Skip to main content

Creative Wedding Photography

Lesson 28 of 33

Client Communication

Susan Stripling

Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

28. Client Communication

Lesson Info

Client Communication

I am very, very, very specific about the records that I keep and the numbers that I look at because I want to know not on ly at every point of my work flow. How efficient am I? But I also want to know how my numbers we're looking and this is a good thing and a bad thing. For example, I actually keep a google document that tells me at this date right now. How many weddings have I booked for this year? How many weddings have I booked for next year? Okay, the next time I book a wedding, I put the date how many die after this year? How many do I have for next year so that I can actually look back at that? And combined with the data that I get from shoot q about my bookings and my enquiries, I can say, okay, I'm a little kind of worried, like it's august this is actually true. It's august and things were kind of quiet right now. Like, is that normal? I'm not getting a ton of inquiry's not booking a ton of weddings right now. Should I? You know, should I be worried I can go to my documents? ...

I can go look at my data and I can see that august was kind of so last year. August was kind of slow the year before, so okay, most of my clients were probably on vacation. I can not necessarily stress out quite so badly winner my big booking months are there trends? Is it all over the place? You know, um, I should I be really, really on in september when everyone comes back from labor day, did they all get engaged? Two people get engaged at, you know, new year's eve or is it just scattered throughout the year? If I can understand the trends in the enquiries that I'm getting on the bookings that I'm getting that correlate to those enquiries, I could sort of start to trend spot my own business understanding, of course, that it's all variable and having a great august this year, which I'm not by the way doesn't mean that I'm not gonna have a great august next year, you just never know this is always changing, but I feel like if you're armed with his much data, as you can possibly he be armed with, you're a little bit more prepared that if you're flying blind, it's like that show restaurant impossible. Right with the people who have the failing restaurants and he goes in and he screams at them and he's like how much does it cost you to run your kitchen every day and they're like I don't know like how do you not know that you know what do you paying in payroll? I don't know I want to know everything and because I am the owner of my business because I am the only employee in my business because it's all on my shoulders whether I succeed or fail I need to know everything so I want to know how many enquiries I'm getting every single month versus how many weddings and I'm booking and if you don't use something like xu q that will tell it to you keep records yourself but if you are a shoot you user you can go into the business section and look atyour reports and it will tell you how many enquiries if you look at this graph that I've got here these are my bookings for last year obviously I screen capped this in november because it looks like in december I died but if you can look you can look that january was a mass of month I got sixty four enquiries okay? And of those sixty four enquiries it looks like I booked like six or seven weddings and in february my enquiries went down but my bookings also went down and then you can see, like, you know, maybe july is big because everyone's going on summer vacation, but they're making their decisions right away before they go out of town. It'll just give you some info that you consort of track, of course, understanding that with the great power of the information comes the great crushing fear when you realize that you're off trend he either in a good way or a bad way so you just sort of have to take all of it with a little bit of a grain of salt, understanding that it is very, very variable. But I do keep track of every single thing down to the number because they just want to know and then again doesn't matter. You know our your bookings and your inquiry so all over the place that it's impossible to figure it out. Are you in a destination wedding market where everything is always this? See? Or are you somewhere where in the winter it's really quiet? Are you somewhere that in the winter it's really busy? You have to just take all of this with your own personal experience and do with the information what you will, but I do track my leads where they're coming from I ask every single person that inquires and meet with me, how did you hear about me? You know, did you find me on the internet? Did you find me on facebook? Did ah, former client of mine refer me again? I don't want to sound like a shoot infomercial, but part of why I use it is because it will let clients input how they heard about me and then I can track it. How many enquiries a year do I get from my listing on june bug? How many listings a year? Do you know how many enquiries a year do I get from my favorite client last year? Our enquiries coming in from a source that I never would have thought would be a good source. And then, um, I turning those enquiries into bookings, it doesn't matter if the hilton is sending me fifty weddings a year, if none of them are booking me, then I have to wonder if that's a channel that I want to really keep going after or if I'm only getting five enquiries among from june bug, but every single one of them are booking me, then I know that that's a very, very, very valuable resource for me. So if you don't have a studio management software that's doing this for you, keep records of it yourself. Write it down, make spreadsheets naomi is ah, you know, I know she has all of this information because she will write documents for herself that listed all out. Some people might just be scribbling it on post its and then losing them do something in some organized fashion that helps you keep track of how people are finding you when they're finding you how long it's taking them to book you. Because then you have the data behind you when you start making decisions about marketing. So when a lead comes to me how I handle the lead depends on how they contact me. Do they call me? Do they email me if they call me? Do they asked me to call them back? Do they asked me to email them if the email me do, they asked me to call them. Do they even give me a phone number like, how am I going to get back in touch with them when they get in touch with me? There are a bunch of different ways to go about this and even very, very, very close friends of mine. Even my husband and I, we have a very different way of handling enquiries. I will contact the enquiry back in the way that they have contacted me first if they've emailed me, I'm going to e mail them back. If they pulled me, I'm going to call them back if they've e mailed me and asked me to call them we'll call them I used to be really, really, really afraid to talk to clients on the telephone and I don't know why it's it's just my business achilles heel, I feel like I'm not my best self on the phone, so I actually had to write myself a script when I first started calling clients on the phone, you know, the things that I would talk about, the things that I was willing to talk about, what would I do in a inevitably said so tell me about your pricing, you know, you have to figure out what you're comfortable with for example, if a client emails me there a prospectus, a client meaning perspective client, if they email me and they say hi, we like your pictures, what are your prices? I'll send you my prices that's the problem with that? I'm not going to e mail them back and say, okay, well, I'd love to give you my prices, but, you know, let's set up a time to talk in person and then you can see all of my albums and then we can talk about pricing because how mortifying will that be if they come all the way in and they meet with me and their budget is fifteen thousand year the judge's, while that would be awesome if their budget we're fifteen hundred dollars, but the massive package they want to put together is, like twenty grand it's going to be embarrassing for them to be embarrassing for me and it's gonna waste their time. There's a big thing about if you put your pricing out there, will people actually come back to you? And I'm proof that they will, because I look at the way that I like to shop, and I look at the way my generation likes to shop. But I look at the way the millennials like to shop, they like to go out and gather information before they make decision ins and a millennial price. Shopping is not the same as someone else price shopping, they're not shopping on price, they're gathering all of their information before they make a very educated decision. So a lot of times and these people have contacted me, they've already googled me. They've looked at my site, they've looked at my facebook, they found everything out they can about me, and they want the pricing information not to make a decision based on price, which sometimes they do, but not necessarily to make a decision based on price, but to put it in there sort of list of information is part of the decision they're making so I don't have a start price on my web site and the reason why I don't have a start price on my website is because it doesn't really tell you much of anything I could say that I started fifty five hundred dollars but you don't know what that means it could be for two hours of photography it could be for the whole weekend and three albums you just don't know and I found that when I had a start price on my site people got frustrated well you said you started at four thousand dollars I didn't realize I didn't get an album with that well I didn't tell you you did you just assumed you did so I don't have any pricing information on my website at all and if you email me for it I'll send it to you yeah I know that photographer shot me and if all of a sudden I get a whole huge influx of enquiries today I'm going to be a little suspicious but I'm going to show you my pricing so you have no reason to fake shop me when we talk about marketing and setting your prices I'm gonna show you that you don't have to fake shop other photographers please don't do that it's wasting your time and it's wasting theirs and it's very disrespectful but I will just I'll send you that wonderful email that I've written out with links to galleries with you know my full price list and you can download it I don't mind sending it to you if a client does call me and we're talking on the phone I want to talk to them about their wedding first we're going to talk about their plans we're gonna talk about their venue and