Skip to main content

Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 5 of 31

How to Book Your First Client

Emily Lucarz

Lifestyle Family Photography

Emily Lucarz

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

5. How to Book Your First Client
Happy clients start with realistic expectations. Emily walks through how to set those expectations from the start -- the booking process. Walk through what Emily tells her clients at the booking process. Then, go through the process, from that first client email to add-on sessions.

Lesson Info

How to Book Your First Client

When a new client wants to book. This is critical, okay? We hafta set expectations for your clients, okay. Somebody emails you and says, "Hey, I really liked that photo that you put up of Tyler! "Can we do a session like that?" Sure, let's do it! However, these are the things you need to know. Clients need to know that you are not, and this is gonna make you guys all feel so much better, because you're gonna walk into the home not worrying about if you're getting the shots that they think that are gonna happen, right? Because you've gone over with them the shots that you will be getting. So, tell them, these are not gonna be portrait-y shots. We are not gonna stand your child against a white wall, have them smile and say cheese, which, it's in my contract that they're not allowed to say cheese, 'cause that's that elongated E vowel, right, not good. Remember, there's other ways to do it and we're gonna go over that. So when we go over expectations, I expect that kids are gonna get crabb...

y. Don't worry if they do! I'm just gonna tickle 'em and give 'em kisses and all will be well. Have out backup plans, right. A lotta people will bring out gummies. I say don't bring out chocolate, 'cause what happens with chocolate? Like, total meltdown, literally. So, we set expectations to kinda keep the kids happy. Another expectation, don't worry about dad. Dads get crabby, dads get irritable, dads are not patient, but dads are so much fun, right? So we don't ever wanna kind of keep the negative with them. We'll say, "Don't worry, all guys are impatient! "Men have a hard time multitasking, I get it, really!" But they're so much fun! Men have so much, dads are just the fun ones, right? So, we are gonna take dad's energy and turn him into the one that's gonna get the kids to giggle or laugh or go upside down or do the airplane ride. So you hafta think about the roles of each parent, right? Moms, so what're moms always worried about? How they look, right. So we hafta let mom know, I want you to wear something that's comfortable 'cause I want you to be able to move. Don't wear four inch stilettos. I have clients, so help me, I love them like my family, but they, the moms will always wear four inch stilettos! And they can walk in 'em, I don't know how but just try to keep them in, in real life clothes unless that's their real life. So kind of set those expectations, and say to moms, you know, a lot of moms are concerned about their weight, how things are going to look, they don't like certain sides of their face, and these are all good things to know before you guys go in because you will shoot them from different angles and you tell them that. "Don't worry, I'm gonna be shooting the most flattering angle! It's all gonna be about you and your child and connection and one day," I say this to everybody, "One day, your children are gonna look back at this and be so glad that you were in these photos." Because a lotta moms will try to opt out of being in the pictures and just have the kids, right, have a kids session, because they don't like the way that they look. So, set those expectations and let them know that they are not gonna regret having, you know, themselves in pictures and you can say, you know, you don't have to make this your Facebook profile picture, you know, if you don't like the way that you look. But one day, your children are just gonna love that they saw their mom snuggling and loving them, so let them know that that's okay. Let them know, we talked about how kids will have meltdowns, they will. Dogs will not cooperate because they don't, but that's okay, and we will have something for them to do, we can redirect, we can have an activity. As long as you plan a session well, you will have enough backup plans, right, in order to kind of circumvent any crazy issues that happen. Expectations with the light! Tell them, "Hey, guess what, when I get there I am going to be moving furniture." Don't say can I, say "I'm gonna be moving furniture, is that okay?" And they'll be like "Sure!" You know, or sometimes people will say "There's certain things we can't move," and that's fine. But let them know that we will be moving furniture. Let them know that I will be standing on top of them shooting, so we're gonna, you know, it's gonna be crazy. Set all of those expectations, and so when you get to a session, they know what's about to happen, okay. Anybody have any questions about expectations? 