First Client Meeting
We're gonna go in sort of a sequential order of our process with clients, and obviously the client meeting is the very first part. As a first step, towards story telling, we wanna make sure we get to know our clients and that we get as much information from them as possible.
Over the years, we started realizing, I'm sure you probably experience this as well, when you hear the speeches at the end of the night, you're like, oh I wish I had known that about that couple, or I feel like I know them so well now, I wish I had known this when I started the day. We're like, well you know, there's a way to do that, it's just having a conversation with the clients, and asking questions. Now it's something that we really make sure that we do. We don't do it in an official way, it's not like a questionnaire that we send them, which is really important, because we don't want it to be formal. We don't want to set that tone with our relationship. We also don't want them to have expectations, so if t...
hey say something in writing we don't want it to set some kind of expectation on their part, that okay now they're gonna have to get this type of photo. We want it to be just natural, and as kind of things that come up, that we are then sensitive to and then we can try to photograph on the wedding day.
These meetings, we'll either do them over Skype, if we're really in different places. We'll do them on the phone if we need to do, but more often than not, we'll do it in person a couple days before the wedding. Sort of the best time to meet the couple, because they're really starting to ride that high of the wedding day, and we're excited because they're the next wedding on our schedule. If we're doing a destination wedding, it's even better, 'cause we'll meet at the bar at the hotel, and grab drinks and really talk about their wedding. The energy's really strong before the actually wedding day, so we really like to do those meetings then.
On a person level, this takes so much pressure off for me, I get so nervous up until we have that meeting, and then I feel like okay now we're friends. The conversation feels like we get to know each other so much better, and so much of that pressure goes away. I show up on their wedding day, I see that it's different for them too, because they're like oh Davina's here, not like the photographers here, that makes a huge difference.
During that meeting, things that we wanna cover, again very subconsciously, very quietly without making an official list or taking notes. We want them to talk about their families, especially if there are any special circumstances, either someone passed away, or parents are divorced, they don't get along, anything like that we want it to be out there so that we can adjust the way that we approach the wedding day itself.
I also wanna know if they have siblings, sometimes at a reception, they're like I'm the brother of the groom, and you're like, oh he had a brother, I didn't even realize, 'cause they're obviously not very close. I just wanna know, what's the family dynamic? Do you have siblings, are you close to your siblings? those are the types of questions that we're gonna be asking.
Sorry, I went one slide too far, but location, be it a destination wedding, we wanna know why they chose that place to get married. If it's just a venue and a local wedding, we still wanna know why they chose that place. Try to connect the environment of the wedding to them as people.
You just had a meeting with a bride, where she said, oh we're getting married at this venue, but it's really just 'cause it was big enough to hold everybody, but I don't actually love the venue that much, I love the lake where we're getting married. That's really important for me to know, because that means okay let's prioritize photos at the lake. I'm not gonna go looking for architectural details to use in your portraits of that venue, if you actually don't really like it that much.
We wanna know what they're excited about and get a sense of their vibe.
That's a great question to ask, what are you most looking forward to, or what moment are you most looking forward to at the wedding. Sometimes it's the party, and sometimes it's really specific things that maybe you wouldn't have even thought about. The first moment we see each other, whatever it is, I'd like to be sensitive to that. And this one is very abstract, their vibe. I just wanna get a general sense of who they are. I ask them sometimes how they met, and I don't care about actually how they met, I care more about how they tell the story. Are they gonna be touchy with other during that, or are they going to banter a little bit. It just gives me a sense of who they are as a couple, and also that's a great question to get them back to paying attention to each other. Especially, if we're having this meeting just before the wedding, because often times they've been super stressed. They show up to meet us, and they're like oh we just had a meeting with the planner, we have to meet with the florist just after this, there's so much going on. They maybe just had a fight, they've forgotten why they're even getting married, so I love to have this conversation with them, because I see in their body language how much they change. They're like, oh yeah, we're getting married, we like each other, there's a reason we're doing all this crazy stuff. We always see that, when they leave this meeting they're always holding hands, or their arm around each other. The whole body language changes, and that's good for us too as wedding photographers, because we want them to be affectionate on the wedding day, right?
What's most important, is that we go into the wedding and into the meeting with no assumptions, we don't wanna assume that they're family, everybody's together, or they're close with all their siblings. We just go in with a fresh start, everything's at zero, and we really let the client tell us all the information that we need to know.
And then, no judgements, this is a big one. I think I was just talking, while I was getting my hair and makeup done with Kenna, about how I think that photographing weddings from a storytelling point of view and getting to know clients, has made me a better person, because I don't judge people as much anymore. You could see a bride, and be like, she's acting crazy, she's a bridezilla, but if you're involved in the process and she's opening up to you, and you see what she's dealing with. Maybe there's this crazy family dynamic going on, yeah she's gonna be a little crazy 'cause there's crazy stuff going on. I try to not judge my clients, even if a groom is taking a phone call during our meeting, oh he doesn't care about his wedding 'cause he's taking a phone call, no, maybe he's just really busy and got a lot going on right now. Let's give people the benefit of the doubt, and that helps me a lot, because I go into weddings, giving them the benefit of the doubt, but kind of understanding them a little bit, and that means that I'm not hating anybody, I'm just yeah. It makes me their ally, and that's good for me because I wanna photograph people in a loving way. Does that make sense? Okay. (laughs)
We want to set the tone as well, just what we we're saying just before, is we want to define certain things. We want them to know what the wedding day is gonna be like, what it's like to be in front of our cameras. We do explain to them, what the process is like, and that we're gonna be very close to them, but that they should ignore us, it's gonna feel awkward at the beginning but it will dissipate. We really just set the tone for the wedding day, so that there are no surprises when we come up.
In the conversation, we set the tone of what the relationship will be like, between them and us. We share a lot about our own lives, about our own wedding. When we talk about family, we talk about what we shared with all of you, about losing Daniel's father, about having our kids. We tell them stories of things we've seen at other weddings. If you meet someone, or you go on a date with them, or you meet up with friends, the conversation's gonna be both ways, you're not just gonna be throwing questions at them, and they're going be answering and then you go off your separate ways. The fact that it is a conversation, and that we share things about ourselves, it means that they see us more like friends. And, it means that they're not as vulnerable, because they're not as exposed, oh you know all this stuff about me, but I don't know anything about you. I feel like that's a good thing, and I feel like that goes a long way when I show up to the bride getting ready, and she's gonna be maybe a little crazy, maybe naked (laughs), all these vulnerable things that she's experiencing, I feel like having me in the room is not as strange or jarring for her, because she sees me more of a friend. Actually, Daniel almost never gets kicked out of a bride getting ready, and I think that has... He sees naked brides all the time. (laughs) (audience laughs) I think that's a big part of it too, is that they feel like they're more comfortable with us, because they know something about us as well.