Behind the Scenes Senior Portrait - Kade Herndon | Emily McGonigle Photography

As you may have noticed, I've been particularly terrible at keeping up with my blog and social media accounts. (I know, I know, I keep saying that -- IT'S TRUE THOUGH). This is entirely due to having left my day job in May and getting readjusted with my new work/life balance (which you would THINK means I have MORE time to blog and dedicate effort to social media, but surprisingly, it meant the opposite. 😅)

ANYWAY... my lovely intern, Kyli Barr, took some BTS photos for me of one of my client's senior portrait sessions. She's an aspiring photographer (duh, that's why she's my intern), so I gave her an assignment to take photos and write a BTS blog for me. She's had this written and ready to go since September 5th, but I'm just now getting around to posting it. Still... I wanted it to be seen.

So, enjoy this blog post written, laid out, and photographed by Kyli Barr! :)




Hey guys! Hope y'all had a great weekend, I'm Kyli Barr, Emily's guest blogger! Ive been her intern over the past couple of months, as well as one of her senior models!

A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of working with Kade Herndon, one of Emily's senior models! We used our girl, Kenzie Leath for hair and makeup! 



For Kade's Senior Portrait shoot, we took the grand tour of Franklin! Starting in Downtown Franklin for some urban shots, moving to Pinkerton, and ending our day at the Baseball fields!

We had a great time on Kade's session. His mom tagged along, who was a pleasure to sit and chat with during some down time. She was a delight! 


Ending our day on the fields was a lot of fun, we got to see Kade in his element. 

Me too, Kenzie, me too.

Me too, Kenzie, me too.



Great job Kyli! This kid is doing things, I'm telling you. She just picked up her first camera while interning with me and she's already taking off. Check her out at and watch her grow into an awesome artist of her own!

And of course, I didn't forget... the traditional "end of the BTS blog post sneak peek photo":



Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Senior Style Guide Image Reveal

Hey everyone! I got my copy of the 2017 Senior Style Guide Hot 100 issue and I finally know which image gained me placement on this years list for the editorial category!

Watch the video below to find out! :)

Thank you again to all of my wonderful clients for their support and willingness to do cool stuff!

Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Senior Style Guide: 2017 Hot 100 Recipient | Emily McGonigle Photography


Here is the part where I state the obligatory, " I haven't been keeping up with blogging and social media lately because I've been SO BUSY!"

It's true. I have been super busy (which is awesome), and I *haven't* been blogging like I've wanted to... But the good news is that I have a SLEW of backlogged posts to share with you once things calm down a bit.

THAT BEING SAID... I did take some time out of my regularly scheduled workflow to bring you a special blog post announcement!

Today the winners for the "Senior Style Guide: Hot 100" list for 2017 were announced.

What is the "Senior Style Guide: Hot 100" list? It's a contest run every year by Senior Style Guide. Senior Style Guide is both a website and magazine that showcases senior portrait photographers, and their seniors, from all over the country. Every year they run the Hot 100 contest, where they take submissions for various categories, have guest photographers judge the submitted images, and compile a list of the top 100 senior portrait photographers.

Last year, I entered for the first time ever and to my delight and surprise, I won! I received a Hot 100 award for the category of "Studio" with this image:

Senior: Mackenzie Barnett

Senior: Mackenzie Barnett


This year, there were 8315 images entered, a record-breaking number for SSG. Of those 8315 images, I entered 10.

Today I am proud to announce, that I am once again one of the winners of the Senior Style Guide: Hot 100!

There were 10 categories possible to submit to, which were: Backlit, Urban, Off Camera Flash, Studio, Editorial, Black and White, Straight Out Of Camera, Organic, Styled Concept Shoots, and Photographer’s Choice.

This year, I won in the category of "Editorial". I honestly don't know *which* image won yet, as I submitted several to that category, but the winning images will be revealed when the SSG magazine is released this month. I will be purchasing a copy for not only myself, but also for the senior of the winning image!

