Skip to main content

Finding Clients

Lesson 18 from: Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Kirsten Lewis

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

18. Finding Clients

Lesson Info

Finding Clients

My business approach is not, uh, what many photographers, uh, used for their own approach, and I'm not saying that mine is right and there's wrong. I'm only going to share with you what works for me, and then if you can take something away from it like a tiny bit away from it. That's awesome! I am really inviting a lot of questions because I'm not quite sure what about the business you absolutely want to hear about, so please feel free to ask, um, I'm going to do this a little bit more organically. We're gonna have a little bit of kino, but a lot of it, I'm going to let you just see my behind the scenes of, like, literally what I do when I get an inquiry and how I respond to it and what my pricing looks like diarrhea even as faras when I upload with the proofing site, looks like how easy that is and how I make my albums so well. It's ah, look, the keynote first, and the first thing we're gonna talk about is finding clients and I think that's a big question that a lot of people ask is, ...

how are you getting these clients that you want, like I mentioned yesterday, you really wantto only be showing work that you, um, I want to be making, and I'm going to emphasize that if you have not visited my website, which I have to say, the lovely people over at flow sites, we are in the middle of rebranding, so we're not going too well, not rebranding, we're sophisticated ing my sight, I love my sight a lot, we're not losing the branding, so to speak, but I'm actually in a place right now in my business where I'm going to be targeting and we can talk a little bit about that. I'm going to be targeting a little bit of a higher end market because of some personal lifestyle choices that are coming up in the future, so I just want to tweak it a little, but I'm going to show you what's worked for me so far, and like I said, the really quirky elements, the personal elements of my sight is goingto be exactly the same it's, just little aspects of it. Um, the physical look of it is going to change a little bit when if you go into my sight, uh, the first thing that I can suggest everyone do, they're just gonna beat that. The first thing that I suggest is that you have one stand out really good picture that is you're opener image when someone goes to your site. The other thing I'm going to highly suggest is get rid of that music, and the reason why I say do not have music on your site is because a lot of people are pretty naughty with their sight exploring in that I mean, they're looking for photographers when they're at work and if you have ah website that starts off with music many times their perusing the internet when they're not supposed to be perusing the internet and they click on your site and then blast some sort of john mellencamp song, and then they're going to immediately turn it off like they're going to just click x they're just gonna x out because they don't want to get caught. So really, I highly suggest you take the music off of your site, it's also distracting a lot of time, and then you've got people like trying to figure out they don't want to listen to music like where is the place to turn the music off if they can't find that they're just going to leave your sight? Uh, on average, uh, a customer or a potential client only spends about second seven seconds on a site before they're going to decide if they're going to stay on it or they're gonna move on, so you want the first picture on your website to make them stop and pause and want to see more so um now I'm gonna be gearing warm my work towards uh on lee family's so I'll actually start out with my new site with family picture that's the only difference I'm gonna make with a front page rather than a wedding uh wedding photo they'll be wedding photos circulating but for the most part it's gonna be a family photo first and with my gallery like the front gallery there's just a few like there's like twenty slides that people can go through it doesn't go through automatic so I enter disperse just some facts about my business that will potentially make me stand out amongst another photographer that they're looking at uh but again I'm on lee showing especially in this like the home page photos that I want to be making uh I also only have photos wedding photos that I've won awards for so I know that it's been received well and the others will receive it well, um the first year and second year fearless was around, I was one of the top twenty now that it's so big don't stand a chance there's some really good leftovers like coming out of every country you can imagine, but you could still put that in there because at one point I wass in the top twenty list um again I'm just showing photos that really stand out photos that represent me my personality um you asked about family work as you can see I'm not showing any camera where photos not even showing any formal family photos there's that portrait um and then it has beach portrait info as well we'll go through these quickly, so I always have like it was really important to me that all my branding have my personality in it so that's why I put the best photographer in the industry, my mother like a quote from my mom because that's cute and funny and she actually said that, um so if you go to the get to the meat of my sight, um you'll see that there's these funny pictures of me on the top and this was my way of and I had this idea and rushes like you sure