Episode 39: How to Set the Timeline for a Boutique Portrait Order

Episode 39: How to Set the Timeline for a Boutique Portrait Order


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

As a photography business coach, I know that many photographers feel pressure to turn their client artwork around quickly.

Having the fastest delivery time means serving your clients, right?

Not exactly.

Here is how to look at the timeline of a boutique portrait order, so that you can stop feeling stressed and set realistic expectations with your clients on when their order will be delivered.

We were raised in a culture of “the customer is always right.”

This makes us feel like we always have to over serve.

So many photographers feel pressure to do everything fast.

It should be the opposite.

I believe that there is not as much value in speed.

A couple of years ago, I was at a wedding where the photographer was racing around, and projecting the images he had just shot at the wedding, during the reception.

This bummed me out because it took the surprise away.

There was no magic.

It left the couple with nothing to look forward to.

Time Adds Magic

That’s how I feel about our artwork.

It’s a gift.

If I shot weddings, I would wait to give the images until the dress is cleaned and tucked away, the gifts are open, and all of the flowers have died.

At this point, all that’s left are fading memories and the anticipation of the beautiful images the photographer took.

The same is true for a portrait photography session.

Our clients took the day off work, bought special clothing, had their hair done.

When they come back a couple of weeks later they’re excited.

They remember how much work it was to do that session and they are anticipating beautiful images that they can hang in their home.

I want my clients in that emotional place where they are ready to fall in love with their images.

It’s so much fun.

I want the anticipation that can occur only from time passing.

Quickly turning your images around does not serve your client.

A portrait session should be a long term process that they look forward to.

How do we give great service and create an experience that our clients will thank us for?

I have four things I want to share.

#1 Educate Your Clients About Your Boutique Portrait Timeline

You have to position the artwork correctly from the beginning.

We are creating gorgeous heirloom artwork for our clients.

This takes time.

I start talking about the longer timeframe on the very first phone call.

I also bring it up in every single meeting, so that they know what to expect.

#2 Be Committed To Excellence

After the session, it’s about two weeks before I present the images to my clients.

When they place their order, it will be at least three weeks before they get their order back, ready to be framed.

Then, it is another four to six weeks to get the finished and framed artwork back.

This allows me to under-promise and over-deliver.

I might have their artwork done in two weeks instead of four.

We might turn the framing around quicker.

This allows us to surprise and delight.

If I get a client’s artwork back and anything is wrong, from the color being off, to a bend in the paper, I will have it redone at my cost.

I have super high standards and I want my client to have the very best that there is.

I’ve made a commitment to excellence.

#3 Time Strengthens an Investment

We know that the more time our clients invest in this process, the more money they will want to invest in their artwork.

We want our clients invested with their time because this is an experience we’re holding their hand through.

Getting artwork to decorate their home is a process.

The more involved they are, the happier they will be at the end of the process.

#4 Slowing Down Serves Us

When you jam your days full of over-promised deadlines, there’s no margin for error.

Giving yourself time allows you to pay attention to details.

When you’re stressing, mistakes become a hot mess.

If you give yourself time to slow down, you serve your clients and yourself at the highest level.

There is no such thing as a portrait emergency.

As a professional, it’s your job to slow the client down and guide them through the process.

Most portrait clients are appreciative of being taken care of,  and a longer timeline for their boutique portrait is no big deal.

If someone has a birthday or a deadline coming up, they let us know and we do our best to get it done, even if it means rush charges on our part.

Thrill Your Clients

The goal is to thrill our clients, not to do it quickly.

Hopefully, this will help you stop putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to turn images around as soon as possible.

When your clients invest their money and their time, you form an amazing relationship with them.

They will want to keep coming back to the photographer who serves them.

I understand the old saying that we should do anything the customer wants.

But at the end of the day, what the customer wants is to have artwork up on their walls that will give them goosebumps every time they walk into the room.

You don’t have to speed for your client to be thrilled with the outcome.

People are hurting and we have the ability to add joy to their lives.

If you communicate this with them from the beginning, they are going to love you.

They will say,

“I loved this experience and it was totally worth the wait.”

follow boutique photographer sarah petty on instagram to learn more about the boutique photography timeline


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