Managing Client Expectations as a Photographer

If you’re well into your photography career, it’s possible you’ve shot dozens, if not hundreds of weddings over the years.  You can recite the legal wording the officiant has to use in every ceremony in your sleep. You’ve seen every decorated mason jar, every explosion of family drama, and fielded every silly question – three times over. That can be easy to lose sight of, especially in the middle of wedding season when you’re daydreaming about weekends that don’t involve someone else’s happiest day of their lives.

So, how do you navigate the same questions from your couples over and over, without losing your cool?

The first thing to remember is that while this has become a routine for you, this is often the very first wedding your couple has been a part of. They are wedding newbies, thrown headfirst into a day that is usually very emotional, very expensive, and sometimes overwhelming. Often, their stupid questions come from a place of fear, and your job as the expert is to alleviate that fear and uncertainty.

We’ve all had the bride who has a full Pinterest board of “inspiration shots” or three pages of required shots she wants completed in the 45 minutes allotted for the cocktail hour. Brides will hear and read over and over again that there are no second chances on your wedding day, and horror stories about missed shots or out of focus photos can cause no small amount of anxiety. You can help to relieve some of that by talking with your couples about your shooting style, the type of images you usually like to create, and how long it really takes to round up Grandma and Uncle Joe from the appetizer table for the family photos.

If you understand that part of your job is to educate your client, you can set expectations early. Some brides will be working off of a list they found in the back of a magazine, and it may be painfully detailed or woefully incomplete. Vendor meals, breaks, who pays for parking  – all of those questions come from a genuine place of possibly not knowing why they are asking, but knowing that the magazine list said they should. Aim to be informative, factual and firm when it comes to those items you have included in your agreement. Explain in detail how you normally handle your meal break, what you’ll do if an Uncle Bob gets in your way, and how you’ll assist with keeping photos on schedule, even if there’s underlying tension, drama or an uncooperative toddler in the mix.

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By managing this balance of alleviating anxiety and setting expectations through information, you’ll find that the wedding day goes much more smoothly. You might need to refresh your couple’s memory, but they’ll recall the conversations you had before the jitters kicked in, and how reassured and comfortable they felt knowing they were dealing with a true professional, and that they are free to focus on each other, and their special day.



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