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Pre-Session Consultation

Lesson 32 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

32. Pre-Session Consultation


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

Pre-Session Consultation

In the previous segments, we did a lot with actual the photography side, and everything from the lighting to composition, all the technical stuff, some the direction. And we really went over everything that I know as far as indoor lighting, outdoor lighting, the modifiers, the whole works. Well, the other and probably more important part to any of this is more of the business side. And my specialty is definitely on the creative side. I became a photographer not because I necessarily want to be a business owner, but because I wanted to figure out a way to make money off doing something that I live, which is photography. However, you can't continue to do that if you don't know what you're doing on the business side. A lot of this will be pretty light because I'm not the expert in any of this stuff. Obviously, I know how to do it. I've had my studio now up and running for almost 13 years. So something is going right, but it's also because I know how to delegate things and put things in th...

e hands of the people who know how to do them, whether it's accounting, sales, things like that, that I don't love doing, but there is something that I do love doing. That's getting to know the client, and that goes with the pre-session consultation. So, I wanna go over getting to know your client through the pre-session consultation, and then a little bit about the overall flow that works with getting to know the client, working with the client, the actual sale itself. We're not gonna go over any pricing or anything like that because, again, that's not my specialty. I have friends who I'll let you in on them a little bit later, who helped me with all those things so I can stick to the things that I'm good at and focus on creating great images, and leave the experts to some of the other stuff so they can help you. But let's get started on the pre-session consultation. So some of the things we're going to be covering are educating your client. And what I mean by that is just letting them know kind of the expectations, setting them up for success, both them being comfortable with the photo shoot itself, them knowing about all of your products and being comfortable with the pricing so there's no surprises down the road, and just kind of fully letting them in on everything that that they should know before they actually become your client. So not everybody is your client either. I know a lot of people take on anybody who calls. And at first, it is tempting and sometime you feel like you need to do it to make money, and do other things, and please everybody. But on the backend, not everybody is for you, similarly to when you go shopping not everything is for you either. So, you gotta figure out what people are looking for and we'll talk a little bit about targeting your actual client. Prepping them to purchase, and basically that's letting them see the products so they're familiar with everything, and the expectation is there of what they're gonna get, how much they're going to spend and all that. So again, there's no surprises down the road. Getting to know them, we've already talked about this quite a bit, but we'll dive into it a little deeper. It's how you get to know the client so you know what they like, what they enjoy, what they're comfortable doing, how you're gonna capture that personality. And image library, I'm gonna leave this one alone right now. We'll get to it when we get to those slides. And then clothing options. Again, another very important aspect of any photo shoot is going over clothes, so they bring things that are both flattering and fit their personality, but also things that work on camera. And lastly, full client interaction. What I mean by that is we're gonna cover everything from the first client inquiry, whether it's an email or phone call, all the way to the day they pick up their prints and are moving on. So, let's get started with educating your client. You want them to come prepared so you need to show them how. And what I mean by that is you want them to come prepared to their session. They're not photographers, they're not models typically. They don't know exactly what to bring. So the whole point of this pre-session consultation is you meet with your client a few weeks before the actual photo session to go over all the details. Because whether you're going on a vacation or anything in your life that takes planning, if you're just to do it the night before, it adds a lot of anxiety, and stress, and makes the overall process not nearly as enjoyable. I don't want the seniors to come in the day of their session feeling like they don't exactly know what's going on. I want them to feel like they've fully prepped, all the ducks are in a row. So that way when they come in it's carefree, they're having fun, and all that stress an anxiety has been put aside because they feel fully educated and prepared for the session. Add to the experience and get them invested in time and emotionally. I want to spend that time getting to know them for the same reason that I want them to get to know me. I wanna feel like there's some sort of connection there. So when it does come time for them to purchase photos and all that, they feel like there's more invested than just them handing me a check for some prints. I wanna feel like we were together collaborating on this experience, making photos that are both technically proficient by my standards, but also fit their personality and get everything that they wanted to happen from the shoot. So one of the ways that I do that is I send out a Senior Magazine. One of my good friends, Amanda Holloway. She's a Senior photographer out of the Woodlands, Texas. She's awesome at marketing, pricing. She's kinda my go-to person when it comes to going over any of those type of stuff. We basically have different skillsets and they mesh really well together. And one of the things that she taught me was as soon as a client inquires about a session, usually through emails, how it generally happens, you wanna send them the Senior Magazine. It's just an impressive piece that let's them know everything that's going to happen. It let's them show your knowledge as a photographer. It includes a lot of images that show my style, kinda what they're going to expect. And again, when selecting images to put in something like a Senior Magazine or on your social media, I know we spoke of this earlier, I pick those images that I really love because there's nothing better to me than when a client