you want to do that? I say yes, I want it and I'm still going to continue to have this on my new site but it's just random facts about me, so you'll see that there's a menu that drops down on the top and then if you scroll from the right to the left there's all there's like twenty five like weird funny pictures of me and then to the right as it changes it tells the funny, weird fact about me, why is it on there? Because I think that at some point someone is going to see that and it's going to make some sort of impact I cannot tell you how many weddings and I'm not even kidding I have booked from the fact that moist is my least favorite word I have people all over say I can't believe my sister ate your least favorite word I hate that word also and then that starts a conversation well you want to do is provide information that not only kind of shows your personality but also gives something the potential client can relate teo like, oh my god, they're just like me they're really cool jenny um innes and I were just talking about before she physically, mentally she went on my web site, it was like, this girl is awesome, I have to meet her because there was it a connection that she felt with me and that's what I want from my clients and the more that we could have a personal connection before we ever meet the easier it's going to be for me to gain trust does that make sense? Please remember this represents my personality and that doesn't mean that maybe you're not kind of weird and quirky like I am I'm kind of weird, I am my fiance reminds me of that a lot like I'm kind of weird, but I'm okay with that, so as a result I want that to be in my sight the other reason that I do that is like I said yesterday most of my clients are out of state or out of the country and so I have to work even harder to make an impression when I lived in the outer banks it was a destination wedding spot in a destination portrait spot so all these people were searching for me amongst sixty other websites and they were I was photographing them in a kind of more intimate setting as faras the closeness and getting that trust and being really physically close than with my camera so the more they feel like they know me online the more personable and more comfortable there going to be with me in person um also so there's a few I really love soup it's really weird um we're going to talk a second about your about me pages you guys will have about me pages how many photos do you have in your about me page? Everyone just has one what is your photo off it's of me like this is winning my hair in a photo booth like you can't even see my face it's like really when my hair is sweet yeah it's personality I didn't want to be like yeah, I am jen uh I'm currently is me uh sitting in the grass laughing at my friend who is out of the shot but look not look camera where and I'm holding my camera so hey jim what's your e raise my hand too I know my sister just have of me and I really even don't don't even really like it that much okay my situation's well different although I'm going to dio in the new site what I'm going to tell you guys to do because I have all those random pictures about me like of me like I might have only needed one but I've decided I'm gonna do what I I suggest all my mentor students to do what I'm going to tell all of you to do I think you should have at least three pictures one could be a portrait if you want but the others need to be the things are important too in your life if you have kids if you have pets other things you like to do other than photography um you're about me paige does it have information about you is a photographer so yeah yes because in my opinion you don't even need that you're you're already telling everyone who you are as a photographer with their pictures but what people are looking for someone to relate to they want toe like you and so my suggestion is that you're about me page is about you no not about your photography it should be about where you're from or where you live now on wire there or um what you like to do on a friday night when you're not having toe work or your favorite tv show that's a guilty pleasure that your friends make fun of you about you want to share things that people can say I think that they would be my friend I totally understand that hey I'm like that too it's just another way to stand now amongst all the other people in your industry because I'm telling you honestly the only one that would be really concerned with all of your credentials like in your about me page would be other photographers but your potential clients they don't really care about that I'm telling you they don't they're bored if if you're if you're about me pages kind of stale and boring they're gonna move on they're not gonna read it I promise you so have fun pictures like that represents who you are and doesn't mean they have to be you carrying around a fake fire hydrant like that's not necessary that's what I do but that's not what you need to dio if you have a more mellow personality and your image is also reflect that then have just some nice photos and maybe you and your family or you and your dog or you know maybe you sing karaoke e and you have a picture of you singing karaoke e they photographers aren't like bankers like our clients are just coming in making a deposit into their checking account and that's the only interaction we have, we're spending time with them like we're making pictures of them that requires and involvement with us, so you need to make it a little bit more personal is my opinion? Yes see, I think I've shied away from, uh and because I