This is a topic I had wrestled with for years, how do I get my current shoots to attract the type of clients that I want in the future? How do I give my shoots the edge and style that I want to portray to future clients? I eventually learned that a photographer really needs to be a leader to make this happen. We do not necessarily have to do everything ourselves, but instead we can source help and lead them and our clients toward the common vision.
Here are four basic steps to help you style your shoots & clients:
Step 1. Know what you want. Pick out some samples of work from different photographers or from ads you’ve seen that inspire you, then you can put together some ideas to springboard from. Jose Villa is one photographer that really inspires me & I love his work. I have some recent shoots here on my blog that have been inspired by the artists around me.
Step 2. Listen and THEN educate your clients. Chances are that your clients will have a style all their own, but it is up to you to pull it out of them. Don’t tell them who they are, but let them talk while you listen and then use that to put together some ideas, props, locations, clothing ideas based on aspects that truly reflect them — all with the option for them to easily reject without offending you.
Step 3. Write down a plan and a timeline for the theme, locations, wardrobe changes, props, that will be a part of the shoot. Put all this down in writing and have a game plan that includes time to change outfits and set up for each idea or scene, etc. Take into account the driving time, adjusting of hair, makeup, clothing, etc. Our shoots can sometimes take up to 5 hours.
Step 4. Have an assistant. You cannot do this alone. Our clients value us more for not being a “one man show,” but rather a team that is there to serve them. Whether your assistant is helping with lighting, or running to grab props, moving things around, helping with parking, driving, holding lenses and/or reflectors, or just there for support, have someone there to help with the little things so that you can better focus on your job. We have recently hired a stylist for our casual portrait sessions. You may be thinking, “I can’t afford to hire an assistant!” If that is the case, you can always trade help with another photographer. This does not cost anything, and you BOTH gain experience. Someone once said to me, “but, they will copy me!” Don’t be scared of that, as they’ll see what you blog anyway. The better you get, the more people will want to help you, and the more you assist others, the more you will learn.
Get out there and have fun styling your shoots! Have fun and start to attract the clients you want. What are you waiting for?
Mike Larson is an international photographer who began his career traveling the globe in search of photographing exotic locations, amazing surf, and beautiful cultures. Since then, he discovered his passion for photographing people who are in love and enjoying life. Residing in Southern California when not traveling, Mike is honored to be sought after to photograph spectacular weddings around the world.