1. Make it Meaningful
Keep in mind that you aren’t just taking pictures — you are creating how your client wants to be remembered… and the more you nail that, the more she’ll love it, the more she’ll value it, and the more she’ll want to pay for it. Customize each shoot so that it is unique and full of personal details and emotional elements that will be meaningful to her.
You can start during the first phone call by asking questions like “What do you love about yourself, your body? What do you think is sexy? What are some of your favorite things that make you happy? What does your husband love about you?” etc. and use all of those personal details to create an emotionally meaningful story told through your pictures.
I could do a whole other Top Ten list on how to make a shoot personal and meaningful – this is obviously my favorite part of my job.
2. Make it an Event
This isn’t just a shoot… It’s an event! Give your girl a rare opportunity to be pampered, to be feminine, to go shopping, to keep a fun secret from her man, etc. I mean how many spa days can one girl have?? This is a unique experience – make it fun and milk it for all the excitement, playful, girly-girlness you can provide for her.
Plus, make sure to honor each stage of the process: from her first phone call, through-out the exciting/nervous weeks leading up to her shoot, the photo session, that night, seeing her images for the first time, receiving her products, and the lasting memory of it all!
Lastly, keep in mind that the whole experience should also be a celebration of her womanhood. Most clients seeking boudoir aren’t young things looking to enhance their image – they are women who want to reclaim their femininity (long-lost to motherhood), to celebrate their triumph over breast cancer, to honor their hard work and recent weight loss, and a multitude of other significant events.
Look closer when a girl contacts you for a shoot – there’s a deeper reason why she’s doing it. Make it a journey of self-discovery from beginning to end, and she will invest highly.
3. Capture the Money Shots
Ok, so you’re going to make each shoot personal and customized to each girl… In addition, you can always rely on the best sellers – the images that every girl wants. I call them “The Money Shots.” You know the ones… there are dozens, and I refer to my #1 Best-Selling Money Shot as “Damn my Ass Looks Good.” Because c’mon, don’t we all want that shot? Another couple of my favorites are “Landscape of the Body” and “It’s All About the Shoes.”
I’ll cover the rest of my “Top 10 Boudoir Money Shots” and how to capture them at the upcoming Pictage U- San Diego.
4. Shoot for Variety
I find that most of the photographers that attend my workshops benefit most from this single tactic. Capturing a nice breadth of variety from one shoot is what some newer photographers seem to struggle with most. We can all sometimes get stuck shooting one thing (because, wow, it looks so great!), and we keep snapping away and burn up our whole session time on only a few set-up’s.
However, there are so many wonderful and easy ways to create and capture variety on a shoot… from slight styling adjustments (pulling up her hair, pulling down a strap) to wardrobe and set changes…. as well as how you compose shots, light a shot, what you shoot with and what you get out of the girl.
Girls have eight thousand different moods – Get each of them: sweet, sexy, bold, sassy, raw, flirty, funny, etc. Get shots with movement, action… Get shots that are still, contemplative… Get every stage of dress… and undress! Get every story-telling shot: the Master, the Close-up’s, and Details. Get a shot or two that incorporates a fantasy element or a prop. Get a few with a different lens or a different camera.
Know when you nail a shot and when it’s time to move on and do something different. My workshop attendee’s hear this mantra again and again during the live shoots: “Get it and Move On!” Tape it to your camera back.
5. Be a Tight Editor
Show the client your A++ images only. Women are their biggest critics, and you don’t want her to go “eh” or certainly “ugh” at any of her pictures – that’ll slow her down, kill the enthusiasm and make her question your taste. You want “WOW!” for each and every one, so that she wants to buy them all.
Think about it – would you want to see 35 amazingly awesome hot pictures of you… or 168 shots, most of which you remember were okay, a couple were cringe-worthy and maybe a dozen or so that you really like. And that 168 included those same 35 amazingly awesome pics, but they get lost in the heap of plenty and overshadowed by the ones that she hated… and then horror of all horrors: it falls on her to separate the wheat from the chaff in order to decide what to purchase which becomes a dreaded chore of confusion for her that she never gets around to. Sound familiar?
Editing is part of our job as photographers – to give the best service to your client. And selecting the best shots after the shoot is just as much a part of your art as pressing the shutter – it’s choosing the shots.