'Cause I know it's kind of a big thing, and we're gonna really, really be going into all of this with the booking process. Later, later we're gonna be going over, like in the last half of this workshop is a lot of information. So if you have a lotta questions, kind of ask them on, early on, 'cause we're gonna be talkin' about a lot, yes! So what if you have a client that says, "Okay, I don't really want "to do this, but I like your style. "I don't wanna move my furniture, I don't want, "can we shoot in your studio?" Or, what are your other, what else do you tell them? And that happens all the time! And I say yes, absolutely! And I say, first I preface, "That's great!" Like, I'm very happy, you know, you want everybody to feel comfortable and happy. You say, "What do you love about my images? Do you love the wide house? Or do you love that you see everybody having a great time, and that, you know, brother and sister are like, the brothers are lovin' each other? Or do you love that they're bein' silly? Or do you love that they are using something that's important to them at the time?" So figure out first what they love about your work, and then take it out, take it outside! You know, later we're gonna have a family on the bed. So, I have a lot of clients, you know, I have the white bed in my studio, and not everybody, here's the thing, not everybody has a studio space first of all. Secondly, not everybody has a studio space that can support a queen-sized bed, right? So that's not realistic for all of the viewers watching, but if you do have a studio, absolutely bring them in the studio. Everything that we are gonna learn about connection and composition, you can do it anywhere! You can do it outside, you can do it in the studio, you can do it at the train station, I mean, anywhere that will look, you know, that has decent light so it makes it a little bit easier for you will work. That answer your question? 'Kay. Okay, the first email to your client. Now, when somebody emails you, the first thing you say is thank you, obviously. Always preface everything happy. Let them know what types of sessions you offer. So, when somebody emails me, and this is going to be the majority of you, people are not going to be emailing saying, "Hey, I want a lifestyle session, "you know, they're amazing!" Because we're all portfolio building right now, right, a lot of people who are out there watching. They're gonna say, "Hey, I'd love a photo shoot with you! "How do I get on your books?" And what you do is you say, "Great, here's what I offer! "I offer sunset shoots, I offer," you know, unless they're asking for a newborn session, but that's a whole nother ball game. "I offer in-home lifestyle sessions," and then you go into detail. "Here's what an in-home lifestyle session would be." So let them know that you guys are starting to offer these things in that initial email. There is no way that a new client is gonna know that you are offering these sessions if you don't tell them. And that's so important to do in that first email. I don't know if you guys knew this, but Kenny, my husband, runs the business side of things. It's been about, 'bout a year now, which is crazy. And he has a very, when he came on board, we sat down and I said look, here's the deal. When people email, you will use smiley faces, (laughs) 'cause yes. So if you've ever emailed and Kenny replied, there's probably a smiley face because that's me. When you reply back with these original emails, you need to show you, and if you're not super peppy, wear pink, love happy stuff, don't reply that way. Reply a little bit more maybe mature, calm, you know. It's very important though to preface this because you're going to start building your client base, and you want clients to come to you because they like your personality or style or whatever. You know, I'm not for everybody, you know, that's a lot to handle, I'm Italian, it's a lot! So, a lot of people need calm, so that needs to really come across in that first email. So thank them for inquiring, you know, calmly or happily. Let them know what types of sessions, then you're gonna send over your pricing information, as well as about why you shoot what you do. So, some examples. I'm at the stage now where we just send pricing. But when you're portfolio building, you really wanna make sure that you are saying, you know, here's some examples if you're curious what they look like. You can make a look book, you can just attach a PDF, you can do something on that, you know, that cloud thing you do. (laughs) You know, whatever that one is, the magazine one, whatever you can think of. Any way that you can start really building these clients, you hafta do so right away, 'kay. So, anybody out there who's watching, if you wanna start building lifestyle clients, make sure you are prepared, when you get an email, for any type of family session. You would not believe how many sunset shoot inquiries we get that turn into family lifestyle sessions because we show them examples. People don't know that they're even out there, right? So you, as the photographer, if this is something that you are really serious about, need to start showing examples for. But to show examples, what do we have to do? Get the examples, okay, so this is kinda like step three right now. Get the examples, get 'em all pretty, which we'll talk about editing at the very end of this workshop, we go a lot into editing, and then have it all ready to show when people are inquiring, okay? 