Never Judge a Client by Their Cover

It’s happened to all of us at least once. That prospective client comes driving up in their Mercedes Benz S-Class and you start seeing dollar signs (Cha-ching!) You spend hours post-processing masterful artwork on a hundred images and you invest in an expensive canvas or metal print (certain the client will see it and just HAVE to have it). Then, by the time they eventually purchase something, they get that great big ol’ 8×10 (or whatever is the equivalent of your cheapest product). What?!

Three years ago we produced a training DVD series for Jeff & Julia Woods, two of the countries most prominent portrait photographers. As part of their promotional campaign, we created this funny video. At the time I made it I thought it was funny, but now that I’m actually part owner in a portrait studio and have experienced this first hand, it has so much more meaning. So I dragged this out of the moth balls to share it with you. If you’re a portrait photographer, I’m sure you can relate

The top five things I’ve learned (much of which from the Woods) were this:

  1. Show what you want to sell. Have samples of everything you’d ideally like the client to get.
  2. Know up front what the client wants from you.
  3. Shoot for the package, making composition, location and lighting decisions based on how the client will use the photos.
  4. Post process accordingly (don’t go Lightroom crazy).
  5. Have a minimum order (I learned that one from Kirk Voclain). If you know going into it that you’re making a certain amount no matter what, that will help you decide how much work to put into ti.
Bottom line: if you don’t want an 8×10 to be the only product you sell, don’t have that as an only option. And don’t start planning that trip to Disney World until after the client cuts the check.

4 thoughts on “Never Judge a Client by Their Cover

  1. Increasing portrait sales is truly not about working harder, it’s about understanding the steps of the process and making some changes in how to think and speak to clients. It really does make it more fun, too, to do preconsults and create a vision with your client. I expected higher sales by utilizing preconsults and projection sessions. I didn’t realize how much I’d love watching my clients react to their images at the projection session. I wish I would have switched to this tried and true method YEARS ago!

  2. Hi Ron
    this is excellent, that’s exactly what’s happening usually the “normal clients” ordered more it seems that they’re very thankful for what you do for them and the “rich clients” seems to take that you have to nearly kill you for them but in the end there is some kind of justice the nice people get the nicest pictures (i hope lol)
    by the way i bought Refocus 2 months ago (this was my short vacation book) i literally red it from cover to back in 2 nights very inspiring i wanted to say thank you for helping us

    1. Thanks for the kind words Morgan. Glad you enjoyed the video…and the book. I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever heard of anyone reading it. 🙂

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