when it inevitably rolls around to the part where they asked me so tell me about your collections I'll say you know what this is what I'm going to dio I don't want you to know how to write down every single thing that I tell you I have three very distinct different collections and I don't want you to have to try toe scribble it down at home and maybe you know, misinterpret it later or lose it or forget about it let me go ahead and get your e mail address on what images and email it to you you know we could talk about them now if you'd like but if I can send you this email not only will it give you pictures of all of the products that I offer links to all of these galleries toe look at my priceless to download you'll then have it in front of you so that you can print it out you can look at it you can forward it to other family members that might be helping you make your decision so would it be okay if I did that and clowns you're like oh my gosh yeah, that would be great that gets me away from my uncomfortable place which is talking to them about money on the phone inevitably we're going to have to talk about money on the phone but the worst thing is when you say well, you know my prices start at fifty five hundred dollars for seven hours of coverage and your digital files hello hello and then there's that horrible awkward moment where you realize oh god, this isn't what I was okay when I was re branding my website a couple of years ago, I was looking around for you know, maybe I wanted to try somebody different in the company that I used, which is stupid I don't ever want to try anybody other than the company that I use, but I was talking to some people on the phone because they wouldn't give me any pricing information online and we had an hour long conversation about what I was looking for and what my needs were when they finally sent me a price quote it was about ten times what I could even conceive of budgeting for the project I mean it was it was embarrassingly massive I was completely off base with what I thought it was going to cost from them I'd wasted an hour of their time and wasted an hour of my time and I was frustrated with myself so if someone wants the pricing information, I'm not going to make them jump through hoops to get it I'm just going give it to them, you can have it here you go, it's not like a trade secret, I'm literally about to show it to the whole internet, so I will just hand it to you right away. I have no problems with that. If my clients want to meet in person, we can absolutely meet in person. I will meet people in philadelphia on friday nights when I'm out there, otherwise they can come to my home in brooklyn and we can meet in brooklyn. I'm not going to get you on a weekend, I'm just not it's not gonna happen. My spare time is very, very, very, very, very precious and if you really want to meet me in person, you'll find a way to meet me in person. However, in the early days of my career, I met people whenever they wanted to, you know, I would meet them on a sunday. I'd meet him on a saturday um before a wedding, but I just don't really that's just not something that I'm really okay with doing right now, um I've reached a point where I can set limits on what I will and will not do I will not shoot your engagement session on a weekend I don't care if you're in town just for the weekend, I don't care if I'm completely open on sunday, and I have nothing to do. I am not shooting your engagement session on a weekend it's just a rule that I've set up to keep my business and my personal life separate, and again, it took me a long time to be able to get to that point, and I'm okay enough right now, and I don't want to give any sort of misperceptions that the bookings are rolling in, and I have been able to stop, and I just, like, sit around at home on, like, you know, a golden desk chair and throw dollar bills in the air, because that would be sweet if I could, but, I mean, every single year you are back on that hamster wheel and you are running and you were running and you're running to try to book weddings because of I stop, they're gonna book somebody else and, you know, is okay at taking pictures as I am, there are ten people behind me that are pretty good that air are ready to take my bookings. So, you know, I love teaching you guys, and I'm really honored to be here, but, you know, my businesses is shooting weddings, and without clients, I can't really do that, so I do need to make concessions to be able to book the weddings, but to a certain point, I need to not make concessions that will infringe upon my personal life in a way that I'm uncomfortable with. So yeah, one thing that a lot of people will ask me when we're talking on the phone or when we're emailing or when they come in and they meet me in person is if they can have a reference, I know they cannot you can't talk to my past clients ever like I will choose to not book a wedding before I will let them speak to one of my past clients, the internet is out there, you guys and I tell clients, listen, I can give you a list of references and you could call them, but they're going to be references that I've picked that are going to say really nice things about me. I'm not gonna give you a reference of the client that got really mad at me, and then he yelled at me, you know what I mean? Like the references are going to be handpicked to say exactly what I want you to hear if there is someone that is unhappy with me, they're going to tell the internet. So google me go on wedding wire look all over the place if I have made somebody so angry that they think other people should not be working with me, they will have put it out there somewhere, but you can't talk to my clients they have made an investment in me and my services in my products that I'm making for them it is not their responsibility toe work for me as a marketing tool. So even if client sale yeah, please feel free to give my name to people it's not gonna happen. I just feel that that's not something that I'm comfortable asking my clients to do for me not because I don't think they're going to say nice things about me, but because I respect their privacy a little bit too much to ask them to work for me in a marketing capacity yes, ma'am, please no, please ask you out sending prices but you were on a roll. I don't want to stop you well, I just sat down, so feel free. I heard you say that if somebody asked for your pricing, you'll send it and that's not an issue but let's say it was just a general enquiry here want to see if you're free on so and so date this is like some details do you immediately send our theory okay, the end because if I say yes, I'm free on may tenth, the next thing will be well, can I see your prices so I would rather say yes, I'm available on may tenth and here is all of the information that I could possibly give you here you go and then you set up consult if they want to on ly if they want to the very bottom of the email that I send them and the very end of any phone conversations I have with the client is I would love to meet with you if you're available to set up a time to meet either in person or on the phone or weekends even set up a skype session so it's somewhere in between in person and on the phone, whatever you're comfortable with if you'd like to talk further, I'm here for you. Some people just want to hear your voice on the phone and kind of be reassured that you're an actual human being. Some people actually want to meet you in person and like touch the books and some people just want to see her face and skype works really well, so I'll tell people I I am here if you want to meet with me, you don't have to, but if you want to let me know we can talk further it's a very gentle cell in the very initial part of things yes, I am how soon after you have received an angry do you like? Because I'm here a lot of people say okay, immediately on my phone I just reply right away or do you have, like, nine to five and only doing through from this something this time? How do you handle the angry response? It's a very good question I don't respond on my phone, um, because it's, it's, it's just a level of kind of running business that's a little complicated to do on the phone, you copy and paste discs, they don't have email signature, so I'd be copying and pasting. Then I'd be in shoot q saying that I'd sent them the information I wait till I get home, I'll respond to an inquiry it pretty much any time I try to keep it not crazy like I tried to send you know, I tried to send responses before, like, ten o'clock at night, you know, if I'm if I'm awake and I'm working at three o'clock in the morning, I'm not really gonna be responding to client emails because I don't want them to think that they can find me all the time like that, but as immediately as possible, absolutely and I'm actually you know, if we're if we're being totally completely honest, I'm struggling with that a little bit this week because I'm here with you guys than in the studio all day and when we're breaking I'm going to the bathroom and drinking diet coke and you know, making sure that everything is going well here and when I get that my room I'm not just like sitting around and you know, the oh, I'm also yeah, you know, I'm cool the internet loves me I go right back to my room and I opened up my laptop and I'm trying to figure out what my clients need from me and I'm trying to stay on top of enquiries and stay on top of setting up a skype meeting here and I've got a skype meeting for my hotel room in ten o'clock in the morning on monday so trying to stay on top of business it's hard to do you know, if you're going to take a vacation, you have to decide on my going tio be on work mode fall I'm gone or not and my husband and I have to figure that out together since this is what we do, you know, as a business he'll answer the phone any time it rings all let my phone roll to voicemail sometimes you know, we just have a very different way of going about doing it you have to find what you're comfortable with, the one thing that I will not let clients do is they can't text me you can text me to tell me you're running fifteen minutes late to your engagement session you can text me to give me your hotel room number um for the next day I joked that if anybody ever found mine or my husband's phone, they would think terrible things about us because all of our techs are hey see you tomorrow, room twelve o three we'll see you in my room in the river in the morning room twelve eleven like all of those things, but they can't text me and be like, you know, hair my pictures ready or, you know, there's there's so many ways to communicate now there's email there's phone there's facebook message personally there's facebook message business there's you know, text, I told people, please just email or call