But until then, I'd love to share with you the images I *did* submit... the Emily McGonigle Photography finalists! :)




Senior: Anna-Leigh Campbell

Senior: Anna-Leigh Campbell

Senior: Alexis Herr

Senior: Alexis Herr

Senior: Savannah Lingle

Senior: Savannah Lingle

Senior: Anna-Leigh Campbell

Senior: Anna-Leigh Campbell




Senior: Rebekah Beaty

Senior: Rebekah Beaty

Senior: Savannah Lingle

Senior: Savannah Lingle




Senior: Rebekah Beaty

Senior: Rebekah Beaty




Senior: Brittany Perea

Senior: Brittany Perea

Senior: Kade Herndon

Senior: Kade Herndon

Senior: Kyli Barr

Senior: Kyli Barr

Senior: Savannah Lingle

Senior: Savannah Lingle



EDITORIAL (Winning Category)

Senior: Kyli Barr

Senior: Kyli Barr

Senior: Kyli Barr

Senior: Kyli Barr

Senior: Kyli Barr

Senior: Kyli Barr



I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to ALL my seniors for trusting me with such a precious time in your life. I've enjoyed hanging out and getting to know every single one of you. I am super blessed to have such amazing clients. To those of you who had sessions with me this year, but don't see a submission from your shoot, it's only because they weren't done in time to make the deadline. BUT... you will definitely be entered into next year's contest.

So once again, to all of you, THANK YOU! I quite literally couldn't do any of this without every single one of you, so THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU once again. <3

I also want to take this moment to say thank you to Vickie Black, who runs Senior Style Guide, and to this year's judges, True Moua, Devon Jones, and Thomas Nguyen for choosing me for the honor of having a slot on the 2017 Hot 100 list!

And of course, I can't make this announcement without also saying thank you to my team, who helped me create these images. Katrina BrooksKenzie Leath, Allie Corzine were the ladies who had a hand in the hair and makeup portion of at least one of the photos I entered, if not several. Hair and makeup artists are the unsung heroes of the photo industry. Even on something like a Senior Portrait session, having a skilled hair and makeup artist present can make or break a shoot. They are the first step on my way to making stunning images for my clients.

Katrina Brooks

Katrina Brooks

Kenzie Leath

Kenzie Leath

Allie Corzine

Allie Corzine


I also want to send a huge thank you to my friend, and business partner, Matthew Simmons, who keeps me sane on set, always makes sure my lighting is on point, makes sure I stay caffeinated, lifts and moves heavy things around set so I don't have to, and continuously pushes me to be better. Thanks for everything you do, dude!

Matthew Simmons

Matthew Simmons


AND TO KEITH... (anyone else getting the impression that every time I write these things, I'm imaging being on an award stage, holding onto a golden camera trophy, wearing some fancy, sparkly, fitted dress made by a designer whose name I can't pronounce? Cause I am... in case you were wondering) chip/cookiehead, coffee and tea connoisseur, who supports my business endeavors, believes in my abilities as an artist, and deals with a cluttered house during editing marathons in the months of September and October, especially. I often read stories online of my peers whose significant others have a hard time understanding their goals or supporting their businesses, but I'm eternally grateful that I have a husband who is both supportive and understands. I love you, babe! 

Keith McGonigle ♡

Keith McGonigle ♡


And now that the "wrap-up" music is playing in my head, I'll go ahead and say a huge THANK YOU to everyone for your support. I love you all, and once I know which image won, I will be sure to post!

Until next time! 


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Behind the Scenes Senior Portrait - Savannah Lingle | Emily McGonigle Photography

Happy Monday everyone!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting Savannah Lingle in front of the camera again! Savannah is one of my senior models this year, so you may remember her from her awesome senior model shoot back in the spring.

For Savannah's senior portrait session, we decided to get outside of the studio and become one with nature. But as always, we started in the studio's makeup room with the amazing Katrina Brooks, for Savannah's makeover.

Savannah had a good mix of looks for her session. We shot in Downtown Franklin for an upscale urban look, and then moved to a park where we had access to water, pretty flowers, and a bridge.

We had a great time and created some stunning images together during Savannah's session. Including this fabulous photo of Katrina hard at work:

Take a look at this beautiful sneak peek of Savannah's finished images:


Make sure you leave her some love in the comments below!

Until next time, fam!


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Nashville and Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Seasonal Senior Portrait Session - Rebekah Beaty | Emily McGonigle McGonigle

Hey everyone! It's been a busy blogging week. 

