Make Connections, Make Clients | Create An Experience Not Just A Session

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How do we know if we’ve made connections?

Does the smell of pumpkin remind you of fall?

When you see bathing suits do you recall a time you spent on the beach?

What about looking back on your first clients images, are you reminded how nervous you were but with a touch of excitement because you thought,  “I can’t believe they are paying me to take photos.”

If you can say yes to some of these then you’ve made connections in an experience you‘ve had.

Life is full of millions of experiences.  We remember certain experiences over others because of the connections we make during.  These connections could be smells, something we wore or saw, or even how that experience made us feel.

When I was just starting out as a newbie newborn photographer , I thought I would just take some cute photos of babies and my clients would pay me because my images were so cute and lovable, it wasn’t necessarily the experience I was providing them.

The experience I realized I was providing however, looked like this:

Clients emailed me.

I booked the session over email.

I collected the money.

I shot the session.

I mailed the disk of images,

Then, I walked away onto to next client.

There was no interactions, no connections and sometimes I never spoke to my clients or heard their voice until the day of the session.  After a few years of this being the ONLY experience my clients were getting, I felt the burn out, I felt less connected to my clients than ever and I even felt like clients were not coming back to see me because of the lack of connection.

It was time to do something different.

Doing some soul searching, researching methods and finally getting serious about establishing myself as a newborn photographer in my community it hit me…. my client needed an experience, they needed to make connections before during and after their session. It was my job to provide connection opportunities,  create new connections or just reveal what was already there.

Whether you are a small business photographer only selling digitals or are a larger boutique photography business selling products, or whether you have a studio or travel, it really doesn’t matter. You can make connections with your clients big or small. What matters is, for your clients to remember you, love their images even more than they ever though possible and keep coming back year after year, you MUST create a connection with them. With an online world circling around us and everything we want is at the touch of our fingertips, personal connection can get lost or forgotten.

I’m saying let’s bring connection with our clients back and create and experience not just a session to take photos.

SO how do we create connections?

There are thousands of ways to do anything but to make this easy I’ve divided the connection experience for your clients into into three categories, before , during and after the session. I suggest choose one category or JUST ONE tip to implement that feels right for you.

Start small and build. See what your clients respond to, see what you respond to and makes your feel joy in your business and with those who you capture the memories for.

 Build connections BEFORE the session:

  • When clients inquire through email, simply respond back with a phone call instead. It’s a crazy concept, I know! We can all be bombarded with emails.  However, clients will appreciate the time you gave to ring them back and connect to them over the phone. Get to know them so they can get to know you in return.
  • Asks lots of questions prior to the session, in a questioner or pre-session consultation. Some great questions are,“What feelings do you hope to capture during your session with me? What do you envision your session being like? Tell me about your kids?” Dig deeper than just how to coordinate colors of outfits!
  • If you can get your clients feeling emotions and thinking about their session prior, then during the session they get to have those feelings again. BOOM instant connection.  Asking questions before also shows you care, because you do, you want this experience to be as wonderful for them as well as you.
  • Confirm their session prior to the session date. We all have busy lives, work, kids, spouses, etc…  I know I have forgotten appointments and I love when business call and confirm prior with me. It makes me feel significant to them and unforgettable. Create a connection for your clients by confirming their session so they feel unforgettable!
  • Change your verbiage. Instead of saying “during your session”, add the words “experience” or “connection” to your wording. Something like, “During your session experience my intent is for you to relax, have fun and make some incredible connections with your baby that we just happen to get to capture for you for a lifetime!” 