like I want to stay efficient with how I get in touch with you and if we start texting and if you start facebook messaging, then I have to check ten different channels to see who needs me and this way I can uh I can check two and it means that I'll get that to you faster and most clients understand that because it's a very fine line when you're being very, very, very friendly with your clients, they take it to mean that we're friends and you khun text me at nine o'clock at night and I'll help you like, you know, email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I possibly can, but you know, it just don't tex like, I guess I'm old, I just don't think you text for business, I say is I texted you guys to open the door this morning and let me in. So how is the internet feeling about enquiries this morning? Are they feeling? Yeah, me lots of questions rolling in, please, this is what I want to hear from you guys in this section is the things that you're struggling with when it comes to turning an inquiry into a booking or the things that you're having a hard time with when you're on the phone with an inquiry or the questions that they ask you in the meeting that you totally freeze on, ask me and I'll answer them the way that I would for my own clients. So what? What can I help everybody with? Well, we have one great question from fei joe hello, can you please tell me what you think is the honest truth about what you base your prices on? And as a new photographer what's a good way to go for basic our prices, that is literally the entirety of the next section of what I'm going to talk about perfect after lunch section about pricing and profitability I will show you my real numbers of what it cost me to run my life and my price list and how I figure out what my prices are and how I figure out how to jump them I know a lot of instructors like to get up here and either let's just say fudge the numbers a little bit and I don't get up here on creative life but nobody wants anybody to think when they're teaching that there in any way human you want to seem bulletproof you want to seem like this is effortless and the inquiry's air rolling in and I'm up here teaching you because I've reached a point where it's all being handed to me and it's all awesome I'm working just as hard is every single one of you out there to keep going and I will show you my real numbers I actually thought about blacking out my social security number and showing you my tax returns so that you would trust me a little bit I'm not hitting you know, I I want you to see that what I'm telling you are my real life numbers and how to become profitable with the numbers that you have to work with yes michelle I'm just wondering like I know for a lot of people the consul part is probably the biggest struggle it's such a sales thing uly its top and I'm just wondering if there are any key things that you might say or do that you feel was the most effective to help you close that sale exactly the way I close the sale is actually by trying not to close the sale, which seems very counterproductive to everything that you're ever taught in sales you're taught to you know, don't let them walk out the door, try to get them to sign a contract before they leave, try to give them the inciting thing that will make them book you on the spot, but I actually don't want to do that unless they come in the door with their checkbook out ready to hire me and meeting me is just a formality. I actually want them to need other photographers. I wanted to talk to other photographers because when they come back to me, I want them to be dead certain that I'm the one for them. So I view an inquiry like a a meeting, be it either skype on the phone or in person as a transfer us to just get to know each other. I'm not there for I'm not trying to sell myself to you. I'm trying to let you look at my business in a way that will make you want to work with it a little bit more. So when an enquiry does come in when we do set up a time to talk on the phone or we do set up a time to skype, I start off asking them about their wedding you know, I don't talk about your photography first, you know, tell me about your wedding hall and if you guys been engaged and I'm not gonna ask questions and I'm not actually interested in hearing the ants or two I don't wanna be like so tell me how you proposed because that just literally it's like a neon sign just went off over my head that says sales pitch right? You know, so how's the wedding planning going you know, I did heavy picture venue yet you know what made you choose the four seasons or what made you choose the mary ann are you know what is your date of any special significance? And then based on what they're telling me, I can see you know what else can I ask? Can I ask how they met? You know what you guys do for a living? You know, how'd you guys meet each other? We just talked and we talked for a while and eventually there reaches a point where the talk sort of turns itself into a business and then my next question, which is one of the more valuable things that my cousin of the many valuable things that he has shared with me is the question that uses in his inquiry meetings that I've heard other photographers use that works really well is so tell me what you guys want for your wedding photography, and then I add on my own question after that, which is or tell me what you don't want, you know, sometimes it's easier to tell me what you're not looking for than what you are, and usually someone will then either tell me, ah, horror story about a wedding that they were in, where the photographer was awful or well, tell me, oh, well, my friend used, you know, got married, and her pictures were up on this awful website that was so complicated, and they kept spamming me and you don't use that, do you? And you know, it'll it'll give them a place to tell me what they want. And then after I hear what they want also, you know what you guys are talking about, what you're looking for sounds a lot like what I do, so if you could indulge me for a second, you know, I would love to tell you how I approach a wedding, and then it gives me a chance to talk to them about my style. And then that usually subways very gently over into wouldyou like you, but would you guys like to see some albums? You know, I don't even know if an album is something that you might necessarily be interested in, but I do have some books if you'd like to look through them, and then I show them the books. I talked briefly about no it's, a flush mount book and the custom ization and what not? And then I leave them alone. I'm at home, I go to the bathroom, I go check on my kids. My kids love when I have inquiry meetings at night because it it means that they can watch tv for a long as they want down, sara will be like guys listen, like it's kind of quiet downstairs and good dancers make sure they're not killing each other. Take your time to look through the books. I don't want to hover over you while you're doing it, I'll be right back or if we're meeting somewhere else, I I will have a meeting at a starbucks. I don't care if we're meeting at a starbucks, I'll go get him a refill or I'll go to the bathroom are all you know my kids are calling you guys mind giving me just a second. Look over the books because I want them to talk to each other about what they're seeing I want them to be like, I really like this or I don't know, the more I look at this, I don't really like this and they haven't had a chance to talk amongst themselves while I'm there and then after that, when I come back, we do has any other questions for me, and I talked to them just like I'm talking and you guys right now like there's, no, you know, there's, no internet persona or there's, no like speaker persona, this is for those of you who are watching, who actually know me this is, you know, this is what I'm really like there's no public shell or a mask, you know? I just want to talk to them, and I want them to get to know me a little bit. I want them to get to know the way I run my business and see if it might be a good fit for them, and when we come to the close of the meeting, be it in person or on the phone, I say, you know, I don't know if I'm the only photographer you've talked to, I don't know if you have any other meetings, you know, I would love to work with you, I always tell them tell them you want their their wedding, you want the job? You know, I would be I would be really honored if you guys heard me to shoot your wedding. I would love toe work for you. You know, I've really enjoyed talking to you, but I want to make sure that you guys do your due diligence, talkto other photographers, go out, maybe google me a little bit more. You know, if you've done your research and you think that I would be a good fit for you, I would love to talk more about your wedding. You know, it really would be an honor and then I let him go. Yes, sir. Yeah, this is probably more of a comment. Anything else? But I mean, thank you for that because I know for me personally when when I, uh and insert situation like that where I'm somebody's trying to sell me something that's the last thing assumes I feel like it's the sails. If there are going to be personal with me, then I feel like they're not respecting me, there's, seeing me as some sort of a mark or something I know and that's why I think a lot of us have an aversion to that sort of thing, and so so the way you presented is exactly, you know, I try and I just try to keep it nice and easy cause I know they're being sold every which way they turn when it comes to a wedding and I just want them to feel like, okay, that was actually really nice, like she just talked to me and we got to see her stuff and she didn't try to give me a gimmick and, you know, it was it was just a good conversation and a lot of people really respect that and, you know, do I meet with people sometimes, and I never hear from them again, but a lot of times I really put people at ease and when they do come back and they are ready to book me, they've done their research and they know that I'm definitely the one for them, so we've already got a really good a report by the time they even hire me that's how I feel about that? Yes, michelle. So then, um, follow up let's say you haven't heard from how much time do you give before you follow up and then if they still you know, like, what do you do? How long before you kill the date on your schedule? If it's an email inquiry and I emailed them back the information and that you know them back, the information I follow up five days later with another email that basically just says hey, I just wanted to follow up you know I hope you received all of my information please let me know if you have any additional questions about my style or my offerings I would love to talk with