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Pre-Session Questionnaire

Lesson 6 from: Family Photography: Capturing Connection

Julia Kelleher

Pre-Session Questionnaire

Lesson 6 from: Family Photography: Capturing Connection

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

6. Pre-Session Questionnaire


Class Trailer

Day 1




Psychology of Parenthood


The Power of a Story


Composition and Color


Psychology of New Parent and Connecting


Pre-Session Questionnaire


Posing Basics for Connection


Lesson Info

Pre-Session Questionnaire

Using things that your advantage in your studio like a system so I tend to use precession consultation heavily to help me find nuggets so the process in consultation questionnaire to me is critical to the process and some people like to do you know, for older families like to do precession consultations in person where we actually talk and communicate with one another on a personal level but with newborns I find I have found that and especially since I started teaching in newborns it's incredibly hard for the parents to get in before the session if they book early enough yes, the mom will come in while she's still pregnant or whatever, but if they don't look early enough and that could be a huge other trying to get the nursery ready she's walking around thirty nine weeks pregnant I mean they're just they're tired so we have developed a system for doing the consultation over the phone and threw questionnaire and basically it's those three methods of learning visual, auditory and kinesth...

etic so I'm telling my clients they hear it, they see it on the questionnaire and they have to actually fill out the answers themselves, which makes them learn it and in green it so what kind of information and am I after I'm after nuggets about their family nuggets about that how they view love nuggets about what this means to them to have a baby deep soul searching questions that they can answer in their own time on the questionnaire as end up or not as they want, so it gives them the opportunity to be vulnerable or not it's not even a required question, so you don't have to answer if they don't want teo, which tells me something. Okay, I might have to work a little harder to open them up in the session if they're not going to share that information with me. But if a mom gives me a decent amount of innovation and says, you know, oh, I just had a miscarriage, and this is our rainbow baby, and he was born the day that our other baby was supposed on his due date, you know, that kind of stuff is like, wow, and they will give this to you because for some clients, this moment of photographing their baby is so important to them, and it means something to them. And the fact that you asked what it means to them shows them that you are as emotionally invest in this process is there does that resonate that follow? So when you can ask your clients he's very soul searching, but still politically correct questions, then there that they have the choice to answer it as deeply as they want to? Okay. And that's gonna tell you a lot about and it's going to give you a nugget for when they walk in the studio it's gonna give you a starter point. Okay, um so for example, if we ask the question, why now? Why are you doing porch turn now and they give me some soul searching reason like we miscarried a little boy at twenty weeks his due date was this day and are now son rainbow baby was born on his due date. Okay, great. Well, what's wrong with that that's an amazing will now give information that man but that's a good one most they're not usually that good, but that's a nugget of information that I can then run with. And I know she has opened her heart a little bit because the photographic process is a sensitive one, it's one that involves vulnerability naturally, because remember the story of thomas. She was too vulnerable to look at the camera and I didn't get to talk to her. She didn't know me from check jack who down the street. I just came in to do this for her and I tried to connect, but there was a whole heck of a lot going on there and then trust just could not be built and she would not look at the camera okay, so you have to develop this trust with your client in order to help them emotionally invest in the process and give you nuggets. Now, let's, think about this big picture. Step back, step back. Okay, big picture. What are you doing? How is this affecting the client relationship? How is this affecting the sale? Got a manipulative, seriously that's your endearing your client to you and I'm passionate about this. Probably. I love to take images I love to capture connection. I love the moment of giving birth. Is life changing so that's why I'm doing it? Because I love it and granted, I make a living from it and that's fantastic and I want my sales to be its biggest possible. But when I endear my client to them to me, get them emotion, invest in this process the sale is going to be better and they are never it's true, though I have now have clients who are coming to me with second, third and fourth babies because they're like, oh, we can't go on anyone else but you you're the best you we love you, it's not my work it's not my work, it's the fact that we adore them and we care so passionately it's my why why I do what I do, I market that why to my clients, and they come to me because