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Why Aren't You Booking Sessions?

Lesson 30 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

Why Aren't You Booking Sessions?

Lesson 30 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

30. Why Aren't You Booking Sessions?

Next Lesson: Your Website


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

Why Aren't You Booking Sessions?

How many of my people in the studio audience have a business and are really frustrated because they're not booking documentary sessions? We're just gonna go around, I want you to give me one reason why you feel you're not booking clients. Because they're used to my original platform of posed, and it's hard to describe what I wanna do. I wanna hear all the different reasons why. I just learned it's because I'm selling, like I'm posting and telling people what they need, not letting people figure it out for themselves. Who else? Pass it along. My clients maybe only want to have me to document when they have their birthday party, and they have a limited expense on the birthday party so if I ask for like $600 even is something just too expensive. That's what I was waiting for, that's one. It's too expensive, for sure. We moved two years ago so we are starting over all our relationships and that's been hard. Also I get a lot of, "We don't have anything coming up," like, ther...

e's no occasions to document, like they want the birthday party, or they want like the birth, and it's like, no, (fading speech). For me I think it's because I'm not showing enough of the work that I wanna shoot. I have more lifestyle pictures on my Facebook and on my website and I'm afraid to really show the documentary stuff, so when I'm explaining it to people they don't really get that's what I want to shoot, or like with what Marie mentioned before, they seem like they get what I'm saying and then you show up and they're dressed to the nines with matching outfits or they just last minute change up the flow of the session and now they want more pull stuff as opposed to documentary. Anyone else? Yanna, you had raised your hand back there. Well I'm just surmising, I really don't know what they're thinking about my business. (laughter) But to be honest I think they don't want-- they don't feel comfortable having somebody that they don't know very well in their house all day long, especially the men. That's relationships. Remember we talked about dads? This is for them. Anyone else? Margaret has another one. A lot of people say, "My house is too messy, "I don't want you to see that." I wanted them to answer because I feel like everyone at the home audience, their answers are gonna match these. Right, am I right? Okay, good. You are all not working hard enough. And I know you don't want to hear that, but it's the truth. Here's the reality of especially a new business, is you have to be putting in, honestly, I would say 10 hours a week to marketing, at least. And I can guarantee you that none of you out there are doing that much work. It is a lot of work. You have to get your work seen, and that does not mean putting your photos on a website, although I'm gonna talk about website. Indirect marketing is what most of you are probably doing. Look at this list and tell me if that's what you're doing. That is indirect marketing. That means you're putting your work out there and anyone's looking at it, but you're not directing who's looking at it. With Instagram, if you have a private account, and it's all just your clients or potential clients then maybe that would be more direct marketing. But if it's a public account or you have a business Facebook account that's just letting anybody see it, so that's indirect. You're not really controlling who you're talking to specifically. I am gonna address, there's only one piece of this that I'm gonna address today, for the most part. This is one of those... (laughter) And that's your website. Because I'm gonna look at people's websites in the next segment. Our website is our storefront, other than Instagram. this is how people see our photos, other than Facebook or Instagram. Is this a question you are all wondering most of the time? What pictures should I be showing? Ebony just said something that I find all the time. I don't think I'm showing the photos I really wanna make, all of them, right, you are showing maybe a combination? Yes. My guess is that the majority of clientele is wanting the latter that you enjoy making, but you have it up there because you don't wanna lose business. That's probably 50% of people out there watching right now, I'm gonna guess. Your homepage is the most important part of your website. Other than your contact page, your home page. Do you guys know this? You have seven seconds to make an impression, on average. The Nielsen Norman Group, who does a lot of research, they're the ones that have concluded a consumer will spend 6 seconds when they open up a website to decide if they are going to investigate it or if they're going to close it. That means you have to have really strong photos, really quickly, very cleanly, or someone is going to move on to the next site. And then after that, the average hang time on the site is 52 seconds. That's 52 seconds-- I guess it's 59 seconds they're on the site in total. So you have seven seconds to get them