5 Ways to Successfully Cope with Holiday Portrait Sessions
The holidays are a busy time for everyone, but I had no idea how busy my third holiday season as a photographer would be. If you do not prepare and think ahead, you may get worn down. So as I wrap up this final month of shooting, I decided to note some things I learned from experience that worked and what did not. And perhaps some of these insights may help you successfully promote and deal with next year’s holiday portrait sessions.
- Timing. Start promoting holiday sessions in August. Not after Halloween and certainly not after Thanksgiving. Given the demand in family photos around the holidays – especially for on-location photographers – there’s only so many shoots you have time to adequately do. Also, promoting early allows you time to do a lot of repeat marketing – meaning people see something 6 or 7 times before thinking of whether to take action. So unless you plan only a small number of specialty sessions, start marketing before the school year begins.
- Incentives. Provide incentives to clients who book early. Most of my holiday sessions happened in October. Why? Because my session fee went up in November, and again in December. By encouraging clients to get their holiday photos done early they not only save money, but there’s not that “rush” to get them done like a lot of other families do between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The incentive doesn’t have to necessarily be the session fee, but could be in the form of free prints or future credits.
- Deadlines. Be specific about deadlines for clients, and put those dates in writing for them. If a client comes for a session in September, you generally don’t want them to wait around until November to place an order. If you have other shoots in the pipeline, it’s best to get that September client taken care of as soon as possible.
- Pace yourself. You want to be busy. But not overwhelmed, overworked and sleep deprived (in theory). Think about the time you invest in each session and price yourself accordingly to help target prospects who are crazy about your work, and not just looking for a deal. In addition, manage your time more efficiently – especially if you shoot non-holiday related stuff like commercial projects, seniors or weddings during this time. How to do this? Be clear about your policies with clients in advance, shoot fewer frames during the session so you’re clicking only when you want the shot, and edit with Lightroom so you can enhance multiple photos at once.
- Time off. Finally, give yourself some time off after it’s all over. You deserve it.