they believe the same thing. People don't buy what you do. They buy what you believe that's, another ted talk how can you tell? I love talks, candace awesome it's so inspiring. You watch these things just like it's. Amazing! Yeah, yeah, I do have a question. This has actually come up several times throughout the day. So far already, and including from four cornered photographers. Not all portrait family photographers are mothers. We've got men in the studio in the audience. We've got folks like myself who are proud auntie's as we're talking about this coming up with connecting points and topics of conversations, do you have got to run that for people who were mom's? Yeah, and with men, I mean, men have justus much connection to the family processes women do we think about? Think about a little differently about shame a little differently. No women are shamed into being this perfect mother society. Gorgeous, petite, cute, pretty skinny I mean that's, just the whole media thing that were dealt with on a daily basis for men it's about strength and they don't want to be perceived as weak, so they fight it head on on dh crush vulnerability to the death here I'm saying they don't even people know, you know it's it's the kind of rise they try to rise above it but it's false so men can connect with this just as much as women can as faras the whole feeling worthy and deciding to lean into vulnerability except your flaws have compassion for others compassion is not weakness vulnerability is not weakness it's about the courage to be authentic and that in turn leads to connection when you have the courage to be you and not what the world thinks you should be or your mother your aunt your kid thinks you should be then you're going toe be true to who you are you're going to create better aren't you going to connect with your clients? You're gonna take better pictures when you get better sales and your love what you do I mean really is what it comes down to now for people who don't have children still the same thing I mean I have to admit that yes, having a child really solidified this for me but you know I didn't my son is only three and a half years old only forty two this month good, good um and I had my child later I got married late in life and so serial monogamous to the hills I mean I had boyfriend everywhere in home boyfriend after boyfriend and I just always never thought I would have kids it wasn't until I actually married the right man that I thought I want kids six months later yeah sure honey anyway so if you don't have children it's okay you still know a vulnerability feels like how many of you did not have children here molly and kanna do not have children you still know what vulnerability looks like feels like taste like it smells like yeah it's tough so what you also can I think I think correct me if I'm wrong but you can resonate with the idea that courage and compassion and being authentic is going to lead to connection when you are you even if you don't have a child you can still connect with their clients on different topics on different ideas on different events I mean it could be a mundane is the summer fair going on down the street next week let's connect on this connection can start very just blase and go deeper deeper and that's the point of connection you don't want to go deep quick that's like double so start small and grow deeper but I always when I was not here when I didn't have kids I always looked at it from a point of curiosity what is it like to have a child tell me what's wonderful about it what would you change about it what do you wish wasn't there how do you do it? It's a great way to connect it's almost easier you've got everybody has to know somebody who has children right? So whether it's your friend and your sister or whoever that you are khun listen for those things that you connect with when you I love those questions that you're just like yeah, I like that you know, nowadays when people call I can relate to them on the level that yes, I've had a newborn to kind of thing but when I didn't have a newborn I would talk about mike sister and her kids or you know I used to baby sit or whatever you know just and if you don't have those kind of experiences get them go volunteer in the nick you go work for you know a daycare and on volunteer to be the after care that day get some training take some child psychology courses understand children and how parents deal with this talk to a doula or midwife they'll tell you a boatload of stuff watch a birth getsem videos and watch a birth fricking intense okay, you learned a heck of a lot and watch a lot of them so you can understand how you know how you're pregnant you watch till sees a baby story for those of you who are not in the u s you won't understand what I'm saying but he'll see is a channel here in the u s like a just a cable tv channel have like ah baby story and working, making it with multiples or I don't forget they have all these little stories, and they like these women giving birth on television, and when I was a newborn photographer without children, I watched the whole time because it helped me see what their experiences was like and connect with um, so if you don't have that experience, find it, figure out a way to find how you can learn what it means to be a parent, even if you don't have children on your own. Ok, is the answer