you or meet you or even just email back and forth so I'm here if you need me very light and easy sometimes they'll email me back and we'll be like listen this was really out of my price range or they'll email back and they're like, you know we decided to go in a different direction or I never hear from them again and if I don't hear from them after I've sent the follow up e mail they're dead to me or more accurately I probably dead to them I if I've met with them I immediately evil the next day to say guys it was really great thank you so much for coming all the way out to meet with me and then I put in something personal like you know I hope you were able to find somewhere to eat dinner in the neighborhood afterwards you know did you go to enzo's? Was it good? I hope you didn't have to wait too long for the train you know it again thank you so much for coming all the way out to brooklyn cause if they live in manhattan they think that brooklyn is like floor I like that it's so far away all right, so I thank them for, you know, pulling out their passport, crossing the border like that on and then I give it five days and I come back around again and usually by that point they've either told me yes or no or sometimes they just drop off the face of the earth and then I let them go, I can't spend for ever chasing enquiries, I have to move on to new things, and we have a couple questions on what if the client is chasing you so if they keep going back and forth with, like, maybe I want a book, maybe I don't maybe I do is there a time limit when? No, ok, you just kind of let them have their yeah, they have many questions is they want to call me as many times as they need? It does sometimes reach a point where not that they've annoyed me, but I didn't feel like they're coming back and back and back hoping that I'm going to be something that I'm not and waiting meeting, waiting for me to turn into that something that I'm not. So sometimes it does reach a point where I have to say, listen, guys, like you've emailed me half a dozen times, you got a lot of questions you seem a little bit uncomfortable I would love to work with you I really would but you know I wonder if we're maybe not the right fit and then I let it go you know it doesn't take that long to do an email on my laptop and on my desktop my operating system if I don't exactly feel like I'll actually just use mac dictation and I'll talk to my computer no actually verbally dictate my e mails great well, I mean I get sometimes it's easier to compose an email that sounds conversational if I'm actually just talking so on the newest operating system you double click the function button and a little microphone will pop up. I dictated all of the think books that I wrote it was easier to sound conversational if I actually said them so coarse then they misinterpret some words. They one time I was I was writing something that was like I would like to go and it said I like tim tebow on I was like as I meant but okay, really interesting. So if you are going to dictate please uh proof read before you send it out because god knows what it's going to write for you yes, sir two questions you said the when you send pricing out yes. Did you say that you also send something else along with that that yes what is that in the email that I sent people? And even if I talked to him on the phone even if we kind of go over these things I always follow up with this email it has my price list it has a link which is a link to a password protected blawg post on my blawg that talks about my albums and I don't use my album company's name because if I ever did want to switch album companies which I have no plans on doing but which I have done in the past it lets me switch to a new album company without having to tell the client but this is what a flush mount album is. This is what it looks like. This is what it looks like when it's open these air, what the spreads look like so that even if they think maybe we want to come in and meet you but we just kind of want to see what the book looks like they can see what the book looks like right in front of their face. Let a link to my frequently asked questions the client version of my frequently ask questions not just the one on my web sight hidden pain it is a hidden its again a password protected block post okay, that I buried back in like two thousand six we will not guess the password please don't try uh but it's it's for the clients so that they can, you know oh there's an extra level of like question and answer that she'll d'oh and I do get a lot of people who emailed back and say wow like you answered questions we didn't even know we had like that was really helpful and then it closes with all of my featured galleries on zen folio are open for you to come in and look at but here are some examples of one that I think might be useful this is what he looks like in the sun this is what wedding looks like in winter this is what a wedding looks like when it rains you know, give them this is an indoor wedding. This is an outdoor wedding so they can see that I can make beautiful photographs in any scenario for them I'm not just going to say these were the best of the best, but look at all of these different conditions in which investing in me I will ensure that you can have good photographs during and that's what I said. So after you send that e mail, what percentage of people call you back and want to book you with what you were saying meet in person if necessary, like I sort of thought that maybe you would meet with all of the clients before they would actually signed a contractor no, no and a lot of people are very savvy nowadays and they don't need thio okay, I would say that it's probably a third a third a third I talked on the phone or e mail with a third skype with a third and I meet with the third and out of the enquiries that I get like kind of looking at those shoot key numbers we're looking at what like six hundred enquiries a year something and that doesn't count that doesn't you know, count for the people who email me not in my shoe q or the people who call me so maybe seven hundred enquiries a year and I shoot fifty and out of the fifty that I'm shooting you know, maybe I met with another fifteen to twenty more who never hired me that's sort of what is looking at yes how do you handle um increase multiple increase for the same date? You mean in a way that doesn't mean that everyone's gonna hate me when we're done I'm straight up honest at the very beginning like I you know, I just wanna let you guys know there there are a couple of other people looking at your day you know, nobody serious nobody's like ask for contract or anything but please understand that I do have to take the first wedding that does come in and that means the first person to ask for a contract and, you know, respectfully just understand that I'm not going to say, you know, hey, someone else is thinking about booking do you want a book like it's gonna be first come, first serve and that's, the only way that I can ensure that I am fair to my clients and most people are like, oh, yeah, ok, I totally understand, and booking with shoot you, it minimizes that whole or whatever studio management software you use or setting up, however people khun book online minimizes yeah, we totally got your contract. We totally sent you a check. The check is totally in the mail, and then you're waiting and they're waiting for a truck that never comes because what that usually means is we think we want to hire you, but we're not really sure. So let me buy a couple of days we're in, we might sign the contract and send it in. You have shoot you right there in your email, you can click it, you can sign it, you can pay the retainer with a credit card, you snooze, you lose, moving on so it says at the very bottom of my price list, you first come first served, it says at the bottom of all of my e mails, please understand that I can't hold dates in order to be fair everyone yes ma'am if you meet with a client and you know they have asked for this meeting you get there you've already sent them bryce please how you approach they start haggling you price or trying you mean all of them all right how do you make it to wear is so uncomfortable for them or you fully in control like it's I mean it's so awkward when especially on the phone or email or even in person it's worse in person looking at you I understand that my resting facial expression is not necessarily the most pleasant resting facial expression stop nodding at me I didn't want information of that but I don't the last thing the world I want to do is to like have heat face towards my clients I can't control my face I can't it's awful but it depends on what they're haggling for if they're asking for a straight up monetary discount and they're not willing to bend my standard responses well, you know I understand that your wedding is the saturday of memorial day weekend and I know that the package that you're looking at is fifty five hundred dollars and you're asking what I can do for you for thirty five hundred dollars and unfortunately the answer is there's just not much of anything that I could dio and I'm not meaning to be disrespectful I just don't have a package at that price list, you know, but you know, if you're getting married on a friday in january, in your budgets, fifty, five hundred dollars when you looking for, you know, you just you need nine hours instead of seven and the difference between a nine hour, you know, package in a seven hour package will book me a date that I'm never going to book on another day anyhow, yeah, I mean, we can we can definitely talk about that if you just want money off, I will never, ever, ever discount the base price of my package. It doesn't matter every time I have done that in the past, I have been really burnt by it, but I am okay with possibly adding an additional things that might help me book the date if the day is a day that I know that I am not going to definitely book, no matter what. Because there are some dates that are so extraordinarily popular labor day saturday, you get nothing like, in fact, you should be happy that I'm not charging a premium everyone's getting married labor day saturday, but if they start haggling in person, I just keep smiling, I say, you know, no, no, guys, no, I'm just not able to do that I don't you don't have to give them a reason you don't have to justify yourself at all you can just say you know no, I can't do that and if they keep pushing say you know, guys, I understand that budget is obviously really, really something that's very important to you but the things that you keep asking for, I just I can't meet that type of a budget line like I'm not trying to make you uncomfortable and I totally understand what you're going for, but I can't do that for you and they don't need to hear why it's it's none of their business why and usually the y is I don't want to you know I don't want to go out for less than my package price I don't want to give you something if you're being mean to me if you're pushing me and pushing me and pushing me like an insane, crazy person, I am much less willing to help you out because it's not like they're saying look, my budgets fifty, five hundred dollars I'm looking at your seven hour package could we do a six hour package for a little bit less? Well that on an off day we can talk about but not can you just take money off because I want you to take money off? Well, no, I mean that's unfortunately that doesn't it's not how that works so, yeah. Yes. Now we have a related question from sean keeton uh, if the client can afford you, do you provide referrals to other photographers that do fit within their okay? Absolutely not. My least favorite question is, I'm so sorry this is out of my budget. Can you recommend a photographer at a lesser price point? No, I can't I absolutely understand that everything I've said these responses so many times I can say them over and over again. I absolutely understand that everyone has a budget. I do respect that I respect your need to stick within it. Unfortunately, I do not know anyone at a lower price point that can provide anywhere near the service and the product and the photography that I can provide for you. I wish you all the best in your search laters if you're booked on that date do give referrals I absolutely give referrals if I'm booked on that date the first referral always goes to my husband and vice versa he and I we do not run our businesses together. We will never, ever, ever under any circumstances like I love him he's my favorite person in the world besides my kids, we will never work together because I would really like to stay married really nice no, it would just that's never gonna happen so he and I you know it is exact same if your best friend's a photographer if your book the first thing I'm gonna do is say hang gotta september six or you open and if he's not if he's open I'm obviously going toe send the client his information but if he's not open I'm gonna go to the next name on my list in a text my mom in texas jen and say hey jenner you open september six no hey jon are you open september six no you know hey alison where you open september sixth? No, because when I send them a referral I want to make sure that the person I'm referring to them is actually open on that date and I send them one person I feel like if you send a huge referral list of people it really dilute the power of saying you know what my buddy jeff mosher is available on this day I've already checked with him he's got the day open here's all of his contact information he is a wonderful person you would be really lucky to work with him best you know best of luck yeah it's very powerful when it's coming right like that and we have another question from the internet if what from ducky what if it's not a good fit for you, would you tell them right there in person or over email or phone the alzheimer's soon as I can tell okay, you know in a lot of times and I'm not trying to be mean a lot of times they don't even realize that we're not a good fit and what usually happens is they like my photography, but when it comes right down to it, they don't want my photography for themselves do you know what I mean? Like they like the style, but they'll be like, you know, my mom really wants there to be a lot more pictures of us smiling at the camera and we really want a lot of pictures of us smiling at the camera I mean, we really don't like the thing we're like the shadows are really dark and everything else is really bright and we really don't like the thing we're like the background is really blurry, but we love your pictures and I'm like, well, guys, I totally understand that, but it sounds like there's a little bit of, like, a style mismatch and at that point in time I'll say, you know what? I really just encourage you to start looking around out there, you know, maybe you'll find something that's a little bit better of a fit for you because what you're describing like, while I'm incredibly flattered that you like the work I do, what you're describing sounds like you know, might be better served by another photographer. There have been less than half a dozen times in the thirteen years I have been in business that I shut from by you down and said, I'm really sorry. We're we're just not a good fit, and I really think that you would be better served by another photographer and usually it's because the negotiations have turned a little hostile from whichever bizarre reason. Um, yes, yes, uh, si, cisco. Diana wants to know if you're meeting outside of the studio, like, first our books, for example, who pays the bill? I do, unless they offer to pick it up, and then I try to fight him on it a little bit. I'm not having dinner with my clients. We're going for a cup of coffee, okay? Right. I'll say, hey, guys, can I get you anything or, you know, let me get this for you, and a lot of times they're like, no, let me get this for you, like you really don't have to do that. But if they're gonna push, fine spent a dollar in six cents and buying a cup of coffee that's fine if it makes you feel good, but I always offer to pick it up, okay? Right. And a question from abby heart do you have any suggestions for someone starting out that maybe doesn't have a ton of weddings to show them? And could you give examples of what you might show them? Show them what you've got and get honest don't do a style shoot and pretend like you've shot a hundred weddings, tell them the truth, you know? Hey, guys, I'd shot ten weddings, you know, these are my two favorite ones, you know? I'm really loving this industry it's really fantastic, you know, it's it's really great to be shooting weddings, play up the freshness of your fresh I you're not jaded by, you know, multiple years of being in business, you know, play upon your enthusiasm and then create a few beautiful sample pieces to show and show those and show them with confidence don't let them see well, you know, I mean, I've only done ten wedding means no, yes, I've been ten weddings, they've all been really fantastic, I'm really looking forward to next year, you know, I've got some more to shoot it's going to be a good year, you know, it's, a great industry to be a part of I ran into ran into a lot a lot when I was really young. You know when when I was twenty five and not a lot of people trusted me and I was starting to make excuses for questions they weren't even asking you know what I mean so I realize that once I got a little bit more confident in my own ability and my when I go into a business meeting it's it's very mindful of the fact that I'm in a business meeting like I've I've kind of got my shell on I'm still me I'm still talking to them like me but I'm not taking any of it personally you know what I mean if we're negotiating it's not personal it's not and if they don't hire me that's not personal either it's cool so if you only shot ten weddings show those ten weddings like yeah I've only shot ten weddings so what I'm still good looks like you know ten weddings throw down the mic and walk out no way that would be also if you could work that into your cells pan the coffee slammed way that would be cool yeah yes ma'am what like percentage you say comes from referrals from other photographers of our sews like other avenues they use it's actually really it's a very very very good question I'm at about fifty fifty right now with people just finding me and people finding me because someone referred them directly to me and a direct referral is usually either from a vendor a photographer or a past client we're going to talk about all of those in the marketing section sort of how to capitalize on those but there still are the people that just find me on the web or they don't know how they found me like we just kind of found you, which usually means they saw me in a blog's somewhere you know, maybe they saw a post on june bug which led them tio my sight which led them to mentioning me their venue and the venues like yeah she's worked here before some people have no clue how they found you they fall into like the rabbit hole of the internet and don't know how they you know you don't know how you how you got to where you are so yeah, they're kind of coming from all over the place, but if if you want me to expand on that a little bit later when we hit marketing, if I don't hit that the way you want it to bring it back up again, talk about it more other questions about inquiry's and clients and more client she's starting well, you taste you know I did I did so uh let's say you re with someone either your home or at starbucks? What do you because I know some photographers will bring a computer and run a slideshow and book what I don't really do this light so they anymore sometimes they do if they come to my house but I think it's so awkward to bring us light show to a starbucks like that's just kind of weird I made people that start about all the time I bought some of my biggest weddings at starbucks I have absolutely no problem with it and when I do meet them at starbucks it's because hey guys you know usually I meet out of my home in brooklyn but I'm here in philadelphia over the weekend or I'm in the city today if you'd just like to meet somewhere in between and grab a cup of coffee anywhere that you suggest would be totally fine I bring two albums that's it we're mainly there to talk most of the time by that you know if I know that we're going to be in a coffee shop maybe I'll suggest that they spend a little bit more time perusing my blawg or looking through all of the galleries you know maybe make sure you look through everything in case you have any specific questions you want answered in our meeting but I'm bringing the two books just to show them what the books look like yes, ma'am how how big of a nine by twelve in a ten by fifteen nine by twelve is the book in my middle package ten by fifteen is the book of my top package so I want them to see exactly what they look like and they're duplicates of books that my clients have made because I want to be able to say you know, listen I could pick you know my favorite stuff and put them in a book for you but I want you to see what people are actually buying from me I mean no don't get me wrong there are two of my favorite client books ever they're not like the bad ones but you know these air there you know would you like a duplicate copy of this album when you order it? Yes that's what I'm showing two people and you get your client perhaps more than what they ask for patty wants to know as in you guys are great here's a bonus you know? No okay I mean, if they're great we're gonna work together and that's awesome like I don't want to just start throwing an engagement sessions and things like that for absolutely no reason no and that's not a like a disrespectful no it's just a no I don't you ever do that in terms of trying to get to close the sale to throw in something for the huge things that I'm willing to throw in and that's usually just extra time ok things that don't require me to actually get on a train and go into the city I will never include your engagement session like that by the time I do an engagement session in manhattan it's forty five minutes on the train one way forty five minutes on the train the other way fifteen minutes of walking to whatever location I'm mad and then an hour of shooting I've lost half my day you're not gonna get that for free on again I'm not trying to be snarky it's just why would you give someone half of your entire workday for nothing? It will be extra hours it will be extra pictures in their book that aren't gonna cost me all that much money so I could be a free book or a free parent album but I could make your book a little more robust if that would help you book me sometimes it's the photo booth which does not require me bringing an additional person or paying extra staff we set it up ourselves so sometimes that you do a lot of violent get one free overtime hours you know you need you need nine hours if you purchase an eight hour, I'll give you a night power, that sort of thing, but I don't ever want to wake up on the morning of the wedding and know that I really sold out to get there it's just a mind set it makes me really uncomfortable and I also don't want to feel like I'm being pushed around by my clients but I don't have freebies that I just kind of pop in there just for fun yeah that makes sense uh willy wonka wants to know what's the best way to connect with wedding planners do they do you work with them in terms of referrals are their fees involved what's your no no you're never getting a fee for me like again like I understand that some of my answers are like bam it's never gonna happen but if I waffle on these things and I'm inconsistent about these things then then I'm kind of fuzzy and you know I don't want a flip flopper like I either am or I'm not no I'm not going to give you a referral fee to refer me I want you to refer me because it's going to help serve your clients better I do get referrals from the news we're going talk in marketing about how to maximize your relationships with these people but I won't pay a fee toe have someone say nice things about me I won't pay to be in those horrible horrible little magazines that the venue's put out where it's pay to play I won't pay to be on a vendor list I'm not going to be a kickback I'm just not going teo I'm not saying that you shouldn't like let's say there's a wedding planner that will bring you five really high dollar weddings and all she wants is a small percentage if that's something that you're comfortable with if they're bringing you clients that you know we're good clients or that venue is bringing you you know, ten weddings a year build that referral fee into your package and do it if it's something that you want to do, I'm not going to say don't do it I just don't I choose to do it? I don't have one referral stream I don't have all my eggs in one basket so much that it would be a worthwhile investment for me to do something like that and speaking of clear boundaries and client communication do you have a minimum time frame? So what if a client reaches out two weeks before their wedding? What would you say that's too short or I'd say, dude, wow, like now I know I mean, I actually just shot a wedding on august tense that book me three weeks prior to the wedding, okay, I gave her buy one, get one free on overtime and she paid full price in years past I've gone out, you know, I got early burned a couple of years ago, I came down a little bit in money and came down in hours and went out and I had a bad feeling about it and it wasn't good every time I do a last minute discount for someone, it never ends well, so and and again this it's a very kind of clear thing I only have so many free saturdays it's going to take a lot to pry me away from one you know, if it's a very light month if something comes up you know for two hours on a saturday in february and it's two weeks before we can talk about what you need, I do some small two to three hour low payments during the week, like in central park with just the bride and groom and maybe two or three other people that's great, I love that that's fantastic we can talk about maybe custom pricing for something like that, but if it's two weeks before your wedding and you have an eight hour day and you want what everybody else wants it it's going to be the price is what it is. But again, these are things that you also you'll find your comfort zone on these things and it's very hard to find your comfort zone like two years into being in business for three years into being been business, which is why I think that people have been in business for like three or four years to get up and teach you business, you're still in baby steps, they're on again, I'm only thirteen years and I'll come back thirteen years from now and you know all have developed all these things even further, but I must be doing something right because I'm continuing to book weddings and I'm continuing to have clients that are happy with me and are referring me to their friends so obviously I'm not too off base so in the client communication realm of things in what you do when they call you in what you do when they e mail you and what you do when you skyped them or talk to them on the phone or meet them in person you know, I've told you everything about what I do and how I sort of answer their questions on the phone we have about fifteen minutes left and I ask you kind of earlier on in this what are things that you keep running up against that people keep asking you, you know, communication issues that you keep having over and over in your business and I can tell you what I either do in that situation or maybe help you out with what you're coming up against in that yes, ma'am, I and I guess it's not really a scenario that happens after but before I feel like you sort of in the industry we have been kind of led to like if you put a certain type of content and you're about me section or throughout your web site that shows you know you have good work and whatnot and your personality and so certain kinds of people are going to want to book you and what not and what I'm running into a lot of that I will get for example inquiry and I will come back with my pricing but a really high percentage either after I reach out will not even call bad or you know so is this do you what do you suggest putting out there before they even inquire into your website itself or your persona to kind of try to help weed that out a little no that makes perfect sense and again we were talking about it a little bit earlier today you can't be everything to everybody like I understand that the way that I shoot in the way that I view light in the way that I process my files and everything it's it's not for everyone if someone is sitting down and they're trying to decide about their wedding photography and they're looking at like been crissman and me and jose via like those air three totally different styles it's going to be a style decision and no matter what I put on the web jose's clients not gonna hire me but I don't want them to hire me I want them to hire jose because he's going to give them what they want and he's a sweetheart his customer service is wonderful and he is going to be for them what they need the only things that I can put out there are authentic things I want to keep putting work out there I want to keep putting work out there every time I shoot I want my clients in perspective clients to come back and be like oh my god every time we come to your block there's something new and I want to constantly be showing up in their facebook feed with new pictures and new galleries to show them that I'm relevant and I'm still working at my work is getting better and in my about me thing and we'll talk about it a little bit in marketing I want to tell them a little bit about me but I'm not putting things on the internet to try to like make them be my friends my about me is this is where I live these are my credentials these are the awards I've won you know I have two kids have husband I like take pictures at weddings it's not and I like tea and I like puppies and I like you know shopping and it's not like come in and be my buddy because I'm trying to be a little bit like above and beyond that all I am friendly I'm not trying to be your friend so what I put on the internet is very, very, very clean and it's meant to be that but all you can do is I hate to say follow your heart but put out there what's authentic to you and that will resonate with people because if your fake they're going to figure you out like that yes michelle so let's say you booked a client that their wedding is a year out so I got a two parter like how far before the wedding would you shoot the engagement and how much interaction and emailing dee doo once they booked to prep okay so let me do the second question first so once they've booked a ce faras interaction back and forth I told them to get in touch with me whenever they need to get in touch with me if you need to e mail me if you have a question even if it doesn't necessarily pertain your photography if it's wedding related and I can help you with it like hit me seriously ask me whatever you want when I really start reaching out to them for information is about two months to six weeks prior to the wedding because that's when they're finalizing their timeline that's when all of the details are coming in the play and the clients who want to do their timelines like six months out we usually change it again before the wedding day the engagement session I'll shoot whenever they want a lot of times all recommended they do the session in a different month than their actual wedding is going to be so you're getting married in the winter why don't we do a summer engagement session or if you're getting married in the spring why don't we do your engagement session in the fall like it will give you a completely different look to your images but we can do it whenever you want as long as they know the turnaround time is about two weeks to get everything post wedding post engagement session you can do it whenever I told them to try to really avoid the high heat months of summer because you don't really want to be snuggling up all that close together like july august like early september I wouldn't recommend it I do most of the ones that I do in april and may in october