6. Give Her the Gift of Photoshop
You want her to feel soooooo good while seeing her pictures – you don’t need to tell her you fixed them up a little bit in Photoshop. Give her the greatest gift of not telling her what you’ve worked on – do the sister a good turn and retouch the essentials. You don’t need to go to town on each and every image – remember, you’ve kept a tight edit so you don’t have many to work on, and you don’t need to clone stamp out every blemish and sharpen each eye lash – just a little boost here and there on the things your girl is self-conscious of… we all know what those are right?
One word of caution: do not change who the girl essentially is, like take off 40 lbs or 20 years… just the slightest adjustments can make a huge impact.
Also, put some beautiful post production on your work. Find a few actions you love working with and use them sparingly on a handful of your final images, just a little bit to give them a finished touch.
7. In-Person Selling
This is another must, especially when it comes to giving your client the best care and service. It’s important that you continue to be enthusiastic and honest when counseling her on what you’d recommend she purchase. This is the easiest and most fun part of the job, if you’ve done your work up front and already asked her needs and discussed your products during that first phone call.
Not only is in-person selling another contact with your client, who’s by now become more of a friend, it’s the best and most efficient way for your client to get your advice on what to purchase, and let’s face it – it’s a lot of fun. You guys get together, have champagne or tea, get giggly and excited to see her pictures, and then launch into the slideshow of her pictures and let the work speak for itself.
8. Showcase Amazing Samples
Have your dream products on hand at the order session, so clients can see/touch/feel what you have available and what you want to sell. Make them the best you can afford – to show her what she’ll be getting. It’ll prove worthy of the investment – people usually want exactly what they see and will fall in love with what you show them.
Also, make sure your samples are of a significant size since it’s easier for people to buy the same size or smaller, but rarely will they go bigger. Lastly, make sure each product you offer has a purpose, such as “the slideshow will blow your husband away and can be put on his iPhone”, “the 8×10 print is a modest headshot for your mom” and “the 10×10 album that you love is for you when you’re 60.”
When you have thoughtfully considered her needs from the first phone call, throughout the shoot and while editing and prepping her order session… it’s easy to designate your products to suit those needs.
9. The Slideshow Presentation
The very first time your client sees her pictures is extremely special for her and an opportunity to blow her away that you won’t be able to duplicate – she only sees her pictures for the first time once, and you want to set it up for the biggest impact. Make it emotional, make it bigger than life, and make her feel like a movie star in a magazine.
Creating a slideshow that is a hot video with a few gorgeous album spread designs thrown in and set to music that fits the tone of her shoot will have a much bigger impact than proof prints, a contact sheet, or thumbnails online, right? Plus it’s a product that she’ll most likely want to purchase now. Most importantly, it showcases your photos as a complete set, as a total story – she’ll be much more likely to want (and buy!) them all when showcased together.
Some tips for the slideshow: keep it short and sweet – only you’re A++ images (I use 35–55 pics), always show it with music, don’t hit the same note twice, gain her trust right off the bat and put the juiciest pic first, make sure to tell a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end.
10. Follow Up
Basically increasing sales all comes down to one thing: exceeding expectations. Make your client feel cared for every step of the way. Surprise and reassure her by pre-empting her needs. Befriend her with your honesty. Excite her with your enthusiasm. And make her boudoir photography experience one that she’ll remember fondly. Following up is going that extra mile that some people just simply leave out.
The night after the session, call her – she’s probably feeling a little anxious about what went down during the shoot, maybe second-guessing how she looked, and is dying to know how the pics turned out – so let her know how much fun you had and how awesome the sneak peek of the pics look – it’s a brief call or a voice-mail message and it makes a world of difference.
After her products arrive, call her – to see how much her husband loved his gift… and more importantly, what her girlfriends thought! Those girls are your next clients – which is the ultimate in increasing sales.
Written by Los Angeles Photographer Christa Meola
Christa’s distinct photography style and bubbly personality set her apart in the boudoir market. Her knack for making clients feel extremely comfortable and sexy has helped make her boudoir business successful. Christa leads Boudoir workshops in multiple cities across the nation as well as in Paris. Her workshops cover all aspects of building and growing a successful boudoir business. She also coaches photographers worldwide about lighting, styling, pricing, and much more.
Christa will be presenting and leading shooting workshops at Pictage U- San Diego, May 25 and 26. See pictageu.com for more information.