Turn photography customers into obsessed fans! Learn how to build customer loyalty with revealing insights from 13 pro photographers.
We asked 13 successful photographers to share their secrets to creating customer loyalty.
You know: that thing where your clients come back over and over, refer you to their friends, and never forget to tag you in their social media shares.
This is what they said…
Begin by knowing their “why.”
By Jen Kiaba, Jen Kiaba Photography
The most important thing for me is to understand a client’s “why.” Whether I’m:
- creating portraits to promote their business
- making images for their new book
- working on the visuals for an ad campaign
…understanding my client’s mission helps me create compelling imagery.
#ShootProofPRO Tip: 3 questions to ask every client
When you know why your client wants photos, you can more effectively deliver what they want. These three questions will help connect you to your client’s photography goals.
- What excites you the most about being photographed?
- Do you have any fears about being photographed?
- How would you describe a wonderful photography experience?
Create customer loyalty by being loyal to them
By Greg Samborski, Greg Samborski Photography
For me, the client experience begins with the first contact, be it via my website, Facebook, Instagram, or a phone call. Ideally the experience never ends; it just goes on hold between shoots.
Emailing is very important part of the process for me.
It starts with replying as quickly as possible. I once had a client tell me, “I chose you because you were the first to reply;” my fragile artist ego didn’t know if I should take that as a complement or not!
In my email, I like to ensure that I’ve not only answered every question in detail, but I’ve also answered any questions I anticipate. This helps me avoid losing two working days on the back-and-forth. I take every opportunity to add value to what I’m saying by including these elements:
- Share links to relevant, relatable work.
- Format my reply in a way that is organized and easy to digest.
- Let my personality come through so we can start building a closer relationship.
On the shoot day itself, I arrive an hour early so I have time to scout and relax.
My camera doesn’t come out until after I’ve met and chatted with my clients. From there, I explain how I work. I want them to know that my moments of silence mean they’re doing everything right and I’m just deep in the creative zone.
The final part of my client experience is the delivery.
I send most of my images digitally. The gallery email includes a detailed guide on how to select their images:
- Cuddle up with your partner and a glass of wine
- Put on your favourite playlist
- Follow this link to your ShootProof gallery!
After the client has received their final images, I like to follow up a week or so later to ensure they are 110% satisfied. I also invite them to leave a Google Business review.
I’m incredibly lucky to have worked with so many clients who take the time to leave some feedback. I’m sitting at 110 five-star reviews, and I’m proud of that because I worked very hard for that rating!
Put your clients at ease, and they’ll return again and again
By Michaela Ristaino, Michaela Ristaino Photography
Happy, relaxed clients make beautiful images.
How do I do this for my clients? I care for every last detail, so that when the day of the shoot arrives, we are ready to have fun and make magic. This could mean:
- meeting ahead of time for a brainstorming session (in the case of headshot and branding photos)
- working with a Mom ahead of time to consult on wardrobe choices for their shoot
Each client receives a pre-shoot packet of “housekeeping items” and FAQs. This is especially important during the madness of Holiday photoshoots, as it helps the season run smoothly and provides each client with the best possible experience.
BONUS: Tell your clients what matters most to you!
I love the message on this page of my website. It’s especially geared toward women who often find themselves immersed in taking care of others. I want every woman out there to know that she deserves to exist, just as she is, today.
There’s no such thing as “overcommunication”
By Kelli Price, Kelli Price Photography
Client experience means communication.
Once the contract is signed, I mail them a card with the date and time of our session. Immediately after the session, I email them a “what to expect” email thanking them for an awesome session and letting them know when they can expect to receive their gallery, plus any additional steps.
I also set up automated emails:
- Remind them when their gallery is expiring
- Simple instructions on how to order prints
- Notice that their images are ready to be downloaded.
All emails include their link, passcode, and the date their gallery will expire.
Clients are excited to see the images, and I want to keep up the momentum!
This means that the most important aspect of my client experience is getting the gallery—family, corporate AND weddings—to them within 2 weeks or less!