think in the past I felt like, I mean, I'm indulging myself by by doing that, but I think I want to represent other sides of myself because I know that people have, like, a specific idea I mean, these guys, when I tell them about the strange a picture I took, they thought that was an easy thing for me from from what they had, you know, known of me and the little like two days, but it wasn't my old self, it was easier this book before child, I won't come film and video and I, you know, I like going dawn saying, I like going out I was like, very sociable, and I'm wondering if, like, that's what I need to put back out there because that is a side of me that's not always visible, but it is very much me and obviously, you know you're you're reminding me with the last segment of finding your own voice about, like, where I've come from, what I've done that all plays into my photography and that maybe I should put that out there and this may be it's not being indulgent I don't believe it's being indulgent I think the more information without being excessive but that page should be about you about me it should be about you does that make sense? Yeah guys, get that again this is only my opinion but this is work for me and it's worked for me specifically when I'm trying to make documentary pictures and find clients that want that you're doing commercial workers left personal doesn't matter but if you are trying to attract a certain type of person that you have to have an interpersonal connection with, you have to have a place for them to connect with you as a bee not I don't care what gear's in your bag or you know when how long you shot film and all of that so I agree, I think it's a great it just it pulls you in, you know? And we get to know you and the more information I give them on the site like these interesting little fax uh they they don't I don't just get increase a lot of time that sometimes I get show me your price I like like that's what they want but elijah it's they reiterate something that they read that they relate tio and they read it back or you just seem so awesome I have to know you I like really have gotten those I'm not saying that I am awesome but like that's what they say and so I know that we're gonna work well together if they take the time to really kind of get to know me on my website oh so yes, some of the random things I have about me on here is like one thing I say is I'm older than I look um I'm swedish and cherokee indians so I have good skin and good cheekbones and that's the only reason why I look young you never know I'm gonna almost before um or that you know I was an elementary school teacher so that's information that parents would like to know I was an elementary school teacher and that helps me connect with kids like that's about me doesn't really have anything to do with my photography um I don't see what's another one I love playing tennis but I'm super competitive uh it's just it's just about me that's all I have in there that I was actually lucky enough to go to my great uncle was a state representative for nebraska later in the page I read that I went to the first lady's luncheon when hillary clinton was in office all the ladies in my family have gotten to go that's a really random thing like to go the first lady's luncheon and one of the people sit it's on ly supposed to be ladies my cousin and I went that year and there was an actual transvestite sitting at our table and I thought that was really awesome lakes probably on ly man ever to go to the first lady's luncheon was the time that I was there so that's like a really ran in fact that I include um and then my uh even this is about the branding like everything is seamless as faras you see my personality and everything in my pictures in my web presence in my contact form like aside from putting in your name and your e mail address, what you're looking for, I have, like what's your rock star name, they're not required to put it in, but they always do, and what I tell him is how you find your rock star name and then I tell them what mine is or like what's your favorite childhood cereal. I think that kind of says a lot about somebody, so they fill it in and what would your superhero be if you could have one? I'm not saying you need to do that, but it's the idea that like, I'm carrying this playfulness that you see in my work that you see in my personality that you see my branding like that makes a difference dealing captain crunch crunch berries my favorite to my god favorite number this and I don't like a lot of childhood cereal but the captain crunch with country berries dr craig nuts yes actually like the peanut butter you but the captain crunch with countries is my favorite so and see that's something we can connect to sew like something might see that me like oh my god that's mine as well okay, so my website is one way that I find clients and I'm not gonna talk about seo uh so furious was on a couple weeks ago he's brilliant with seo don't listen to me like I only follow the rules but I don't think that I I am informed enough to really give you a whole lot of information on seo obviously you should be key wording your images if you have a wordpress uh log you should really be utilizing some of the plug ins they have that help you like that help you kind of narrow down what word you should be using but I really suggest just looking at various his class because he wealth of information so but honest to god where I'm getting them georgie my business right now and I never thought I would say it's facebook um and in in a less conventional way than just putting in on my business