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The Engagement Shoot - Shoot To Make Money.

Lesson 20 from: Master the Business of Photography

Sal Cincotta

The Engagement Shoot - Shoot To Make Money.

Lesson 20 from: Master the Business of Photography

Sal Cincotta

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Lesson Info

20. The Engagement Shoot - Shoot To Make Money.


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


The Agenda


Why You Will Fail


The Changing World We Live In


Biggest Competitors For Weddings and Portraits


Day 2


Defining, Understanding, and Connecting to Your Clients


Day 3


Legal Issues


Day 4


Shoot and Share vs Shoot and Sell


Day 5


Pricing Your Work Part 1


Day 6


Pricing Your Work Part 2


Day 7


The New World of SEO


Day 8


Social Media - Facebook


Day 9


Social Media - Instagram & Pinterest


Day 10


Building a Better Portfolio & Attracting the Right Clients


Day 11


Proactively Developing Vendor Relationships


Day 12


Get More Publicity


Day 13


Booking More Portrait Sessions


Day 14


Booking More Weddings


Day 15


Understanding the Initial Sales Consultation (In-person vs Skype)


Day 16


The Engagement Shoot - Shoot To Make Money.


Day 17


Engagement Pricing and Sales


Day 18


Destination Shoots


Day 19


Working With & Training Second Shooters


Day 20


Growing An Alternate Brand


Day 21


The Wedding Day Timeline


Day 22


Managing The Wedding Day


Day 23


Post Wedding Sales and Pricing


Day 24


Post Production - A Real World Workflow


Day 25


Wedding Albums - Their Importance, New trends & Selling Them


Day 26


Ways Not To Suck At Customer Service


Day 27


Video - The Future of Story Telling for the Photographer


Day 28


Packaging & Final Delivery To Your Clients


Day 29


Lessons Learned - Where I Have Failed Over The Last 8 Years


Day 30


The Journey Of You


The Journey Of You: 30 Day Plan


The Journey Of You: 60 Day Plan


The Journey Of You: 90 Day Plan


Student Examples


Interview with Warren McCormack


Interview with Lenny and Melissa Volturo


General Q&A


Lesson Info

The Engagement Shoot - Shoot To Make Money.

There's definitely a method to the madness whatever you might think it's it's not hard it's not complicated you just gotta follow this rhythm this recipe this formula to the chute you will find that when I'm out there on location rarely am I just walking around thinking I wouldn't this be beautiful I get out there and I'm thinking about what I want to do why I want to do it and how it's going to translate to the actual sales room so one of the business like I said one of the biggest mistakes I see is just a lock general lack of purpose when you go out on that engagement session you have to know what you need to get and you've heard me say this over and over again I don't really quite understand it because I have tons of creative live audience attend my workshops my hands on workshops and it's really really cool then a couple of things happens they get there they do two things I've already said stop doing one is this focus recompose okay if you don't know what that is you got your camer...