comes in and they show me the images from my website or from that Senior Magazine and like, "We really want something like this." And that shows me that they're gonna be more my client because they have the same taste as I do. They saw the images that I really love because that's what I put out in marketing, and that's what they really love. So, I don't want people to come to me... This is going off on a little bit of a side tangent, but also in the Senior Magazine is my pricing. There is no secret. I don't put it on my website strictly because I don't want people shopping around. I'm not the cheapest photographer by any means. I'm probably one of the most expensive Senior photographers in the area, but I also don't want them to be scared off just because they see that pricing. So it is in the Senior Magazine, albeit buried deep in there. But I want them to fall in love with the images and get that emotional connection, and figure out a way to make that work for them so they get what they want. But again, it's no secret. I want everything to be crystal clear beforehand, so they know exactly what they're gong to be spending, they know exactly what they're getting for the money. I want everything out there so they're fully educated. Also in the Senior Magazine is just a little bit about me, a little bit my history, about my experience, and why they should come to my studio, lots of images, the pricing. Mine is not nearly that complex. It's probably like 16 to 20 pages long. It comes in a PDF format. I respond to any email for any Senior inquiry with a brief introduction. It's a pre-written email that my studio manager can send out as well, and then it includes that attachment, which is the PDF, and we update it every year. And I know something like the way Amanda does hers, I don't even know how long it is now, probably 700 pages or something now. But really, it's probably like 50, 60, 80 pages full of info, and she shoots a lot of image specific for that to show hair and makeup tips because she uses a hair and makeup artist, I don't. She has tips from them to get ready. It's just she wants that experience and that education of her client to be at such a level that they feel like they know everything coming into the session, and that it's such a high value for her product. It helps weed out the people who aren't serious, and it helps bring in the people who are, and it might even solidify their thoughts on why they should be choosing you as a photographer. So again, I have that Senior Magazine. Once someone has books, I also send out a welcome packet. Actually, any questions about any of the stuff? With the Senior Magazine, is that something you created, you had a manager create, third party? Yeah, so this is something... I love doing design and that type of stuff, so this is something I created. I know people like Amanda and some other places actually sell pre-made content or at least the idea is for the content, or even templates where you can drop in your own images, and they help provide that. I know there's graphic designers who are really good at doing that type of thing. I made mine myself just because I enjoy doing it. But I know, if that's not your thing, again, like I said, delegating out task that you don't enjoy doing or things that you're not necessarily good at or don't have time for. But I made mine myself, but I know a lot of people I know did not make theirs. So, just whatever you wanna do. Yeah, another question. It's digital or it's physical? This is digital. I don't wanna be... To print out several of these senior Magazines, they cost a decent amount of money to print high-quality magazines. So, if somebody is just simply inquiring like, "Hey, I want more info." Maybe this cost me eight bucks a piece plus postage and time. I'm not gonna just send that out to anybody who inquires. I send it as a PDF digital format. I do have some printed out in the studio. So if people are there for a consultation or they happen to stop by, they can check them out in person because it does look pretty impressive. But as far as sending them out to ever inquiry, it's always digital, yes. So then, once the Senior Magazine, that's kinda like the first point of contact. Anybody who does book before their session consultation, they're gonna receive a welcome packet in the mail. And it's just even more information that's really specific to the session. There's little cards in there that are tips for hair, makeup, nails, that type of things, especially for the girls. So that way there's a little more preparation. There's a few goodies in there. We change it up all the time. So, I don't even know what's in there right now, but it's just kind of a little thing to get them pumped up, excited, another thing to add value to the session and add to that whole experience. So, those are some of the things we send out before hand. And it all makes it easier to meet my goals and avoid frustration. What I mean by that is meet my goals as getting the clients that I wanna get, have my client be fully educated and there not be that anxiety or stress when it comes to the session. And I don't want there to be that frustration of, "Oh, I didn't know it was gonna cost this much," or "I didn't know this or that." The only reason they wouldn't know is if they just totally ignored everything I told them or didn't read anything I send them. And at that point, there's nothing I can do about that. Here's a quick peek at it. This is my Senior Magazine from two years ago. This is pretty hard to see right now, but I just wanna give you a general. That's the cover of it so it looks like an actually magazine. It's just an 8 1/2 by 11 magazine size if it's printed out. And then the PDF, each of these are different pages. So you can see there's about 20 pages. It's a mix of a little introduction, several images, information on sessions, a little bit about me, a little bit about the pricing, all the products that we offer, and then what's next as far as... Since this is what they'll receive when they inquire, it's kind of what do you do next if you feel like we're the photographer for you, how to book, how to go about that whole thing, and how to start planning. So, this is a very simple version. This is from 2016, so now we're on the 2018 one now because we're always targeting the juniors because they're graduating next year. So, it since been updated but this is the one I had on the computer. This is the idea of the basic barebone Senior Magazine. And again, like I said, someone like Amanda has a lot more information. It's just kinda what you're comfortable with, what you feel like you need to do, and what works for your studio.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

Student Work