page because as a lot of us do you guys all have business pages have you noticed a decline in because they're trying to get more money out of the you know, less people don't look at it I still keep my business page and I still use it but everything that I post as faras like new block post or new gallery and there I always repost it to my personal page because the personal page has a lot more activity and more opportunity for that uh post to grow and spread but I do have this and um I will every time you make a block post I will put it on my business paige I'm sure a lot of people do this but one thing that I make sure that I do is I don't just put the link I also write something about my experience with the family that I've worked with or the wedding that I've worked with I want to kind of peak someone's curiosity the three people now that like it the announcement that the post is up that's why you have to do that personal page but anything to kind of just like peek someone's interest so for me I found that like just writing simply just spending on extra minute to write a short little thing about your experience will lead them to want to click that link yes so let's say you block a session can you put the link on your business page on your personal page? Do you also keep the gallery's on your facebook page on your business page updated so like you would take maybe twenty five or so from the session and put them in a gallery yeah I'm gonna show you okay I'm very specific about how money I put in there and we'll talk about that um so yeah for thank you susan she posted on her page and got like eight million likes I got I don't know I think I was like we were one hundred sixty oversight um maybe I'll do that uh the one thing I do like about the business the having the business page is I like it I don't like it the referrals, the reference referrals, the thing I don't like about it is anyone can refer you and they can not like you and just give you a one and you can't refute it, which I've had to dio and then I had a client accidentally hit one and then I wrote her and I was like, I thought we were friends like if you're really unhappy, tell me please like you don't need to be passive aggressive on my feet I didn't say that, but on banshee we're beggars like, oh my god, I totally screwed up I loved you, so in that respect they don't like it at all I wish there was some way we could moderate something about it because it's so easy just accidentally hit a one star five but she went and fixed it um okay here's the galleries but this is my advice about the galleries the galleries is unless you don't have a website and you don't have a proofing site the gallery should not be a proofing page for the shoot it should only be a select few so with one our family sessions I've now like limited it about five ten max in like ten is pushing it usually like five or eight I only want the very best pictures um now it's super important that you tag your subjects in the pictures it does you no good unless you tag and what you have to dio now used to be able to switch between your personal and your professional such a pain. Now now you have I think they just want you just hate the business side business section all again and people stop using it. So now you have to go back into your personal page, search your business page and then click on it and then you can tag people in your personal. So if you don't know that you didn't know that you can tag people in your personal account but you have to be on your business account as you not as your business and then you can click and tag your friends it is really irritating um now some people don't want tohave don't want to mix business and personal I have no problem with it because of who I am like I become friends with a lot of my clients anyways, so all my clients could be my friends, but I warned them that the f word is one of my favorites. Sometimes you talk about inappropriate things, and if you want to be my friend that's, fine, but like I'm a human, aside from a business person, I just, like, let them know they don't care if they already know that anyways, for people that want to keep it separate, that's totally fine, but we're going to have to make sure of is if you want to tag the people in your picture that they have, um, they have liked your page because you can't tag them unless they liked your page. So just be aware of that that you don't have to have you don't have to be personal friends on facebook with your clients to tag them, but you're gonna have to make sure that they like your business page. Okay? And like I said with, I always write something about the shoot because a lot of times there's potential clients perusing, uh, facebook and so I want them to know how much I care about my clients. That there's the connection there so I share like I actually share more in the facebook calories and I do my website how are my block? Um okay, so here's my personal page and what I was going to show you is that yes, in fact I do always share what link I've done on my business page on my personal page but again I even write mohr on top so that there's the potential for it to come up on more feeds if you actually write something rather than just sharing a link and if you don't know this because some people just don't know the more people uh like comment on your post the more it's going to increase the traffic and spread more like they'll put it on more people's page news feeds so the more activity you can get even if like every time somebody says something about your uh your post thank them or respond to them and that's going to increase