The Pre-Session Consultation. It’s a Must.
Yep, I know that subject is somewhat of a hot topic on the forums, but having a pre-session consultation is super important. Not only to help you create better images, but also to help you gain larger sales.
It’s already a common perception that most guys don’t naturally just “come alive” in front of the camera. But if you’ve got some great things planned to show off their sports…cars…hobbies…obsessions…style…they’re much more likely to get engaged in the session. And the best way to do that is to meet before the session and get all the information you possibly can.
I started implementing the pre-session consultation a few years ago and I’ve seen the benefits of it with Every Single Client. Since I don’t have a studio, I usually try to meet my clients at a coffee shop that’s near my house. It’s quiet and cozy and always smells yummy! Plus me and my client don’t have to worry about cleaning our house!
My experience has been about 50/50 meeting with just the mom vs. the mom and son. Either way though, I always break the ice with chit chat about what school they attend, asking about clubs or sports, and then I’ll lead into details about their shoot.
A. Here’s how your consultation can improve your images.
You’ll find out what your guy enjoys and what his passions are.
Example: Jacob is a musician with an eclectic style. By talking with his mom I learned that he’d be most comfortable with his guitars and drums included in the session. This helped me to choose a location that would best showcase his music interests…which then brings out his own personality.
Another example: I found out that Theo has a fierce collection of sports quotes T-shirts. I told him to bring several of his favorites and we created this collage for his mom. She was thrilled because these images truly show how she pictures her son at this time in his life.
You’ll find out about their fashion choices.
Whether your guy has “fashion sense” or not, it’s still super helpful to find out what their clothing choices may be. Then you can get an idea of colors and the overall vibe for the session. It’s also the perfect time to give clothing suggestions.
Example: In talking with Brad’s mom before his session, I realized that most of his shirts were a simple, solid color V neck. I suggested possibly adding a striped suit vest to one of the shirts just to mix it up a little and add some texture. His mom loved the idea and it really added some style to his shots.
Another example: When Gannon booked his session thru email, I had a standard location picked out to do his shoot. But after talking to his mom and finding out that he wore suits almost every day, even to school, I changed the shooting location to fit the mood of his passion for business. If I hadn’t known about his distinct clothing choices, any other location would never have worked near as well.
B. Here’s how your consultation can help you gain larger sales.
You’re pre-selling your products. (without being all icky and pushy like)
It’s a proven fact: you sell what you show. So when I’m at my consultation, I always have lots of my products on hand to show.
It’s actually super natural to show lots of products during the consultation. If we’re talking about an urban location as a possibility, I simply hand them a few albums that show sessions shot in urban locations. If we’re discussing some clothing options, I’ll mention a specific look and then pull out the 16×24 Metal Print of the image I’m talking about. Once we’ve started passing products around the discussion naturally leads into the products I offer. And usually they’re already saying “Ohh I love this! I have to have this!”.
I realize that doing a pre-session consultation, especially in person, is quite a time investment. But it absolutely pays off if you’re prepared to gather the information you need, and show the products you want to sell. Even if you’re only able to do a phone consultation, don’t skip this important part of the experience.
So I’ve shared a few examples of where the information I got at a consultation definitely helped me out. Now it’s your turn!
Do you have a consultation with your clients?
If so, what do you think is the biggest benefit from them?
What are some tips that help you get the most out of your consultations?
If you don’t do them, why not?
See ya next time!