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Booking the Client

Lesson 22 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Booking the Client

Lesson 22 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

22. Booking the Client


Class Trailer

Day 1




Evolution of Susan's Style


Branding and Identity


Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned


Day 2


Introduction to Gear & Equipment


Lenses Part 1


Lenses Part 2




Day 3


Seeing the Scene


Seeing the Scene Q&A


Rhythm and Repetition


Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds


Rule of Odds and Double Exposures


Day 4


Intro to Business


Day 5


Financing Your Business


Day 6


Q&A Days 1-4


Day 7


Pricing Calculator


Day 8


Package Pricing


Day 9




Day 10


Vendor Relationships & Referrals


Day 11


Marketing w Social Media


Day 12


Booking the Client


Day 13


The Pricing Conversation


Day 14


Turn A Call Into a Meeting


Day 15


In Person Meeting


Day 16


Wedding Planning


Day 17


Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down


Day 18


Engagement Session Details


Day 19


Engagement Session On Location


Day 20


Wedding Details & Tips


Day 21


Detail Photos Reviewed


Day 22


Bridal Preparation


Day 23


Bridal Preparation Photo Review


Day 24


Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios


Day 25


Q&A Days 5-11


Day 26


First Look Demo


Day 27


First Look Examples


Day 28


Portraits of the Bride


Day 29


Portraits of the Bride and Groom


Family Portraits Demo


Family Formal Examples


Wedding Ceremony Demo


Day 30


Wedding Ceremony Examples


Different Traditions and Faiths


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples


Wedding Introductions


First Dance


Wedding Toasts


Parent Dances


Wedding Party


Reception Events


Nighttime Portraits


Nighttime Portraits with Found Light


Post Wedding Session Demo


Post Wedding Session Critique


Wedding Day Difficulties


Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure


Post Workflow - Culling Shots


Post Workflow - Outsourcing


Q&A Days 12-23


Post Workflow - Gear


Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing


Managing Your Studio


Post Wedding Marketing


Client Care


Pricing for Add-Ons


The Album Process


Balancing Your Business with Life


Post Wedding Problems


Parent Complaints


Unhappy Customers


Working with an Assistant


Assistant Q&A


Lighting with an Assistant


Q&A Days 24-30


Lesson Info

Booking the Client

So far, we have talked about everything that you need to get your business started both legally and practically how to get off the ground, how to get going, how to find those first clients, how to get your name out there, two people and now today we're going to talk about the very elusive art of booking that client. What do yu dio after someone contacts you for the first time? How do you turn those initial enquiries into actual booking paying clients who will give you money for wedding photography? When I very first got started in wedding photography, I thought that booking the client was easy. I thought that you put your information out there on the internet, you sent your price list and people told you either. Yes, I want to work with you or no, I don't want to work with you, but as I was in business for years and years, and as the years kind of piled upon themselves, I realised that the actual art of taking an inquiry and turning it into a booking in paying client is a very difficul...