Today, I have something a little bit different for you, but it's definitely awesome! 

In the fall of 2015, I had the immense pleasure of working with Rebekah Beaty on a shoot to celebrate her turning 16.  She then came back again during the summer of 2016 to schedule her senior portrait session. But what was especially unique about this session was the idea behind it. Rebekah and her mother asked me if I would be willing to split Rebekah's session into 4 mini sessions: one for each season. Of course, I loved the idea and enthusiastically said yes.

The sessions started in the summer of 2016 and ended in spring 2017, in time for Rebekah's graduation. It was an amazing experience, and I can't wait to do something this cool again! 

Take a look at all the images we took throughout the year! 

(Click the thumbnails to view larger -- It may take a moment to load. :) )











How awesome is this concept?! I had so much fun on each of these sessions, and I was honored to have been able to watch Rebekah grow throughout her senior year.

After Rebekah's last session, we got together for her image premier and ordering session, where she bought an extended album, mounted prints, and a wall canvas. Take a look at how beautifully everything turned out!

When Rebekah received her order, she took it home and created an adorable display to put out during her graduation party. She sent me a photo of the setup:

I love tangible products so much. It's such a great way to preserve your session and share it with your friends and family in a meaningful way.

If you haven't booked your session yet, it's not too late! Submit a form through the contact page and let me know you're interested in booking a session!

Also, I want to give a special shout out to Gardens of Babylon for allowing us to use their space for Rebekah's spring session! 

Until next time, fam!


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Behind the Scenes Senior Portrait - Kyli Barr | Emily McGonigle Photography


Seriously. I have so much stuff in the queue, it's amazing. But, I'm taking a break from Photoshop to bring you another sneak peek of one of my lovely seniors: Kyli Barr!


Kyli is a senior at Ravenwood High School, and not only is Kyli a Senior Portrait client, but she's a senior model for EMP. AND... not only is she a senior model for EMP... she's my INTERN!

Kyli wasted no time asking about an opportunity to intern with me in her consultation for her senior portrait session. I just so happened to be contemplating looking for an intern for the summer, and she had great timing in asking. So after I got to know her a little bit, I knew she'd be a great fit on the team, and officially brought her on as an intern!

You may remember Kyli from a few months ago, when I posted images from her senior model session. She had her adorable pupper Milo with her for some of the shots. During her senior portrait session, we decided to go sans doggo, however that didn't stop all the dogs from finding her anyway!

For Kyli's makeover, we met with the ever fabulous Katrina Brooks. We chatted away, played with Katrina's dog Opie, and definitely made sure to have some Starbucks drinks on hand.


Okay, but seriously. Everywhere we went... dogs would find Kyli. She is the dog whisperer. I'm convinced.


The only thing that I think Kyli loves almost as much as she loves dogs, is her adorable baby blue Volkswagen Convertible Beatle. For her senior model session, we made sure to take photographers of Kyli with her dog, Milo. For her senior portrait session, we took photos with her car, and it was epic.

Take a look!

Don't forget to leave this pretty lady some love in the comments below!

Special thanks to Katrina Brooks for doing a fabulous job, as always, on Kyli's hair and makeup; to Matthew Simmons for shooting some BTS footage of the shoot; and to Haili Schubert for being an excellent assistant and intern.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Behind the Scenes Senior Portrait - Alexis Herr | Emily McGonigle Photography

Happy Friday everyone!

For today's blog I bring to you a sneak peek and a behind the scenes look at Alexis Herr's Senior Portrait session. Alexis is the younger sister of Elizabeth Herr, whose senior portraits I did back in 2014. It was really awesome getting to work with the Herr family again!

Alexis is a cheerleader at Franklin High School, with a bright personality, and a fabulous sense of style. 

We started Alexis's day off with the lovely Katrina Brooks, who styled Alexis's hair and did her makeup. We then started off in the studio for a sister portrait with Alexis and Elizabeth, which was a nod to Elizabeth's session when we did the same.

After the sister portrait in the studio, we headed outside for some gorgeous photos in a field, images in downtown Franklin, and then ended at the Franklin High School stadium for some fun photos of Alexis in her cheerleading uniform.

Check out this sneak peek from Alexis's session! This girl ROCKED the camera.

Be sure to leave Alexis some love below in the comments!

