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Get to Know the Client before Session

Lesson 34 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

Get to Know the Client before Session

Lesson 34 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

34. Get to Know the Client before Session


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

Get to Know the Client before Session

Getting to know the client. So, in order to get the most out of the session and senior, you have to know them. I've said this a million times because I'm all about, you know, to me, senior pictures are a capture of personality from that senior year of high school. So you want them to have something that they're gonna look back on and remember that was authentic and actually felt like them, that captured everything that they had going on in that time of their life. And as a photographer, I'm not a mind reader, I need to know all that stuff. So that's another reason for the consultation. Another important part about this is gauging their personality and getting to know their interests and ideas. And when I speak about gauging their personality, for me, I make seniors do all sorts of stuff on set, you know, whether it be goofy or more subtle or you know, full on chaos. But I need to know where is there personality on the full scale of how far can I push them to where they're comfortable? ...

Are they someone who is in theater and they're really dramatic and we're gonna get a lot out of them and that's gonna show their personality? Or are they someone who's more quite and reserved and you know, they're gonna feel uncomfortable if you're gonna make them spin around and dance and all of that and it wouldn't be a true reflection of their personality. So, I wanna gauge the personality at the consultation whether I'm talking to their mom, talking to them, getting to know them, figuring out what they're interested in and then that way when the session comes along, it's not a surprise or you don't think, "Oh wow, that was kind of an off day." Well, that might be how that person is, they might just be someone who's more shy and subtle. So you kinda have to cater to that because obviously not everybody's the same. Moving on, have them create an image library for you. So this is what I addressed at the opening slide that I wanted to get into more. Every senior that comes to a pre-image consultation with me has this for homework. They all have their iPhone or whatever they're on and they all look at pictures constantly from social media to magazines to everything else but they're also not photographers so I don't expect them to know, you know when I ask them, "What kind of photos do you like?" They're not gonna say, "Oh, I like a back lit image "at F8 with a warm white balance and yada yada yada." They're not photographers, they don't have the terms or the education to be able to describe those things but what they do know is what they see and what they like. So I always tell them why don't you make a new album on your phone and any image that you've seen or that you see, it could be of a celebrity, it could be one of your friend's senior pictures, it could be some random picture you scroll across on Instagram, screen shot that or save the image into an album and if it's something that you wish you were in. So if you look at that image and you think, "Wow, that would be awesome, "like I would love to have something like that "for my senior pictures," or, "I love the lighting," or anything like that that's just a general descriptor, I wanna see that and I wanna see at least a dozen because I wanna look for trends. If they send you a bunch of close up images where it looks like it's at sunset back lit, well that's gonna tell me alright, we're gonna do an evening session and all the locations might be with tall grass or they might be all urban. I'm gonna kinda of already have some locations in mind that this person, they might not have described them to me but just by looking through those images I'm getting an idea of what they like and I'm not having to pick their brain because again, they're not photographers. If you see a bunch of stuff that's lit, then I'll know, this is gonna be a little more lighting intensive so we're gonna use the lights for more of this. Or maybe it's a lot of studio. It also gives me a little bit of a lead into what they're going to bring for clothing because if someone, you know, being in Nebraska for me, some people have a little more country flair and other people look like they just shop at Urban Outfitters. So they're totally different looks and I wanna know that so I can mentally prepare for the locations, the lighting, and everything that's gonna come with. And that way I also know that there's a way better chance they're gonna love all the images we create because I looked at their little library of images and took some of those ideas and put them for their shoot. Again, so photos they love or photos they wish they were in, that's the key. And that's the wording too, it's like, if they just like something to like it, that's okay, but if they wish that they were in that image, that gives me another hint as to something that they'll really like. And it really helps me understand their preferences without them having to explain it. So some folks don't have a studio and in terms of the pre-consult sessions, are there things in terms of introducing products to the parents or the clients, if you don't have a studio, what of those things might you bring with you, instead of all of them, if you're just meeting at their home for example? Yeah, that's a great question and I didn't have a studio when I started. I know a lot of photographers don't. You can get some samples and things like that. I have friends who don't have studios who meet at a local coffee shop, they'll meet at the client's home, things like that. And I think the thing to know is you don't need to bring a hundred samples of everything. Again, that's why you wanna have a pricing structure that only has certain products that you really love and when you're looking at bringing things to a client's home, you don't wanna haul every single thing with you. So, if it were me and I were going to a client's home, I might bring one framed print and two albums and that's all I'd bring because that's what I want them to see, it's something that I can keep in the car, it's really specific. So I'd say just get a few samples of things that you really want them to purchase and while they can see your pricing set up and see all the other products, I wanna bring the things that I wanna sell the most of. And again, you don't need to be hauling around a hundred pounds worth of stuff if you can just keep it simple. And another thing is bringing a laptop and things like that so you can show them other samples. I remember going to a few, meeting up early on and having all that stuff on my computer so we could kinda scroll through and it also helps you not have to have as much stuff to haul. Any other questions? We have some more online. From PeteJN5, just to clarify, do they send you the album of their favorite images or do you see it in person or how do they get that to you? Usually, that's a good question because I didn't say that. I'll tell them to do that at their consultation, that gives them two weeks. Usually I tell them to text it to me a couple days before or I'll have my studio manager Nicole shoot them a text from our studio phone and say, "Hey, if you wanna send over those images." That way it at least gives me a heads up of a day or so to be thinking about it because I don't want it to be like right when they walk in they show me that surprise, I wanna do these photos at the lake that we need special permission for or something like that. So I do have them text them over and that's why I have them make it on their phone because they all know how to text photos and we just have an iPhone at the studio so they can send them over and we'll just leave them in the text thread with their name so I can go back and reference from there. Great, super smart, and easy. Yeah, it works. Any other questions? Yeah, the question is, "Do you let your clients know up front "that they may be in your marketing materials, "your Facebook page, how do you handle that?" Yeah so, with every client, there's a contract that they sign off on when they're coming in to order and that basically says that any of the images that we've taken can be used for marketing materials, promotional purposes and all of that. Another thing, that's what Amanda's big on, is contracts. There's nothing that goes by without them signing off on it. So yeah, I do have them sign it. It even specifies that once they've placed that order that everything's solid so they can't come back and say cancel two days later because I've already ordered the stuff. I don't need a bunch of pictures of some random senior sitting around my studio that I paid for. So, yeah, in that contract is something that basically says I can use all those photos for promotional purposes.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

Student Work