to stay and another 52 seconds to get them to want to hire you. That's a lot of pressure. And you aren't there talking to them, so it means that your photos have to speak for you. Where we use words on Instagram and we use them on Facebook, and in person with stories, we do not want to do that with your website, because no one's gonna ready it. Nobody. Instagram they will, individual posts. Website... And if you don't believe me, I want you to think about all the websites you go on, and if there's too much text, what do you do? It's the same thing with blogs. If you're blogging any more than 20 photos on a blog you are gonna lose every audience. You need to think back at when you go to someone's blog, how far down the row, or the line, do you scroll before you're like, uh, yeah no, I'm done. And then all the good photos that are at the bottom are never gonna get seen. Keep your portfolio, especially your opening portfolio, short and sweet, and you want more than one photo on that homepage. In my opinion you want at least-- 10, no more than 20, but if you have 20 you better have 20 really good photos. I'd rather see five slamming good photos than 20 crappy ones. And you cannot just have three good photos and then 19 crappy ones because people are gonna leave in the first seven seconds, and in the next 52 seconds. Only show photos that are gonna book you clients. I don't care how hard you worked on making the picture, I don't care how much you love it and can't get rid of it. If you are not willing to do this, only show photos that elicit an emotional response from your viewer, and be honest with your work, you're not gonna have anyone look any further in your website, at all. They have to be your very best pictures. You shouldn't trust yourself, in the beginning, to make those choices. When I updated my website and my portfolio I didn't even pick out pictures. I pulled 200 that I thought could possibly get engagement and I put together a private gallery and I shared it with like 100 photographers that I trust their judgment and I let them each pick out their favorite 30, and they sent me a list back of their favorite 30. I think Olivia and Beth might have helped me with this. And then I compared everyone's picks, and there was about 20 that everyone included, and the rest that got the most votes got in. I did not even pick my opening page, because I didn't even trust my judgment. Show only what you want to shoot. That means, Ebony, right now you guys are relying on your income, then you also want to be shooting the other stuff because you don't want to lose income, and so you are the perfect prime example of someone that I feel needs to be adding of extra hours to your sessions so you can start building your portfolio, because you also have kids at home too and you're busy running a business, working with Marie, shooting, so you are a perfect person to be adding an hour or two so you build your portfolio that way. But I strongly urge that everyone be shooting for free for their portfolios otherwise. So if you have an extra day, say the kids are away on a Saturday, and you have an extra day, you should be shooting. You all should be shooting when you have time. I'm being very hard and serious right now because I want you to all make money, and people don't listen to me. (laughter) And I hear the same excuses over and over again and it really makes me mad. And when I ask, let's be honest, how hard are you working, like how much change are you making, how hard are you working on getting clients, and you're like, "I put it on Facebook every day." That is not working at all, you're not doing anything. Include an option to click through the pictures if you have a slideshow automated. This is very important, because people do not want to wait the five second lag time. If you want it to automatically go and move from picture to picture like mine, do so, but make sure there's an option where they can click through as well. I'm a perfect example of when I go to a student's site I'm not gonna wait, I just wanna see. Make sure your site is responsive. I wish I had a computer because I could teach you how to test it, but I'll verbally say it. If you're not sure if your site is responsive or not open it up on a laptop or desktop and then drag the corner of the screen to make the screen small. If it migrates with the size of the window, your website is responsive. If all of a sudden it just, the window gets smaller, and your website doesn't change size, it's not responsive. Does that make sense, did I verbally explain that? Everyone at home is like... (laughter) I really want a different word in there. Do not put music or videos or anything on your homepage, you will get no business. Do you know why? Where does 80% of people do all their website searching? At work. You know what happens when they put it on at work? They turn it off right away, they close it right away, because they don't wanna get caught looking at your website when they're supposed to be doing some sort of analytical stuff. So don't use music. Plus, not everyone has the same music taste as you, and you could lose clients because you love Dave Matthews Band and they love something else, I don't know.

Class Materials

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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