question okay, so the precession questionnaires, it starts the conversation it gives you topics to address, it opens up your client on their own schedule, you're not saying they're going, so tell me about the deepest recesses of your mind and how you grew up is a child. You're not going to say that right after that, but you can ask questions in your questionnaire that touch on emotional topics, you know, what do you anticipate the most in raising your child? That's a little leading anticipate is not exactly a positive word. It can be both positive or negative. So and as a chicken, I spent ten years in journalism as a reporter in a meteorologist always, people always say, and you're an artist now just goes to show creativity can be learned, um it went so what I did learn out of that process was how to ask questions how to interview someone and get at the heart of the issue quickly because you know, you have three minutes four minutes on live television to interview somebody about an issue and let me tell you if you want to watch vulnerability right there and peoples attempt to deny it watching a journalist interview politician okay goes up the anthem oh hell the and the elephant they always say oh tell us about the ant o the ants great, but the elephant you know it's like the classic journalism thing where they anyway I die gress so I'll get back to topic here but the point is developed questions who what where when why open ended questions not yes or no avoid the yes or no questions do you have you? Would you will you those kind of questions elicit a yes or no answer and that's not what you're going for ask who, what where when why you have to start off in the questionnaire with questions that air benign so things like how you decorated the nursery tell us about it. What colors do you love? You know like all this stuff gives you information but then you start getting into a little deeper core family values how do you think you're you're you're older child will handle the younger the younger newborn okay still a pc question but could open up the trust factor in a little vulnerability then you can get in a little deeper what made you decide to have a second child how important is it that your children I have a connection with each other and your client may go well she asking all these questions yeah but it's ok what I tell them it's just answer it as best you can it helps us understand more about you and who you are what makes you tick so that we can create the best possible portrait for you seeing fully what your relationship is like with your family when I say it with that reasoning they go okay I get it and they will answer his questions is deep or is shallow as they desire okay it gets it plants the seed of the sale really because by asking these questions you were forcing your client to get a little emotionally invested with the process you're also showing them that you're emotionally invested with the process too so it's a trust thing going on here okay um it gets your get your client like you must like it that emotion vest in the process of stresses the importance of the process and the importance that these images will have emotionally on you we don't sell paper people we sell feelings the paper ain't worth jack squat it's what the paper makes us feel that we're selling so why are you not incorporating that feeling into your work, the vulnerability section, authenticity and, oh, my god, like going up, it really does emphasize the value in connection and how important it is to connect not only as a family together, but between me and you, I mean, felisha doesn't know me next to me, she knows me a little bit, but next to anybody, she doesn't know me if you really didn't know me and I came here like, oh, hey, that's gone nice to meet you for me to establish a connecting trust with you instantly to take your photograph and invade you with a black box in front of my face that's extremely induces fear induces some shame. Oh, I'm not good enough, I'm not pretty enough I don't way can't record this, you have to break through that barrier with your client and if you don't start doing in the beginning, you're up a creek you're not I mean, you'll take a picture of them, no problem, you know, come in, you oppose me pretty and whatever. I'm a little fearful of that with this image is we're going to create this afternoon because we're in such a manufactured environment, you know, we're in a television studio there's all these people watching it's incredibly vulnerable, more so than normal and I haven't had to talk to a chance to talk to a lot of these mothers I haven't built that connection with them yet so chances are the images we're going to talk about posing this afternoon but some of them might be a little kind of on the boring side because there's not a true connection there I'm gonna do my dang this but you see I'm saying so because it's so important to me to get all this stuff in the beginning and then when they come into the session then you khun further that connection even more okay, so it starts with casual conversation how's it going? I mean duh how area they walk in your door brand new baby how you doing? Okay. How are you feeling pretty politically correct question a natural thing you would ask a new mom, right? Ok, you can gauge how open she's going to be and how quickly the trust is gonna be