a you focus and then you recompose your composition okay and so that is one of the worst techniques and habits you could possibly er implement as a photographer because you're fighting physics if your images air soft that's a good part of the reason why they're soft you're fighting physics your lens is curved by default right so as you recompose your camera once you've gotten focus once you recompose you're shifting the focal plane and it's going to result in a soft damage there's no way around it there's just absolutely no way around it you're just fighting physics it's bad camera technique so that's one thing I see on the other thing I see when you come to these workshops is this just I don't know refusal to accept this tight knit a wide concept okay and so when I step out on engagement session wedding such and family baby portrait doesn't matter I'm looking for a couple of things this tight middle wide shot I have to come back with that it's not enough to just come back with a tight mental wide I call it a progression okay I progressed through a series of shots I never want to get back from a job shots are up and we don't have the shot we need or want for the client where the client's going I really love this picture if only we were smiling I really love this picture if only we were looking at the camera I don't have to worry about that because I go through this rhythm this progression it super simple it's not that complicated eighty to ninety percent of the time I've got my seventy two hundred on my camera okay so I'm gonna go when I say tight middle wide I'm talking about seventy millimeters one hundred thirty five millimeters two hundred millimeters on your lands right on your seventy two hundred that's the my progression and then I might go super wide I might put a sixteen thirty five on and go super wide with with the scene but eighty percent of the time that's what I'm doing when I say tightening all white now doesn't end there it's tightening a wide both vertical rights with seventy one, thirty five two hundred horizontal seventy one, thirty five two hundred it's really simple to get through the progression to started seventy next shot's at one thirty five next shot's a two hundred go horizontal take your shot a two hundred take your shot at one thirty five take your shot at seventy it's real simple so now if I have my clients standing there and I say okay I want you two looking at each other just looking at each other right seventy one thirty five two hundred I've got three shots go horizontal two hundred one thirty five seven I now have six shots one post that's easy now I can quickly move through a progression so on a shoot that's typically about an hour I want to say like fifteen minutes has spent shooting and so it's not that complicated just move really, really fast and we come back from a session with everything we need now that was six shots just one experience expression right. Looking at each other. So now I say, looking at each other, looking at the camera it's now have both of them looking at the camera. Okay, seventy one, thirty five, two hundred horizontal. Two hundred one. Thirty five, seventy. Looking at giving each other a kiss. That's another six shots. Okay. Looking away. So there's four different expressions, if you will. They haven't even moved, so I could just have them standing there against the wall. Okay. Smiling serious that's the next look. So now I can have them smiling and I can have them being serious. So for the guy can have a mean mug in its bad ass look. And for the girls, they're sassy. Look, that's what I can do. And then I take him to that progression. We'll buy that they haven't even had to move. Okay, so I can find a brick wall and old garage door. Ah, find wall. I confined just one location. Good light. Whatever I need to do without moving them every two seconds. Get them in a spot and I can quickly pop off thirty five to fifty five completely different looking shots, different composition, different zoom that's it don't overcomplicate the shoot if you talk to any one of my clients they'll all say the same thing, right? Right after the first series of shots, I'll go through that sequence, right? So I might say, okay, let's, start here let's say that creative walls where we want to start right here let's do our thing we go through our progression pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop we do it three minutes goes by I go alright, guys used to give you perspective. I've already taken about fifty five shots easy high five and the guy's like what he's like that was really easy guys, always the one that's going away, right? Guys don't like we want to have their picture taken, so they're the ones like that was really easy. Now my not my groom is having fun. That's what it's all about, right? I just want to and I forget that he's having fun and that being what it's all about. I know I'm getting the shots that I need for post production for taylor tow for them to be edited and then for taylor to ultimately sell them in the sales room. So this stuff is really, really important that you're doing this man and I'm telling you I've yet to see I mean, maybe like two photographers who've come through have seen me on creative live or see me and shutter magazine and like, yeah, no time in a wide and then when they come and work side by side with me in a workshop or something, I've only seen a handful of photographers that I've written that are really doing it the way I'm telling you to do it you're missing shots, you're making it too complicated, you'll get the wide shot of them kissing, but then you have no tight shot of them kissing right to you, so you're not doing it each pose should come back for each expression should come back with six frames that's simple you might overshoot, right pop, pop, pop overshoot a little bit that's okay, but you've got you've got to do it that way it just makes sense. It's really easy um when you're going to shoot right, you have to be thinking about the sale. The end result you cannot just shoot for the sake of shooting. How are you selling this? How are you selling? How are you shooting it? And how you ultimately planning on selling it? How's the editing going toe work, right? And so, michael, you said something to me earlier in another segment you said something to the effect of you like you know, I find myself thinking about what that image is going to look like before I've ever even gotten home, right? That's what I do so I'm already thinking about post production before I ever take before I ever get home I'm already thinking about what I want to do this image they're going to swap out of sky maybe I'm going to root me remove a lamppost maybe I'm gonna do in hd are at it maybe I'm gonna make it see peotone I'm already thinking about that as I'm seeing the shot that's taking your work to a whole new level the minute you start doing that you're seeing things really, really differently you're not just randomly going out and shooting because you're already thinking about post production, leading lines, horizon lines, things like that I'm seeing here real time on the scene, which is making my post production that much easier to do it so much easier if you talk to my editors uh, this is funny because my job's air super easy toe exposures consistent throughout either consensus ly bad or consistently good but it's consistent. So when you start thinking about post production, you want consistency, right? Because now they can go through and quickly start editing these images what's really bad is when you're taking photographs and you're shooting them in a way where from exposure to exposure to exposure they're all different they're all over the place, right color temperature all over the place, and so this is something else that's making your lives miserable, whether you outsource or not, even if you're doing it yourself it's making your life miserable as a shooter because you got to go home or as an editor, I should say, you got to go home and now edit this madness that you created use your shooting, your job all inconsistent in the camera. So again, we keep talking about the same thing this ecosystem, everything you're doing before hand lens to what's happening after the fact, because if I don't do a good job shooting or exposing my images, it's going to take any more time, ok to edit those images, which is going to cost me more money, which means I'm not spending the time on marketing. Ultimately, I hate to say it, but if you can't sell the image, what's the point in making it if you want personal projects, go work on personal projects, I'm not. I'm not doubting the artistry in us and following us, but when I'm on an engagement shoot. Yeah, it's a little bit about art, but I want to have to sell it so I can't sell it. What am I doing? What is the