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Pre Session Consult Q&A

Lesson 37 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

37. Pre Session Consult Q&A


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

Pre Session Consult Q&A

So, when scheduling, do you use... So, when you're scheduling your sessions with the client, do you use, like, an app, like Calendly, or... Yeah, so, I don't actually... If I had more volume, or more clients, I would use something like that. What works best for us is just, simply, Google Documents. We keep every... Nicole, who works for me, is a combination of Google Documents, and the calendar, and everything syncs together really well. So, we just keep, you know, we have something that we've made, custom for us, within Google, that keeps track of all their information, the schools, any dates, all the times that we've met with them are all documented. Um, we also put all the numbers in there, as far as, you know, balances, and sales, and all that type of stuff. There are... There is a lot of software out there, like you said... I know people who use... I can't even think of the names of it, 'cause I don't use it, but yeah, there's a lot of apps and other software that's made specifi...

cally for Photo Studio Management and client management, that you can get pretty inexpensively, that helps people track that, and, there's even things that are more advanced, like tracking which products people buy the most, and, you know, that type of thing.... I'm kind of a simple guy, and I just throw everything into Google, and plus, it always integrates with my email, so, if I go to email somebody, it's built in. Um, so that works for me, same with the calendar. But, there are some great software out there, but, I keep it pretty simple. Um, so, for the girls, you say that you don't have hair and makeup at your studio. Do you tell them to wear more than they normally do? Yeah, so, I don't... I don't require it. A lot of them still do go get hair and makeup, and that's totally up to them. I know certain studios have hair and makeup artists on hand, or ones that they work with consistently, to get the looks they want. I don't require it, but we do go over a few things, at the consultation, because I know, you know, if we're talking about it being hot or humid, and things like that, how to, you know, keep the shine down, and keep them looking good. I always have them bring enough stuff, where if they need to touch up, they can do that. We keep just general light things on hand, you know, in case they forget something, whether it's wipes for oil, and things like that, but I'm not too picky with that. I also... You'll see when we get to the retouching, I'm pretty light on the retouching, so, I want everybody to look natural, and look like themselves. If somebody's going for that more high-glam look, or, you know, something that's way more involved, maybe I'm not the photographer for them, and I'm okay with that, so, um, I kind of accepted, you know, this is what I like, and this is the looks I like. And, again, I'm not a makeup artist by any means, so, I try and keep it pretty simple, and what they're comfortable with. If they tell me, no, oh, we made an appointment to go get hair and makeup done before the session, great, like, that's awesome, but I don't require it, I don't know enough about it to... And, some photographers require it, again, so... I don't know. I don't have a great answer for that, but, I keep it pretty simple. Alright, questions from online. Melissa Keeney had asked, do you ever have trouble getting senior boys to get enthusiastic about their session planning? So, sort of, heading back into that beginning of the pre-session consult. Yeah, um, I don't... Yeah, I do have trouble, but at the same time, I also don't get a lot of senior boys, because, with the way that all the images... Last year, I think I had two or three senior guys. And, it's because of that, I don't have a lot of senior guys on my website, or, anywhere, so... You know, when people look at that, they think, oh, this is a place where senior girls go, and they're generally more interested in the editorial look, and the more direction in that field. So, because of that, I don't know if we scare a lot of guys off, or if they're just not interested in that look. Um, the other thing is, we market to a lot of the kids themselves, the guys aren't someone who are typically out on their phones, looking for their senior photographer. The moms, kind of... The first time they've heard of us is because the daughters told them, whereas, I feel like with a lot of senior guys, the moms know the photographer, and book that for the senior guy. I mean, that's how my senior pictures were. My mom told me, like, two days before, we need to get some clothes, 'cause you have senior pictures in two days, and I thought, great. That's awesome, like, when are we done? And, that's the attitude with a lot of senior guys, so, if I do get the senior guys, it's generally ones who do want to, you know... It's...for me, I love sports, so we can kind of get along there, so if we get guys who are into anything that's athletic, any type of activity, um, that gives, you know, a connection there that I can work with, and get them. Again, it's about figuring out what their personality is, and what they feel comfortable doing. If they are not involved in anything, and don't want to do anything, then chances are, it's probably just not going to work out, and I might even suggest, maybe you should check out doing this, because, it's not that I want to turn away business, it's just that, I want it to be enjoyable for them, and for me, and if I know this is just gonna be a miserable time, then, I'm probably just gonna avoid it, and that's okay. Like, just learn to accept it. Great. Alright, another question is about digital files. Do you include those in newer packages, what do you feel about offering those with print releases.. Yeah. What's your take on that? So, that's a whole 'nother topic. Yes. Um, and that's something that something that Aman... That she set all that up for me, but what I will say, is, on the topic of digital files, I do offer digital files. They are in our upper packages, because it's 2017. Everybody wants the digitals. That's the first thing they ask, do we get the digitals? Knowing that there's such a demand for that, you should charge for that, because, that's, you know... If somebody really wants something, and they're willing to figure out how to get it, then that's where I'm gonna put it, in the upper echelon of my pricing. Um, and yeah, I do offer it. There isn't a print release, but we do have a program within... Within the studio, where they can order through us, at you know, a heavily discounted rate. And, 'cause I still want them to look nice, and I want it to be convenient for them, so we just ship everything straight to their house, um... Something like that, but yeah, I'd definitely order digitals, there are still a lot of photographers who are holding on. And, while I do believe there is that importance of print, that's why, when they come into the studio, we're showing them the albums, and the products, because I love seeing that stuff up on the wall. I also know the reality of it, is, people want that stuff, because they're always on their phones, they're always on Facebook, they're, you know, sending things through email, but, again, if that's something they really want, then that's... And I'm gonna give them high-res digitals, they're gonna have to pay for it, so... It's something that's built into the structure of how everything's priced. Alright, thank you. A couple more questions, and, one from Gretel is... 