established by how she's answers that one. Fine. Oh ok, I'm just tired and this really hard. Okay? She just made herself vulnerable to me so now I can start to do the same. You know how it feels? I don't know how I don't know how you people with two babies do it because I am one and on you know I mean you can connect with people on that level what's the baby's name is man fact this is a question that I have the mom yesterday britney her little girl's name is coming in to do the chute for us uh heard a little girl's name is alice I have never photographed an alice I love that name I think it's so cool it's such a unique strong classic official name but it's not over you so I immediately told her that and she was like oh my god that's what I was before she was so excited that she had picked the name that was unique but not so unique like north west or whatever you know that's a little too unique for some people a beautiful name but I got a piece of hearing me okay so it's family in town okay family in town is a great question and it can evoke all kinds of positive or negative answers oh yes my mother love arrived yesterday thank she's such a help that's great my mother alive did not want their you know so there's they go both directions but you see how all of a sudden we're starting to relate to people and connect with him and a moat to them okay, this is a big one how was labor and delivery every woman I shouldn't say every that's two assumpta most women are more than happy to tell you their birth story it is a rite of passage as a woman not everybody has to do it but once you do do it you realize has kind of why you're here I mean really biologically is to produce and pass on to the species survives you know it's one of those kind of nuts and bolts type things and so you say oh my god I did it I did what fate god whatever you want to think meet wanted me to dio and it's very empowering it's heart attack but it's empowering and especially the moms who did it without an epidural oh boy do they they're proud of that you know I did it you know and it's just that they want to talk about it okay so you can gain a lot of knowledge and nuggets by asking a woman about liberty really? Because that's still a politically correct question but it can go very deep and very vulnerable very emotional and if you feel like mom is willing to share then you can start asking the questions that are even deeper oh my god. What was that like what did you think what did you feel? You know, like a baby's heart rate dropped and we were you know, we weren't sure if it was gonna happen and oh my god that happened to a friend of mine I should remember the heart rate monitor stopping it scared me to death what is what what were you thinking? What does your husband do now? We're getting into like, wow, this is deep stuff I'm connecting and just being myself and authentic and sharing my experience and what I've done or ah friends experience or a sister's experience or whatever okay, men could do the same thing and I know this seems a little harder for men and it isthe but let me tell you the mother is your client and she has no problem with you talking about women like to talk it's it's we're communicative that's our nature that's what we do and if a man asked me about my birth story I'd be more than happy to talk to him and open up and be vulnerable it's the male photographer who needs to learn how to do it and understand that women have no issue with it we love it when men talk it's great communicates is awesome the first man who was critical to me after giving birth oddly enough, his name was george george was a nick you nurse who taught me how to breastfeed sixty year old man was about to retire I will never forget him my son was in the nick you for four days with jaundice and low blood sugar nothing nothing major, not life threatening or anything but at the time the first time I was scared out of my wazoo for that and I had a c section I hear is my story. And I'll tell you, I pushed for eye when it was in labor induced went from zero to ten and eight hours and pushed for three and a half and they finally do the c section. Okay? Hips are too small. Baby will come out. So I put a lot of trauma undying and so they took him to the nick. You and I had to walk down to the nick you after being sliced from here to here and pushing for three and a half hours. So, you know, it's funny what that kind of thing will do to motivate when a child will do to motivate you to get your butt out of bed and go somewhere. But george, bless his heart. You know, we were trying to breast feed him in the nikki. And you have to do that. S ns tight rations where they use the syringe with the little tiny tube that they put kind of in your bra with your nipple and, like, let the baby suck on and they feed that teaches them howto feed, especially when they're in the nicu and he taught me how to rest. George that with me there for two and a half hours and helped me with that and I just thought that was so amazing that this man could be so compassionate and he talked about everything this song how was gonna retire and all this stuff hey endeared me to him with connection I will never forget so it's perfectly possible for men to do it just as much as women it really is okay other questions and I really think the key when you do this is to focus on the parent not so the baby and