'Kay, what to send in that first email. Again, pricing information, depending on what level photographer you are, obviously pricing will be a little bit different. Once you all get to the stage where your work is really, really speaking for itself, you need to make sure that you price yourself appropriately, as we all know. Your availability, what months you're available, what months you're booking. Why lifestyle, you know, why do you think that might be good for their family? They might reach out and say, "Hey, have a new baby. "Four weeks old, can I come into the studio?" Typically when that happens I'm like "Eh, "let's wait 'til they're pushing up, "'cause what can you really do "with a four-week-old, you know? "Or, why don't we come into your house "and we can capture the baby in their nursery? "Or we can capture you snuggling on the chair." So if you get an inquiry in that sounds like they may be a perfect fit for a lifestyle session, do it, tell 'em! And these aren't things I don't think people really think about, but that's really how I got going, you know? I just kept suggesting it, and it just kind of came to fruition. Now, this is a really, really good thing, add on sessions. I do lifestyle add on sessions for my newborn clients. They have the option of doing the full newborn posed session, which I still pose, the posing session in the studio, and then we'll do what's called a lifestyle add on shoot. So they're priced the same as my mini sessions, but I go to their home for 30 minutes and we get a handful of shots in the home. And that is a great way to add them, yeah, it's a great way to start adding them into your portfolio. So they're add on sessions, so it kind of piques their interest, and a lot of those add on clients come back because they loved those pictures more than the studio 'cause there's more connection. You know, some people are kind of on the fence, "Well, I don't know if I want a sunset, "I really like the in-home." Oh, we'll do a sunset shoot, we'll just, let's, why don't we do the add on, it's a mini session, right? So then you get to see 'em twice and they get to experience both. So if you have a client that's on the fence, do an add on session! My newborn clients, they have, it's a discounted session for my mini session, it's actually a little bit cheaper 'cause I wanna keep them as, most of my newborn clients come back, they book the full year session. But, yeah, add ons are fabulous. Does anybody have any questions about add ons, yes! So you said your add on session is 30 minutes. What is a regular length session for in-home or if you shoot in the studio? So I tell my clients they're 30 minutes, but I can never stay anywhere near 30 minutes. I like, we hang out, you know, it's hard! So I'm typically, in my add on sessions, closer to an hour because realistically when you're in the house, you're lookin' around, um, I just only edit, you know, I don't edit as many photos from that session. My typical in-home family session, I'm probably there about, mmm, two hours max? Shooting probably an hour worth? A lot is moving around, getting the kids to kinda chill sometimes, pulling marshmallows out to make another one happy, you know, things happen. Just further on that, are you getting there, if you know you're gonna be rearranging furniture or things like that, like, how much time do you allow for that assessment if you haven't actually been there yet? So I don't overbook my days. So I, when Kenny books my clients, we do one during the day and one at sunset, essentially. Or a few mini sessions in the studio. So I just know that for a mini session I might be there for an hour, for a full session I'll allow two and a half hours in my day. But, because I've planned with the client, because the client has told me the direction of their home, which we're gonna go over, I kind of know what we're gonna do when we go in, which we're gonna go over here in a little bit about the planning, this is why it's so critical. And, you know, this is just what works for me. It might be different about, you know, everybody else is different, people have different time commitments. This is my full-time job now, obviously, so I have my full day to shoot. And I'm sure a lot of you are asking what if you, what if your clients only want weekends? I don't shoot weekends, it's just assumed, they know that going in, it's my family time. Most people take off work, and people are scared to do that. My weekends are for rain makeups, which lord knows we need 'em in the Midwest, so those are my rain makeup days, and you know, sometimes we use 'em, sometimes you don't. I used to shoot all my weekends a lot when I was portfolio building, which some of you guys may hafta do, it's just, that's fine. Just, if you want to make that decision for your family, you need to do it at the beginning, right away. Just, when people email be like, "Here's my availability!" Don't tell people you don't shoot on weekends, just say, "Oh, nope, it's, I'm busy, it's full." You know, but for me that is my family time. I do have a handful of clients that absolutely hafta have weekends that are my longterm clients, and we will put them, we make some exceptions. We have one weekend that we shoot a month, and those are for my longterm clients that absolutely need weekends. Sunset sessions are so late in the day it's after work anyways, um, yeah. If you're offering lifestyle sessions as well as the sunset portrait sessions, how do you go about pricing the two? The same. The same? We're gonna go into that now. It doesn't matter if you do longer, and lifestyle, I'm assuming it would take longer to do in-home sessions? So I only, I batch edit everything. I like to keep everything very simple. I don't want the family to pick a session based on price. I price myself at a point that is sustainable for my business knowing that some sessions take longer than others, like, you know, posed newborn sessions can take a long time. My session fee for newborn sessions is a little bit higher. But other than that, I