purpose of the shot I'm about to make? So I'm going to set this whole thing up if I'm gonna work on this whole thing, what is the purpose? Is it my portfolio? Except that is it for print competition? I accept that. But if you don't know what the purposes and you're not going to sell it to your client because you're some random picture of like a bird, what what are you doing with it? I had a second should work with me one time. He never worked with me again. He second shot for a wedding. We get back and we start downloading images and I don't even know how to describe what kind of attire for he is, like forty journalistic whatever. I have no idea how to describe it as we're going through, and I remember it happening on the wedding day. I would look around for my second shooter and he was off shooting something. I have no idea what he was doing. He was just off nothing to do with the group it's going on the whole day, I'm thinking myself, what the hell, man, I was early on in my career, I don't have a dedicated second shooter I didn't really have I wasn't confident enough to really challenge him on what he was doing. I get back in to start looking for his images. There was, uh, pictures of like a dead rat. In one picture, there was pictures of like a stray cat in another picture there's pictures of like a dumpster by a new area we were shooting, I thought to myself, what in god's name was this person doing? What was he thinking about? Like, how did he see me he's selling this picture? Now I'm sure from his perspective, those are dudes totally aren't looking at rat look, the way it looks right on ly cow man, how my selling this I can't make this stuff up it was at that point in time I realized I had to get a consistent second shooter and I have a segment that we're going to talk about, like how to get how to train second shooters toe work within your style and with within your business because I really do believe it's very, very important very, very rarely do I bring a second shooter into my system. Right, so we would have to be spread very thin to bring a random stranger in from the outside to help because there is a system I'm following his whole type. Mina why thing? There is a progression and so we'll talk more about it. In the second shooter now on engagement session is only one shooter. There's. No reason to have two shooters on an engagement session. It's just me. But my assistant on that is also my second shooter. So eliza is usually with me on all on all second chute on all engagement shoots and seniors in that kind of stuff and it's very important. It starts establishing this rhythm this flow. She understands she knows the couple. So now, when we're showing up on the wedding day there's no surprises to who she is, taylor for her weddings. Okay, she is my business partner, lauren he's he's with her on those chutes and on the wedding days, this is important, really big believer in a guy girl team. I think it just adds a really nice dynamic to the day. So if one of us isn't connecting to the bride or to the room, usually the other one is right, so it really does introduce a really good dynamic to it all, especially senior's senior girls you gotta watch yourself especially if you're a guy you know senior girls I don't want to be holding the changing tube for them and risk anything that's even seems or sniffs like it would be inappropriate that's where listen comes in right she's touching the girl's hair she's picking their shirts she's doing things like that it allows me to stay away from you know any of those kind of weird areas so consider these things as we go but man you better get a second shooter that understands your style and what you're trying to deliver everything done by both you and the second shooter has to be done with purpose and so again if you can't sell it what ultimately is the purpose so timing and communication and so at the end of the day right when you're getting ready for this we tend to shoot our engagement session six months before the wedding six months or longer once you get inside six months you've got all sorts of sales problems happen the florist bill is do the catering bill is coming to your bill is coming tio on dso man you got to do that is far out so if I could do it a year before their wedding I'm down for doing it a year before their wedding makes life really really easy we give them wardrobe direction I think this is really cool you should try this way have custom made pinterest boards super easy to use taylor has an e mail we sent to the client preparing them for the shoot what to expect how to get the most out of it we encourage them to get here and make up done right? So we want them to go and work with hair and makeup artist we assume that they know nothing so we tend over communicate with them but they don't know what goes into an engagement session they don't understand any of this that's where the experts were the ones we're supposed to be educating them on what to expect so this part of the process is really, really important this is all happening up front you want to prepare them as best as possible for the shoot a cz you can so that when they show up there everybody understands what's going on right again we learned the hard way we had a groom one time he traveled to chicago, which was really odd they decided to travel with us. He showed up in a pair of cargo shorts and flip flops. How am I creating artwork in cargo cargo shorts, flip flops and a cardinals jersey there's no artwork being created there it's impossible how my giving them something timeless for their wall when that's what they're showing up with and so this is why we started doing what we're doing which is this pinchers board so check this out this is a link that taylor sends to them, driving them to our pinchers board. We actually sell these pinchers templates you can create and customize your own. They're in our store, you go to behind the shutter, check it out, but this is what we do, so we have these inspiration boards that we created. We plug in outfits from polyvore dot com so they can actually buy that outfit if they want. But the cool part about this is there's an actual color palette, and so they don't have to buy the actual outfit, but we're showing them how to put an outfit together. Everything we do is by design, we are inactive studio, I'm looking to make money, so if I'm going to go out on a photo shoot, I want to ensure that I have everything possible going in my favor. Nothing is by accident, and so we even take this step and do stuff like this to showcase fall fashions. Right now, taylor has to update these and keep these up to date every probably six months or something like that, but this has been really, really powerful. Our clients thank us all the time for sending them this stuff to school, and so let's talk about the actual shoot, how we run our shoot two locations, right? The typical shoot is about an hour and a half, but we do two locations two outfits that's the ultimate goal when we were working with them never going to get into three outfits or any of that stuff you know, I told you about this shoot we did up in new york city, it was probably like a four hour shoot that's not normal, okay, normally it's about an hour and a half shoot if you can't get what you needed an hour and a half, that means you're not shooting with purpose. You're just wandering around, hoping to get something we will then ask them, right? Um, you know what they're looking for in that? So we'll talk about how we get them to these different places, but I want to cover how to pose, so we talk to our way talkto our couples probably for five minutes before we start shooting, right? So the minute they pull up, don't start shooting, give him a chance man, they really don't know you they just met you. Now here you are you got a camera, you asked him to do public display of affection, right? So my couple I was just in new york city with their kind of ah shy couple, right, they love each other there's, no doubt, but I have them in grand central station so part of the place we went for two shootings in grand central station. If you've never been a grand central station, let me tell you what, there's. No shortage of people there's people freaking everywhere. Okay, so now I have them in grand central station, and I'm telling them, okay, kiss look, give me your mean mug like, look right. You got all these people walking around you and watching you so you feel awkward so I didn't go right to grand central station. I started there shoot off in a, you know, in the street, on a quiet place where I could just get them comfortable in front of the camera. But normally what I do is I'll spend five or ten minutes getting them comfortable in front of the camera. So here's, how I do it. I want you to communicate this to all your clients, so I