Thank you to Katrina Brooks for being fabulous as always, to Matthew Simmons for capturing video BTS of this session (stay tuned for that), AND... my lovely interns Haili Schubert and Kyli Barr!!!! WOOT!

Haili and Kyli joined the team this summer as my interns and it's been great having them on set, and really awesome to be able to help them learn along the way. Keep an eye out for them lurking in BTS photos and videos. ;)

That's all I've got for now! Until next time!


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

How to Business When You're Not Business Minded - Part 3 | Emily McGonigle Photography

A few weeks ago I posted part two, "Organization", of my three part mini blog series "How to Business When You're Not Business Minded." I covered topics like studio management software, templates, and routine.

In this blog post I want to cover how to preserve your mental health as a business owner, and a few other general business practices that are important to mention.

Mental Health

This is a really important topic. There are a lot of people, like myself, who suffer from anxiety or other mental health issues, that can get in the way of running a smoothly productive business. Some days you wake up and you just DON’T feel like you can do it. I totally get that feeling. I really do. 

But the thing is, despite you waking up with a heart rate of 95bpm, or with that gut-wrenching, “If I get out of bed the world will crash around me” feeling, you’re still a business owner, you still have a responsibility to your clients, and things still need to get done.

Does that mean you CAN’T take a day off? Absolutely not. I take mental health days all the time, but that’s why the previous articles are so important. Having templates in place to respond to clients keeps you from having to spend emotional and mental energy coming up with a new response every time. Having a studio management solution allows you to visually see your tasks in small chunks, as needed, so you can breath easier knowing that while you have things that need to get done, you have a few days before your hard deadline, so you’re allowed to take some time to yourself.

A couple other sure-fire ways to help your mental health are some of the following techniques.



Wait… didn’t we talk about this already? 

Why yes, yes we did. You read about this in the “Customer Service” blog post, but it *also* has a place under mental health. Why?

Because not only are you overpromising/underdelivering in order to make room for multiple clients at once, but you’re ALSO doing so that way you can take days off in between, whether planned, or impromptu mental health days. If I woke up this morning feeling like everything was wrong, and I have one more day of editing to do on a client’s session, but they’re not expecting their session for another week… I have time to take a day to myself, if I need it. Isn’t that awesome?

Set Realistic Deadlines For Yourself

This goes hand in hand with the above school of thought. Not only are you overpromising/underdelivering, but you’re basing that quoted turn around time on a realistic amount of time you know it takes you to get something done.

So what if Joe Smith can edit a portrait session in 2 days? Are you Joe Smith? No. You’re your own brand, with your own style, your own products, your own images, and your own turn around times. If it takes you 5 days to edit a portrait session, own that. Own that and then set your deadlines around that fact, and as long as you’re *setting proper expectations* with your clients, they won’t have an issue with it. I promise.

Office Hours

Have office hours and display them on the contact page of your site. Not everyone will see them, but at least you have the piece of mind of knowing that they’re there, and you can refer to them if needed. These office hours denote the times you are available to respond to your clients. This allows you to keep your evenings and weekends sacred (or whatever time you hold dear), without being bombarded by people who don’t realize that “freelance” doesn’t mean, “She who is at your beck and call every second of every day”.


I have found that since I put office hours up on my website, the number of clients who email me, then text me an hour later, then call me an hour after that, then email again… has declined. I love excited and enthusiastic clients as much as the next gal, but you still need SOME portion of your day to be “off the clock”. A least a little bit…

In addition to that, always give yourself a large window of response. I typically respond to my clients within a few hours, if not immediately (depending on what I’m doing), but SOMETIMES… sometimes I’ve had a long day. Sometimes I get home to an inquiry after a 12 hour shoot, and I’m tired, and I just need to be dead to the world for a little while. I give myself 24 hours to respond to clients, and it says so on my website. 

Again, it’s about protecting a little of your personal space to allow yourself to breath and keep a healthy mental state.


General Business Practices

So we've talked about good customer service, solid organization, and good mental health. There are just a few more things I want to address that don’t *necessarily* fit into those categories.


“FINALLY. She’s gonna talk about pricing!”