t thing. So hopefully, if you're new into the business, some of the things that I'll be able to tell you today will help booking those first clients to be a little bit. Easier of a process for you or if you've been in business for a while and you're struggling with booking your clients, maybe this will help you in that process and if you're doing totally fine and you have no problems booking clients, then maybe something that I tell you today will just help elevate what you're doing to another level. So thank you so much for being here with me today and let's get going. So when we're talking about booking clients, the first thing that's important for me to know is how the inquiry's air coming in in the first place. Now, I've talked in the episodes prior to this that it's really important for me to know how my clients are finding me. I want to know if they're finding me on the internet. I want to know if it's a referral from a past client, I want to know if it is a referral from a venue or a vendor and then above and beyond that when I look at turning those enquiries into actual bookings, I'm looking at how the inquiry's air actually getting to me. Now when I take a look and kind of study all of my enquiries, I have noticed that on ly about twenty five percent of potential clients are actually picking up the phone and calling me seventy five percent of my enquiries air coming in by email whether it's an e mail through the contact form of my website or whether it's justin email by pulling my email address off of the web and emailing that way, I'm definitely skewing much more heavily towards clients contacting me the other web instead of by picking up the phone and calling me now some of you might say, why is that important? Why is it important to know if they're calling you or e mailing you? Well, when I'm figuring out the time that I'm spending pre wedding with each potential client, a phone call with a prospective client can last anywhere from twenty to forty minutes while responding to an email could be a very quick thing. So as I'm looking at time management as I'm looking at work flow and as I'm looking at customer care, I want to know how long I'm spending on every single aspect of the booking process, down to the time on spending, emailing and the time I'm spending talking to people on the telephone. So as I've mentioned, twenty five percent come in via phone and in the other seventy five percent come in via email. Now I want to step you over to my shook you, paige. For those of you who are shu que users hye mi teoh nice to meet you for those of you who don't you shoot q I don't want you to think that anything that I'm telling you in these thirty days is an advertorial or a paid endorsement of any company no one has paid me to be here today or in any of these thirty days and to say nice things about the products that they sell you the reason why I refer the companies and the people that I work with that I dio is because I believe in their product it's because I've used them for years and they've proven to be reliable and dependable and because they make my life easier I have been a shoot q user for a very long time I signed up with them in gosh probably two thousand seven made the very fatal mistake after about a year of saying, you know I don't have enough weddings I don't not really busy enough I was still living in florida only shooting twenty five to thirty weddings a year I said you know, I don't have enough weddings to really justify working with kind of a studio management software so I stopped using it and I went to a different method and then I got incredibly incredibly busy when I moved to new york and was able to shoot multiple events per weekend and I desperately needed a studio management software. I had to go back to shoot you and I had to spend about eighty man hours entering all of my information into shoot queue so that I could get started. I wish that I had started with it earlier on. I wish that I had stuck with it. It would have made life a couple of years ago a whole lot easier when I had to take two full weeks to basically do data entry. What xu q does for me first and foremost and what I'm going to talk about. Mainly today we will discuss it in the managing your studio day. How I actually use this in the day to day workings of my studio. But what were mainly going to talk about today is how this factors into the inquiry receiving process. So when a client emails me for the very first time, if you go to susan stripling dot com and you click on the contact page, it will take you to a form to fill out for me. To get all of your information will ask your name, your phone number, your email address your wedding date, and then it will give you an opportunity to write anything else that you might want to write in the kind of remarks and comments section. What happens there is the second that they do that I get an email from shoot q and it says you have a lead through shoot q now, whether you shoot you are another studio management software, or whether you don't use a studio management software at all and you're leads, just come in organically from your website it's, important for me that you track them. So if you're not using a studio management software, keeping your emails, entering the information into excel spreadsheets, writing it down into a notebook all of this information, as I've mentioned before, information is power and you can never know too much about what's going on in your business. I get an email from shu que that says you have a new lead fantastic, so I click on the link in the email and it brings me to the client section here. Now, obviously, for the privacy of these incredibly kind people, I've blanked out their last names and their phone numbers, but what this lets me know is the name of the person enquiring the date that they're enquiring me about with me about. And if you look over to the left down undershoot info, there's a little triangle with an exclamation point in it next to the word conflicts. What that lets me do instead of going and cross checking with my aikau calendar over whether I am or I'm not booked for the date, I simply click on that button that says conflicts and it automatically lets me know if I already have a wedding booked for that date. If I don't have a wedding book for that data will also let me know if I have any other leads for that date. So if anybody is looking really seriously at a date and another inquiry comes in, I can automatically seo john, that guy I talked to last week, his wedding is september first, and he seemed really interested in we said at the meeting, it just lets me know so that the court and the enquiries aren't piling on top of each other. It lets you know your contact's information how to contact them, where their ceremony and reception are under the remark section it's anything that they feel is important to tell me about their wedding thes people you know, reiterated their date and their location. We're having a daytime wedding. Can you send me information? I'm looking forward to hearing from you? Great! Some people will say, I want your packages, please, some people won't say anything the other thing that's useful for me here underneath the q tip see what they did there is it lets you know who referred that client to you now as I've said before if you don't use studio management software asked the clients it's great to hear from you how did you hear of me? How did you find my work whether you ask them by email or phone it's helpful to know these things because then it lets you see what a good source over for als might be for you and maybe places that you're kind of putting your advertising dollars that aren't actually resulting in enquiries and if you come back with us on the day that we talk about studio management and running your studio, I'll talk about how I track and keep keep numbers on all of my enquiries by using this program so I get this and at a glance this automatically tells me every single thing that I need to know about the inquiry that's coming in I got the date I've got what information they need aa lot of times I have how they referred me and then once I have this, what do I do with it? So, um if someone has called me on the telephone and they're ringing my number and they want to talk to me about wedding photography now first thing and we'll touch on how much you let your business infringe upon your life it many times during these thirty days but I have a pretty strict policy about when I do and don't answer the phone I don't answer the phone until I get out of bed if you call me first thing in the morning, I'm not gonna answer I try to always answer the phone between about ten and five every single day now if I'm in a session if I'm in a meeting if if I'm on the phone with somebody else and it rolls to voicemail, I will call back as quickly as I possibly can, but if someone has specifically called me, I'm going to call them back. I tried to contact back perspective clients in the same way that they have contacted me, so if they call me, I'm going to call them back and if they've emailed me, I'm going to email them back now that said, if someone does email me, the first thing that I'm going to try to do in my email back to them is find some way that I can talk to them now. In years past, I've had really great success with just simply sending my price list and a list of my accolades and all of those things out to prospective clients, but what I have noticed, especially in the past six months and even since I was here with creative live