. I'll give you buy one, get one free on your overtime so well, I negotiate. Of course I will, but I need to make sure that I'm not taking money out of my pocket when I negotiate, and I need to make sure that I'm not just giving you something for the sake of giving it to you for no reason whatsoever. As I've mentioned, there are days that I won't negotiate memorial day, weekend labor day weekend, my husband's birthday there, certain days at which the negotiation and going out for a less amount of money, I would really rather be home and be with my family now. I couldn't do that when I was early on in my business, and I couldn't do that when I was charging a lot less, but I couldn't do that now, and I'm more comfortable with it, so you have to find your own sweet spot with negotiation. You have to figure out what you're comfortable with, but well, I negotiate yes, I will to an extent, and I can't tell you what that extent is going to be. For you that something that you need to find on your own comfort level wise what do you do with the guy that comes back to you and says well, you know, we really you know we're thinking about hiring you but my buddy will do it for free okay best of luck to you we're going to dio what going to do about that how in the world you possibly combat that sometimes you can sometimes you can make the whole citation about you know, maia mixing business with pleasure and you know, working with somebody who doesn't have insurance or back up or whatever but after a certain point it sounds like you're making excuses and it sounds like you're desperate it sounds like you're begging so back to the dating analogy pretty sure people don't like that when you're dating they're not gonna like that when you're trying to get their business also so if someone comes back and says, well, you know I got a friend who's willing to do it for free so you know if you could give me a really great deal all go with you my responses that is absolutely fantastic that you have a friend that's willing to do it for you for free I mean I could help you out a little bit but I can't compete with free I'm sure you'll be in great hands I wish you all the best have fun completely hating your fake pictures when your amateur friend totally boches them there's nothing you can say about that you cannot turn every inquiry into a booking. So at a certain point, I'm just not even going to try. If you are trying to get me to compete with your amateur friend that's doing it for free, that tells me two things one I'm never going to be able to convince you otherwise and to you clearly don't see what's better about my work than your friends, and you're never going to be willing to make that investment if you can't tell the difference in the quality moving onwards relocating to a new town, relocating to a new town changes absolutely nothing it is exactly the same thing of everything that I've told you before if you've been with us on the marketing days, I gave you all of the tools that you'll need to establish yourself in a new town and booking a client in the new town that you live in is exactly the same thing is booking a client in the town that you've lived in for twenty years? I don't change the way I handle my meetings, I don't change anything about it whatsoever I re focus my efforts on my marketing in that new town, but if you have moved to a new location, seek out photographers, seek out other vendors create the vendor list of people that you want to work with and worked to be seen. These are all things that we talked about yesterday if you were here with us, but I want to reiterate them is we're talking about trying to get those meetings, those networking events that you need to seek out your local camera clubs so that you can meet people displaying a bridal fairs? All of these things will bring people to you, so you can try every single thing that I have taught you today to turn those enquiries into meetings and turn them into paying clients, joining your chamber of commerce, joining your local business associations. All of these things are incredibly important, anyway, that you can meet people, anything that you can do to get someone to look at your work, to turn it into that inquiry. Hopefully, the things that I've told you today will help you take that email and help you take that phone call and turn it into something that either turns into a better phone call or a skype meeting or a meeting in person, and then convince these people that the amount of money that they're willing to invest in you is definitely worth it, and hopefully will turn them into booking clients for you, thank you so much for sitting here with me today, I hope you found something in what I have told you to be really valuable. I thank you for being on this ride with us, and I'll see you again tomorrow.

Class Description

Success as a wedding photographer requires more than just raw talent and the desire to be a professional photographer. To survive in this highly competitive industry, you need strong business skills and a deep understanding of your craft. In this documentary wedding photography experience, Susan Stripling will teach you how to launch and sustain a successful wedding photography business.

During 30 days of step-by-step instruction, Susan will show you how to:

  • Develop your business — everything from honing your creative vision to marketing tactics to studio management
  • Fundamental shooting techniques for every possible wedding scenario by inviting you along to an engagement session and wedding day and with real-life clients — not models! 
  • Post production workflow
  • Marketing and sales
  • Album design
During the start-to-finish documentary coverage of the wedding day, Susan will teach you how she handles each part of the experience, from photographic technique to client care, all with zero re-takes or re-shoots. Susan will wrap up the 30 days with detailed instruction on post-production workflow, post-wedding marketing, album design, post-wedding sales, and much, much more.

By the end of this course, you will have accompanied Susan through every step of a wedding and will have the skills, mindset, and tools needed to make a living — and a name for yourself — as a wedding photographer.

Lessons

  1. Introduction
  2. Evolution of Susan's Style
  3. Branding and Identity
  4. Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned
  1. Introduction to Gear & Equipment
  2. Lenses Part 1
  3. Lenses Part 2
  4. Lighting
  1. Seeing the Scene
  2. Seeing the Scene Q&A
  3. Rhythm and Repetition
  4. Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds
  5. Rule of Odds and Double Exposures
  1. Intro to Business
  1. Financing Your Business
  1. Q&A Days 1-4
  1. Pricing Calculator
  1. Package Pricing
  1. Marketing
  1. Vendor Relationships & Referrals
  1. Marketing w Social Media
  1. Booking the Client
  1. The Pricing Conversation
  1. Turn A Call Into a Meeting
  1. In Person Meeting
  1. Wedding Planning
  1. Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down
  1. Engagement Session Details
  1. Engagement Session On Location
  1. Wedding Details & Tips
  1. Detail Photos Reviewed
  1. Bridal Preparation
  1. Bridal Preparation Photo Review
  1. Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios
  1. Q&A Days 5-11
  1. First Look Demo
  1. First Look Examples
  1. Portraits of the Bride
  1. Portraits of the Bride and Groom
  2. Family Portraits Demo
  3. Family Formal Examples
  4. Wedding Ceremony Demo
  1. Wedding Ceremony Examples
  2. Different Traditions and Faiths
  3. Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo
  4. Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples
  5. Wedding Introductions
  6. First Dance
  7. Wedding Toasts
  8. Parent Dances
  9. Wedding Party
  10. Reception Events
  11. Nighttime Portraits
  12. Nighttime Portraits with Found Light
  13. Post Wedding Session Demo
  14. Post Wedding Session Critique
  15. Wedding Day Difficulties
  16. Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure
  17. Post Workflow - Culling Shots
  18. Post Workflow - Outsourcing
  19. Q&A Days 12-23
  20. Post Workflow - Gear
  21. Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing
  22. Managing Your Studio
  23. Post Wedding Marketing
  24. Client Care
  25. Pricing for Add-Ons
  26. The Album Process
  27. Balancing Your Business with Life
  28. Post Wedding Problems
  29. Parent Complaints
  30. Unhappy Customers
  31. Working with an Assistant
  32. Assistant Q&A
  33. Lighting with an Assistant
  34. Q&A Days 24-30

Reviews

user-59abe9
 

All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.

Tammy Hoherz
 

I am actually a HS science teacher, but also have a small wedding photography business. I bought this class because I looked at her work. I won't buy a class on CL unless the instructor has beautiful work. Of course that doesn't mean a person is a good instructor. Well IMO, Susan is a very good instructor. She doesn't get off on too many tangents and sticks pretty much to the point. As a student, that is key. I also have Roberto Valenzuela's course, and his approach is different. Both of these photographers are great. But Susan's approach to business and shooting and work flow is a nice contrast. I appreciate her information about outsourcing work. This was very helpful to me. Kudos to Susan and her teaching abilities.