Skip to main content

Setting Expectations For The Shoot

Lesson 34 from: Building Your Family Portrait Business

Tamara Lackey

Setting Expectations For The Shoot

Lesson 34 from: Building Your Family Portrait Business

Tamara Lackey

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

34. Setting Expectations For The Shoot


Class Trailer

I LOVE Photography and I Want to Make Money


From Photographer to Business Owner


Building Your Business To Fit The Life You Want


Business Is Business


Creating a Simple Business Plan - What To Know And What To Skip


Branding And Identity


Significance Of Constantly Marketing


Social Media Marketing


Lesson Info

Setting Expectations For The Shoot

I want to start with, obviously we're going to be talking about doing a shoot, but we're doing the shoot not because I want to show you posing or (laughs) not because I want to show you posing or lighting or technical specific things, what I want to do is show you the experience of a shoot as it relates to me working with the clients in the context of a business. So that's what the shoot's about. And I preface it that way because I have to stop myself from saying, wait let me move the light here, let me make it more dramatic, let me make it pop, let me pose you perfectly, I'm going to try and stay away from that temptation so I can just teach what I want to teach here is how do you have a shoot in the context of a business to further the sale? Create a better relationship have more word of mouth opportunities and just keep your head in that space for this session. We're going to start with setting expectations. I mentioned earlier that I think one of the major issues along every path o...

