I take great pride in knowing my clients portraits are much more than pretty photos. One of the best investments I can often make for my business is simply taking extra time to talk with my couples, getting to know them on a very personal level. I ask questions about what they dream about, what they are inspired by, and what their photographs will mean for them. The key thing here is, it's all about them. I believe my business took a big step up once I re-evaluated how to create unique and personal experiences for them, and less so about cool images for me. For example, for a long time I would schedule my shoots anywhere I thought would look cool, and never really had conversations about the type of locations my couples might have wanted for their sessions. This can work for a while, but I feel it’s very important for my clients to feel a deep and real connection to their image collection, and finding out their likes, dislikes, and various details about their personalities make my clients aware that I'm thinking about them first, and creating a unique experience with an understanding of their wants and needs.
I promise you - connecting with your couples at this level will make a huge difference in the way your clients feel about their experience with you. Think about your own past experiences - when something has been carefully chosen, created, or made just for you, you feel great and thankful for it, it's one of a kind right? When this experience is felt by your clients it also re-confirms their decision in choosing you was the perfect one, and that this is what it should feel like when collaborating with a professional at your level. It's about much more than just taking pretty photos (even if they are really pretty). That being said, the main point here is to draw inspiration from the conversations you have with your clients, and make it you own.
Next time you're speaking with your clients about their adventure session or wedding day portraits, literally ask them to take a minute and think about these images, (be quiet at that moment) then describe what they look like. Many times a bride may describe locations and settings that have played a role in her growing up, such as the willow tree in the super bright top left image above. How many experience has she had as a kid running through the soft shadow made by that tree? And the image above with the paper confetti being thrown all over - ok, we're not re-writing the rules of photography here, but if I had to capture one image from their wedding day this is the one she wanted.
Many photographers shoot and shoot and shoot, endlessly trying to get closer to making portraits that feel real, genuine, and honest, and can't seem to connect with their clients in the way they need to to get those images. If you are a wedding or portrait photographer searching for ways to make images that are a more pure reflection of your own vision yet struggle to feel truly proud of your work, check out my Found Focus Field Guide signup page here, I know you'll love what's on the way to you shortly.
Just to re-cap, here is one small action you can do today that make a big difference towards making authentic portraits for your clients. That is to say, images that truly resonate with your clients, images you can build and borrow from your clients dreams and ideas about who they are, what they are inspired by, and how they want to remember this day/their lives in this moment. - 1. Ask questions - get on the phone today, or at least setup a questionnaire on your site where your clients can express what sort of location/vibe /feelings their images should ideally have to make them feel true. I have found that when you can get your clients involved in your work and express how important they are to your image making, they will trust you, embrace you, and connect with your work so much more deeply, which is a wonderful thing.