this is especially true with new mothers and men listen up yes, the baby is all cute and hunky dorey but everybody's talking about the baby thank you. Mother wants that baby's out she's chopped liver okay it's like nobody at least that's how you feel you feel like at least I did and I'm not sure you know obviously it's with everybody's spirits but I just feel like nobody cared a rat about me and that was all about dean and the baby because I just did my job pushed him out or he cut him out anyway on guy was done, you know, so if you can really focus on the mother and her feelings and what she's going through, you're going to connect a little bit on a deeper level. I really think, um once you develop that connection in that trust then you can start taking the vulnerability to another level and connecting on a deeper level this is where the casual conversation turns into mohr introspective, life changing type of stuff do I do every single one of these? No, of course not and I and I read it I gauge it some parents don't want to go there some parents you won't connect with it where it may take a while be patient okay and this is a learned skill it's not something you're just going to do right away you're gonna have to practice at it okay so if it doesn't work the first time don't let george beat you up okay just embrace the fact that you it wasn't perfect and that you get to try again next time the joy comes in the trying not in the winning or losing okay so how has having a baby changed you I almost ninety percent of the time okay so I can see a woman with ppd coming at me from a mile away I have seen it so much now even at ten days I can pretty much tell if a woman is going to fall down that well or not so if I see it happening I will just share my story I will ask them how they're feeling how labor and it was going and if they give me any little inch yeah, this is pretty overwhelming oh, I know how you feel I actually suffered from people pretty badly and the way you know to go further is huge head that's when I know I can vomit a little more and without invading the bubble around her and I tell my story and there have been a couple of mom's belinda remembers was it christie christie christie thomas this little boy thomas newborn not that thomas different she might not have been have been when you were on maternity leave. I'm not sure I don't remember but anyway she clearly was going down that road and I shared my story and I just said it was one of the first times I had actually decided to share it and a few weeks later she coming back because you have no idea what you just did for me by telling me that and that it's okay and that it's not me it's just something happening to me and she got help for it right away and was good. And so now I pretty much nick most moms listen to it because I'm like you got it you got to know about this nobody tells you about this stuff and it's important because you want to go down that road because it's tough to get out of the sooner you significant but the faster the easier it's going to be so at this point now we're really opening it up and that's okay but what have I done I've developed this trust of my clients and then when the black box comes up things aren't quite so awkward uncomfortable I don't have to work it's hard to gain that connection in the camera room okay so ask things like what are your thoughts on family now what is your vision for the images that's a great one and some people will just give you you know surface answers I just wanna capture this time a little bit and so people will give you a deeper more sentimental reasons um what feeling do you hope to capture that's a good one again and emotional investor clients it asked them to think a little bit more and endears them to you and then the really big one is how do you think this child to youth will be different than your own that's a big one I know you don't always get a good answer out of that one yeah so while you're doing this is this when you um the mother comes in does she is she feeding the baby are you holding the baby are you bonding with the baby while you're bounding with mom? What is the physical setup a great question the questionnaire and opens up the nuggets for what conversation topics we can talk about when they come in the door with the baby in the carseat how I mean, this is surface stuff how are you? How you feeling? I mean, you guys do all you guys all do it. How you feeling? We come in, we go into the nursery, ok? I give her instructions. This is what we're going to do. And if I mean it's kind of a combination between how the session's going to go and the emotional part of it, then when she sits and this is why I have mom's feed the baby at my studio, right? When they get there, I want to talk to him if they feed the baby beforehand when they come in, then I don't have that time to connect. So there's a couple of things I'm aiming to do when she's sitting there breastfeeding the baby, I will say, and for men who don't want to, you know, men, photographers who don't really want to be in that space it's a little awkward, you know, sit mama down on the couch before she starts feeding and talk to her then and then let her go feet. Do you know I'm saying so I do it when mom is breast feeding the baby and I we just started talking, I'll ask her things like, okay, simple is so if you could