go right up to my bridegroom. I'm like all right, you guys ready to have some fun today? Let me give some tips and tricks to show you what, what to do and what not to do. Tow look good in your pictures. Okay? First thing I start talking to the girl, never push your hip in the camera. Everything I'm showing who is literally how I do it. So I want you to copy this never push your hip in the camera. I'm gonna gain ten pounds on camera instead. What? I want you to slide your hip away from the camera and I show you what I'm doing with my leg I say, look what I'm doing with my life, okay? I'm creating an s curve and creating curves in my body I don't want you just standing like this very masculine it's very flat it doesn't look good and so I teach them to do stuff like this, pushing their hip away she's like, okay, I said, okay, next thing, archie, our chins, we all bend our next here, right? And look what we do. We're creating a double chin she's like yeah, yeah, okay, what models not to do I call it turtle ng I want you to push from here, try it for me and she'll do this she'll do this and she's like this feels ridiculous. I'm like, yeah, it looks ridiculous too, but on camera it's going to look amazing, she's like, okay, I'll do it right? And so I'm getting building confidence with them before I've ever taken a picture and I tell my groom, I'm okay you've got to do that too I said because you're gonna look down on her right if he's taller than her he's always gonna be looking down he's always gonna be heavy in the chin there's nothing you can do but if you teach him how to push his chin forward ok, I'm like you're going to feel ridiculous but I promise you it's gonna look good on camera I'm building that trust on the trusted advisor again right now I say, don't I look like I said, I want you what? Something else I need you doing is I need you any two looks out of you. Okay, so for the moment, I want you to be mean mugging so that's your badass look, I said, and then I need you smiling you got a good smile, so just smile, laugh out loud have a good time to the girl I say I need you give me sassy you've got sassy she's like I don't do sassy and she starts flapping and the guys almost always his io she's got sassy and so I'm like, well, that's, what I need, I said, I don't need that face where you're pissed off in them. I need that face where you're trying to give him a little bit of a sexy look, ok and have fun with it and then of course I need your big smile other than that I just want the two of you to have fun, have fun with each other, be in love with each other be silly with each other if you're doing anything that looks stupid, I'm going to tell you that is my spiel I give that to every single client every family, every senior babies don't listen to much but I tell it to anyone who will listen I explain that to him okay? This is really really important because I'm setting myself up for success or you guys processing all this I don't show up to the shoot I I'm doing everything in my power to ensure maximum success for my studio I tell them what the where ivan tell them how to pose what to look like, okay? And then we start the session and we start walking around and we shoot and don't underestimate the progression the progression is going to take them through all of that stuff and that's really, really important to work on that progression uh as we go through this like I said the chutes is roughly about an hour and a half we will typically end the session with three to four hundred pictures okay that's total in the can so we get about call it four hundred pictures about two hundred a hundred fifty to two hundred pictures per outfit that's my ultimate goal now I'm not shooting just trying to chase that number just after doing this for so many years that's about where I end up okay, now I say two locations more than likely what's going to end up happening is we'll cover this in a second, but more than likely, if we go to a location let's call it a garage door. Okay, that's not the garage door in and of itself is not one location right when we're there it's everything that's right around that garage door so you might be looking at a garage door. But then as you look right over here there's graffiti wall yeah that's still one location. Okay. And that's how I'm doing it so I might do all my poses here then I might put him in the middle of the street then I might take him down by by there. But that's one location another location would be if we get in the car and actively go drive someplace else. That's a secondary location is one part party following the other or the riding with you. Great question they are not with me in the same car, so I'm shooting eight, ten hours a day uh, the last thing I want to do, I need that kind of like five minutes to just step away and just decompress, I don't want to have to be on all the time, and so rarely are they in the car with me they're following because I'm usually going from one shoot to another shoot, but in the case of being, when I was just in new york city, we didn't even have a car, and so they were with me for the entire four hours, and so that particular shoot and we'll talk more about doing destination shoots in another segment, that particular shoot, we're eating pizza. We're getting street dogs like it was an experience for them, right? So that's a completely different situation, but typically it's just get that shoot, don, have fun with them while you're there and then let them go on their way. Any other questions about this it's all making sense when we jumped the locations, what should you be thinking about? What should you even be looking for again? We leave nothing to chance, there's. Nothing going on here that is accidental. When we're talking about the engagement shoot, this is all by design. So the first thing you should be doing is looking for contrast in locations park um, urban. Not everything should be urban not everything should be park to me a tree is a tree is a tree so I don't want I don't want to do everything in this park green like setting so I like providing diversity on I also like providing diversity from their actual wedding day so if they're getting married in october rights we know we're gonna have fall colors I'd really like to do their engagement session maurine this spring I want this this contrast I want when they put everything on the wall I wanted to look different I want himto want the difference in the pictures is that making sense should match your brand okay? I'm not an open airy uh kind of guy so I don't necessarily shoot at five p m you know when I like I said when I look at the west coast for tarver's I am somewhat envious a lot of times I see that that gorgeous sunset that nice warm sky man it's just not me we don't have that in st louis, right? It just doesn't it doesn't exist we don't have those big puffy clouds you know you head out to texas there's all these, you know clock big puffy clouds coming in off the gulf I don't have those right I have to add those in post production they don't exist normally in st louis it's just big blue sky that's all that's there no clouds in the summer it's it's more common to have no clouds in the sky than it is to have big, puffy clouds and so you've got to shoot for your style and probably some of my style has evolved because of where my locations are, so feel free to do that and work within your your style. But it should match your brand, right? We keep talking about this and no clients do not pick the locations. That's usually the next thing that comes up sal, who do you let your client speak to your patient? You are absolutely bonkers. If you let your clients pick the location that they're going to, it will be a nightmare in once again let me share a true story with everybody. I this bride she comes in I want to say it's october booking me for a december wedding red flag immediately going off not my bride comes in, sits down she's pitching all these ideas to me she's trying to be the creative director for her day. And I'm trying to work with her and paint vision and get her excited here's the problem she hires me for black label and video so you're talking about a client that's into me for about thirteen grand just write a contract so I'm like I just got to suck this up man who's a december wedding don't know about you guys but my studio around december there's not a lot a whole lot of money coming in so I'm willing to do almost anything uh, you know, for a december in january wedding. Yeah, sure we could do that. Yeah, sure, absolutely. So we keep going we booker now we're starting to plan her engagement session while she wants her engagement session at a barn. Okay, that's literally two hours away on dh I say to her what why're we going? Why is there any significance here? It's taylor's pushing back taylor's