f life is when we have unmet expectations how dramatic that can be to make things fall apart. In a relationship it's because hey I thought you were going to do this and you did this and I don't like that and you didn't meet my expectations. In a business relationship it's actually not far off from that as well. Some of the questions I get during conferences or programs or seminars is I have this problem, this problem, this problem, and the problems are gosh I feel like the client wants this, I want that. I feel like I'm trying to take the shoot and the client's behind me asking for this. I want to sell them this product they want that product. And every single one of the questions are different questions about different problems, but they're all tying back to the same issue. That expectations haven't been properly set for the client and if you do that upfront you avoid all those issues. One of the key things I hear a lot is ugh when I'm on a shoot and I'm taking a photograph and everything's going great and then mom or dad jumps in and says ugh just behave sit down and then it ruins the whole shoot. Or I'm trying to take a shot and they're over here and they're trying to get their attention so I can't get the kid to look at the camera. Like on and on and on these expectations, nobody's wrong here it's just a matter of did we communicate upfront how this is going to go from here and they way I see it, is I am completely in collaboration with my client. They came to me because they like what they saw on my website, I'm working with them because I love photography, and we're both in this together to produce the best images possible from this shoot, 'cause it's an investment in their time, it's an investment in my time, we're all working. I keep this in mind too, when it comes to the point where you're about to start a shoot with a family, I want you to think about this way if you haven't already. By the time they are standing in front of me saying alright we're ready for a shoot, what has probably happened is 90% of the time it's mom, maybe 10% of the time it's dad, but one person took the lead and said we want to step aside let's work on scheduling I want to get you the session fee, I'm going to sign the portrait contract, I'm going to make sure everybody's out of school or out of work whatever the case might be. I have to think about clothing and I make sure everybody goes together, no one's complaining and even though this outfit looks great with everybody else she's not going to wear it, you know. So I have to make sure everyone's in a good mood and their faces are clean and they didn't fall down and bruise their chin a second before the shoot's about to start so I'm a little stressed about that. I want to make sure when they show up they do a good job that we're all their. If my kids are like I don't want to be here I'm complaining, it's going to ruin the whole vibe, so how do I get them in a good frame of mind? How do I make sure I plan for the fact that there might be breaks during the shoot and I have to bring a snack and some water and if someone's potty training we've got to be near a toilet. There's a lot that is going on with the client that I have nothing to do with and oftentimes by the time they show up for the shoot and everyone's coordinated really well and everyone's in the best space possible I can get them in, and it took so long to get there, I say almost immediately, ugh great job getting here, I know how much work that is, I've got it from here. You don't have to do any work from here on out I'm going to take over the shoot and I don't necessarily always say that straightforward but I want to make sure that I am communicating to my client that they don't have to do the job anymore and I would love it if they don't have to worry about several things like how their children are behaving, how they're interacting with me. I don't care if they throw things at me, in fact I'm often inviting it and actually be really specific, list a few problematic behaviors that usually a mom or dad might feel nervous or unsure feeling like they're not behaving, I'm going to go over what some of those behaviors are to give people an example of the kinds of things that I know I'm going to run up against and I have a million times, it's okay. And more recently, I used to tell some experiences about my kids and say I've done photoshoots in this, I know exactly how it feels, they're doing this and they're bickering over here and I'm like. I know how that feels so really just block that out, I will deal with this, you just kind of go straight to camera, that's all you got to do. I'll keep you engaged, I'll do the job, you've done all the work, rest. And very recently I had an experience where, have you guys heard of roadside families? So my friends John Michael Cooper and Delisa Cooper they did this program where they travel across the country in an RV and they just photograph photographer families for free. It's the whole concept of the people who take the photographs are the ones who usually have the least photographs of their family. And their only thing is they say just pay it forward that's how I want you to pay it, you can check out more at or org. But they photographed our family and this was only like a couple months ago and it was the first time we'd done a family shoot in a while in a short amount of time. And we got out there and we're all posed together like in this fun way and my older daughter was just so annoyed that day because something didn't work and I love her, she's an amazing kid, but she's also at the point now where she's starting to take offense at things. And her little brother thought it was really funny to just keep poking at her because annoying is awesome. And so we're sitting there and I just look over at her face and I see her doing this, would you just stop touching me and I know as the parent who's a photographer I cannot get upset with that, I need to go (laughs) just kids these days and be right here. Because otherwise, they're going to have photographs of the kids kind of and me going. And I let them work that's their job they work here and I go here and I have to keep that in mind and so if I communicate that, if I set the expectation, I have less issues, this is a great example right here. The image on the left, I just took this shoot pretty recently it's a really typical example of the things I come across. The image on the left is the cute picture of the kids together that mom and dad will love. As it progresses though are the things they do to each other on a normal basis and if I am not only encouraging that and agging it on and actually getting the right shots and getting the right angles where I get all that I'm going to miss what I think is a more holistic picture of who these people are together. And if I communicate that to the parents up front like let anything happen and I'm probably going to agg some of it on. Then I can get these shots. If I do not, if I don't set any expectations and we just roll out and start shooting and that happens, what do you think I'm going to be up against. Guys stop it, even great relationship families they're going to just be like what are you doing we want that image on the left. At the end of the day they get a strip in the album or they get three sets together because that is who they are and it's actually cute when you don't put the context around it of I want to raise good humans. You strip that out and you can actually enjoy the people that you're with no matter what they're doing for the most part. The other thing I want you to think about is employing your enthusiasm, this is something that's coming very naturally to you, you love what you do, assuming (mumbles) in place and it's not in your head all the time. You love what you do, so go ahead and be very naked and open with that. Maybe not naked, but be very, I'm inhibited about employing that enthusiasm because it will transmit, and will shape the experience of the shoot.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Tamara Lackey Posing Book Discount
Nations Photo Lab Discount

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This course was fantastic. I learned more on what I need to improve and change in my business. I especially liked learning how she balances all the things in her life. She is a fantastic teacher who keeps you engaged throughout the course. Thank you creativelive and Tamara for producing such a great course!


I thoroughly enjoyed this class, Tamara Lackey is an amazing individual and trainer! I loved what she said about not letting ourselves be diminished by someone else's narrow view... This class touches on many business related topics, I had many "aha" moments and feel excited and committed to tackle various aspects of my business in small steps!! Thanks for sharing so much of you!!!

Dewitt Hardee

This is a great class. Tamara is such a great instructor and the subject matter is relevant and useful. Tamara is really the key, her personality seems like a ray of sunshine.

Student Work