'Cause you mentioned that sometimes you used to just, if you want somebody to come with you to the ordering session, your grandma... Yeah. Whoever. But, the question is, do you force people, do you make people, the high school seniors, come with a parent, or somebody who is actually going to... Do you make them sign anything? Have you ever had people just come by themselves and order? Um, I mean, they're only seeing the pictures for the first time, so, like, there's not gonna be a time where the senior comes..., I, I don't know. I mean, the answer's no, but, to be honest, if they're seeing the pictures for the first time, and that's when they're ordering, it's not gonna be like, the 17-year-old-girl comes by herself with her credit card, and wants to buy everything, it's just never happened. They know that people who have that decision-making power, and are gonna be, you know, prepared financially to spend the money, are gonna be there. Plus, everybody's usually excited to see all the images, so they want to come and see them, so... I have had a couple times where the kids haven't come with, and we've had to figure something out with that, because of scheduling issues, usually that just amounts to us rescheduling it. But, you know, they're pretty well educated, and pretty well excited by that point, that anybody who wants to see the images, or wants to order them, is there, and that goes, you know, along with the education, and getting everybody prepared along the way, so... That hasn't come up, but I think it's because we talk about the importance of anybody who has, the, you know, decision-making power, and wants to see these, and is really involved, should be there, so a lot of times, it's, you know, mom and dad, and the girls, and sometimes they bring their friends, and, you know. But, we also don't want them to be distractions, so, a lot of times we discourage friends from coming in, 'cause you get some odd opinions in there, that aren't necessarily something I want to hear, but, yeah. (question reader laughs) Another question? When you're on-site shooting, how do you deal with some of the difficult situations that might arise? You know, family members there, that are being a little opinionated, or getting in the way, or, say, someone coming with a full face makeup, and there's a significant shade difference between their face and the rest of the skin on their body? Yeah, so, things like that happen all the time, for sure, because, you know, as much as you educate them, or try and get everybody on the same page, things happen. Um, if there's someone on set who, you know... Let's say the mom and the daughter are just not getting along, because, the mom wants her hair to be one way, and it's always... I've had it where the mom brings her own brush, and is coming there, and fixing things constantly. And a lot of times, we'll just have a gentle conversation where I'll stress the importance to them of, you know, letting me work with her, and things like that, without offending anybody, or making anybody mad. And, we're also been having a talk on the side, with the senior themselves, and be like, alright, what do we need to do to make you as comfortable as possible, you know? Like, should we, you know, can we fix this, or maybe there's compromise involved. Every situation's different. But, things like that definitely happen. I just try and tiptoe through 'em, so that way... 'Cause the important part to me, is getting pictures that they love. Um, if it's somebody... We'll also talk about that at the consultation beforehand. If somebody wants to bring their boyfriend, or girlfriend, or whatever, or, you know, sister, I'll make sure that everybody's gonna get along, and they kind of know that their role is to help, or, to be positive, because I don't need someone... You know, I've had someone who brought a sister, and the sister had... This is kind of unfortunate, the sister had gone and didn't love her photos from another photographer from five years prior, and was basically jealous of all the places we're going, and it was making the other girl feel bad about it, so we had, you know... I had a talk with the mom, and I thought, you know, I don't know what's going on, here, so then, eventually, they took care of it, but I'm pretty aware of what's going on around, and I'm also... I don't know, I know the importance of whoever's in front of the camera needs to feel the most comfort they can, because, they want to look the best, so, we try and address that stuff all. It all goes back to the education of what we address at the consultation, so that way, you only bring the people that you feel comfortable around, that you know aren't gonna be a pain, and at the same time, as far as your question about makeup not matching and things like that, once they show up, and if they're in a full face of makeup, and you can tell that it is a totally different shade than the rest, there's not a lot you can do, but at that point, sometimes I'll work on, you know, different lighting techniques and things like that, or sometimes they just know I'm gonna have a little extra Photoshop ahead of me, but, hopefully, again, that's been something that you went over when you covered it all at the consultation. And, that's why I wanted to make a whole section of this, this CreativeLive about pre-image consultations, because, preparation is so important to getting the final result you want. And, if everybody's on the same page, you avoid a lot of those issues. Do you have ever... This is from Rhonda. Do you ever have situations where the parents, or the friends, whoever's with the kids, are taking iPhone photos, or bring another camera along? Yeah, all the time. And, what, how do you handle that? I love it. Because, for one, if I'm using lights, no other photos are gonna look like mine. If I'm using a 70 to 200 lens on, you know, a Nikon D810 Camera, their iPhone picture's not going to look the same, and the other thing is, chances are those iPhone pictures are going straight to their SnapChat, or their Instagram, or their Facebook, and that shows that they're enjoying this, and it's almost free marketing. To me, it's like, I might not have the same audience as they do on social media, and, you know, if the sister's on there, and she's at her sister's senior session, and she's documenting all of it, I want other people to see that we're having this good time, and when that marketing comes from someone else's mouth, and not from the brand itself, it's even more powerful, so I am all about it. Some photographers are a little picky about that, but I think that's something that, you know... If you're worried about someone taking an iPhone picture on a professional photo shoot, then, you know, I think you need to rethink how you're working things, because, I am just not worried, and I'd much rather have them have that good time, and share that with everybody, especially knowing, again, that most of those pictures are going straight on the internet, and I'm a-okay with that.

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