going hey, guys sounds normal sessions or an hour and a half you're talking about tying up literally four hours round trip driving plus another hour and a half on the shoot. So you're talking about tying up just call it six hours that's my entire day my entire day would be shot on this wedding. So we're pushing back hard on her and were like, do you even have locations picked out like, what do you want out here she's like, well, you know, we just love the countryside and we just want to drive so taylor is like we can do a park anywhere is parks anywhere with trees? No, we just really love this this part of missouri so we'd really like to go hear she's like I'm heading up there tomorrow I'm gonna I'm gonna scout for you I'm a scout so she sends he takes is a real story so she sends all these pictures twenty meg files she e mails to me she does not re size a single file all of a sudden I'm traveling and my phone is just like about to explode trying to download literally twenty pictures each one it's like a twenty some odd meg file I'm like hold good god what is going on she's taking pictures one spot after another spot after it's just open that's all it's like corn field open no trees, no shade no nothing and she wants me to shoot there at one o'clock in the afternoon then she goes to a barn and goes into the basement of the barn it's a wine cellar zero light there's no light whatsoever in the barn cellar I you start getting to a point in your career where you're like seriously somebody is jacking with me uh just there's a show there's a hidden camera somewhere right it's like the creative live punked edition and so they are way more of the story is we let her go we let her go was a client not a fit for the studio. We had to let her go. We said, hey, listen, we're not we're not going out there refused to do it. We're not going out to do it it's your your asking for six plus hours of time, the engagement sessions only an hour and a half if you want to do it locally, we'll do it locally she's like, well, you guys are just being really difficult to work with were like, we're so sorry. We totally understand. I think it's best that this point realizing that it's just not a fit. We want you to be happy on your wedding day if we just go, our separate ways will fully refund your deposit on we'll help you find another photographer and we did she's like that's. Fine, let me go my own way and so we like over. We helped her find another photographer warn that photographer what they were in for andi still took the job so good for them, but I had to step away from that. And so this, uh, ultimately this is why you don't like clients pick it's kind of a long story of it, but this is why we don't like clients pick locations if you let clients pick locations suddenly they have no concept of how your day is working I don't have one photo shoot today I have foreign five photo shoots in a single day and so I can't just tie up six to eight hours a time to go on one photo shoot nor can you there's other things you need to be working on with me you should be working with them on concept I think that's really, really important to get your clients buy in ideas, hobbies uh what what what if their likes and dislikes are you know, that's really, really important as well, so we definitely talked to our clients what they're into where they travel, what they do again another story we just booked a somebody who works with the state st louis rams and so he's part of the organization he's not a player but he's within the organization so you know, naturally you're going to go hey, do you want to do anything with the rams? But I've learned long enough after dealing with any kind of sports celebrity usually they want nothing to do with their sports teams, right? They don't want to tie colors in, they don't want jerseys they don't want any of this stuff they hate that stuff uh and so I just had to make sure with him I said, hey, talk to me what your concept for your shoot I said I'm assuming no but is there anything you want tohave in play with your organization he's like no absolutely not I wanted to be completely free of that so I said other than that is there anything any ideas you have for four ish you know you do your thing we trust you but now I'm getting buying from um and so they do have an idea I want to receive that idea if they're if they're in the horseback riding I want to do that if they have access to ah, you know, unique locations I've had people who work for the st louis the brewery budweiser and so now we have access to the brewery so we can do some unique pictures right? So asked these questions get their buyin be the creative director but just get that buying from them you'll be surprised you'll start doing some really cool things uh shooting another city we already talked about that talk about how to actually run that in another segment how do we do destination engagement sessions? How much do we charge? How do we book this? Who handles travel all these great questions? We'll cover that in another segment and so right I'm gonna give you a uh all right so what I want to do is actually dig into an actual client from this perspective so this is a real client giles we did their engagement session they ultimately went black label, right? So that's the key and I think it's only fair, right? When we talk about I'm talking here all about these theoretical and conceptual thing, so my ultimate goal when we're talking about tightening a wide vertical horizontal, I won't actually show you an engagement session and show you what they're actually seeing as that end result, and so that's, we're going to we're going to jump here and again, I want you to realize that they went black label, so they went in our engagement packages spent almost two thousand dollars on engagement pictures. This is their actual shoot on what this is this is posted on shoot proof, so shoot proof is our hosting company. Now we use it all the time for everything probably one of the best hosting companies out there. If you're not using it, you need to check him out. I'm a huge, huge fan, and I'm going show you some of the reasons why. And so when the client comes to see their pictures, this is what they're ultimately seeing, not in the studio, right in the studio, they're seeing it out of light room, no logo's on it, but then they get posted online for all their friends and family to see, so this is ultimately what they're seeing. And what I want to do is focus I want you to see as we're going through some of these pictures, right? You're seeing the horizontal, the vertical, you're seeing the expression change, right? So we've got them being serious smiling, so we set up that scene and then I'm shooting in that scene, so I have them at that bench I've got it set up, I'm taking them through a progression now this was shot with, I believe my fifty millimeter, so there is no concept of truly a tight mental wide att this point, I take him to the progression of expression that's how I'm showing all the different shots, right? So that's, what we're doing, then I go vertical with it, so now I'm bringing that tree into a, framing them up with the tree, and then I take them through the expression again, and so as we go through one by one, right, I had a little special edit I like adding some c p a tone to those images just whatever we're doing rights or not, everything is gonna be full color, not everything is going to be like a big dramatic signature at it, although they have some signature at its in here uh, but what I'm doing is one by one, I'm taking them through these things on showing them their their images they're looking at each other. Are you seeing the distinction of how we go through this actual progression? So if I were there with the client right, they would start something like this. All right, you two, I want you looking at each other smiling at each other. Okay, uh, colin, I want you looking at me you're looking at colin, keep looking at him. You love him, you can't get enough of him. I'm like I'm like I'm egging her on right and she's starting to laugh first, if you just tell somebody look at everybody, it's more like this, right? Like I'm looking at his ear I'm three inches away from his ear. It's not exciting, right? So now I start, I start telling her okay, I want you looking at him. You love him, you can't get enough of them, you adore him now you're looking back at each other, right? I want you to go forehead this's happening real time. Who says I'm talking to you? This is how it's happening. I'm not going um okay, yeah, this is the other thing that drives me bonkers with photographers. Uh here we go, click. Oh, wow, this is this is awesome! This is gorgeous! I'm really good, I'm getting really good at my photography stop looking at the back your camera what you looking at