You’ve received an enquiry from a potential new client and you’re looking forward to booking them in. Here are five questions to ask on your discovery call to make sure you understand what the client needs and that you can quote for the job accurately.
It can feel intimidating getting on the phone to speak with new enquiries, especially if you’re shy or uncomfortable talking on the phone. However, I believe it’s a crucial step to not only understanding the clients’ needs more fully from the outset, but a great way of building a more personal relationship right from the get-go. The client who has spoken to you on the phone is more likely to book in with you, than the client who has only spoken with you over email.
What Is the Purpose of the Photoshoot?
Establishing why they want new imagery is important to help you get an idea of where this client is at in their business journey. Perhaps they are shifting in a new visual direction and your work speaks to their new vision for a specific campaign they have in mind. Alternatively, they might have never commissioned a photographer before and they want to create professional images for the first time.
This question will not only give you an idea about the scope of the project and what will be required from you, but what you can expect from this working relationship. If the business has never commissioned professional photography before, you can prepare for a little more hand-holding than if a business has worked with multiple photographers prior.
Where Will the Images Be Used?
Following on from this, where do they plan to use the images? For instance, some clients like to book shoots purely for their social media channels, while others might be looking to create images only for their website. Establishing how the imagery will be used will help you to calculate your licensing fees.
As an adjacent point to this, remember to check their specific aspect ratio requirements. These will be different depending on the intended use of the images. I often find my clients like a mix of portrait and landscape, but others might need everything to crop into a 1:1 ratio, while others might have specific aspect ratio needs for bespoke website banners.
How Many Scenes or Products Need To Be Captured?
Understanding the scope of work is essential for quoting accurately for the job. Really ask them to drill down on the details here. If they have 10 products, do they need a single shot of each item, or would they like multiple shots of each item, styled differently? Establish if they are looking for group shots, specific pairings of best-selling products, multiple angles of each item, or even the product next to or in its packaging. The client might not have thought about these smaller details, until you start asking the nitty-gritty questions.
A brief that sounds simple at the outset, might turn out to be relatively complex once you’ve pulled all of the details out. It’s always better to get the client to really think about their needs beforehand so you can quote accurately, rather than have spontaneous requests thrown in during the shoot day.
Further, ask the client to let you know specific details about how they like their products to be photographed. Sometimes a company policy can be so ingrained and obvious to them, that they might forget to communicate it to you. For instance, the box is always placed to the right of the product, or the products are always photographed with the lids off.
Do They Have a Specific Aesthetic in Mind?
Understanding if the client has a clear vision for the photoshoot is essential for creating results they’ll be happy with. Some clients will have a person or a team in-house such as a marketing director or an art director who will guide the visual aesthetic for the shoot. However, some brands will want to rely on your creative vision.
If this is the case, using a moodboard planning tool like Pinterest can be helpful to understand what the client is thinking when they say certain descriptors like “bold” or “organic”. What you might consider a “bold” aesthetic, the client could think of completely differently. It’s only when you can all see references visually that you can understand if you’re aligned or not.
Ask the client to tell you what they like about the inspiration they’ve collected, from the lighting and composition to the styling and colors, so you can dive into the smaller details of their preferences. Don’t be afraid to point out any inconsistencies in their inspiration and really question what they like or don’t like. It’s important to make sure their inspiration feels cohesive so that you have a clear aesthetic to work towards.
Location, Props, and Styling
Where will the shoot take place? Do you have all of the props you need to achieve the aesthetic in the brief? Who will be taking care of styling on the day? These are all questions you need to establish answers to before quoting, so that you can understand what is expected of you.
It’s ok not to have your own fully-serviced photo studio or a small warehouse full of props — clients don’t expect this. But you do need to understand whether the client will be providing locations, stylists, assistants, and props, or whether you’ll have to source the help you need. This will largely depend on the size of the client you’re working with. Typically, smaller businesses won’t have those connections and it will be up to you to hire in the help you need.
Taking the time to understand the needs of your new client is really important to be able to quote accurately and ultimately, create results they will be happy with. This often leads to repeat business and long-lasting relationships. Further, happy clients are likely to recommend you to others, so you’ll receive referrals every time you deliver results they love.