The First Meeting - client wants examples of problem solving?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by june_daley, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I'm not a newbie photographer, just new at weddings - have photographed 3 as second shooter and 5 of my own - all booked through family/friends. So now I am advertising to the general public and want to really be great at first meetings/consultations.
    Recently I had prospective clients asking for examples of where I needed to problem solve/think quickly at a wedding - and I was stumped! I mean, I have had to think quickly to avoid rain, to use the last bit of available light when things went overtime, bad (unexpected) lighting at receptions, un-cooperative or grumpy subjects etc, but to be honest - I AM new at this and may not handle these situations as well as a seasoned pro, but I can't exactly say that - and don't want to give unrealistic expectations. Can anyone offer advice on the best response to a question like that for a photog with less experience, and what examples you would use? I am always so nervous before and during first meetings and not great at selling myself, something I realise I need to learn to do but that I feel will only come in time with the more experience I gain. I know I won't be 'great' right away but don't want to come across as clueless.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Can anyone offer advice on the best response to a question like that for a photog with less experience, and what examples you would use?​
    The best response for YOU to give is NOT to use ANY examples that I would give of problems which I have solved.
    I suggest you answer the question something like this:
    “ I'm not a newbie photographer, but just recently I have been focussing on Weddings.
    I have photographed 3 Weddings as a second shooter to hone my skills and I have shot 5 Weddings of my own.
    I am now advertising to the general public as I believe my skills are at that level of professionalism and I also want to really be direct and open at our consultations.
    To directly answer your question, with specific examples -
    • I have had to think quickly to avoid rain;
    • to use the last bit of available light when things went overtime
    • also I have had to manage bad (unexpected) lighting at receptions;
    • I have also had to manage a few un-cooperative Subjects.
    I believe that I succeeded in all these challenges.
    Would you like to contact some of my previous Clients - if so I shall telephone them to ask if they are willing to have a chat with you?”
    Do those words sound familiar?
  3. As William said - if we answer the question - it's our thinking on our feet - Not you thinking on your feet.
    I think you gave some really good examples - instead of listing them all in an answer - I'd pick one and focus on it.
    For example - I had to think quickly to avoid rain... How did you avoid the rain? Rush the shots? Pull out an umbrella and have an assistant hold it? Reschedule the shots? There's a ton to talk about with this one, single example.
    Is that an uncommon question? Slightly, but no more so than "What happens when you get home and your memory cards are all blank?" or "How do you get people that don't like having their photo taken to pose?"
    You're not going to know every question a client may ask, but then again part of being a wedding photographer is being able to react to any situation, thinking as you're going along.
    Or to quote Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Lost Ark - "I'm making this up as I go along."
  4. "I was stumped"
    The proper response would have been ...
    "Like what?"
    : -)
  5. WW - right on the money
    MW - nice one :) I'll have to use that sometime :D
  6. "I'm sorry, I'm not interested in this job".

    Problem solved.
  7. Steve, it's perfectly reasonable for a client to ask that question. They're spending money and they want to be sure their (quite new to weddings) photographer is equipped to handle any potential problems. And as William W has alluded, June has already answered the question in her opening statement.
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Hmm . . . hello cuz . . .
    I interpreted that Steve Smith's answer was tongue-in-cheek.
    Maybe not?
    If not, then my response is, that I too believe it is a reasonable question to be asked.
  9. I was serious. Why start laundry listing a bunch of potential problems that the client may never have even thought of?
    Often, what a client thinks is a problem (or potential problem), is one the photographer already addresses with pre-planning and working with the client to accommodate a schedule, or a special circumstance such as sets of divorced parents, etc.
    Since they asked the question, they probably had something in mind. Let them define a concrete potential issue rather than blabbing out an all encompassing blanket response that could freak them out rather than assure them : -)
  10. I interpreted that Steve Smith's answer was tongue-in-cheek.

