If you want to make every client love you, caring about them is absolutely the number one most important part of running a successful boudoir photography business. If you’re not willing to actually give a shit about your clients or their experience, then you can stop reading right now. Everything I am going to tell you about providing a high end experience involves genuinely caring about your clients and giving them personal attention.
Have a warm and lighthearted demeanor
Take a few minutes before she arrives to get yourself in the right frame of mind and relax. You want to be calm, happy and energized when you greet her to start the experience off right. When you begin shooting, use a calm but confident tone of voice to direct her, and always direct in an encouraging way. If she isn’t getting a pose right, I will do one of two things:
- I take two or three snaps and then move on to something different
- Or, I’ll put my camera down (usually just hanging around my neck) and ask her to “shake it out and reset,” then I’ll ask her to face me and be my mirror (or copy me).
I’ll keep moving myself until she gets just the right position. I’ll say “don’t move” and take the shot. I always joke that I’m terrible at verbally directing but I’m an awesome model. This usually gets a laugh out of her and then she will watch me and follow along with my actions.
Listen to what she has to say, let her know her concerns aren’t unusual. What I normally say:
It’s totally normal to feel nervous, and I’d say 99% of my clients are super nervous before we shoot. However I am going to tell you exactly what to do throughout the whole shoot, and you’ll never be asked to ‘act sexy’.
This tells her that she isn’t ‘weird’ for feeling nervous and that it’s OK to feel that way. It also reassures her that you are in charge and she doesn’t have to worry about studying 10 seasons of America’s Next Top Model in order to look good in front of the camera.
People are more apt to trust someone (and relax) when they feel like they have things in common. The key to getting trust and vulnerability from your clients means being willing to open up and give it to her first. I have a lot of clients who are brides, so I’ll usually start by asking them about their wedding planning, but you can also ask them about how they met their husband/partner, or about their kids, pets, job, if they like to travel…the list can go on forever.
Making light conversation and finding ways you can relate to what they’re saying will usually lead to deeper more meaningful conversation because she will begin to trust you. I am a huge believer that there is nothing to gain by keeping a wall between you and your clients. Be genuine and real with them!
Play some upbeat music and light some yummy smelling candles. I usually stick to warm scents like vanilla, or sometimes I’ll find cupcake or cookie scented ones. I avoid floral or perfume-y smelling candles because those scents are usually a personal preference. I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of cookies?!
Ensure the temperature is just right for someone who will be nearly naked. You want the space to feel warm and inviting no matter what the size or location. Invest in a space heater or air conditioner to have handy if your space doesn’t have perfectly regulated temperature.
Also very important: Turn your phone on silent. I find nothing more annoying, distracting and RUDE than constant beeping, buzzing and tweeting. The world is not going to fall apart if you ignore your text messages for a couple of hours. Be present.
I think this goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway; don’t be lazy with your client experience.
Offer her a beverage when she arrives, this could be as simple as a cold glass of water or champagne. My clients usually love the unexpected treat of a glass of bubbles (sometimes a mimosa if it’s a morning shoot), which makes them feel taken care of.
I have a two-drink maximum though. Drunk eyes are hard to photoshop and I don’t want her doing anything she wouldn’t normally because she is drunk. My policy is, if you have to be drunk to do a shoot, you shouldn’t be doing one. Of course, always check the laws in your area to make sure it isn’t illegal for you to offer a complimentary beverage.
When you package up her products, always include a hand written thank you note. She has enabled you to do what you love and pay the bills! She deserves a heartfelt thank you. What extra special touches do you do for your boudoir clients to show them you care? Tell us in the comments.