Skip to main content

Client Prep

Lesson 20 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

20. Client Prep


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

Client Prep

We're gonna go into client prep now. So there's a few things that I run through with my clients that you know, you have the typical questions that you ask them, ways that you prep them for your own photography business. The things that I would recommend you add to the things you say to them. Things like wardrobe. I usually ask my clients to avoid stripes, thin stripes will create what's called a moire effect and it's just this uh-lay-zing look when you watch a video and you've ever noticed, like someone's clothes kinda look extra shimmery or you can see, it was in one of the other films actually earlier. The mom had a really thin striped shirt on and you can see it in the clothing and so I recommend that they avoid thin stripes. Chunky stripes are okay, they're not gonna be as obvious, but thin strips I usually say. So when I first call them, the way that I do client prep is I will send out a questionnaire first. I'm gonna run through that later. And then I call them and we have a phon...

e conversation and during that conversation I talk to them, and I'm like "so, have you thought much 'about what you're gonna wear?" And I don't want to direct them in so far as, okay, let's style this perfectly.' Here's my Pinterest board and this is what I want you to wear. I mean, I give recommendations and if I feel like they are getting a little bit freaked out by the idea of choosing their wardrobe then I definitely will help guide them. I usually also recommend the normal things, like try to avoid logos, try to avoid big character things on your clothing, but ultimately I want them to be comfortable. I want them to be comfortable in whatever it is that they're wearing, but I want them to avoid stripes so I will specifically say try to avoid stripes in whatever it is that you choose. I usually suggest, if the mom's feeling a little bit freaked out by it, I say mom you choose what you're gonna wear first and then the rest of the family build it around you, but choose whatever you feel the most comfortable in. I really loved what this mom picked to wear. It's her and, ya know, she wore this and I loved this print. But this isn't anything that I would have, I'm not great with fashion so it's not anything I would have been able to recommend, but I loved what she chose. And, you know, everyone's pretty simple in what they're wearing. So, I make sure with wardrobe, I say that, another thing I usually will just mention is if you're in the home, it would be awesome if you guys were barefoot. Like, try to avoid socks. That's something else I mention. Only 'cause in Australia there's this brand of socks, Bonds, and they're like neon at the bottom. So there's these like neon, and they're black, but they have this random neon heel patch. And so, I'm just like (clears throat) They exist in everyone's homes and I am just like, let's go barefoot. You know, it's really, it's just more comfortable so let's just go barefoot if you can. If that feels good for you. And so those are probably two 'a the things, the only two things that I might mention about wardrobe. Um, lighting suggestions. I will tell them to turn off any artificial lights. One of the biggest issues that happens when you're shooting video is when somebody turns on artificial lights and then you have this flicker that's happening with the lights. I'm gonna show you an example of what that looks like next, but it's frustrating. It also introduces mixed lighting which is unnecessary, (giggles) so if I can avoid that, again, we're going back to trying to keep it as simple as possible. If I'm introducing, if we're introducing mixed lighting that's gonna make it harder for me in post. I'm already working with the flexibility of jpeg. Anything I can do to avoid that, it's gonna make my life easier. So I just say "Hey, let's avoid any artificial lights 'in the home". Don't feel like, if the room feels dark, dads are the worst. You walk into a room and they're like "Oh, let me just turn that light switch on for you". I'm like please don't turn the light switch on. If I say it beforehand though, it's much less awkward then if I say it in the moment. I don't like to say it in the moment. If I say it in the moment, then they're like "Oh, why don't you want the lights on?" and I've probably come into that room because a moment is happening in there and so, by having to stop and have that conversation then it just changes and I miss whatever it is that I was shooting and then I have to be polite and explain and, um, all of those things. And then I'm like, I promise you it seems dark but it's okay. The session that we did on Sunday, the dad was like, (clears throat) (giggles) So I said to the mom, have no artificial lights on in the house and he was