Not really. The only thing I want to say about pricing is that it varies from business to business. There are definitely industry benchmarks to look at. For example, if you’re charging $50 to your neighbors for shoot and burn services, you’re not a sustainable business, nor are you anywhere CLOSE to industry benchmarks. Sorry. But price *does* vary by business. 

Things that affect different pricing across photography businesses are things like overhead, desired income, services offered, etc. 

I’m sure you’ve heard this A MILLION times, but DO NOT. JUST PULL. RANDOM NUMBERS. OUT OF YOUR BUTT.

I hate math. A lot of people hate math. Math gives me a nosebleed, but the fact of the matter is BUSINESS IS MATH. So sit down and do your homework. Figure out what your cost of doing business is, figure out what your cost of living is, and set your pricing based off of those numbers. You’ll never have a sustainable business otherwise.

When I first started out, one of the guides that I found online that really helped me to wrap my head around things and start on the right path of creating my pricing was: “Photographer’s Pricing Guide Series” from The Modern Tog:


If you have no idea where to start, check that out. I used that as a starting point. I had a lot of other resources that I’ve taken from and thusly my business structure and pricing has evolved over the years into what it is today, but that series is a really solid start.

Contracts and Model Releases

The only thing people seem to hate almost as much as Math is paperwork. Why? It’s not that difficult. Just like you’re going to have your email response templates made up, have contracts and model release templates ready to go too. Because here’s the thing: You need to have paperwork for EVERYTHING YOU DO. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. PERIOD.

Doing spec work? Write up a contract.

Doing a test shoot? Model release.

“What if she’s my best friend?” 


“What if it’s my sister?” 


“What if it’s just for fun?” 


“What if it’s my first time shooting a wedding?”


Are you picking up what I’m putting down here? You have LITERALLY NO EXCUSE to NOT get paperwork done. It’s to save BOTH parties from headaches, and it’s to cover your butt should something go awry. Most of the time it won’t, and good for you if it doesn’t, but for that ONE TIME that it inevitably will… you’ll be glad you had that paperwork done.


So there you have it! There’s obviously a lot more detail that we could go into on any of the 4 major topics we covered, but there’s only so much attention span you (and I) have. If you have questions about things, that’s good! That means you’re thinking. Use your resources to find the answers and become that much more business savvy. Use Google, use photo groups you have access to, use colleagues with more experience than you… but I’ve given you a solid start here so go forth and business!

I believe in you!

Until next time, fam!

How to Business When You're Not Business Minded - Part 2 | Emily McGonigle Photography

Two weeks ago I posted part one, "Customer Service", of my three part mini blog series "How to Business When You're Not Business Minded." I covered topics like setting proper expectations, over promising / under delivering, and giving options instead of saying "no".

In this blog post I want to cover how to concentrate your business practices, so that you're feeling less flustered and more focused.


Being organized is one of the things that instantly makes your business life a lot smoother. Organization comes easily to some people, and to others it’s a lot of work. But wherever you fall on that spectrum, it’s well worth it to try and stay as organized as humanly possible. You’ll have less headaches and an easier time dealing with clients.

Studio Management Software

The first thing that I would suggest is to find a good CRM (customer relationship management) software. There are a TON out there, and each has a different set of features and benefits, which means that some will be more appealing to you than others. I hesitate to say that one in particular is THE BEST, because it really depends on the type of business you’re running and what you need your CRM to do for you.

The one I currently use is called Sprout Studio ( It allows me to keep track of leads, contact information, shoot workflow, contracts, invoices, and host proofing galleries and album proofs. It also tracks revenue and expenses, but I admittedly don’t use it for that at all.

If you’re at a point in your business where you’re starting to gain multiple clients at once, or you’re just overwhelmed with not every really being sure where in the process you are with a client, a program like Sprout will help you immensely. I log on every day and see my to-do lists for the day, as well as what’s coming up for the week, and if there’s anything past due. It helps me be able to decide what to tackle first so that I get back to all my clients in an orderly fashion, and everyone stays happy.

A few other CRM options to check out are: 

Tave (
17 Hats (
Honeybook (
Pixifi (
Studio Ninja (
ShootQ (
StudioCloud (

There are even more than that, those are just all of the ones I have tried out myself before landing on one that I felt was most beneficial to the way I run my business.