ShootProofPRO Tip: Happy clients = brand loyalty
Think about your favorite “toy.” A camera, a car, a brand of lipstick or an extra-awesome pocket knife… When you love something, you talk about it, right? You tell your friends, your family, the stranger in front of you at the grocery store…
That word of mouth marketing is priceless, because it can’t be bought. The only way to get people talking (and keep them talking) is to make them super-duper happy. (Or royally piss them off, but let’s not go there.)
Treat every client like a person
By Lindsay Rozelle, Luckybird Photography
I feel that building customer loyalty means treating my couples as human beings—not just numbers.
- Follow them on social media and actually care about their lives
- Reach out to them during tough times, like when COVID first hit the US and they were worried about their wedding
- Send small gifts or emails along the way to nurture our relationship
Then, when the wedding is done, I stay in touch with them and actually appreciate what we went through together for their wedding day.
Create consistency and set expectations
By Joanna Moss, Joanna Moss Creative
Quick and clear communication shows my clients that they are important to me and that I’m ready to help them with any of their immediate needs. This is why I include a discover call with all of my new customers. This call gives me a good understanding of their project and how I can help them best.
I also give them my communication expectations: when they can reach me and how. This way they don’t send me a text message at 9:00 PM on a Saturday night expecting me to respond in 10 minutes.
It’s more than photos; it’s an entire journey
By Candice Schneider, Candice Adelle Photography
Client experience is more than just providing a service and offering beautiful photos to a client. The full experience begins before your client even speaks to you.
A photography experience begins when clients:
- find you online
- hear about you from others
- view your work on social media
This customer journey continues when they:
- contact you for the first time
- book your services
- receive their final gallery
In my business, I like my clients to get to know me through my online interactions, emails, phone calls, and ultimately when we meet face to face.
I want to get to know them as well! The best way I can serve them is to know them.
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- How did they meet?
- Do they have pets?
- Is their family important to them?
I want my clients to walk away from their experience with me knowing that they weren’t just another transaction. They were loved and appreciated throughout the entire process and beyond.
In order to do that, I:
- Send them a survey early on in the process. This helps me get to get to know them; but they also get to know me, because I include my own answers to the survey, too!
- Share small gifts with my clients to show appreciation for them. I tailor these gifts to the values that I hold within my business and the things that I feel are important in a marriage. For example, cuddly gifts for spending quality time together, like monogrammed blankets and books that help to foster great marriages.
- Always underpromise and overdeliver!
By Fanette Rickert, Frenchly Photography
Creating an amazing client experience allowed me to build a successful food photography business!
When I started my business, I often found myself against a lot of competition, including some much more experienced shooters. I knew I had to do something different in order to stand out.
I did a some research and a lot of thinking, and I discovered the fabulous world of wedding photographers, who are absolute masters of the art of providing an exceptional client experience! Inspired by their brochures and catalogs, and armed with my previous experience as a graphic designer, I started putting together beautiful magazine-style proposals and welcome packets.
I use templates as much as possible in my business.
As a photographer whose business is based on the power of visuals and images, having beautifully-designed templates to walk your clients through your process is the best part of an elevated client experience. They allow me to:
- communicate crucial information quickly, over and over again
- offer a high level of customization and provide a personalized touch for every single client
If I’m working with a bakery, I’m going to want to feature my food photography. But can updated a package in minutes if I decide to pitch a cosmetics client, for example.
My welcome guide allows me to book more clients while spending less time in my emails (then had all the information they needed in the brochures,) and I’ve started to raise my prices. What’s more, this elevated experience I’ve created for my clients allows me to present myself as a true professional.
It is also what turns my clients into loyal, repeat customers.
After the job is completed, the client’s feelings about their experience will be the most important thing they remember. Their impression of you as a professional and of your photography will always be colored by the way you made them feel.
Use questionnaires to enable real relationships
By Jacques Gaines, Jacques Gaines
As a photographer, my client experience is about effectively and artistically communicating through images.
Before shooting, I always ask my client to show some of the work they admire.
I also ask them to answer a simple pre-shoot questionnaire. This pre-shoot philosophy, coupled with my demand for customer feedback before, during, and after a shoot, gives the client peace of mind. These simple questions empower me to deliver a great customer experience.
