3 Steps to Rocking Your Portrait Sales

3 Keys to Successful Portrait Sales

In order to have successful portrait sales, you must do in person sales. I know, I know, no one loves this idea at first. It's not as easy as emailing a link, but the tremendous increase you'll see in profits and client satisfaction is well worth the time. The key to successful portrait sales is a 3 step process that starts before you schedule the session. All three sessions should be scheduled at the same time, so it locks that time in for both you and the client.

Planning Session

The process begins with an in-person planning session. The purpose of this session is to educate your client on how to get the most from their session, discuss clothing, location and activity options, and most importantly, get a sense for what finished products they are interested in. By going over the product options you offer and seeing what they are interested in, this gives the client time to consider the price and imagine the piece in their home. Think of it as “planting the seeds for the sale.”

Be sure to tie in the discussion of finished products with their home décor and the type of images you will create for them. For example, if they are looking for something to hang in their family room, what colors would look best in that room? Those colors or something complimentary would be ideal clothing choices for them. Do they prefer a single wall portrait or a collection of images? By getting an idea for the type of products the client wants, you will be better able to create images they will love, and that will work well for the products they have in mind.

The other thing you want to do is get pricing out of the way at this session. The last thing you want is to invest many hours in creating gorgeous images for them only to have them end up buying nothing more than a few 5×7's.

portrait sales

Photo Session

Once you've had time to sit down and discuss all the options in the planning session, review studio policies, see what products the client prefers, and get to know them, you will be much more prepared for the session itself, and so will the client.

Ask questions during the planning session that will help you get to know your clients better so you can help them relax during their session. With the planning session out of the way, you should have a very good idea of the types of images you are creating for them. Do they prefer a casual family portrait or more formal, everyone looking at the camera type of image? What do they like to do as a couple, as a family, and how can you incorporate that into the session?

After the session, be sure to remind clients that you look forward to sharing the images with them at their upcoming ordering session. This reminds them about the session and also lets them know not to expect to see a link to images online.

photography salesOrdering Session

This is sometimes mistakenly called the “viewing session” but it's important to give clients the message that they are not coming in to simply view the images, they are coming in to order images. That means they should be prepared to place their order right then and there with you. If you do not offer online viewing, and there is no other way to see the images, this will ensure you actually make sales and earn a profit from your work, instead of simply logging in to their gallery every time they want to enjoy your work (and therefore not need to purchase anything).

Most people find projection to be the best way to present images at the ordering session, but you can always work with proofs and suggestion sheets until you have a projector set up. Make sure the ordering session is fun and full of emotional high points as you present finished images and product suggestions based on all the information you gathered at the planning session.

Be prepared to offer a payment plan and collect a deposit on the full order before they leave. Once they walk out the door, you are not likely to get the sale, so it is important to create the environment and have the sales tools that will ensure a sale for you. It takes practice and fine-tuning, but after a couple great ordering sessions, you'll never want to do it any other way.


To learn more about photography marketing and sales techniques, check out Photography Business Secrets, the Savvy Photographer's Guide to Sales, Marketing and More available on Amazon.

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