And what's even better is that most (if not all of them) have a free trial you can explore to really figure out which one fits you best!


Response Templates

When a client emails you an inquiry, don’t start your response to them from scratch every single time. You’re not only wasting time, but energy by doing this. Have a template response ready to go.

I have templates for initial inquiries, meeting reminders, session reminders, order reminders, etc. I always make sure to address my clients by name, and to answer any additional questions that they may have had that aren’t already answered by my templated response. But having the skeleton of the email already pre-built, saves me A LOT of time, stress, and mental power.

In addition to having pre-made email responses, make sure you have pre-made price sheets (or starting price sheets… or whatever information you like to give your clients prior to booking), and save them somewhere easily accessible. This way you’re able to present your brand in a professional way, and are also not having to write things out over and over.

Make A LOT of notes

I mean a lot. Think you've made enough notes? You didn’t. Make more. lol

Seriously though, once you’re juggling a few clients, especially if a few of them take a little more time to get back to you in between interactions, it’s SUPER helpful to have notes to reference along the way. You’ll be able to see when the last time you spoke to someone was, whether it’s time to follow up, and specifically what you chatted about. You don’t have to go digging through your email to remind yourself, because all of your client notes will be in one spot. In your CRM of choice that you totally went out and subscribed to after reading the Studio Management section above. ;)

Make notes after sending an email about what you said in the email. Make notes about your client’s response to your email. Make notes about the phone call with your client. Make notes about anything you need to research or accomplish before your sessions with the client.


Have a Morning Routine

Not a morning person? Me neither, dude. Me neither.


I get up, I make a cup of coffee, I play a few rounds of Overwatch, and by the time I’m done with that cup of coffee, I’m awake and ready to tackle the first part of my work day.

The first thing I do is go through my email. I check to see if I have any new inquiries or communications from existing clients that need to be addressed. After that, I switch over to Sprout where I check my “Past Due” list, my “Due Today” list, and I take a peek ahead at the rest of the week to see if there’s anything I can move up on the schedule. Once I'm through with that I may blog, or I may go straight to editing. This part of my schedule varies day by day, but I actually go a step further and loosely schedule out what I want to work on each day, week by week.

Your morning routine might be completely different. It doesn’t matter in what order you do it, or how you approach it, as long as you have a fairly solid, frequent, morning routine. It’ll give you a sense of mental organization and help you to keep calm as you chip away at your tasks for the day.


Next Time On the Blog…

Those are a few organizational tips that I use frequently that work well for me. One of the other things that I do, that I didn't really touch on, is carry a notebook with me everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. It helps me with random one-off thoughts while I'm out doing something else. It helps me to see part of my to-do list written somewhere tangible that I can make additional notes on or cross off (who doesn't love crossing off to-do lists with a pen?). You may love white boards, cork boards, or a particular app on your phone or computer. Everyone's organizational methods will be different, because everyone's brains function differently. But what is important is that you find what works best for YOU. 

If you have any questions about anything I wrote above, or you have tips that you think might be helpful to your fellow photographers, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below, or feel free to shoot me an email!

The next blog post in this series will deal with maintaining good mental health while running your business, and will also go over some general good business practices. Stay tuned until next time!

Thanks for reading!


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

How to Business When You're Not Business-Minded - Part 1 | Emily McGonigle Photography

Now I'm going to start this off with saying that I've never been to school for business or marketing, I don't have a degree or any special business accolades... But what I *do* have are happy clients, a sustaining business, and a *general* sense of organization.

Owning a business can be stressful, and if you’re like me and you already deal with issues like anxiety, it can seem downright daunting on some days. But being a business owner is one of the most full-time of full time jobs, so you have to find a way to deal on those days.

I’ve written a 3 part mini blog series on how to deal with four major topics:

Customer Service
Mental Health
General Good Business Practices

In the paragraphs of all 3 parts you will find advice on how to deal with clients, how to make your business life feel a little more organized, productive, and healthy, suggestions for tools to make things easier, and pricing.

In today’s blog post we’re going to address the overall topic of how to deal with Clients.

Customer Service

Having good customer service is arguably the most important thing you could do for your business. This seems like common sense, but after being in photography forums and Facebook groups for years, I’ve seen a surprising amount of bad customer service stories, or stories where the photographer simply didn’t think to do something simple that would have made their client’s experience exponentially better.