keep 'em the same. We're gonna go over a lot about what products lifestyle people like to buy, but we're gonna go into pricing, I think after the first break, but yeah. Okay, um, email example, okay. The email is included in the bonus materials with the class, as is a modified version of the family guide that I give to my clients, that's in the bonus materials. Okay, so here's my initial email, "Hi!" See, exclamation point, right there! Happy, right, you're prefacing things that you're, I cannot tell you, when I was first getting my kids' pictures taken, we would email these photographers and they'd be like "Um, I'm sorry, I'm booked, best of luck." Like, that makes you sad, right? So you wanna be happy! You want those clients to like you, so be yourself! There's nothing wrong with it, there are like no rules to this stuff! I mean, at least for me. So, "Thank you so much for reaching out to Emily. "I am so glad you're excited to capture your family! "Emily has a few types of sessions she offers," right. We don't do as much of this anymore because, you know, we're booked. But for when you're really growing your business, this is what you need to do! "In-home lifestyle sessions, outdoor sunset sessions, "and blah blah blah. "Do you know which one you were interested in?" 'Cause this really opens up the time to start engaging with that client. You need to be asking your client questions in that initial email. If you're not asking questions back, are they gonna reply? Maybe not. But if you ask a question, then it's rude not to reply, right? So, that guarantees that you're going to get a response back, that's critical, write that down. Okay, "Did you know which one you were interested in? "Here is a bit about each one if you are unsure. "For the sunset," and then you say a little bit about that. "Here is a link to my sunset portfolio in my website," or wherever you've linked that to, 'kay. "For the in-studio, "here are some examples of my studio work," give them an example! "For the studio mini," this is optional. So I do mini sessions in the studio. Um, on and on, so Emily, so "For the in-home lifestyle sessions, "Emily comes to your home to photograph your family. "Your sessions will be fully planned," and I put loosely here because we need to be flexible, right, we talked about that. "Don't worry about that. "Sessions last about 60 to 90 minutes." Knowing that, then I tell the family, plan on me being there two hours but they won't really last that long. "The time we choose will be based upon "possible nap schedules," I try to be as flexible as I can with people, "as well as which way "the light enters the home," which we're gonna go into in detail. Here's the thing with lifestyle sessions. So many photographers are dead set on, "I only shoot from 10 to 12 and from six to four." If you wanna be a lifestyle family photographer, you have got to be there when the kids are happy, right? So just be flexible, and be cool with stuff, you know? It's just, let it go, you'll be fine. Alright, "The time we choose will be based upon "nap schedules," okay, so "In-home sessions are a great way "to capture your family and children in their element. "If you would like to speak with Emily," this is from Kenny remember, "about the different types "of sessions, as well as what would be best "for your family, let's set up a time," I always talk to new clients on the phone! The phone scares the heebie-jeebies outta people, but honestly, email takes too long, it's misread, you know, you can't really convey the energy that you wanna convey through an email without either kind of sounding like an airhead or just sounding mean, right? So I think it's best to really be talking to your clients on the phone. And you can really kind of calm their nerves that this type of session is gonna be amazing for them. Then I say I've attached the full pricing guide, and then I say the minimum, I have a $600 minimum purchase requirement, and the $150 session fee, and it can go towards X, Y, and Z, and then they can ask questions about the pricing. So, I put on here, typically we don't include the full detail of each type of session unless we know what they are looking for. I mean, so we kinda know, if "I only want sunset," then we don't include all that information. But if somebody does a general inquiry wanting a session, that's the best time to show off all of your different types of portfolios, and really encourage what's gonna be best for that family, okay. I see a lotta kiddos on the spectrum. I used to be a speech pathologist, and I work really well with kids with sensory needs. And for those kiddos, we do a lot of in-home sessions because they really have their environment there. So if you have a family that reaches out to you with a child that's on the spectrum or any child that has a need that can be met probably more readily at home, that's a sign that they probably would do best with a lifestyle session. You know, I have just a lot of special needs clients in general that we do at their, you know, do it in their home. Add on sessions, okay, we talked about this a little bit. Clients love add on sessions, especially for newborn clients because, "Oh, I love the posing, "but I love the held ones, what do I do?" This is what you do, you do the full posed session and then I come and I do an add on session! And people are so relieved that they don't have to choose, right. So, to implement these, we talked about that, how to just let them know that they exist essentially. Have an entire