Building Trust With Clients

Just wanted to start off by saying that all of your Mom*tog buttons look so pretty on your blogs!  It makes me smile every time I see one :)

We haven’t had a question from a Mom*tog lately.  I got this one this past weekend and thought it was a great one.  This is from Abbie:

I don’t know if this question has been asked before but I was flipping through some of your images and saw one of a couple sitting on a burned tree.

My question is, how do you get people to do things, such as that, where they are going to get their clothes dirty? Does that make sense? I’m not asking only in reference to that one image but to other images in general that I see on your site and other photographers sites as well.


I get asked this question a lot when doing my mentoring sessions.  This is all about building trust with your clients.  If your clients trust you they will do whatever you ask them to do.  For the most part this isn’t a problem for me anymore.  I’ve built my business up enough where people come to me for a specific look.  But, a few months ago I booked a last minute shoot for a past client.  Her Grandma was in town so they wanted to do a 4 generation family shoot.  I personally don’t like big family shoots with extended family, but I liked this client and couldn’t say no.  I had this rad field with mustard flowers that I wanted to use.  I warned my client that it was a little bit of a walk and asked her if Grandma was okay with that.  She said yes.  Well, to make a long story short the shoot was a bit disastrous.  Grandma didn’t want to do the walk.  Mom told me that the flowers weren’t flowers, they were weeds (hey, it’s the closest thing to wild flowers that we have in Orange County!) and they wouldn’t do anything, but stare directly into the camera.

This shoot was a great reminder that I needed to remember to prepare my clients for their shoots.  I let them know that they will by lying and sitting in grass and dirt so they should wear something that they are okay with getting dirty.  I also ask them to prepare their family as well.  99% of the time it’s the woman who books me.  I ask her to tell her husband/fiancee/ significant other that my sessions are lifestyle sessions, not portrait sessions.  They don’t have to say cheese for every shot because a lot of what I do is getting the family to interact with each other.  I also suggest that they show their husband / significant other my blog so they can get an idea of what their session will be like.

Lastly, because my business is based on referrals a new client will have likely seen their friends pictures and will already know what they are getting themselves into.  It’s all about building trust with your clients.  If they trust you and have seen their friends awesome pictures then you will be able to get them to do almost anything :)




  1. Christine says

    Great post. I love that picture of the couple on the burned tree. Love it.

  2. Great post…. great info! Thanks!

  3. Catharine says

    Nothing I love better than a client telling me they booked because of my “style” and they are up for anything I suggest. I still do the other types of portraits, but I think my style has emerged enough that folks are now booking me because of how I take pictures, not just because I take pictures.

  4. Linden says

    Do you have to be a mom to follow this blog?? ahhah I love all the information that you put on here :) This is awesome info!

  5. Andrea says

    Came across your blog from a friend and love your creativity. Moved from Yorba Linda to Washington and wish I would have known about you 2 years ago! Your pictures are fantastic and make me want to start my own photography business!! Keep up the great work!

  6. Amber says

    Well kids shouldn’t mind getting dirty! You are so right about the trust. We asked a couple to climb a big stump in the river and lean over to kiss each other. They did it even though it wasn’t the safest thing. But it was a beautiful shot!

  7. Abbie says

    It was so awesome to pull up google reader this morning, see that you had a new post and find the answer to my question (which I kind of had forgotten I had asked… ha ha). That’s fantastic Drew. Great advice. Now I’ll just work on building up that trust. :)

  8. melanie says

    I was wondering the same thing. Great post.

  9. Jen Imus says

    I think you can tell a lot about people by their willingness (or unwillingness!) to get down and dirty at a photo session! It seems like if you have kids that are willing to jump in a pile of leaves, the parents will, too! I like the advice of setting up expectations.. definitely key.

  10. Erin Cutts says

    Such a good topic…such a hard thing to master. You really have to portray confidence when speaking with clients!

  11. the money (which was so minor) I spent dry cleaning the girl’s pettiskirts after they jumped in the puddles was 100% worth it for the shots you got. They will outgrow the skirts one day, but we will always have those images and memories. You’re rad.

  12. Just LOVE the last photo in this entry!!! I also love the photo of the couple on the loading did they get up there?! Great are very inspiring!

  13. TidyMom says

    Great post!! can we take it a step further and go into HOW you get them to relax and be so “casual” in the pictures? your pictures often seem like you are “a fly on the wall” – they don’t even know you’re there -


  14. Awesome post…I need to work on the trust! Do you choose the location for your client or do they tell you what style they want? I live at the beach and everyone (EVERYONE!) wants to have pictures at the beach! I am sick of it – what about the laundry mat?

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