your client's right in front and stop admiring your work when you get home you can admire your work get dialed in get the shots stopped chipping stop stop stop chipping right so now once I'm dialed in I'm just taking him through this forehead to forehead close your eyes okay now I go vertical so now bringing that same shot to the table now it's a little bit bigger give each other a kiss hold that kiss there's a special edit on the kiss it's not a signature at it writes just a difference in tony not every edit has to be this dramatic big edit guys I'm sharing with you a really engagement session out of my studio right so I'm not sitting here over polishing overworking images I'm showing you exactly what the client would see from an engagement session and the reason I'm doing this is because I want you understand there's no voodoo magic here okay you just have to get out there and hustle and do your job and just think through what you're doing right so now they're looking at each other almost kissing I got to come back horizontal I got to get that kissing shot where it's horizontal good now they started laughing as they separated boom here we go now I'm going to get up off my feet so I was over here at this point so if we go back to this okay I'm here down on the bench I've gotten my horizontal shot I've got my vertical shot right I'm not shooting it here down it looks completely different if you shoot here down I'm now down at this level I'm getting this shot right here it's that little difference that to me when I'm up here it looks more like a snapshot when I come down here just changes the different the look and feel of everything I'm shooting in here okay I've got my my mid shot I have no tight shot I wasn't shooting with my seventy two hundred so now I switch lenses I get up and come right over here and you're okay lauren I want you looking right at me looking at me and now colin you're looking at lauren she's laughing I want you smiling sassy colin do me a favor whispers something in your ear okay just make sure it's freaking nasty that's what I need you to be right this is the conversation I'm having real time with the client and so I don't know what they're buying anymore I don't know if they're buying their pictures I don't know if they're buying the comedic experience of working with south and kata I have no idea anymore I'm just having fun on my photo shoot okay now we move to another seat and so by the time they come in everything I've shot has been narrowed down to that one scene two about looks like about twenty seven pictures that's fine let's move on we don't have to overshoot the bench okay now we're going to move on and there's a path in the road right you guys now I want you to pay attention to this because this happens all the time with people so I want you come here I want to hold my hands we're gonna get close you married? Yeah alright saw my it's weird okay so uh normally when you tell a couple hold each is this weird for anybody for us okay um so normally when we tell a couple of hold hands is how they stand right? I see this all the time do you see the difference in that picture? You see that what's the difference she's standing like a dude right now okay and I will tell my bride you're standing like a do okay, kick your leg back, soften it up for me they do it all the time so I had to guide her the way you came and stood right in front of me is the same way my clients will stand and then they stand like this and they stand five miles away from each other okay, right? Are you guys in love pulling to each other? I won't do that because that would be weird all right, thank you all right so they come and they stand and they just hold hands and they they stand like this is very weird it's very awkward right and so you've got to coach them through that telling them how to do it and I teacher I will go up to my bride and go hey what you're standing right now you see that because she literally does what just happened here you look like a dude and she'll start laughing I'm like I need you to give me this and then they'll start doing this for me creates that s curves it relaxes their hips it looks better on them okay? It shapes the body more pull into each other right? So now I had them pull into each other and we went from holding hands putting that hand around the neck this is all happening in real time now that I just throw in a little black and white edit I'm not going over edit everything just pick and choose what you're doing now you're starting to see the bigger shots come in we're showcasing the path leading lines the trees okay and eventually we're going to go through this boom a special ed it is going to be their righteous to toning at it at this point it's not it's not going to be necessarily ah signature at it right now I gotta go horizontal again this might not be overly exciting to you good I want you to see real time what's actually going into a photo session all too often I had another photographer I don't know why I felt compelled to do this but he looked at one of my pictures and he goes is this really one of your pictures and my cat he was well it sucks I go well thank you because I had more respect for you before is we said to me I go he goes I thought you were better than this I go sorry dude I take shooting pictures just like everybody else sometimes what can I tell you like thie is a uh thank you for the open critique I appreciate it so there's ultimately not every picture khun b a signature at it but there's probably still not one picture that's come up that you would see on my website there's not one none of these air signature and it's none of these are worthy of my web site at this point, if I saw them on yours website I would give you shit about it they don't belong in your website now we get into what I would call signature at it big difference between this and this all the garbage is gone all the light leak and the background is gone right from the blown out highlights and it's isolated to just ultimately them this ends up being one of their favorite pictures you don't have to like it they have to like it this becomes the difference the big dramatic differences when they're sitting here looking at their pictures and they see this this this boom whoa what's different about that that's one of our special edits we wanted to create something with low contrast he saturated just really make make it look different they loved it that was one of their favorite pictures when we go to next right so now we're going through this progression again now they're kissing we got vertical they're looking at camera okay the the pace if I had the time stamp on these cameras the pace that this is happening is very quickly okay I get test shot take my test shot I make sure I'm dialed in all my exposure's right I don't look at the back of the camera again until we're moving on to the next scene alright test shot guys good here's what I need to do looking at each other just talking to each other for a second you stay there looking at each other give each other a kiss click click click click click okay horizontal vertical right looking away looking at the camera click click click click it's happening that fast this whole sequence probably took less than five minutes that's how fast moving give it a little toning going with the bigger shots right if you're noticing how we go super wide now I jump into my sixteen thirty five and we're getting wider shots you're seeing maur the path we go hard sano a little bit of atoning adit nothing magical they're kissing you're seeing a progression so rather than me talking about the progression I want to make sure you're seeing the progression off their actual shoot boom signature at it these are the kind of shots I want to show so we go from this to this so we're showcasing more of that signature romantic shot whatever your style is bring it into the equation that's the kind of shot that's going to sell big this I'm not going to sell big nobody's gonna buy big this they're going to buy big so I've got to pick my one or two shots that I want from a session to showcase big form what now I got to get in tight because I'm realizing I have absolutely no tight shots of them at this point so now I'm switching lenses on I'm getting in much tied or to him looking at each other smiling sassy I were taking them through their expressions get nose to nose you got to yell at them sometimes sometimes you tell clients get nose to nose and he starts pushing their faces together right guys they just pull away a little bit right little softer give each other a kiss right I'm loving the way her hair is blowing in the wind very warm or romantic shot looking away they haven't moved there still standing the same spot everybody understand that I'm not moving them all over god's country just get get a