last august is that once I hit a certain price bracket with my work I found that people really needed to talk to me more, that it wasn't just enough to send a price sheet because if I just sent a price sheet with numbers on the price sheet, then all they were really doing is taking those numbers and plugging them into their own excel spreadsheet and comparing my price list to the other priceless of all of the photographers that they've spoken to. So the very first thing and it's something new that I've been doing in the past couple of months, so if you saw me here before this is something different that I've changed since then is if someone e mails me, I'm going to email them back and I'm not going to give them my pricing right away now I haven't completely gone revolutionary lee different and that I will never give them my pricing information over the internet at all, but the very first thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to email them back and I'm going to say, here is a little bit of information about me, here's, you know, some of my accolades, here's some of the nice things that I've done, I send them a link to a couple of galleries, and then I say that I would be glad to set up a time to talk to them on the phone and to go over pricing information and packaging information and I tell them that I would like to do this for them because most of my clients customize their own collections and that simply sending them a rate sheet might not meet the needs that they have for their wedding day and what I want to dio is create a collection for them that is better based on what they're looking for now that can go one of two ways sometimes people emailed me back and they say that's awesome here's my phone number, give me a call sometimes someone e mails me back and says that's, great and I totally like to talk to you, but for now can you just send pricing so I can see if it's even in my budgetary range, okay, if someone e mails me back and they say all I really want from you is your price list, I'm going to send them my price list that's fine, I don't want to push people into spending time on the phone with me if they're not going to be able to afford it in the first place now ah lot of people will say that it's important to put your start price on your website or to give your pricing right up front and immediately, and there are really great arguments to be said for that the reason why I don't do that is I've actually had great success in the past six months, in converting some people who said from the get go that they couldn't afford my rates into becoming paying clients, I'm thinking of one client specifically if I had sent her my rates right off, I would have never heard from her again, but she e mailed me. I emailed her back saying that I would love to set up a time to talk. She said, great, give me a call, I called her, we talked through all of the aspects of her day, and then she said, well, can you at least give me a sense of what your start prices? And I told her, and there was a very long silence, and she said, well, you know, frankly, that's, really out of my budget and I said, I completely understand, let me tell you, just a couple of reasons why I think that it's worth the investment, then I'm gonna send you some full galleries to look through and listen, if it really is out of your budget and you decide to go elsewhere, no hard feelings, but I would like to let you know what I can do for you and why I do feel like the money would be money well spent, I explained things. She said let me think about it and she called me the next day and booked a package that was three times the initial budget that she had because I had given her educational information as to why the investment might have been worth it for her and she decided that it wass I've done this before and it's not worked where someone came back and said, listen, we totally understand why you charge what you charge and you're worth your rates but we simply don't have that amount of money and I say that is absolutely fine and I totally understand you cannot get every single client than inquires with you to hire you it's just simply impossible, but I'm going to do everything I can to educate them not only about the work that I do, the products that I offer in the prices that I have, but why the higher price tag might be a worthwhile investment for them. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't, but I do want to try to get somebody on the phone at least for a couple of minutes so that I can convince them. And yes, sometimes someone has emailed me back and said, listen, all we really want is your price list and I say okay, and I send it over and they emailed me back and they're like, great, we want to book you ooh, fantastic but in the past six months is I've put in that little extra effort, that little extra desire to connect with someone at the very, very beginning phase of things it's really helped turn some of these enquiries into bookings that might not have gone so either wise, regardless of how they contact me in the first place, whether they have called me and I've called them back, whether they've emailed me and I've spoken to them or whether they've emailed me and I's emailed back. Either way, I'm going to follow up via email in five days. I'm not gonna call them back again. I don't want to bother them, but I will email five days after the fact just to check in again not to be a commercial for shoot you, but what I have in my initial client workflow, if somebody e mails me for the first time, I send them information, I'm automatically reminded in my tasks bar five days later to follow up with, um now you don't need studio management software to tell you this, you can hold on to the e mails in an inquiry email folder and just go in and check every single day. See you know what, what emails you got five days ago where seven days ago and reach back out to those people. Now I will reach back out and my email is very simple hi, I just wanted to follow up and see if you got my information or it was lovely to talk to you or however we contacted before I was wondering if you had any questions about my services or my style, I would love to answer any questions that you might have I wish you all the best in your plans and I hope to hear from you soon now some people emailed me back and say, oh my gosh, I completely forgot to email you back. Yes, we would love to talk more some people emailed me back and say thanks, but no thanks we went a different direction and a lot of people I never hear from again I cannot try to chase down an inquiry that isn't going to get back to me. You have no idea why they're not getting back to you. They might be a photographer whose secret shopping you they might be somebody who ended up hiring a friend they might be somebody who upon more look at your work really hated your work there's really no way to tell I will try to make that effort to reach back out if I haven't heard from someone, but if time marches by and I haven't heard from them, I have to file them away as not responded and move on I cannot waste all of my time trying to turn every single inquiry into a booking because every single inquiry is not going to turn into a booking so moving on from there let's talk about the phone call when you talk to a client on the telephone for the very first time the first thing that I do when I get a client on the telephone whether they have emailed me and we've set up a time to talk or whether they've simply called me and they want to talk the first thing I want to do is I want to ask them you know, yes, I'm available for your date it's great to hear from you how are your wedding plans coming along? And I stopped talking and then I let them talk because I want them to know first and foremost that I'm interested in what's happening to them I want to know what's going on with them I'm taking notes the whole time they're talking, but I want to give them the floor and allow them to talk to me about their plans as much as they possibly can. So as that kind of goes, it usually starts to wind down about that and when they've kind of told me all about their plans then I'm gonna step in I'm going to say a little bit about myself, you know, I'm really glad you called it sounds like what you're looking for is exactly what I do might I ask you what are you looking for in your wedding photography and then stop talking like stop talking don't interrupt don't talk on top of them I know you're super excited you want to tell them all about you and your style you want to do an interpretive dance to get them to hire you but you need to be very calm and kind of pulled together and let them talk and it is just a simple is saying thank you so much for telling me about your plans blair they sound really fantastic and what you're looking for in your photography from what I've heard so far sounds exactly like what I d'oh but can I ask you you know what are you looking for what are you looking for in your wedding photography what what would you like with your wedding photographs and let them talk? They will tell you what they're looking for sometimes they'll take that as an opportunity to talk about the package that they wanted the collection that they're looking for sometimes they're just going to tell you you know listen we really want somebody who's you know, who's hands off who's really gonna document the day just get a sense of what they're looking for and then you'll start to be able to tell if they're going to be a fit for you and your business

