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Session Experience

Lesson 8 from: Get Started with Lifestyle Family Photography

Elena S Blair

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Lesson Info

8. Session Experience

Lesson Info

Session Experience

Okay, that was super fun. And now we are going to get into how to create the session experience so that your families really can open up and do all of the things that we were talking about in segment one to make these loving lifestyle family photographs. So we are gonna get into a lot of details on this one. Skip right in. Okay, so one of the places that I feel like photographers kind of, something that they miss when they're starting to work with families is that they don't do enough client education. Working with your families starts well before the shoot ever happens. In fact I think that working with your families starts before they even inquire. So you really are reaching out to a particular type of person who is going to appreciate this kind of photography. So you have to really, really get into the educational side of things. I see a lot of, even seasoned photographers, on forums or Facebook groups complaining about their clients. I think that that's, by the way don't ever do th...

at. But I see them say things like, "Oh, I can't believe my client did this, they showed up late or they were wearing this or they were acting this way, Dad was being whatever." So many different things that people complain about. And I personally think that if somebody is complaining that you fell short. And I know that that sounds like a horrible thing to say but I take ownership. If one of my clients shows up 20 minutes late, I didn't educate them well. I didn't tell them, "Hey we're shootin' at golden hour and we've only got an hour, so you need to be on time." If one of my clients shows up and is constantly directing their kid to look at me, I didn't educate them well. They don't know what to expect from my session. So that's what we're gonna talk about right now is how you are going to set yourself up for success so that these sessions just kind of roll and happen organically and beautifully and you can be in total control and know that things are going to work out just like you want them to. Mmkay. So talking about this, the session experience. How do we do this? How do we create this experience before we've even met these people? Well a lot of it has to do with your website. So you want to think of your website like your storefront. This is an online world, right, so everything is happening online. When they walk into your website, they're starting to have their experience with you. It's a really awesome well known photographer at WPPI, I was listening to him talk and he said, "My website feels like my living room and I've had clients come into my living room and say that they feel like they're in my website." He was like, "That's exactly what I want." And it's very true. Your website should very much be a very true representation of who you are as an artist and who you want to attract. So we're gonna talk, we can't get into this that, a business class is a whole other ballgame. But we are gonna talk a little about your portfolio because that is really important in attracting this type of family. Hold on, let me go back to that for a second. I didn't mean to click forward. The other place that this session experience happens is on your social media. So this is a social media time. You have to be able to market yourself on social media and it's just, you can't get around it. And your social media should be an extension of your website. It should be a portfolio basically. It should be attracting, only speaking to those that you want to attract, only speaking your why, we're gonna talk about that in a moment. So your social media is huge. Your website and your social media are very important in who we are bringing in to appreciate this kind of photography. And then it is the booking process. So this is when we start educating them. When they and I'm gonna go into the specifics of what I say and how I do this. But when they inquire, now we start in with education, immediately. You are the authority in this situation and you are starting to set that tone of hey, I'm in charge. I'm a control freak, I guess. This is how your session experience is gonna go and so that starts with inquiry. And then you, we're gonna talk a little bit about how I get them to relax because I want their session experience to be relaxed. So many of my families meet, I would say almost all of them, afterward are like, "Wow that was easy". And I'm like, yes, high five. That's what I want. That's my brand. That's how it works for me. I want it to go really easy for them. I want them to feel like this was a fun experience so that they come back and so that they tell their friends. And they do, they do. They become brand evangelists when you provide a really great session experience. So I feel like we got some questions sort of like this already, so that's why I'm glad that I'm talking about it. I get this a lot. When I'm mentoring people or doing portfolio reviews for people or people that want to get into this kind of photography, they ask me, "But how do I convince my clients that this is the style for them?" And the answer is, you don't. You should never ever, ever have to convince anybody that the style of photography that you're doing is for them. If you are trying to convince somebody, then they're not your client. And they need to go with someone else who is the style that they want. And that's the beauty of this industry. We're all different, we're all unique humans. We all have something different to offer and so you aren't gonna be able to satisfy everybody. And think about it, I mean, you don't want to. You're not gonna do 500 sessions a year, maybe you are, that's a little crazy, but you can't satisfy everybody. So you have to be ready to attract and repel. And when you're new, repelling feels really scary. And I get that. Trust me, I have done everything from birthday parties to dog portraits. I mean, I've done all the things and that's fine, that's what you do when you're starting. But when you start to establish your vision and you start to establish what it is that you want to do, your artistic style, who you want to attract, you've gotta be willing to repel. You gotta be willing to turn away people that are like, "There's no way I'm kissing my wife's neck while holding my baby." That would be not, some people are gonna be super against that. Great, they're gonna find somebody who's gonna do exactly what they want. So this is just a screenshot of my portfolio. And I've been using some of these pictures here. Another neck kiss over there. (laughs) So your online presence, your portfolio, this is your first point of connection. So like I was saying, I'm all over my work. This is all of this means something to me. So when somebody lands here, you can tell what you're gonna get. My work's a little bit messy. The light is, I'm using the light in an interesting way. We've got lots of intimate shots here. This is just part of my portfolio. We've got parents kissing. You can tell that I use environmental elements. Like someone was asking me, "Do I do in-home sessions?" I don't get asked to do in-home sessions 'cause I'm not really showing 'em. I'm not trying to attract that. I don't mind them, but that's not where my zone of genius is. So you want to put stuff out there, you want to push your portfolio to its absolute extreme. So even though I take those photographs of everybody looking, I do. I mean, not everything I do is like, you know, like this. But I don't put it on my website because I want somebody to come and look at this and say, "I want to look like this." I want to be one of these families in her portfolio. I don't care if my husband's head is cut off. Some parents would be like, "Why is Dad not in this picture?" Right? Not my client. I want clients that are totally okay with me asking them to kiss their wife's neck. And generally speaking, I could say with pretty, with a lot of confidence, 99.9% of the time, my clients are satisfied. And it's because they know exactly what they're gonna get and they're not surprised when I ask them to kiss their wife. And I actually, there's a member of the studio audience who I photographed her family and she's like, "See, I told you that they were gonna, that she was gonna make us make out." And I was like, "Guilty, I do it every time." So, but they know that because that's what's happening when they come to my website. So you have to think about that. You have to really be able to let go of that fear and put out there what you think might repel some people, but that's gonna absolutely attract the people who are gonna appreciate you as an artist. The same goes for your social media. This is my Instagram account. It looks nearly identical to my portfolio. So I get a ton of business on Instagram. I really started focusing on that in the last couple of years. And it's huge. But I treat it like a portfolio. So somebody you want your portfolios to be seamless. So somebody stumbles on my Instagram, they click to my profile. They go to my website and it feels the same. If they stumble on my Instagram and then they went to my website and there were all these posed pictures of families. That would be very confusing. They might still book, but then I already failed them. The education was not correct. I wasn't telling them what they should expect from their session. So it has to be seamless. Same for my Facebook profile. It's all these types of images that are really pushing my portfolio to its absolute extreme. So again I'm just showing this, I keep showing you side by sides like this because I want you to see that this really is what I do. I love this picture. I think it's, this mom, just stunning. They're so cute. I mean this baby is wearing the most adorable little bonnet ever. This mom is like amazing, right. I love it. And I wanted to show it. But I didn't. I never will put this on my website because this is too traditional. Even though I take that type of photo, I want them to hire me for this. Now same family, right. Same family. But this is, we don't have this one's face in the picture. I want someone who's not gonna say, "Why isn't she looking?" No one ever says that when they come to one of my sessions when they look at their gallery because they're not surprised. They're probably like, "Oh okay, I got one to send to Grandma, this is good." Or maybe they'll put that on their wall. I don't know. But what I actually find is that when they order big prints, it's usually of this kind of thing. People don't really want their mugs up on the wall, right. They want something that's artistic, that has environmental elements in it. So I take 'em both and sometimes you want to put that perfect portrait up there because I'm not gonna get criticized as much for this one. This is a beautiful family, they're looking right at me. I'm not breakin' very many rules. This is one, someone's gonna ask me, "Why Mom's face is in a shadow?" and "Why this one is lookin' down at the ground?" I don't care. This is what I want to attract. Attract, attract, attract. You have to do that. You have to go forward without fear.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