shot they stay where they are I'm the ones moving to get the shot other smiling so special you know tony looking away now we're going vertical is there anything I'm showing you where you're like I can't do that I hope not I hope you're looking at this going I could do that because if you're looking at it going I can do that then I'm doing my job because that's what I want you to believe you can do this there's there's nothing magical now I'm doing something where I stagger people so I like creating layers where were staggering people and you could see my own progression in the first set of shots my editors aren't gonna catch this my first set of shots I'm standing up I didn't like it they could see the minute I dropped down to their level I like it much better now as we look at a picture like this right? Something that's driving me not supplied to critique my own work it's not really critiquing my work I've gotta pull back here in the background right from the park just nothing I can do now if if my client's gonna buy this okay, I'm gonna remove that if they don't buy it, I'm not going to spend that time removing it that's the other part you guys got to get through your head. We can't spend that kind of time on every image removing every garbage can in a scene just because you know they want it removed. This is where when you say you're handing your client's edited digital files, that really concerns me because there's not enough time in the day to really work on all these things and so these become the shots now giving them progression. I'm taking them through their looks and expressions, right ultimately from there from their engagement session there's one hundred fifty pictures that they're seeing rights and I get super tied on her she's looking away she's laughing she's sasi she's looking at camera, she sassy pollens blurry in the background, right? So we're adding more depth to the shot. I don't want to see him that's! Why he's blurry but it's just more depth and layers to the shot. Right then we had the most uncooperative dog in the world. We only managed to get three frames of the dog just was not happening, so dog back in the car, if you've ever worked with pats, it is ah ah nightmare and so now they go, they change outfits by the way, this was actually almost a nightmare of an engagement shoot when they arrived uh lauren had for gotten colin's clothes. She left him at home. We had other shoots two got to go on. I'm like we're gonna have to reschedule your chute and she's like I don't wanna reschedule she's like our wedding is coming up she's like I know your schedule is busy, I'm like you're gonna have to scramble. So talk about your progression and falling back on just your training and what works she had toe run to the house twenty minutes uh, round trip. I think she was gone twenty twenty five minutes to get his clothes, bring him back so that he could change and bring the clothes they were meeting there from work. He thought she was bringing it. She thought he was bringing it right. Typical couple conversation. They get their no clothes for colin and so we had to move relatively quickly. So we were stuck in one location this park, but we had to make the most of it. And so now they change outfits and we find something in the park that looks different, the fence if I didn't find something that was different and I just shot it with a tree in the background, I don't have much to sell. The only difference is the outfit and so now we just pick a different angle and we go through our progression again, but we're creating layers, writes a rather than just taking a picture of her, we're putting him in the front. I want a little blurry I wanted all about her sh she's in the foreground now it's about him she's in the background creating these layers now it's more about her write for these particular shots noticed that glow in her face this is what we brought in a reflector, so now we're just moving quick, we're bringing the reflector, we're controlling the lights or set I want necessarily dark circles in arise now they're looking at each other I'm changing my angle on dropping down on the ground shooting up ok, so you notice all these pictures I've taken you through with them? They have they have not really moved they've maybe moved in a one or two foot area. They're staying exactly where they are. It's me who's moving right? I'm up here. I mean, close, I'm down, I'm shooting up, I'm moving around, I'm getting focused on her, I'm coming around, I'm getting focused on both of them, I'm the one doing all the movement, I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible for them, so at no point in time do they feel like I don't know what I'm doing that I'm not in control, no more toned images and so ultimately see if there's anything in here, I really want to show you ultimately you're seeing a real shoot from a real couple on a sale that was a, uh, you know, basically almost a two thousand dollar sale right from them, and so these are the kind of things that you've gotta look into doing for your client's real shoots, right? Not everything, you know, sometimes us, his speakers and educators, we stand up on stage and all you see is our great shots, right? We've been shooting for ten years, and then I can pull my best ten images over the last ten years. Well, here you're I'm showing you kind of behind the curtain it's, not really behind a curtain, but it's a real shoot, you're seeing what we did and what the ultimate result was of that shoot it's easy, just follow that progression and the results will will follow with you questions. Yeah, jonathan going through the six of his shot and go down to two or three of the shot. So where? The next segment we're going to dive into kind of just understanding what that sales process looks like and what the engagement's, alice, but from their perspective out of this shoot ah, there is a hundred and fifty two images, so every image I just showed you is the same image they saw they saw one hundred fifty two of those images on their particular shoot. I probably shot four to six hundred shots in that range and then we're going to narrow it down to that one fifty and it's all when we're calling it right when my team is narrowing those images down what they're looking for his expression so they've been trained don't always look for the difference in expression and that's what I'm looking for there of course I'm expecting certain things like the images and focus right? We all have shots we take where we miss focus something like that happens that's all normal delete those I don't want them in there, but ultimately what I want them to do is look for the difference in expression, but this is what I'm talking about I'm a consistent shooter, I shoot the same way all the time good batter in different I shoot the same way all the time, so when this hits my team's desk super easy for them to process through and call because they know okay, so I was going to get tight mina wide I know I'm going to see three to five shots of each thing going on right I don'tjust go click click sound how we shoot pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop up, I'm just I'm taking two or three frames just have a shot like this, right? I don't just take one frame, you should, I'm not that good, right? So I'm taking two or three shots of this just instinctively right? The way I'm shooting, and so my team is going to now that down to the best one or two because the client she might not like the way she looks from one frame to the next ultimately, they're the ones deciding this is saying for seniors, families, babies, anybody we all don't like the way we look a certain way, right? And so I'm letting them figure figure all that out, guys with me, any other questions about this, I think it's super easy, all right? So that's going to kind of wrap this segment? I wanted to show you not only what goes into it right and stare, you know, kind of carry you through the front side of the shoot understand all the planning that goes through it, the pinterest boards and all that other good stuff, but then actually show you the end result and to end and I don't always get to do that, you know, sometimes when I'm speaking, I just get to show a couple of pictures here, I hope you see, it is valuable that we took you through the entire session. So you really see what goes into that session? All these images or skin softened no beauty at its right. Unless it's a signature at it. We're not gonna do full beauty at it, like if she had a pimple. I'm not going to move a pimple on one hundred fifty pictures. That would only happen on images that she ordered.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Master the Business of Photography - Workbook
Master the Business of Photography Slides
5 Tips to Finding and Booking Your Client

