The best way to document a story?
Know what the story is in the first place! If I asked you to illustrate a children's book without reading it, chances are more than likely that you would be shooting in the dark (pun intended, my camera wielding colleagues). This is why I send all of my clients a questionnaire. It allows me to get to know them and what is most important to them long before they step in front of my camera. In this article I will be sharing my 5 favorite questions to ask families, maternity, and couples clients AND why they produce amazing results for me.
I promise these are all REAL pieces from my personal, hand-written questionnaire that I send to all of my clients!
Question no. 1
Tell me a little bit about your love story! How did you meet?
What I love about this question is that it is open ended. It gives my client(s) the chance to set the tone of their narrative. Did they meet through friends and family? Some embarrassing encounter? High school sweethearts? Tone is one of the most important and telling parts of any story and it is your job to turn that into images, not to set the tone. Your client's love story and family tone already exists and questions like this help uncover it.
Question no. 2
Tell me about your greatest hope for your baby/child(ren).
This question can easily be adapted for family, newborn, or maternity session questionnaires. I love that it allows us, the photographer, insight into their unique relationship with each child or their soon to be little love. As parents, we all have a special bond with each of our children and can picture their whole lives before us. This allows us to interpret bonds at an individual level within a family.
Question no. 3
Do any session attendees have unique needs I should consider?
If this one feels a little bit obvious, good. It should be. Considering our clients needs on an individual level and treating every family with a tailored experience goes so much further than wardrobe and location. Some may have health concerns that add in considerations for terrain or weather. Others may have children with unique needs and getting to know that those needs are will put families at ease, allowing your session to go smoothly.
Question no 4.
If you HAVE had a professional photography session before, tell me about your experience! From booking to final gallery, what did you love? What would you change?
Okay, okay, this one may be a cop out. But hey- I am aiming to execute the best photography session someone has ever experienced and this question gives me direct insight into what to avoid (or make sure I go above and beyond with). Many clients are happy to be honest and answer this question. This one will also give me an insight into someone's personality & how they expect their photography session to go.
Question no. 5
What is something you never want to forget about this chapter of life? Something you want to remember about each member of your family from these days?
The most beautiful and bittersweet part of our job is that we get to document just a chapter. Just a short, sweet, ever-fleeting moment in someone's life. It may be the last time their baby says "dine-fwaur" instead of dinosaur. It may be the last image of a whole family together with aging grandparents. It may be that last family session with everyone under the same roof before that big kids heads off to college (man, I am choking myself up over here). Be sure that you are using your camera and your gift to read a human story to see the things that matter most to the people you are serving.
If you made it this far;
Thank you. I hope this post inspires you to connect with your clients on a deeper level and use every snap of the shutter to improve your skill. If you'd like to see a full questionnaire, just head to my contact form and jump to the bottom letting me know you'd like my template!