FAQ Template
Family Sessions Prep Guide
Session Prep Example Email
Family Session Education Experience
Pricing Worksheet

Ratings and Reviews

Armstrong Su

is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Sandra Kay Hayes

I am totally in tears watching this, and think that every person going into Photography should watch these. She is a great teacher, and helps us to understand our "why" so much better. I also LOVE that she helps one feel confident with the non-perfect, (or so called) shots, Thank you so much for giving me more confidence to shot what I love and not worry about "rules!!". Best class I've taken I will recommend her to every group I am in!!!

Julia Khris

Elena is a great presenter. Delivers information in a very fun and engaging way. This course would be good for a beginner photographer. She shares the basics, but unfortunately doesn't quite provide advice on the more tricky questions. She shares a lot about her current state of business (10 years in and making enough profit to afford hiring staff). This is great to know what to aim for, however, it would be more beneficial to hear more about HOW to get to this stage. The main idea that I took from this course is: outsource as many processes as you can. Elena doesn't have a very distinctive style (no offence, but there is a huge competition in the style and editing that she works with), I would love to hear her advice on how to win in such high competition, how to convince clients to choose you and pay higher price tag for an equal quality of work. This is a fairly inexpensive class, so I would recommend it to the beginners, but not to the more experienced photographers.

Student Work