section on explaining why lifestyle sessions are awesome on your website. I had this for quite some time, right now we're redoing my entire site a little bit to support some things, but, and people would read that, and they would email me and reference it! People are really searching and looking about you and if they're going to connect with you, and have that on your website! Any questions about add ons? Yeah. Well I think a question had come in just in general about, do you find yourself ever having to sell clients on the lifestyle experience, or that type of photography? No, no, no. Because if it's not for them, it's not for them, not, this is not for every client. You suggest it to them, but you want them to book a session that they are gonna love, right? So if you're having to force somebody into one of these sessions, it's not the right client for that type of session, 'kay. You can suggest things and let them know, make your resources readily available, let everybody know this is what they'll look like, here's what we would do, everything goes happy, life is good, and they'll still say no, and that is so fine, just know that going into it. We've been talking a lot about portfolios and sort of this back and forth with your clients. Alloyme Phillips asked, "Do you hafta request permission "to use the photos that you are taking in your portfolio?" Yes, all the time. So I have a model release form that gets sent out, and we're gonna go over that in a minute about what gets sent out to each client, but yes, they hafta have a model release form when you are posting their images on social media. I do have quite a few clients that want to take that out of the contract, either clients that are, for notoriety reasons, like, they don't want, you know, or because some families just don't want their kids on social media. And it's always the clients that have the best sessions, and that's gonna happen, but you just hafta remember, not everybody is on social media like we are, and let it go, and that's fine, you hafta respect their privacy. So, but if we're doing a model call, more than likely they're fine with, obviously, you know, a model call to your friends, they're more than likely fine with that, but make sure. Alright, great. Question had come in about, let's see. Okay, so Rochelle says, "My kids are now nine and 11, "and they're not in the cute toddler stage anymore. "Their lives at home involve a lot "of technology and such, a lot of electronics. "How do you document families "that have older kids authentically "once you're in the home with that? The same way when he was little, I mean, yeah, without like losing the cuteness? Yeah. Essentially it's, I mean it's the same thing. What're they into, they're into their iPad? Okay, cool, I'll stand over 'em and take a picture of them playin' a game on their iPad. However, those kiddos tend to do better with like, laying in their room reading a book or jumping on the bed, or take it outside! Get out a soccer ball, right? Throw a soccer ball around with dad, do things that are, you know, a little bit older. Think about activities, remember, you know, actions, what actions are they gonna do that's going to cause a natural reaction for them. So, you just, the same thing but just older versions. For the girls, a lot of times with the older girls what we'll do is we'll do breakfast shoots, and we'll have them make breakfast with mom and dad, 'cause they can actually crack the eggs and kinda do those things. And, you know, those kind of, just think of activities, what do older kids do, not necessarily on their own but with their sibling or with their mom or their dad? And that's kind of a way to circumvent the technology thing, 'cause that's big right now with kids, so that's what I would do, think of an activity with a parent. That's great. Going with that, what if it's a sunset shoot? I've had this problem with older children as well. How do you prompt them to, 'cause they're, like the pre-teen's too cool for school, they don't wanna be there, they don't wanna smile, how do you kind of-- So those are the times where I have dad just like, we're like "Man up guys, come on, just be guys." I mean, there's only so much you can do during sunset, but it's a little bit different in the home when we're doin' the lifestyle. But with sunset it's more of like, how do dads act with the guys, you know, or like, those are the times where we do the portrait shots with the hands here, you know. And I tickle everybody, even like the 16-year-olds, and they naturally laugh. I mean, I'm in peoples' spaces, so, it just works better for me. (laughs) Question about the add on sessions. Are they done more than once, kind of like a baby plan? Is that something like a one year plan? No, so add on sessions, typically we only do for families who are having a hard time deciding between a posed session or an in-home lifestyle session. So if they're a newborn client, we do it, it's a little bit cheaper than a mini session. Other than that, if, they have to, in order to get an add on session, they hafta book a full shoot. Otherwise you're gonna be doing a ton of mini sessions in peoples' homes, and that's financially not a smart choice with time and (coughs). Do you do any of those, like the one year plan or anything like that? I do! I do newborn plan, and we do the newborn shoot, we do, I say pushing up, so around four months, sitting, so around seven months, and then one year. And then we have add on sessions that they can add to that.