like, he still even mentioned it in the kitchen. He's like "Now we're not turning the lights on right?" (laughing) I was like, yeah, you're not. So, ya know, as much as you can say ahead of time. Sometimes it still doesn't even matter. But, as much as you can, try and explain to them beforehand that you don't need artificial lights. You'll adjust in your camera, and natural light is always better. Other things that I will do is suggest to them, ask them to open blinds, open curtains before I get there. Again, I don't want to do that when I'm there. I feel like that disrupts the scene. It disrupts the moment, it disrupts what's going on. I don't want it to seem like I'm there setting up a moment for them. That's not what I want. So if I walk in and I'm like hey let's open all these blinds. I feel like that sets up a type of expectation that I don't want, okay? So, but if I say since we're not having any of the lights on in the house just open up all the blinds for me then they can do that at their leisure whenever it works for them either before I get there or while I'm there or whatever. And so, just having that conversation beforehand just helps preempt any potential issues that I might have and it makes light and lighting easier for me down the track. So, that's the extent, probably, of client prep. Also, we'll talk them about what I'm gonna be like while I'm there, like how the sessions gonna run. And so, I really like to just say, I'm like an auntie there with my camera hanging out. I just happen to have my camera with me. You know, don't phrase this to the kids like she's coming over to take your pictures. That's not what's happening. Like, I am going to be taking their pictures, but I'm not gonna be asking them to do anything. I'm not gonna be setting anything up. I'm just there hanging out with the family like a family member, like a guest, but more like a family member and less like a guest. I don't want them taking care of me, right? And I say that to, like, don't feel like you need to offer me drinks and offer me tea and offer me, you know, all the things. I will say yes because it makes them feel more comfortable if I do say yes to some of those things, but, I'm like, I'll have water with me you don't need to offer me anything but just really, I'm like, I'm like your sister coming to hang out and I'm gonna shoot some stuff of what's goin' on at the same time. It's super relaxed, super relaxed. And so I usually say, 'cause most of the time my conversations happen with the mom, and so I'm like, how's your husband feeling about this or how's your partner feeling about this or whoever else is in, how are the kids feeling about this? And so that helps me kinda gauge what their perception is, what their expectations are of how the session is gonna go. And if one of the parents is saying oh, well they're not really sure how it's gonna go then I'll be like okay, well we'll have a conversation with them. Just make sure that you reiterate to your partner that I'm really just there hanging out with my camera. There's not gonna be any posing, there's not gonna be any directing from me. It's just gonna be me hanging out while you do your everyday thing. So, and then they're like "Oh, that's cool, okay yeah sure". And so, it helps just reiterate the whole thing, and it's all about setting up expectations, right? Early. Yes, question. Thank you 'cause so many people have been asking about giving direction and how to interact with folks. Question is from Christina. Do you ever use flash and or reflectors? No and no. Flash and video and don't work. I have a constant light that I have attached to my camera for wedding films when it's been low light and, you know, it's a reception type environment, but I would never use that in a family film session. And I wouldn't, I've never used flash, So (laughs) I don't know how to use flash. I wouldn't use it for video 'cause it doesn't work for video anyway. I really prefer working with artificial light at all times. And then one more about the clothing guidance from Craig. Do you ever tell people not to wear either very very dark clothing or very very light clothing? Does that affect your exposures and things? Yeah, good question. No, no I don't ever give any direction on the color of clothing. Sometimes they'll send me pictures and I'll be like oh, that works or no, let's try something different to work with. But, ya know, that's usually because they've asked me and I'm not gonna say no to them. Like, no I'm not gonna help you at all with your wardrobe, like, ya know, I'll give them my opinion if I think. But I don't, ya know, offer that as a service or say, like, you shouldn't wear black or anything like that, I don't ever say that. 'Cause I think whatever they're most comfortable in is ideal. And I am gonna cover more about guidance in my approach in a little bit.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work