ShootProofPRO Tip: Survive tough times
A loyal customer base can help your business survive even the toughest times. Clients who adore you are more likely to purchase gift cards, book you “just because,” and purchase printed products directly from you rather than taking their files to the nearest drugstore.
Underpromise and overdeliver if you want loyal customers
By Miranda Suess, Suess Moments
I put myself in my client’s shoes.
When I first hired my own professional photographer, I wanted to know what to bring to a session, what to wear, how to pose, and what the experience would be like. So I created guides and blog posts to help prepare for their first session with me.
During the session, I make sure my clients feel comfortable enough to be themselves during the shoot—as if I weren’t there and they can be full-on goofy and romantic. I’ll ask personalized questions and bring up topics from the questionnaire they completed, which helps them loosen up.
I always underpromise and overdeliver. If I tell a client they’ll get sneak peeks within 72 hours, I try to surprise them within 24 hours or less. They’re always blown away!
A simple downloading and print ordering process is very important to me, so I choose to use ShootProof. I include a video tutorial explaining the different paper types and demonstrating how to place an order or download an image.
Lastly, I tell clients that they’ll get their full gallery of 50 edited images within six weeks—but most clients receive nearly double that number of photographs within only three to four weeks!
HEY! >>> Come follow me on Instagram!
ShootProofPRO Tip: How loyal ARE they, anyway?
Use a simple spreadsheet or you studio management platform to measure customer loyalty. How often have you photographed this client? What quantity of your referrals come from them? A simple customer loyalty program can help you reward repeat clients and incentivize each existing customer to send referrals your way!
Custom is queen!
By Candy Hoehn, SugaShoc Photography
I am a very custom boutique photographer. Each client who comes to me has different needs, and my goal is to fulfill all of them.
Before their session, I have several calls with them to talk about what to expect during the session, what to bring, and especially what to wear. I feel that the outfits can make or break the session.
When a client comes in for their session, it is a full-day affair. They start with hair and makeup, and they have access to my full client wardrobe to supplement the item’s they have brought.
My client experience—getting pampered for the day—is one of the many reasons clients come to me!
ShootProofPRO Tip: Use surveys to improve and grow
Track customer satisfaction by sending out anonymous quarterly surveys to your previous three months of clients. Accept feedback without judgement, and seek opportunities to increase customer happiness!
Every photoshoot is an opportunity to empower
By Liz Hansen, Chicago Boudoir Photography
A photoshoot at my boudoir studio is more than just a photoshoot. It’s an opportunity for a woman to celebrate herself and feel confident and empowered!
Signing up for any kind of photoshoot can be stressful for people, but because I shoot boudoir, some people are absolutely terrified!
I do everything I can to make the boudoir photoshoot process easy and fun. It starts with a phone call, where I go over every aspect of the process, including:
- what to bring
- what to expect
- pricing for products and services
- how the ordering process works
When the client books a date for the shoot, I send over a detailed prep guide with everything in writing. There are photos and links for outfit recommendations.
On the day of the shoot, we treat each client like a queen for the day.
While she is getting her hair and makeup professionally done, we offer her snacks and drinks. We also guide her through a couple of thought exercises to help her connect with herself and what she wants to feel during the shoot.
While she is in front of the camera, I show her exactly what to do and how to pose.
I keep the conversation light and fun. At some point during their shoot, both the client and I will start laughing, the client relaxes into the experience, and we start really having fun together!
Right after the shoot, before the client has even left the studio, I show her a slideshow of her images. I don’t want her to go home wondering, “Did we get anything good?” We look at the images together and collaboratively design her album, wall art collections, and print products.
I’m there to advise, answer questions and make sure she gets exactly what she wants from her shoot.
A few days later, I send digital proofs of the order for her to approve, then her final products arrive at her home complete with boutique packaging.
From start to finish, we create a hassle-free and fun experience for our clients, while also producing products and images that they will enjoy for years to come!
When clients are the #1 priority, photographers thrive!
Are you ready to build your own client-centric business? Create your own customer experience workflow HERE, and you’ll have loyal customers for life!
Written by ANNE SIMONE | Photographs by NICK SPARKS PHOTOGRAPHY—DENVER WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY