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Getting Clients Hooked

Lesson 27 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

27. Getting Clients Hooked

Next Lesson: Your Business Model


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes a Picture Successful?


Technical Tips: ISO


Technical Tips: Aperture


Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


Technical Tips: Focus


Using Light to Tell a Story


Using Composition to Tell a Story


Lesson Info

Getting Clients Hooked

Let's get in to the relationship side of this all. Hopefully you see just from a kind of an overview of how those two work together, but we'll pull it back together at the end. The relationship side is important because it's what turns those cold leads, those people who are just passing by and they're like, "Oh great photo," it's what captures them and turns them into warm leads that are like, "I really like what this person is all about." Even if they're not like, "I want a book," but it's just what captures their attention and makes you not just a business it makes you human, and relatable, and connected to them. So if you look at your social fans, they're kind of like lukewarm leads. They've clicked that like button or that follow button because you got them somehow, but that's it. And we can go a lot deeper. I came up with this sometime I think last year, and I think it's been really helpful to a lot of people, and I want you to know it is not gospel. This has been my personal expe...

rience. And you can take, basically it just lists one through five at home and think about your number fives as your best clients. The people who have been the easiest to work with. What kind of mindset do they have? And then the people at number one are at the total opposite end of the spectrum. When I started my documentary photography journey I tried to approach a lot of people who were at this number one level. They had no clue what documentary photos were. They always just got portraits in a studio at a little retail store or they would, maybe around number two or three, these were the people that were more lifestyle, so they were a little bit more adventurous, compared to traditional photography. I had a really tough time. I would love to know at some point your experience in this. When I started doing documentary sessions, I started telling people, "I want to create pictures "that have real context and meaning." The pictures that I've been doing for people at the park, to me it's just their faces. I'm not bashing that at all, but the pictures that I was creating for myself, like the ones I was showing you, there are stories behind them. And when I hang them on my walls I'm literally putting stories on my walls. And I was like, "I want to create that for you guys." But still what kept happening when I used the words, "I want to create meaningful pictures, I don't want to "pose you," they were showing up dressed all photo-shooty and it was awkward. I had a lot of learning to do. There wasn't Kirsten around, that I knew of, when I started this. So there was a lot of experimenting and along the way what I learned, was that the why I take pictures really matters in my communication. And when I started speaking to that, the clients that I started getting, the inquiries changed. You get those inquires that are like, "What are your prices?" And then you get these inquiries that are like, "Oh my gosh I saw this campfire session that you did "and I really loved it because we do this all the time." And their energy is just totally different. It's totally a result of your marketing message. But what I see happening a lot is people just sharing the photos and not really the why and the stories behind them. And that's hard for your potential clients who are not photographers, most of the time not always, to really translate how that applies to their life. Language is really important. How you say it. Specifically the words you say are going to make an effect on how anyone perceives what you're trying to say. It's the language you use. When I'm asked what I do for a living, I say, "I'm a photographer." That's it. "Oh what do you photograph?" "I photograph families." "Oh that's cool, like out in the park? "Who do you work for?" (group laughter) "I work for myself." Then there's a shock factor. I always just say, "I just spend a whole day with a family "from the time they wake up til they go to bed." I don't try to say that, "I preserve all this time, "and it's capturing moments." I don't say any of that. I have booked people from that because all I'm saying is, "I'm just coming and hanging out at your house for the day." There's no expectation. I don't call it a shoot. I don't call it a session. I just say that I go spend the day with a family and I document their life. That's it. And I find that that's a big difference. Yeah, and that makes it sound so easy. Yes. Not so complicated. It's very easy. And then they don't expect they have to wear anything, because I'm just coming over the house to hang out. Yeah, it's no so formal. And here's proof that you can change somebody ... I get asked this all the time, "How do I convince someone "to want a documentary session?" The truth is you don't convince anybody of something they don't want to do. But you can teach them and expand their perception. There's me when I was pregnant with my daughter. This was just in 2011. Now look where I'm at? Speaking on documentary family photography. It is because I started to see things differently. Back then I never would have booked it, but now going to book a session, I would look for a documentary family photographer. Here I had made sure I had my makeup on, my hair was done, I was covered up. And here you can see my postpartum gut that never went away, and my messy bun. And I just didn't care because I just loved my kids, my babies. We were looking at pictures actually there on vacation. You guys have heard the term ideal client I'm assuming. A lot of yeses. When working with me I'm talking to people a lot about their ideal clients. It seems like I get a lot of the same thing over and over. It's, "My ideal client lives in a high end neighborhood, "they value photos." There's a lot of that there, but I want to challenge all of you to go a layer deeper in why they want the pictures. It really can start with your own personal core. Your internal values. This will keep your marketing really fun and easy and heart-centered. I think that where it gets lost is we think of our perfect clients, and we think ... To me when I get these ideal client descriptions, it feels like the photographers that I'm getting them from want this person that just spends money freely and values photos. But you have to understand why do they want the pictures to begin with? And that is going to align with your own core values. What do you want out of the pictures that you make for yourself? I think this is a really good question to write down and take home and really think about. What purpose do they really serve in your life? Both as you the photographer just the act of shooting, and then also just looking at your pictures now and maybe look at some of the pictures from your childhood and adolescence, what do you feel when you look at them? Because I can guarantee what Kirsten did yesterday, and you might have to refresh my memory on your wording, you had them write down five or ten things that they look for in a scene. What they gravitate towards. Yes. And you shared your examples. Whatever you got out of that exercise I can guarantee is going to be very similar to this response. A lot of times people are like, "What is my marketing message? "What is my branding message?" "I don't even get what that means." It's all the same. It's your same point of view in your photos. It's just articulating it in your words and your stories and how you're communicating. Once you start to understand your core values, then you can go a little bit deeper and if any of you have studied copywriting at all you'll know what I'm talking about here. If you haven't, I'm going to break it down. You want to identify the external and the internal dialogue that your potential clients are having. The external is to remember this season in life. This story. Your life. All the buzzword type of things that we hear often. Those are the external values that they want. They may go to Google for somebody who is a non-posing photographer. They value these words that we hear often. But there's a deeper reason inside of that that is the internal reason. It's the internal dialogue that they're having. That's why they want this. Whatever that is, is what's in your heart and in your clients heart. If you can make them ... Identify that sometimes. But also if they believe that you get that, then they believe that you get them and it's like magnetic. I can't tell you how many times a week I get emails in my inbox that are like, "I could talk "with you over tortilla chips and salsa for seven hours "because it just feels like we're girlfriends." And it's because of how I write. I'm very intentional with everything that I say. And it's because I know my target market to a T. When you reach them at this level, you become memorable. Which is what you want. And that sets you up for the numbers game, which we'll get in to.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Fearless and Framed Marketing Bundle

Ratings and Reviews


I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!

Student Work