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Build connections DURING the session:

  • Dress to impress. This doesn’t mean wear a suit and tie or dress but certainly don’t look like you just rolled out of bed or just got done doing lawn work either.  Dress so your clients feel they are working with a professional.
  • Talk, talk and talk some more to your clients during your session time. Remember those pre-session questions you asked your clients? Bring up their responses, the feelings they hope to capture and then capture THEM.  Most people remember experiences because of the emotional connection they have to that experience. Give your clients a positive one.
  • Tell clients what you see instead just saying, “oh that looks good” or “perfect” when snapping away.  I’m guilty of this myself and so many times I find myself saying words like “perfect, just gorgeous, or that’s it,” after I click the shutter button. This tells your clients nothing and still leaves them wondering if they are doing the right thing or looking good in their images.  Add a describing phrase after you catch a moment, something like, “Wow mom, I can see such a connection with you and your daughter, the way you look at her melts my heart!”  They will forget being uncomfortable and just be in the moment.
  • For newborn photographers, a perfect way to create connections is in parent shots.  During parent shots, I’ll pose baby in moms arm and ask her to relax and just take in the smell of her new baby or remember the first time she saw them or got to hold them in her arms.  It’s a split second moment and you have to be quick to capture it. However, the difference in facial expressions that happens  when you create this connection is magical.  Now, when mom looks back at her images she won’t see how tired she looked, or that she gained more weight than she wanted, she’ll remember how her baby smelled or fit so perfectly in her arms, she’ll remember the connection you just helped her make!

Look at these two images. Which image do you see was captured when I told mom to remember when she saw her little boy for the first time?

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Build connections AFTER the session:

  • Follow up with a thank you note. I’m not talking email but an actual handwritten note.  Tell your clients how much you loved their session and name something specific that happened during your times together. For example, “Dear Smith family your session was so much fun yesterday. My favorite part was when little Johnny ran up to you and gave you the biggest hug.” This expression will connect your clients one last time to their session.
  • A pretty package sends a message.  If you send digitals files on a CD/USB or maybe you print albums and large prints for your clients, make sure you are sending the right message and dressing those items up when you mail them or deliver them.  Wrap your items in a small box with a simple ribbon or you can get all fancy schmancy  with your product packaging with papers, ribbons, embellishments, stickers and more. However you do it, just do it. This is the last impression you have with your clients, make them feel as special as they are by wrapping everything up for a lasting impression.
  • Stay connected year after year. If you are a newborn photographer this can be as easy and simple as marking  the baby’s 1st birthday on your calendar after the session. This is one of the next big milestones and worth celebrating and acknowledging.  About a month before their 1st birthday, send a Happy Birthday card for a smile and while you’re at it you can remind your clients you throw one pretty amazing 1st birthday photo session as well. Sending birthday, anniversary or holiday cards to clients is a small sweet gesture to keep connections growing. Plus, who doesn’t like to get birthday mail!

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However you decide to implement making that connection with your clients remember to be authentic and create an experience not just a session.

If you have a great connection idea you’ve been doing we’d love to hear it. Share with us during our The Getting Clients Experiment on our Facebook page or leave a comment below.

Happy Connecting,

Malia


 

As a former smalia battilanachool teacher, and now a full time newborn portrait photographer, Malia has combined her love of children and teaching to help others spark their passion in their own newborn photography journey. She believes emotional connection makes for influential newborn portraiture and that anyone seeking that, can find it.  Malia lives in sunny Phoenix, Arizona with her most supportive husband and her 3 fun-loving children. As the owner of Malia B Photography, she photographs the cutest babies in the Valley of the Sun.

There’s more where this came from. Want to learn more secrets and personal instruction when it comes to newborn photography?  Sign up for our VIP list to see when the next course opens and visit the newborn course page for more information I’m teaching: Click here: Newborn Beginnings &  Click here: Newborn Flare Courses

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Malia Battilana

AS A FORMER SCHOOL TEACHER, AND NOW A FULL TIME NEWBORN PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER, MALIA HAS COMBINED HER LOVE OF CHILDREN AND TEACHING TO HELP OTHERS SPARK THEIR PASSION IN THEIR OWN NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNEY.

It’s an honor to be photographing the world’s newest little human beings. It takes that special touch, patience and a pure love. She believes emotional connection makes for influential newborn portraiture and that anyone seeking that, can find it.

Malia lives in sunny Phoenix, Arizona with her most supportive husband and her 3 fun-loving children. As the owner of Malia B Photography, she photographs the cutest babies in the Valley of the Sun.