Ratings and Reviews

Brandon D

Sal isn't disgruntled and angry like someone below said, and he doesn't have time for people constantly whining about why their business isn't going good. He's from Brooklyn, so he can come across as harsh at first, but after watching several of his classes and even getting to meet him in person and talk a bit I can tell you he is a really nice guy who truly does want you to succeed. He was very encouraging to me after I thanked him for helping me and my business get to where it is now. Growing up, I can remember photographers grabbing us and posing how they wished. They are often in a hurry to get things right, such as at a wedding, so I am not sure why one reviewer stated he would dismiss them. Sounds like he is just looking for a reason to feel powerful. Anyway, this is a great class to get you on track with your business. Yes, its a bit wedding heavy, but the concepts are the same no matter what. Just apply them to your niche and you are good to go.


Amazing course. Sal is such a great photography educator. Terrific course. I'm not usually big on watching business courses, but this course as taught by Sal was terrific. Down to earth, entertaining, packed with real life experiences do's, don'ts and lessons learned. This courses business A to Z and Sal is very entertaining to watch/listen to. Thanks CreativeLive for getting Sal.

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I have been a long time fan of Creative Live and have sat on the fence with all of Sal's classes because I already attend Shutterfest every year and get loaded with valuable information there, so it was hard to pull the trigger on a $300 course that was filmed 5 years ago. Also, in my earlier days of hearing about Sal, I'd heard a lot of negative opinions about how he comes across. Still, I'd heard he's a marketing guru, and my background is in marketing as well, so I really wanted to see what this class was all about. Now that I've finally gotten it, I'm completely blown away. There is just SO MUCH MATERIAL in this class that its actually difficult trying to decide what to implement first! It is good stuff too. It is all about marketing, sales, and workflow. If you're looking for a class teaching you how to take better photos, this one is not it. This is the class that teaches you how to get your work where everyone is seeing it and convincing people to book you and tell their friends about you! Now as far as others have already said... this class is definitely geared toward wedding photographers. Yes there are bits of information that work for other types of photography, but it is so heavily wedding oriented that there might be a better fit out there for another type of photographer. If you do weddings though, this is an amazing class! As far as Sal's personality goes.... he's a New Yorker transplanted to St. Louis. So expect that NYC no BS type of attitude. Susan Stripling is another one of my favorites and she is similar in attitude (and also extremely talented), so if you like her, you should like this. If you have a hard time with her, you might have a hard time with this. Regardless, its stuff y'all need to hear and implement to be successful. Obviously because the class is a bit older, you may have to make small tweaks to a few things (even though he says don't jack with the recipe), but the marketing principles are solid and timeless. Shoot this course is worth it for the SEO advice alone. Just buy it already!

Student Work