Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wednesday Is Portrait Day: I'm In USA Today; and Booking The Portrait Appointment

Good Morning Everybody,
We arrived safe and sound yesterday with the snow flurries flying everywhere - 2 inches of snow on the ground with more later in the evening. They call it "lake effect" snow in this area of the country. Still, over 225 fine photo folks were not deterred to attend city # 5 in my DWC tour. And what a crowd we had - again full of energy and enthusiasm. My thanks to everyone that braved the dubious weather and came by - I think a good time was had by all.
Now here it is early in the morning as we sit in the hotel room packing bags, recapping last evening program, and getting ready to head to Pittsburgh for this evening's presentation. I had just grabbed the the USA Today off the door handle, opened it up and started to give it a read.

Normal stuff right, that's what I thought till I saw fellow photographer and blogging buddy, Joe McNally's big smiling face on page 3B. He had a copy of his new book "Hot Shoe Diaries" in his hands, which opened at #6 at Amazon and has already sold out through it first printing - high 5's to you, Joe. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Anyway, I read the article, and there is was. I couldn't believe it, I was dumbfounded. The article was talking about all the new found interest in people wanting to learn how to use their camera flash units more effectively. I continued reading and there it was - the words, "Flash and lighting techniques are huge topics online. Websites such as the Strobist, Pixsylated, Flashflavor, and Digital Pro Talk all have loyal and growing followings." Yep, that's me right in USA Today and in pretty darn good company. You can read the entire article right here. I have to say, I was surprised, humbled, and flattered by the mention. Next time, though, I'm in USA Today, I'm holding out for the front page when my book comes out in a few months;~)

OK gang, how about we move on with our new series here at DPT, "Booking , Shooting, and Selling the Portrait". Please read on.

Booking the Portrait: The Phone Conversation
Today I want to move first to the Client/Studio aspects of booking the appointment. I'll cover the marketing aspects on the back side of this series. Anyway, what's the first thing that happens in booking a portrait appointment? The phone rings. OK, the client calls - what are you going to say? A lot of photographers would just set an appointment to shoot the portrait on a certain day and that would be it - wrong!

Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

You know, when we book a wedding client, we always have them come in and visit with us about the style of photography they want. We review how the day will go with all their best laid plans worked out with them. And, we build expectations about all the wedding products - from albums to DVDs with music, to B&W images, etc. You get the idea. So my question is, "Why don't we do the same thing for our portrait prospects?"

In that first inquiry phone call, we should be covering a lot of ground with the perspective client.

Here are the 7 points I want to be sure we've covered in the opening round of booking the portrait:

1. Thank the caller for thinking about us - we are glad you called.

2. Ask, "How did you hear about us?" The reason for his question is to find out if it was a past client about whom we could share a quick story about their experience with our studio. It might go something like this, "I remember the Jones, what a great family." Did you get a chance to see the beautiful portrait hanging in their home?" "It's been so exciting for me to watch their family continue to grow with the additional grandchildren." Anyway, you get the idea.

3. Have you thought about whether you want your portrait taken in your home or outdoors. I might suggest a casual family portrait outdoors - that's a favorite for me. With these kind of questions, you affirm with your perceptive client that you care about how their portrait will turn out and that you have met there expectations.

4. The next thing I like to ask is where they plan to hang their portrait in their home. This question builds the expectation that the family portrait would be something really special being displayed such as over a sofa in the family room or over the fireplace, in the foyer or a more formal setting in the living room. If you want this to be a possibility, you have to build the expectation for it to be so.

5. Next we ask if they have a budget for their family portrait. The budget could include expenses for framing, additional prints for grand parents and god-parents. Will they need additional products, smaller framed images for their offices, holiday cards..... At least the answer gives us an indication of how the chips might fall and we can plan accordingly.

6. The last step is to make an appointment for them to come into the studio to further discuss their plans and showcase our work. This consultation appointment is an integral part of any successful portrait studio. It is the keystone to you building your family portrait business. You wouldn't book a wedding without visiting personally with your client - be sure you do the same with your family portrait clients. More on this when we continue our discussion of the studio appointment.

7. Book the appointment, point them to your web site and/or blog, thank them for calling, and drop them a thank you note to re-affirm your commitment to them in producing a beautiful family portrait that will exceed their expectations.

Folks, that pretty much wraps the phone call. See everybody in Pittsburgh tonight. -David


  1. Just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic presentation in Cleveland. It's hard for many of us to learn how to do lighting and composition on our own or through a trial by fire. But having someone with such a wealth of knowledge and experience as you be willing to go around and share that knowledge with anybody is amazing.

    I wish you luck and success for the rest of your tour as well (though I suspect you won't need any luck for success)!!

  2. I have been reading the new Joe book. Great book. Of course it is more of a recipe book for the specific shots, and I appreciate that. Joe is a fantastic photographer who has an intrinsic knowledge of light. His expertise is greatly appreciated.

  3. David – Thanks for a terrific presentation! I’m just getting back into the business (part-time for now) after a four year break. Although I’m one of those “new photographers” I agree with you completely and I want to do justice to professional photographers. That’s why I’m reading myself full with great photography books, business books, attending great seminars like yours, and practicing like crazy. I firmly believe in the professional photographer and want to support and represent the industry in the best possible way I can. Thanks for giving guys like me the tools and encouragement to do just that. Also, thanks for such a great blog!

  4. I really enjoyed the seminar. I learned a lot and can't wait to get out and shoot.

  5. Hi Everyone,

    I work for Peachpit Press and I wanted to alert all of you to a promotion we have going on. When you sign up for a free trial with Safari Books Online, which contains thousands of books covering digital photography, you'll get a copy of 'The Hot Shoe Diaries' or another book of your choice. There is no obligation to join or send the book back when your trial expires. Check it out here:

  6. Thanks for this info and for the great seminar in Pittsburgh. My wife and I can hardly wait to put the flash techniques into practice.