I ask one very important question before we ever get started...
What is YOUR favorite side?
This does a lot for my grads specifically, and to understand why is to better understand who my typical grad clients are. These are typically 22-year-old women who have been the main character of their social feeds for the last four years, if not longer. They're finishing up a degree they worked really hard to get. They spent at least a few days deciding what they would wear to their shoot. And, they know their good side better than I ever will during our one-hour session.
Now, how else does this help me when I'm photographing them, and how can I build off that one trust-building question?
It's honestly really simple. This question shows immediately that I'm putting my clients preference first, and I value their opinion on how their overall session goes more than I value getting "the perfect shot" for my portfolio. By giving my client a part in the decision-making process of their shoot, they become even more invested in the experience because they had a say. It gives us an opportunity for some back and forth between the two of use and gets some conversation going about what the client loves about herself. It's my way of opening an interaction that will keep us both comfortable throughout the session, even when I try an angle that I have to preface with, "This angle is going to feel weird, but I promise this is going to be a cool shot!" (FYI, this particular shot is a lot of people's favorite!)
This communication and collaborations leaves my clients feeling a little more empowered after their session, and this leads to what we all as photographers need to hope for from our clients. They start talking about the time they spent with us.
In my 10+ years of experience, my clients telling their friends they love me has made me a more in-demand photographer than any portfolio image has. Don't get me wrong, creating beautiful work versus bad work makes a difference; that's not rocket science. But I can't tell you how many inquiries start with, "You photographed my best friend, and she said you are the photographer I HAVE to book."
The first few times that happened blew me away, and now it's more common than, "I found you on Instagram." My reviews say things along the lines of, "MK photographed me as my best self," and "MK made me feel so comfortable." And I promise you, it all starts with that one simple question.