Class Description

  • Capture authentic lifestyle family images
  • Plan for a successful lifestyle session
  • Create genuine interactions even with the littlest family members -- and pets
  • Edit for beautiful skin tones and stunning portraits
  • Build a successful lifestyle photography business


If you're looking for a portrait photography class to master studio lighting and perfect posing -- this isn't the class for you. Ditch the stiff, boring portraits and create genuine smiles and real family moments in Lifestyle Family Photography with Emily Lucarz. Learn how to create memorable images of real family moments.

From planning the shoot to post-processing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, dive into the world of lifestyle photography. Learn how to tour a home while looking for light sources, then use window light for bright, beautiful images. Gain techniques to create genuine smiles from kids. Determine the gear you need, from great portrait lenses to cameras.

Whether you simply want to take better photos of your own kids or you want to build a career in lifestyle photography, this class provides the foundation. Learn lifestyle portrait photography alongside one of the Midwest's most in-demand family photographers, the engaging and fun Emily Lucarz.

For photographers turning a passion for family photography into a business, gain valuable insight into creating portrait packages, setting prices, and displaying your work. Learn how to build your portfolio and how to manage a photography business.

  • Budding photographers ready to turn a passion into a profession
  • Parents that want to capture better images of the everyday moments
  • Professional photographers ready to do more with lifestyle images


Like many family photographers, Emily got started after her first son was born. Now nearly a decade later, Emily is one of the top family photographers in the Midwest -- booking often nearly a year in advance. She's known for the way she works with young kids and families to create genuine interactions, along with capturing fun perspectives. Emily's charisma and easy-going teaching style has allowed her to lead workshops across the U.S. Learn from Emily right where you're at in one of CreativeLive's top-rated lifestyle classes.



Emily reignited my passion for lifestyle photography and gave me the tools that I needed to give my business a creative and profitable boost. Seeing how effortlessly she interacted with families and the efficiency of her workflow was inspiring. I'm excited to shake things up and make some positive changes in my business that I know will lead to success. Thank you Emily and thank you Creativelive for this fun and informative class!


Watching Emily on CL - I rarely comment, but wanted to pop in and say what a great class it is! Full of helpful information and good content. One of the first classes that moves at a perfect pace, keeping things interesting & engaging. I tend to lose interest quickly when classes drag, but she really does such a fantastic job, which is refreshing. Makes watching the class really enjoyable! Thank you!


I was just hoping on here to post how much I loved this class. I used to be a portrait photographer, veered away for a bit to focus on more conceptual art photography but i still am interested in lifestyle photography. Emily is very inspiring, her bubbly personality was a joy to watch how she interacts with families especially the kids. Her work is phenomenal! (in response to one of the bad reviews, about her cutting off children shooting on a live workshop while tethered and teaching can easily explain this away as you can tell from her portfolio that she always has compositionly beautiful images) This class has renewed and inspired my love of lifestyle and i have been shooting so much since the class! Definitely used her tips and tricks to improve my pictures! highly recommend this class!