Set Proper Expectations

Most of the issues that I read about can be boiled down to one simple concept: Set proper expectations.

This goes for *everything* you do with your clients. Make sure they know your full price list and what they’re getting into, before they book. This doesn’t mean you have to have it displayed on your website, or that you have to send it fully in an email or run over it via a phone call. Whatever your pre-booking method is, just make sure that before that retainer is paid, and that contract is signed, your clients fully know what to expect from your service, product offerings, and pricing.

There’s nothing in the world worse than sticker shock or that email from a client telling you they’ve changed their mind about their purchase, because they felt pressured to buy more than they could afford, due to not being aware of pricing.

Make sure your clients know what your contract says. Don’t leave it up to them to read on their own, they won’t. When was the last time you read the terms and conditions portion of any service, software, or product you’ve purchased? We’re all guilty of it. I don’t read them either, so why are we expecting our clients to read our long contracts before signing? I always go over the contract with my clients before asking them to sign. I verbally condense it into laymen’s terms, but if they have a question about something, we’ll go over the actual text and I make sure they understand and are comfortable with everything.

Always be upfront about your creative process, your shoot workflow, and your turn around times. This might sound insane, but before your client books, make sure they like YOUR work. In this digital age everyone and their mother has a digital camera and some app or piece of software that can add pretty filters to their photos. Because of this a lot of inexperienced clients will assume that since you’re a photographer, you can do (or want to do) anything and everything they ask, and will shoot and edit according to their specifications. 

Go over your website with your clients. Make them point out what they love about your work. Make sure they’re down with the way you shoot and edit, because if they’re not, everyone is about to find themselves having a bad time.


Overpromise, Underdeliver

Listen, I know you can edit a session in two weeks if you have to, but here’s the thing: Telling your clients that you’ll have their stuff back in exactly two weeks can result in problems for you.

When you start to get really busy and you have two sessions in one week, now you’re not having to edit one session in two weeks. Now you have to edit *two* sessions in two weeks. You’ve just effectively doubled your workload (and thusly your stress-level), by not overpromising and underdelivering. 

Tell your clients that your turn around time is four weeks instead of two weeks. This way, you can edit your first session right away, and when it takes you two weeks instead of four, your first client will be thrilled they got their photos back early. Then your second client will, at the very least, get their photos back within the quoted four week time. Or lets say it only takes you one and a half weeks to edit the second client’s photos, they’ll *still* be happy that they got their photos back a little earlier than expected. 

Don’t do yourself the disservice of quoting EXACTLY the amount of time you think it’ll take you (unless we’re talking about a rush/priority job… that’s different), and make sure that you’re allowing for time off, multiple clients, and unforeseen circumstances like computers crashing, software issues, etc.

Don’t just say no, give options

I had a conversation with a friend who was describing a situation where a client wanted him to edit their photos in a style that wasn’t consistent with my friend’s brand. He asked me for advice on how to handle this type of situation and I told him that rather than telling his client, “No I won’t do that”, he should should tell his client what he *could* do for him. 

I actually put this into practice when clients ask for certain services or products that I don’t offer. I’ve been asked serval times if I do mini shoots from clients who are looking for just a few portraits to walk away with. I don’t do mini shoots, but my response to this question isn’t, “No, sorry.” I always answer with, “I don’t have a mini shoot option, but all of my products and images are sold a-la-carte, so you can essentially create your own package to fit your needs and budget”. Then I also let them know that if I’m not a good fit for them at this time, I’d be happy to refer them to some of my colleagues. I give them options.

The same thing occurs often when a client wants to shoot at a specific location that charges for photoshoots. I let them know what the fee will be to shoot there, and then also let them know that there are some similar options that may fit their budget better. Instead of a “No, they charge too much”, I give them their options and let them pick what they’d prefer.

Next Time On the Blog…

Those are just some customer service tips that I use frequently that work well for me, and have worked well for my colleagues. If you have any questions or other tips that you think might be helpful to your fellow photographers, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below, or feel free to shoot me an email!

The next blog post in this series will deal with the overall topic of Organization. Stay tuned until next time, to see tips on making your business feel a little more fluid. 

Thanks for reading!


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.