I am a HUGE believer of laying everything out on the table before the day of the session. I have a FAQ page, I answer questions via e-mail and am fully prepared to answer questions at my pre-session consultations. It's all apart of the business. Clients are investing time and money with me and I want them to feel 100% confident with their choice to choose me as their photographer.
On occasion, however, I wonder if I'm a little too honest and a little too blatant with my answers. Then this happened at a high school senior pre-session consultation the other weekend that put my worries to rest.
But, this isn't what struck me. Sure, I hate to be second fiddle, but what Dad mentioned next made me think. As I was answering questions from the family, the father said...
Mom: "Well, we had another photographer."
Me: "Oh, really?"
Mom: "Yes. But, she cancelled on us to shoot a wedding."
Me: "Oh, that's too bad. Weddings can bring in a bit more $$ and exposure. Maybe that's the direction she's really interested in? In either case, I'm happy about the cancel."
Michelle, we are so impressed that you can answer all of our questions quickly and honestly. Our last photographer seemed to skirt a lot of questions and never gave us straight answers.Hmmm...skirt the answers to questions?? My reply...
It's possible that your photographer just didn't know the answers yet. Based on what I've heard, she may be just starting out and hasn't had the experience to give you an honest answer. All of that comes with time and experience.Of course, the take away here isn't to bash new photographers that don't have their answers yet. Heck, it took me almost three years to feel comfortable answering questions from clients. Once I left the comfort of shooting for friends and family, I would dodge every question that came my way. But, it hurt me. Why? It looks unprofessional.
So, my suggestion is this.
Create a short list of policies and procedures that you can work off of. Write down what you know to be true to date about how you want to run your business. Check out your FB groups and your G+ communities. Reach out to message boards and forums and see what works for other photographers. I can tell you first hand that not everything will work for you, but it will give you a really good idea of what to expect and you can make your judgement calls from there. I don't suggest leading your client to believe that you don't know the answers, but in this digital age, you can stall a little bit while you research their question. In the end, give them a good solid answer to their question, even if you think they won't like it. Be straight and be honest. Period. You will be appreciated for it!
Next, don't expect this to happen overnight! It took a few years for me to really get a good grasp on my policies and expectations of my business. I didn't always have a FAQ page. I didn't always do a pre-session consult. But, my market is high school senior photography and I now like to meet with the clients and answer questions before the session. It breaks the ice and helps them to feel more comfortable the day of the session. But, if you are not prepared to answer questions "on the fly" then don't meet in person yet. It's fine. I don't think many folks expect it anyway.
And, finally, DO NOT ever blame or bash clients for asking you a question.
You are the professional.
You are the business owner.
You SHOULD have the answer.
It is not the client's fault for asking.
For those interested, I have highlighted two great resources for photographers---> here. The MCP Actions and Presets FB Page is a must for photographers just starting out. They have photographers of all levels in the group and the information offered by all of those that contribute to the page in invaluable. That is definitely a great place to start.