Building Trust With Your Clients

Posted on August 3, 2012 by


I’ve written a lot about this topic, but I’m still seeing so many situations where photographers just keep missing the point. They know how to focus their camera, but keep missing on how to focus on their client’s needs.

The economy is turning around…a little. I know there are those of you who still don’t see a whole lot of light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not saying it’s easy and in all honesty, you already know I never believe very much from the media, good or bad! What I am hearing are more stories from photographers that things “seem to be picking up a little.”

So, regardless of what’s coming, this is a slower time for most photographers and the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your skill set. This is where it all starts. If you can’t adapt to each opportunity that comes along then you’re stuck being a one trick pony. You’ve got to understand how to capture the very best images, which means composition, exposure, knowing your gear and trust. Hmmmm, seems kind of strange putting “trust” on the list.

Trust, may be the most critical aspect of working with any client. They have to know you, trust you understand their needs and trust you’re about to capture an image that will be their most favorite one yet.

Talk to any photographer you consider a leader in our industry and you’ll hear story after story of how they build their relationships with each client. Kirk Voclain spends time getting to know each senior he photographs. He starts talking to them about their interests, their friends and their goals. As they talk about each subject he simply listens and watches. When he gets that natural expression that simply screams who they are, that’s when he clicks the shutter.

Joe Buissink talks about the importance of the engagement session in both the book we co-authored together and his workshops. It’s not about the coverage of the client – it’s about utilizing the time to get to know them. The purpose of the engagement session isn’t just about images of the client, but about everybody getting to know each other. On the day of the wedding, when stress is at its highest, Joe walks in as a familiar face, a friend of the bride and groom, somebody they trust.

I ran a video not too long ago that was done by Justin and Mary Marantz. As you watch the video, pretend you’re a wedding client. Mary is talking about her relationship with her husband, Justin, not just how they photograph a wedding. She’s letting a potential client know that she and Justin can be trusted to understand the importance of their relationship and their romance.

a photographer promo // meet justin + mary from stillmotion on Vimeo.

The ability to listen to your clients and in turn build trust, as you get to know each other, has to be a priority, just as much as understanding exposure and composition. Can you photograph people without trust, absolutely, but why would you want to hold yourself back?

Posted in: Advice