    Sort of... although it could be asked, if they are being difficult now, how much more difficult will they become if you take the job on?​
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks Steve. Maybe the clients were being testy . . .
    I interpreted Marc's response as 'serious': a response from one with a lot of experience in dealing with people both generally and specifically.
    A lot has to do with how the question was asked - interpreting the body language.
    I agree with throwing it back to them to define what their concerns are, might be the better option, but also maybe not. A precise and controlled delivery of a few examples (not blabbing out) could be equally as compelling.
    We also don't know the general personality type of the OP . . . the written word is very different to the spoken word . . .
  12. Oh come on - the clients are not being difficult. They've never hired a wedding photographer before and it's one of the questions the Knot and countless other blogs/magazines put out there as "questions to ask a wedding photographer". If I'd declined any wedding where the couples asked questions, I'd be out of business.
  13. Kat, that wasn't the point. Of course we all answer questions from clients.
    These clients are asking a generic, all encompassing question ... "show examples of problem solving, thinking quickly at a wedding" ... when in reality that describes 90% of shooting a wedding. You start problem solving before you even get there ... and I'm not sure I can recall very many "thinking slowly" situations at a wedding : -)
    I'd be more interested in what is on their minds, what is the motivation behind the question ... then you can specifically assure them.
  14. Sometime the clients just feel like asking question so that they think they make an inform decision to hire you or not.
    One of the questions that clearly comes from Knot's 20 question list is what kind and model of cameras and lenses do you use. I just throw out the model names with all the suffix like "Canon" "EF" "70-200" "F2.8" "IS" "II" "USM" and wait for the clients dipping their heads in approval.
    On the other hand, what could the clients do? It'll like be the first and only time they hire a photographer in their life and most of them don't know much about photography. It's hard for them to ask the "right" questions.
  15. Your answer should be that you are an experienced photographer, and do not create or encounter any problem, so there is no need for solving any.
    If other people cause problems, you call the authority.
    It it rains, you take an umbrella with you.
  16. I'd be more interested in what is on their minds, what is the motivation behind the question ... then you can specifically assure them.​
    Exactly. Maybe they just read a stupid blog. I find in my line of work most people are reasonable and you can disabuse them of all kinds of silly notions very quickly. On the other hand there are other people who are a pain in the butt and come in with a bunch of garbage printed off the internet, a pen, and a pad to write everything down. I get rid of those people ASAP.
    But yeah I would try and find out why the question is being asked in the first place.
  17. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I find in my line of work​

    Is that wedding photography? Or event photography? That's what it's about here, behavior is quite different in situations people have a strong personal stake in.
  18. Is that wedding photography? Or event photography? That's what it's about here, behavior is quite different in situations people have a strong personal stake in.​
    I've never shot a wedding so feel free to ignore me words.
  19. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    A re-think;Or on purpose?
  20. I had a great couple and the bride was so nervous she was vomiting randomly through the whole first half of the wedding
    including the formals. I bet that story would have got them engaged a bit ;-)))
  21. Dave - I can't help but to laugh. geez!

    My guess is this question will often get asked. One client asked what I would do in july when the temp hits 100 degrees and higher. Rain of course comes up, the cake melting, bad portraits from sweating, too cold in the winter. I could go on and on; oh, people in wheelchairs, people using oxygen, broken legs, crutches.

    Just a short list. What happens if you get sick? That question often gets asked, about every 5 weddings or so.

    I'm sure you are smart. Why do I think you are smart? Because it's a wicked hard business. Pressing down the shutter button is the start of a lot of stress with just the 3 weddings under your belt.

    I really like the idea of making a list. I hope the list I provided will help make your list longer.

    By the way, if you get stumped with a question until you gain more experienced, it's not out of the question to ask the couple what they or how they want to handle the problem.

    One time it rained here. Hard to believe it rained in California in July. What the heck was that all about? Well it was a backyard wedding.
    The wedding went from the backyard to a bowling alley. OMG, the great shots I got. A bride bowling doesn't get any better. That was one of my favorite weddings. Flowers in one hand and a bowling ball in the other. A bottle of wine in one hand, the bowling ball in the other! You get the idea.

    Your answers can often be funny to relax the couple as well as you.
  22. All of wedding photography is problem solving. Seriously. Show them photos from the last wedding you shot and describe two or three technical challenges in deep, gritty detail that is as boring as possible. Be really technical. This conversation will be over in about 45 seconds.
    Clients conjure (or are told by magazines and Knot articles to expect and inquire about) all kinds of potential fanciful problems. In most cases, all the client really wants is some indication of competence, not always realizing that appealing prior work is evidence of competence.
    I cover a number of potential problems not related to the technical aspects of photography in my contract. So if a client asks this sort of question, we can go in either direction. Just don't overthink the question or respond defensively. Confidence (without arrogance) is one trait the client is looking for in asking this question.
  23. Hi,
    I've been a full-time pro wedding photographer for about 10 years now, and even if you had the answers to these couple of potential problems, there are at least 50 more that could crop up, and only experience can be comforting to the potential client. Even if I send you a PDF explaining all the things that could go wrong and what to do about them, in the fast-paced environment of a wedding, are you going to remember them all? Are you going to be looking at sheets of paper as you shoot?

    You had better make your potential clients aware of your experience level, and adjust your prices accordingly. True, you might be as good of a photographer as any wedding photographer, but, on the other hand, you can't possibly be as good of a wedding photographer as an experienced wedding photographer. For obvious reasons, experience has a value beyond just being able to take a nice picture.

    My assistant shot with me for two years, about 70 weddings, before he hung out his shingle, and I advise all wannabes to do the same.
  24. Thank you VERY much for all the great responses.
    The very next client I had, booked a meeting with me, I asked all about their day and showed them what I could do for them, and they booked there and then. That was a realisation for me that every couple is different.
    Thanks again for all the words of advice, it has been very helpful.
    - June
  25. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

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