and november so that's what I would recommend and as faras communications you know whenever they need to get in touch with me they can call me we can talk about whatever they need but it is that two months slash six week mark before the wedding that I'm really going to start meeting information from them oh and I don't necessarily need it right then they could literally give me their timeline the week before but they need to be thinking about it at this point in time because they need to be locking in all of their under other vendors to what times they're arriving and doing things and that's usually when like their makeup artist is going to want to know what time do you want me to show up that's usually when things kind of really get moving dallas I have a question a little bit for after the wedding short this was very recent and sort of floored me when I got the call it was probably the mother of the groom and normally on my block I'm not doing a roster of whose to it's just my favorite picture is the story of the day course oh jesus called yeah it was like neighbors had called her you know where are they that kind of thing like crying on the phone unlike I didn't want to hurt her but I'm just like like how do you word that like the album's not even out like the gallery's on the pictures on the block and there are three pictures of her mother and a picture for sister there's no one from our side of the family how could you do that to us? Okay first of all you have to realize if someone's gonna flip it like that on you it's not about the picture it's about something else that's happened and you know what I mean like no one is going to be that upset about pictures it's that someone made a snarky comment about the bride's mom being hotter than her so you know so you know what I mean something's happened behind the scenes to set them off and you don't know what it is I don't want to know what it is, okay you know hey, yeah like I'm really sorry that you're disappointed with what was on the blogged please understand the pictures on the blogger just a teaser as for what's to come you know, there are tons of pictures of you there tons of pictures of you and you family I promise you you're going to be thrilled with them. The rest of the gallery is going to be done in a few short weeks and you'll be able to share those images with anybody that you want. I want you to take them down. Listen, I'm really sorry that you feel this way. You know, these are the images that I've chosen to present from the wedding day if your son and his wife really want me to take them down please have them contact me I'm gonna take him down because you want me to take him down. You're not my client. What if I take him down and I heard the bride's feelings like that's so awkward I had somebody called me and I literally memorized the sentence that she uses is the worst thing that anybody has ever said to me shot this extraordinary wedding with this just emotion thatjust humbles you two see right like it was amazing and there was a beautiful picture of one of the bride's family members hugging one of her family members during the toast and she saw them and she's wiping away a tear and she called me screaming and I'm not exaggerating I'm not saying she was raising her voice she was full on screaming to where I almost couldn't understand her took me a few minutes to figure out who she was she said quote how dare you use my image on your website for your shameful marketing gains take it down or you will hear from my attorney oh I'm so sorry you feel this way I'm I'm terribly sorry you feel this way and inside I'm like making horrible faces that were on the phone you know I'm really sorry I am sorry that she feels this horrible thing about me which isn't true but you know I'm so sorry that you feel this way I was really moved by the interaction you know of you and your daughter I was really honored to have witnessed that and I'm really sorry if you took me putting it on the web as as something other than what it was I'll take it down right away absolutely and I took it down and then I wrote the sentence down then I immediately took that picture put it in my moment slide show it's incredible it was lovely but don't scream at me like I wasn't why would I do that to you? It was so awkward and sometimes you get my voice down nice and low I keep very very com I keep saying over and over again I'm so sorry you feel this way not I'm sorry because I didn't do anything wrong I'm sorry you feel this way if it's taking down one picture because you know her aunt doesn't like the way her hair looks yeah that's fine, but if it's taking on the whole block post and redo it you know respectfully I'm really sorry that's gotta come from the bride and groom what about if it's like an amazing wedding you love it but there's a divorce soon after and I ask you to take everything take it down ok it's not worth it like really some of I had a divorce where two of the images from the wedding actually one images for me in a competition and she called me she's very upset not with me but she's very upset, you know I still see that were on your web site I don't know if you know that we divorced I'm really uncomfortable with those pictures being out there can you take them down? I don't care if it's the best wedding photographer wedding photograph that anybody has ever made ever it's coming down and I'm never using it again it's karma like I could fight her on it even the cameraman or nodding at me like I could fight her on it and I could cite my contract she's gonna heat me and all of her friends are gonna hate me and I'm never gonna work for her family or anybody she knows ever again and it's not cool how would I want someone to treat me in that situation? You know, there was a very good photographer friend of mine who took pictures of my ex husband and I with our kids and I realized way later down the road like I'm remarried he's remarried you were a wonderful blended family but my first marriages family pictures are still on their website made me feel a little weird so I asked if they could take him down they took him down. No big thing I just try to think how I would want to be treated if I were in that situation we have where this got really fast all of a sudden and we're running very quickly out of time other questions about communicating with your clients managing their expectations yeah, we have a quick two quick questions on contract so e j wolf says do you ever let the parents sign and okay no matter if they're paying it or not the bride is my client the bride I'd signs the contract not the groom not the bride and the groom not the bride's parents not her third cousin the bride signs the contract no matter who pays okay but the wedding coordinator never signs the contract by the way it's always the bride o k and then r js do you've a disclaimer in your contract indicating that you cannot be sued or something like that? Of course I d'oh I mean, absolutely, of course I do. And when you have your contract drafted up, wherever you get it, if you write it yourself, if you don't get it from the internet, have a lawyer look at it, not just a lawyer on the internet, not just a friend who's in law school have an actual lawyer who's working in your actual location of business look at it, and I understand that even though I have that written in my contract, people's be crazy right on and if they're going to sue me, they're going to see me. I haven't ever been sued have I had unhappy clients? Yeah, it would be a total lie to say that every single person that I work with is totally and completely thrilled. I disappointed a client so egregiously earlier this year that she sent me an email that made both my assistant and I cry it wasn't anything I could have fixed it was it was above and beyond my control it was multiple different moving parts, but at the end of the day, no matter what, no matter what happened or who did it, she was unhappy with me and I still after apologizing to her that she was unhappy with me and going above and beyond to fix the things that she was unhappy about I never heard from her again and it's been months and I am still devastated I'm actually devastated personally about it because I was not able to meet someone's expectations of me and while I do have very cut and dried business policies I'm not a robot like it breaks my heart if I make somebody unhappy I really totally lost because I just had to think about that you know somebody asked me a question really fast so after the wedding how much time like at what point do you say hey client your album it's been over a year let's finish this like what you d'oh I really hope the camera wasn't on me when my eyes just put away back in my head six weeks after the wedding when their images were ready they get an email saying your images are ready here are the steps to start your album then my work flow kicks in the shoe que album workflow if I haven't heard from them six weeks later I get a notification saying you need to email them again okay six weeks after that I emailed him again then we go to three months email them again then we go to six months we e mail them again then we goto all guest which is when I email every single client to tell that has an album to tell them that the holiday deadline is coming I don't care if it takes you ten years to make your album, but there is something in my contract that protects me if it takes you longer than a year, I can charge you a fee based on the percentage that my album company has raised me every year and I'm very honest about I'm like, look guys, you got up until a year to do this, which is a really long amount of time but if it goes above and beyond a year and really start like my cost of sales do go up, I will hold it for a year but it will be a minimal charge to move forward after that we're not talking thousands of dollars from talking a couple hundred dollars, but that helps me when ten years down the road they come back and I after we are pull their files out of archives and work on them and what not? I can assess a little three on top of that and usually it's just a few hundred dollars enough to cover the cost of making the book it's nothing it's, nothing crazy, but the thought of a financial hit does generally spur people to get it done, but then there are people that with life takes over and they forget so that yearly august, you know, hey, clients who have pending albums, don't forget if you want it by christmas. Here's. What I need your stuff by reminds them. I've got pending albums from two thousand six, but no matter how hard I pushed them, they're just not it's. Just not done well doing whenever they're ready. I don't ever say your album is going to expire, you're going to do that, you've got a book, you've paid for a book, do it when you're ready.