the possibility of traffic that makes sense okay, so I also used my blogged but I have to admit I have to be a better blotter but remember with blogging that it's really important that you do embed the information and the key words into your, um your photos before you upload them and actually when you're inward press you can also go in there like I said and um and add more so uh I try and put another's now they're saying that google is not using the title is much I don't know it's always change like honestly it's always changing so I don't want to give a whole lot of ceo advice I tend always put the location on ly because maybe there's another client in new york that sees that I shot and you work like randomly on my site and then she's like oh she's worked in new york before maybe should come to me so for me, it's less about seo and it's more just about whoever random is on my site might see that and be like, oh, she does come into my area that may not they don't realize that I travel for my shoots um and I'm always selecting again I'm putting pictures on the in the block that are my very best and that's it I'm gonna say this and I really mean it you're blogged is not for your current clients your blawg is for your future ones. It is advertisement for your business just like the galleries and your facebook page you've already given them their pictures or maybe you're giving them a preview but um you want to keep it small short to the point on ly your very best because what's going to happen is if you over saturate each post with too many pictures people are gonna get bored the good ones are going to get lost amongst all the mediocre ones and they're going to move on because they're going to judge you on everything not just very best if you have too many and I see too many people use their blogged as really more of a proofing site or like these are all the photos I shot from this wedding and I can really only get through about ten and I'm gone if they're really good twenty is a good number I try and keep it to twenty um for weddings and for day in the life sessions because that's all they really need your only representing your best of your best that's all you want to be up there um and honestly no one else cares about the mediocre stuff like they only want to see the best so that's what I do I also do right er I think of key words when I'm writing but more importantly I just want to write to share my experience and so that other potential clients will be like oh, she really took the time to get to know them yes with the selection of the images um when I'm shooting a storytelling family session I'm shooting with that narrative in mind and for me I love captured the details of their home and so it may not be it's not going to be astound alone shot but I feel like it might be an important part of the story, so I might include more do you think that that and and I'm looking at the blog's flow, you know, as a story with those little details with the opening shot and the closing shot? Do you think that that in that case, having mohr I mean, I guess it depends on the shot, but what are your thoughts on that? I guess what I'm trying to say I used to do that and ana kuperberg be familiar with her? Who? Ana cooper, bird she's awesome. I'm not one of my favorite family shooters at a san francisco she's a brilliant photographer weddings and portrait, but she's actually the one I used to always think about that has to be the story and like with weddings, I like I have to put one picture from each element in the wedding in or it's, not a healthy good blood post. What she told me was honestly, when potential clients are looking for like great photographers, they're not really looking at the story. If they're really interested in you will go to your web site in the living your galleries and then for me, my website, I have longer stories, so if you see my website I have dane life and weddings and they're longer but the block post, I just want to get him in like, I want them to decide yes or no, I'm telling you this isn't about the youth are ivory delivered my slide show to my client's they've already seen their extended gallery, so they have the whole story. But for me again, I'm on ly picking the very best of what I want to be shooting, and I don't care as much about the story, although I will put it in chronological order. I don't necessarily need all of the details that I put in there. I do and try and do an opener and a closer, but they have to be really strong in susan's case, the one of her sleeping is the closer, but he was a really strong picture, so I could use it when I'm blogging a day in the life session. I mean, I usually try and make one good going to bed picture in, so I'll put that at the end, but sometimes none of my teeth brushing turn out our theme, the cereal, eating and rather than, like, water down the post, because I feel like I have to have that, we'll just get rid of it. Honestly, it just doesn't matter like they're not looking at the story immediately there. They're just trying to decide if they want you or not. Then if they really like the story, then they're going to investigate more and peruse your sight a lot more and maybe spend even an hour on it. Um, does that make sense to you? Yeah, also with clients I've already like. If they enquire, then I'm sending them that slide show, right? I'm sending them. We've talked about this last session. Yeah, we'll talk about this light show and everything.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Family Portraits Quick Tips
Sponsor Discount Codes
Gear Guide
Family Session - HD
Newborn Session - HD