shop for furniture anywhere, where would you go? I want to feel or stop what color tones are you drawn to? Are there any images on our website that you really love him? This is just surface stuff but then I start saying harry how are you doing how are you doing bri but you see I'm all of a sudden taking it from ok we're getting to the surface stuff but are you okay? You know mom to mom are you are you okay and they are they are they have the world I'm fine I'm good or they realize that I'm a woman who is going to help him out and commiserate with him a little bit and they'll go this is really hard this is this is hard I go yeah, I know it is the first six weeks are the hardest thing you'll ever do in your life and nobody tells you that nobody gives you an instruction manual or even talks about how challenging this is I totally can relate and I will say if I feel the right moment I will even say to them I even told my husband I wanted to give my child up for adoption in the first three weeks and that's when they look at me and they just like you are they look at me and they go well I'm not alone that whole concept of I'm not alone is the single most powerful human connection thing that we do you know, when you're in a huge there was heard a story once I forget who told me, but she was in business was it you that told me this kind of business school graduate she was in like, a mighty or something going through this program and and she, uh I was so overwhelmed, intimidated and she went to therapy she's, like I can't do this because you realize that eighty percent of people who are in your major field exactly the same way you having people I see who struggle like you, we think we're alone in this venture and we're not that was you that was that was kind of giving us not connecting your client will help them be themselves, okay, it'll help him relax and realize that they you're going to be there for them. You're going to help him through this process because let me tell you, you don't think it's invading, but having your picture taken is invading it's it's a vulnerable time okay, open your heart to who they are, okay, you'll endear them to for life which of course creates a client for life and you will yield your most beautiful images. You will help them forget about the camera and give you a greater sense of purpose and what you d'oh okay, you sound like you d'oh you're leaning forward and like I kind of did have a question about casual conversation in the pre consultation when you're on the phone with them and kind of just getting some questions out getting getting to know them and then once the time comes for their session, I don't know if you've ever had this problem, but when I start getting babies in and out and I'm really busy, sometimes I forget that I already had this conversation I had already asked this question and like, oh yeah, oh, wow, that was a big, important part, how could I forget it and makes me feel awful? Yeah, I know I like to call it mommy mentioned that way it's actually pregnant, so that doesn't go away when you give birth, but anyway, no, I totally understand and I just apologize, so I'm so sorry, I know I will ask that question we've been really busy lately and about a blonde babies going through, and I should not have done that like, but make sure you say I made a mistake now I am a mistake very important a mistake can be fixed that you made, okay, so don't let george get you apologize for it and move on because I've done the same thing like, I'll forget names and they've told me like a thousand times oh, a little bit, but it's. True, especially on holidays. When you're shooting babies left and right, everybody wants christmas presents, and you can't. I can't remember. You still remember, every baby's name doesn't happen.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

BD Design Cards
Butterfly ClamShell Lighting Set Up
Newborn Posing Design
Newborn Prepartion Sheet
Standard Lighting Set Up
Studio Gift Card
Gear Guide
Downloads with RSVP

Ratings and Reviews

Natalia Malinko

This is the second course with Julia I have seen. And it's amazing and very inspiring in so many ways! I appreciate so much the honesty of Julia, her spirit for doing things she loves. Like a photographer and artist myself, I feel identified with her perception of world and the passion for artistic and family photography. This course is about never give up, it's about hard work, and also it's about cultivating creativity and honesty. I highly recommended this course to every photographer who want to grow and understand himself and the business of professional high-quality photography. Thanks, Julia and Creative Live, for this one!

a Creativelive Student

So glad I bought this class - well and truly worth the investment. This course has helped me realise why it is so important to make an emotional connection and how to use it to my advantage {while giving my clients the very best too}. I cannot wait to try some new printing/mounting glad Julia was kind enough to share this! I got a lot out of this course and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to take their newborn photography business to the next level.

Jenny White

This class was amazing!!! Julia does a great job of showing her process, how she captures beautiful images from start to finish. It was worth every dollar I spent!!

Student Work