Booking Photo Sessions: 5 Tips to Filling Your Calendar

So you wanna start offering Documentary Style Sessions? Whether you are afraid of making the switch or you are having a hard time finding people that are interested, this post will shed some light on booking photo sessions in general.

Before I became a photographer, I rocked the network marking world for several years doing in-home parties. To merit my credibility, at my peak, there were times I sold over $10,000 in product in just one month. The products averaged below $50.00 each. To make this happen, I needed to have my calendar busy with parties, keep my hostesses excited, and rock my reservicing skills. My record number of parties in a month was 22. That’s almost a party every single day! Could you imagine having that many photo sessions booked in a month? No way in hell would I want that many sessions, but the point is this: what you focus on, you find.

booking photo sessions

 

Setting Your Focus

‘What you focus on, you find’ is a phrase that has carried me for a long time. It’s true with anything including your attitude, happiness, and success. It’s even true for the bad things like negativity, anger, and failure. Fact: you are going to have more people tell you ‘no’ to booking a photo session with you than ‘yes.’

These constant ‘no’s’ can beat you up and make you wonder if you are good enough, if your prices are too high, maybe no one wants your type of session, whatever. This doubt can get into your head like a crazy ex boyfriend.

Be aggressive with your beliefs, your motivation, and soon enough you will find the like-minded clients that are right for your business.

 

Learn-Documentary-Photography

Numbers and Relationships

One of my “uplines” (as we called them in the network marketing biz) said something that resonated with me: it’s just as much a numbers game as it is a relationship game. First, think about how many calls or connections you are making on a regular basis. One daily Facebook post about booking a family session to capture the memories is absolutely not going to fill your calendar. Making a true connection (phone, text, etc.) with someone is much more powerful than sending out a generic newsletter or updating your Facebook status. Make a list of anyone that could be a potential client: friends, family, people you know through places you go (school, teams, organizations), neighbors, and even people you know through your kids. Even consider local business owners that likely market to your same target market, because you can either do a session for them that will be seen by many potential clients or you can trade promoting businesses.

Hold yourself accountable and make it happen. Make it a goal to contact 100 potential clients in your next week.

 

Second, assess your methods to obtaining bookings. There are dozens of things you can do to find them besides social media…. like… picking up the damn phone! Seriously, if you’ve made a connection with a past client, then call them up like they are an old friend (being authentic, of course). Ask them how they are doing. Find out how little Lily is doing with ballet. Be genuine. Suggest a session soon. Do you realize that our lives change on average about every 3 months? Especially those clients with little ones! There’s always a reason for a session and sometimes just bringing you to the front of your clients’ mind will get you a booking.

Remember, this is our business and it’s far more important to us than it is to them. Make it easy for them to say yes by being friendly and making that connection. 

 

Ask Directional Questions & Always Close

Weekend or Weekday? Outdoor or Indoor? Are you ready to book right now?

These are just a few questions you can be asking your potential clients. When you are talking about how your session works, it’s important to set expectations and all, but it is vital to be asking them questions. In the beginning, you’ll be able to use questions to get to know them. Just simple conversation questions to get them talking. Then, move into questions about the session and what they want out of a session with you. Questions such as, “Are you looking for a wall gallery or a book that tells your story?” The more questions you ask, without sounding like you’re interrogating, you will get them excited. You want them to envision the outcome of this session. Tell them your thoughts and ideas, but ask questions along the way that seem fitting. For example, if a client tells you that they love having bon fires and want a session revolving around one. Ask them things like, ‘Ok, do you usually do fireside snacks? S’mores or pies?’

Then, when they seem totally into it, ask them a closing question to solidify your session, “Are you ready to book right now?”

 

Overcoming Objections

Your biggest booking-seeking fears probably stem from the objections that clients may throw at you. What are your prices? Why have your packages gone up? You seem so expensive. Do I get a disc with that? The best way to to overcome these objections is to be honest with them and maintain your policies. Before going into your next booking bonanza, make a list of all the questions you can think of that clients may ask in objection. Make sure you think about your answers so that you are ready. When a client sees that you are confident, they are likely not going to press you any further. For example, if you tell a client that gift prints begin at $25 for a 5×7″ matted photo and your client rolls their eyes and says, “Why is that so expensive?” Wouldn’t you want to melt? No, not if you are prepared and ready for these questions. I would answer something like, “This isn’t a product you are going to find at the corner store. I take great pride in using a pro-lab to make our products flawless and something that is going to last beyond a lifetime. These are your memories made into art. What products are sticking out to you the most?”

Having potential objections answered going into the booking conversation will give you confidence. 

To save you some time in listing your questions, take a look at this product. I used to cringe when people would ask me my pricing or ask if I can copy of photo they saw off of Pinterest. So, my friend Stacie and I wrote and ebook called, “Dear Cheap A$$ Charlie,” that will answer dozens of these types of client questions in a fun, but professional way. Take a peek here: http://www.colorvaleactions.com/dear-cheap-charlie-digital-ebook

 

 

Celebrate the Small Stuff

I was complaining to a friend of mine about how hard it is to get much done with my toddlers terrorizing my home. Cleaning out the refrigerator came up and she said something so profound. “Instead of trying to find time to clean the whole thing, find 5 minutes to clean one shelf at a time. Start at the top.” Levi and Kendall would never give me 20 minutes to clean the whole thing at once. But, my friend was right. I could find 5 minutes to quickly clean the top shelf. Then, 5 more minutes later in the day to get to the next shelf, and so on.

Instead of being focused on booking 5, 8, 10 sessions a month (whatever your goal), just focus on your next ONE. You are inevitably going to beat yourself up and shrug off the 2 you booked if you have your mind wrapped around 8. You’ll be all bummed out not to have reached your goal yet. It’s crucial to stay upbeat. If you think you don’t have time to contact 100 potential clients, find 5 minutes to reach out to as many as you can in that time. Then, keep your spirits up by celebrating when you found that one booking! Woo hoo!!

Drink a beer, toast yourself, and get your behind right back to it for the next one till you hit your big 8 goal. (beer optional. just get your ass off Facebook and find that next session!)

 

Need more inspiration? Get lost in these posts:

6 Photography Business Fears and How To Overcome Them

My Photography Pilot Light that Keeps Burning

Photographing the Same Thing 7 Different Ways

When the Student Becomes the Teacher

Author: MarieMasse

I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.


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