Class Materials

bonus material

Quicksheet Inside Guide (one large PDF file)
Quicksheet Inside Guide (zip file of individual PDF pages)
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Ratings and Reviews

Misty Angel

oh Susan, you are AWESOME!! I am not a wedding photographer (despite dipping my toe in this intimidating pool for one of my dearest friends), I shoot all forms of portraits and love sports too! Your '30-Days' has been the single most influential and educational moments since I started my venture into photography in 2009! THANK YOU! Your honesty, directness, bluntness, humor and vulnerability makes these 30-Days the most worthwhile time spent away from actual shooting; while simultaneously is the most inspirational motivator to push you out there to practice these ideas/techniques! #SShostestwiththemostest You raise the bar in this industry, not just with wedding photographers, but with all genres of photography! I wanted this course to learn about shooting and thought, great... I'll get a little bit of the business side too... OMG! I got it ALL! I'm dying! What an awesome investment in myself, my business and in YOU! PLEASE keep doing what you are doing! I love your new Dynamic Range, I feel that it is a wonderful extension of the work you do with Creative Live! I watch you EVERY DAY, every morning... I know that I continue absorbing your wisdom through repetition! I don't want to be you, I want to rise to your level! So thank you for the inspiration, motivation and aspiration! Keep on being REAL, its what we love about you! We embrace your Chanel meets Alexander McQueen-ness! :) Thank you for stepping into this educational space and providing us with your lessons learned so we can avoid the negative-time investment making mistakes... we are drinking your virtual lemonade!! HA! Like the others, whatever wisdom you offer in this medium, I will be jumping at the opportunity to learn from you! THANK YOU!


All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.


Wow. What a super, comprehensive, entertaining, informative course. Well done. I've taking a lot of photography classes and this one is definitely top of the list. Susan Stripling was very well prepared (and great job by the CreativeLive Team too). Terrific course. Susan shared so much. Thank you! P.S. Love the CL boot camp courses.

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