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Managing Client Expectations

Lesson 22 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

Managing Client Expectations

Lesson 22 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

22. Managing Client Expectations


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

Managing Client Expectations

How much guidance should you give during a session. One thing I want to reiterate through this is that you can incorporate video into your lifestyle sessions, and there is no reason that you shouldn't give guidance. You can give guidance if you want to. For me, it's just that I feel like real life is so much more interesting than anything I could create, I could set up. I'm just not good at it. I love observing what's going on in front of me. I love just being in a situation where people are doing their thing and I can just move around and shoot it and not have to tell them what to do. And, Kirsten Lewis, who is on Creative Live, an incredible Creative Live instructor she was the person who, when I first saw her talks, and I was already doing this with my kids. And I was like, that's exactly. So wow, I can do this with families. Like, that's exactly what I want to do. And it's not, you know, I would not say that I'm as much in that direction as she is. Obviously there's things, informa...

tion about wardrobe and things that I set up and I will adjust light and things like that. So I would say I'm probably more on the loosely guided side of things. But, I definitely love the approach of just letting things happen in the frame and shooting that in the most interesting way that you can. And using your perspective to, you know, shed light on this family and their story and telling that in a unique way. So, for me, I don't give a lot of guidance, especially when it comes to where people should stand, what they should do, how they should interact with each other. I just don't. That frees me up to shoot in a really big variety of ways. You can, obviously, do this if you're conducting a lifestyle session where you are giving guidance. And what I would recommend to you is that you would figure out a way based on your workflow and the way that you go through your set of poses and work out where you can introduce the video within that. But for me, I like not giving any guidance. This is my approach. But what I love about family films is that it doesn't matter. I mean, you can do whatever works for you. You can still make family films if you're giving guidance. There's no right or wrong, it's just that's what works for me. So, I would say one of the biggest things, and you know coming back to this whole thing is managing client expectations. So, just making sure that you, if your client is wanting a portrait, wanting a family portrait of all of them, then you decide whether you're going to be giving that option or not, right. And so what I do is I say to them at the beginning, usually during a questionnaire is would you be interested in having a family portrait. You know, they wanted something of just the four of them on the steps outside their home, still really relaxed. But this kind of gives them the best of both worlds. And they are usually happy about if they know that there's going to be one portion of the time that I'm with them that I'm going to grab these stills, then they're really happy just kind of doing whatever else of their everyday routine. And I also have a lot of clients who are just happy doing their everyday routine without this too. Right, so it's really just kind of knowing first of all what you want to do. Whether you want to offer this or not, you don't have to. And then secondly, figuring out if that's something you want to offer to people. And then speaking with a client knowing whether that's something they want or not. What's great about it is that, and I would recommend if you're starting, if you're coming from all photography and you're starting to introduce video, that you do offer it. It's going to be an easier sell to sell a film if they know they're going to get a few of these as well. Right? So, and it also helps you because you can dedicate this time just to the photos, and not have the whole oh I'm going back and forth, I'm going back and forth thing. Right, so if you know, you could even shoot the whole time just video, have a little short section dedicated to the family shots. And then you're sweet, you're giving them a bit of both. Any questions on that? You're going to really see, once we do the behind the scenes later you're going to see exactly what that looks like for me. Yeah? A question from Christina who said you're essentially a fly on a wall. How do you handle awkward moments though that rise up with the families. Arguments, tantrums, personal moments that are tense. I go and shoot B roll, yeah. Like if I feel like things are a little bit. Okay, so this kind of goes back to the whole my why. And it's like full circle. For me, when I was making films, through my depression I wanted to make films that would when I watched them make me think of the best moments of my life, right. So that on the hard days, I had that to see and it made me realize how good my life was, right. So I would shoot those on the good days of all the best moments. Of all the happiest times and the laughter and the love. And then I would make these films that I could watch back when I was in the hardest times. And feel that again, and relive that again. And so for me, I don't shoot through the tantrums. I don't really shoot through the hard stuff. I don't really document all that stuff. Not because I don't think it's valid or that I don't think that it should be shown, it's just not part of my why, it's not part of what I want to give to other people. And you know, I think the hard stuff, it's valid. It's valid to be shown. But for somebody who's been in the thick of the hard stuff, it's like, I really just I want films of all the best stuff. I want films of the best parts of my day, of my life with my kids. The best interactions with them. And so for me, I don't shoot through those tantrums, I give them space. I walk away and I go and I move to B roll. I usually, I might move to another room or I might just sort of sit there and commiserate with them. Because I'm a mom too, and I'm like dude don't worry, this happens all the time. My kids are worse. You know, or I just let it go. And yeah, so that's what I typically do. Unless mom has specifically been like when my child cries I really love it. (laughing) I just think the tantrums are so adorable and I love that. So, you know I might then. But it's also just a big judgment call in the moment of what I feel like is appropriate and what I feel like isn't, right. So I think about what I would want as a mom and be respectful of that, I guess. Yeah. I've noticed in all of your videos that there's specific actions. They're going fishing or they're doing something. Do you ever get the families that are just like, sit and watch TV or do nothing? Oh, that's a great, and I didn't. Thank you, I didn't cover that before. I encourage a tech free day, I just say it. I encourage a tech free day. And you know, these people are spending a lot of money on the film, so while it's valid to show that, I am just like, let's encourage. Also, TVs when they're on can give you that crazy shutter thing too, so, I just encourage a tech free day. And that's for mom and dad, let's get off the phones. And you know, sometimes that happens anyway. But typically I encourage a tech free day. And I'm like what are some things that you guys just love doing together. And, it can really vary. I also really recommend, I'm like don't do all the chores before I get there. Kids love helping with chores. They love doing the washing, they love hanging clothes on the line, that's not a thing here. Or it's less of a thing here. You know in Australia, we have these huge clotheslines in the back yard. Kids love helping with that. Putting the pegs on the line and stuff like that. And even just like washing up the dishes and things like that. You'll see in the questionnaire there's one that I say, you know, the best sessions are the ones where life keeps happening while I'm there. Are there any chores that your child loves to do that you could save to be done together during the session. And so, that helps two fold. So it's like telling them, you don't have to have a perfect house. It doesn't all have to be spotless or clean. They always do it anyway, but, leave a few things, you know. Leave a few things you guys can do together. And if you can keep people in that routine it also helps them feel better while you're there. They're like, they feel less I guess awkward, so to speak. They're just going about their day as normal. And I'm fly on a wall, but I'm engaging too. You know so, I step back and I engage and it's this balance between the two. If I was fly on the wall the whole time it would be super awkward. If I was just like don't look at me, you know. So it's a great way to describe it but it's a combination.

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