Class Description

Join award-winning wedding photographer Susan Stripling for a 3-day journey through the world of artistic, compelling, and financially successful creative wedding photography.

Throughout this course, you’ll explore lighting, posing, capturing detail, and much more. Susan will simplify the potentially daunting process of selecting the right equipment for every wedding’s needs. You’ll learn about transforming poorly-lit or visually uninteresting wedding settings into picturesque images.

Susan will also guide you through the workflow she uses, and explain the composition principles that result in dynamic images. You’ll explore concrete, on-the-fly troubleshooting strategies for unexpected wedding events.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the tools you need to think on your feet while photographing every phase of a wedding, with jaw-dropping results.



Outstanding, one of the best courses on Creative Live. Wow! The delivery is sharp, on point, and focused. I've learned tons. There are so many gems I've watched this video many times and have now purchased more videos from Susan Stripling. Outstanding presenter. My photography has already improved greatly by implementing some of the techniques shown.

a Creativelive Student

The content of the course was perfectly taught at a "real" level. Susan's work clearly, speaks for itself, but her willingness to be so generous with her knowledge is fantastic. She has become an instant favorite of mine and her style is truly special and unique. The course was reasonably priced and I am beyond thrilled that I have taken the time to learn from one of the best in the industry. INCREDIBLE course in every way!!


I Loved this course. I would definitely take another course by Susan Stripling. Her images are beautiful. She has the posing, timing, lighting, mood, etc. all down perfectly and makes amazing, beautiful pictures. She is an excellent communicator as a teacher too.