The First 15 Minutes | Part 1 | Transcription

Welcome to the first 15 minutes of our initial meeting. Now, during this first 15 minutes, we are talking about anything but photography. In fact, we’re also talking about anything but yourself. There’s a lot of buts in these phrases, but that’s okay. What we’re trying to do is in the first 15 minutes, we’re starting to build that relationship. It’s best done discussing them, their interests, their hobbies, and so forth.

What we want to do to start this relationship is to basically greet them. Now, number one, you’re going to greet them with enthusiasm and be happy to see them. Like we said, smile and be genuine. Another thing that we do frequently is a lot of times photographers have a hard time right after that greeting in knowing what to say next. Personally, I kind of find that I’ll say whatever I want. I’ll say, “Hey Danny and Jess, it’s so great to meet you guys. Have a seat. Tell me a little bit about yourself.” For others, that phrase might be a little bit uncomfortable. I know Justin said, “You say that to your clients?” I’m like, “Yeah, but it doesn’t feel weird when I say it.” He’s like, “Well, when I say that, it kind of feels weird.”

One of the easiest ways of just jumping into conversation is to congratulate them. Congratulate them on getting engaged. One of the most simple things that you could say right after that is to start asking questions about their relationship. What I want you to do is stay present and interested throughout all of the questions. Once you greet them, once you sit down and you start, I want you to do certain things. One is body language and signs that we’re going to give them to know that they are our full attention, and we are 100% present and interested in what they have to say.

One of the easiest ways to do that. I do this all the time. I carry my phone in my back pocket. Right before I sit down, I shake their hands and before I sit down I do this. I’ll take my phone out, and I’ll do this visibly so that they see this, I’ll turn it off and flip this to silent, and face my phone down on the table. If I have my wallet and keys I also do that at the same time because I hate having things in my pockets, it’s just kind of annoying. I do that because it’s a very visible sign that right now they are 100% my interest and my focus.

Next, use good body language. This means that we want to lean forward. You don’t lean back on the couch, “Yeah, so what’s up Dane and Jessica? Tell me about what you guys like doing.” That’s just kind of weird. If you’re interested, you shouldn’t look like you’re falling asleep, or leaning back, or not present and in the moment. I lean forward with a hand on a knee and sit into them so I can be present and listening to what they’re saying.

Next is to acknowledge and respond. Again, the charisma method is going to help you quite a bit in understanding how often to acknowledge and respond. Doing this, “Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh,” is an immediate lack of basically focused charisma when you’re constantly acknowledging/responding, but not responding at all means that you’re not really present. We want to kind of keep it balanced. When they say things, let them speak. When they conclude a statement, that’s amazing. Say something to acknowledge what they just said.

When getting to know the clients, once again, going from that whole congratulations on the engagement, one of the easiest questions to go into from there is just things that relate to relationship. How did you both meet? Whenever we ask these questions, there’s always followup questions that I’m listening for. If they say something interesting on how they first met, like for example, we actually went to school together. Immediately I’m present, remembering the details, and my next question is going to be, “Hey, what schools did you guys go to? That’s fantastic. Did you guys both have the same study or the same focus in school? Awesome. How long have you both been out of school for now?”

We ask followup questions so basically when we’re asking these questions we’re not just changing topics. Saying things like essentially, “How did you both meet? What do you do for work? What are your hobbies and interests?” When we switch topics after every single line or after every single response, it almost has the sense of we’re not really interested in those things that they’re saying. We’re finding something new to talk about. I like to take each one of these questions, and kind of run their course, and gain an understanding of their background in each of these areas.

Other questions or basically responses, “How did you both meet? Serious? I need to hear that full story.” Again, giving them opportunities to discuss things and to tell stories rather than one word answers. What school did you both go to, what did you guys study, and so forth. We talk about that line. What do you guys do for work? Really, tell me more. What is a day like? Asking and being interested in their jobs. Here’s the thing. I actually really like hearing what a day is like even in some of the most, maybe considered mundane things. If someone says they’re an accountant, I used to be an accountant, so what do you do? What is a day like in your line of accounting?

When they finish, everything that they said there, that’s when I might tell them, “Hey, you know, I used to be an accountant. I actually worked for Ernst and Young,” but that’s after they explained everything when I’d build on that common interest. What do you both do in your spare time? Really? Tell me more. You guys love to go hiking? That’s so amazing. I love to go hiking, too. My wife and I really enjoyed going to this location. Have you guys been there? Can you tell me about some of your favorite places to hike? I’d love to take my family there.

Again, I’m kind of asking questions about them during that phase, but they’re learning a little bit about me in the process. I would love to take my family there implies that I have a spouse and children, and they can ask more information if they want to know about that. After they have first finished what they’re saying, then we build on common interests. We conclude this entire 15 minutes, once we’re done building this relationship and there’s a nice natural pause, a nice natural moment, we’ll go into concluding by moving into photography. We do that by asking questions like, “How did you hear about us? What brought you to the studio? What do you like about our photography?”

These are all, again, targeted questions that help us to understand the next line of questions and the next line of reasoning in things that we need to basically discuss to tailor our message to fit their needs and wants. Sometimes this first 15 minutes is not just 15 minutes and I want to mention that. Sometimes this first 15 minutes is 30 minutes, sometimes it’s 45 minutes, sometimes this first 15 minutes in getting to know somebody is literally the entire meeting. Don’t cut it short and don’t feel like it has to just be this amount of time. What I’m saying is you don’t need to conclude by moving into photography.

If they come into your studio and they’re 100% sold, and I’ve had a million meetings like this. They come in, they’re 100% sold, we spend the entire meeting just getting to know each other, and it sometimes last 45 minutes. At the end of the 45 minutes, I’ll say something like, “Guys, what questions do you have for me in terms of photography stuff?” More often than not they’ll say, “We don’t have any questions. You answered them all.” In reality, we really didn’t answer any questions, we simply just discussed them, and talked about their relationship, and talked about everything about them, and built on common interests, and so forth. We discussed nothing photography related, but they didn’t have those questions to begin with.

Tailor the message, understand their needs, their wants. If they’re there simply to get to know you as a person, don’t cut it off and force it down the road of photography, but after that first few minutes of building the relationship, when there’s a natural moment, and a natural pause, and you feel like they want to discuss now the photography side of things, conclude by moving into photography.


The Initial Meeting

Prepping for the Engagement Talk Through

Engagement Shoot Prep & Communication

Prepping for the Wedding Day Talk Through

Wedding Day Preparation & Communication


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