Ratings and Reviews


I cannot recommend Kirsten's course highly enough. I've tuned in to a couple of CreativeLive courses on photographing families and children, and they were both very "studio"-centric. A lot of posing, a lot of gear, etc. I don't have a studio and a lot of gear, I don't desire to, I'm uninspired by the outcomes, and I tuned out pretty quickly. I love capturing people, especially kids and families, in their moments. I love a great candid. I love "documentary photography" (as I learned to call it from this course). And loving and creating photos that tell a story or capture a genuine moment is exactly what this course taught us to do, and did a fantastic job of doing. A few things I loved about Kirsten from the get go: she is not pretentious, but intelligent and genuine; she as a person and her photography are inspiring; she knows how to teach - technical without being 'technical', knows how to explain her process, draws on her mistakes so we can all learn from them (and our own - and this is a HUGE element of teaching most people lack!), all the while packing in an enormous amount of information that could improve anyone's photography. is very accessible in her explanations and her language; she is honest: a good teacher will be critical because again, if she's not (and if we're not open to it) how will we ever learn? Although I felt sometimes her language was a bit harsh or her assessments "right or wrong" where more nuanced language could be merited - my one critique. really seemed to be teaching first and foremost to have people learn and be excellent photographers, and to enjoy the gifts photography can offer (personally and productively), which made it so much more appealing to be "in the room". Best of all, I had an awakening that I am allowed to be myself in my photography. As much as I love candids, I get caught up in the expectation to take posed pics, for those I'm taking the photos for more than for myself. No more. It makes me impatient and disappointed with the outcomes. I'm going to cultivate what I love. I also finished each day inspired to take and process photos - visiting my nieces, bringing my camera everywhere. During the class I kept going into lightroom to look at my pics while she was teaching, to compare my past photos to what she was teaching. It was such a wonderful learning experience. Thank you Kirsten for being true to yourself, going out on a limb in your approach, and sharing all of this with us!

Kathleen Petersen

I started out in photojournalism, but it was a long time ago. Back in the 70s, I would play with the little ones, in their backyards, or at their breakfast tables, to get lots of beautiful, real images. Then, over the years, with the need to earn income, and then later, the need to compete, I got side tracked. I still did photojournalistic images of my kids, and eventually, their kids, but clients were wanting specific things. I called it the line-them-up-and-shoot-them style of family photography. The creative soul within was always longing for the more natural, more real images, and I have always been able to sneak them in to any session. But my business was mostly about everything else. I shot some weddings early on, to pay my dues and my rent. But discovered that I much preferred being a second shooter and capturing the candid moments and the details. As I am now a grandmother, I have been making changes gradually in my business to get back to my roots. Taking this class has been life-changing for me. I was making these tiny little baby steps, as if I was afraid that I would fall out of favor with my current and future clients. The competition is huge here in socal, so how could I dare step away from the white shirts and khakis? I dare. I am about to completely revamp my business model to return to where I started from. I plan to march to the beat of my own drummer. It really does make one happy to follow one's passions and to be true to one's self. I don't even care if I lose any clients. I want to provide for people something that is so essential. Real images that will nail down the memories forever as they interact and love each other. This is so important. At first, I wasn't sure if I would like Kirsten. But by the end of the three days, I loved her as if she were my best friend from forever ago. I love her for her personality, the things she taught us, and her great example. Best class I have ever taken at Creative Live, and that is saying something! Thank you!

Jo Benoy

The great thing about photography is that it can be all things to all people: a hobby, an art form, a profession. As long as I can remember, cameras and pictures have been important to me - for different reasons in different seasons. I have never been particularly interested in formal photos, and I thought my preference for "catching moments" in a style three or four notches above a snapshot made me seem like some sort of slackard. Enter Kirsten Lewis. In three days, she explained, modeled and taught the sort of shooting that I've loved for as long as I can remember. She mirrors my philosophy that good photographs aren't necessarily pretty, and that if a picture is compelling or evocative, it's a good one. Lewis is not only a gifted photographer but a clear and cogent teacher, which is always a welcome combination, and as strong as her tangible skills are her confidence and dedication to her own style and voice. I've watched and bought several CreativeLive courses, but I have enjoyed none more than this one: ever since watching it, my brain has been spinning and my shutter finger has been itchy. I loved, loved, loved this workshop.

Student Work