I always like to meet with my clients some days before a photoshoot. Not every photographer will offer an in person conference, but there are lots of reasons why I do.
The first is, I get to meet my client. I find out a little about them, so I can tailor my shoot to better match what they want and need. I also like to let my clients know a bit about me, too. I think both client and photographer can relax more at the shoot when they are not complete strangers.
The second reason is about gathering information that will make my photoshoot run smoothly. My first questions are about the practical things.I like to know where the venue will be; the time the event begins and when I should arrive. I also like to know if there are any special arrangements I will need to make, such as availability of close parking for my gear. I will usually follow this up with a visit to the venue to check these things out.
More importantly, I need to know which shots are important to the client. For events, I will need to know a little about the guest of honor, particularly their personality and feelings about being photographed. I will ask for a list of important people – parents, family members, best friends, old school friends and anyone else the client can think of. I don’t always work from a set checklist, because each event is different. Such things as a cake of special significance, or made by a special family member needs to be remembered; will there be a formal section of the occasion, with speeches, or will it be a low key affair? Special clothing, new shoes, a party theme? Knowing these kinds of things greatly help me to make sure those important little moments are all captured. If they are important to you, they are important to me.
For food and restaurant photography, I will ask about the preparation time; if some styling props may be needed; what message it is important to convey. For cookbooks and magazines, I will ask about accompanying text so I can arrange the shot appropriately.
There will of course, be questions the client will want to ask. They will need to know anything they will need to plan; how many images they can expect; when and how they will receive their images, and what they should do if they need to contact me either before or after the shoot.
The important thing about these conferences, then, is about cementing a relationship that works for both client and photographer.