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The Secret to Effective Client Questionnaires

Upload from August 08, 2011

Sending a questionnaire to your clients before a photo shoot is crazy valuable. You can get to know who they are, what they’re all about, and what they’re looking for from you. You can plan a more meaningful session, jump start your comfort level with them, prepare for a great sale afterwards, and get a heads up on any potential problems. All of that, with only a few questions!

So, what’s the big secret about an effective client questionnaire? Is it choosing the perfect questions? Making it easy to fill out? Maybe the length is the most important thing? Or when you send it? Those things are all important, to be sure, but the secret is more simple than all of that. You just have to ask yourself one question…

*Why* are you sending them a questionnaire?

To make a great questionnaire, first you need to define your goals with it. Are you just trying to get to know them? Are you trying to get a feel for what they’d like with their photos? Maybe you want to get them thinking about the products they’d like to purchase? Or you’d like to understand why they’ve chosen you as their photographer?

Whatever your reasons, you need to have those figured out first, and then create the questions that will give you the answers you’re looking for! Quite simple, eh?

I’m going to share one of the questionnaires I send out to our clients when they book us to shoot their portraits. They get it right after they’ve booked so we can get the info as soon as possible. I thought about designing a pretty looking one, but opted to just send it to them as text in an email. Making it easy for them to fill out was a priority, so an email makes it super simple to do. You can also use Mach Forms, or Wufoo forms!

Our questionnaire is about getting to know who they are, their personalities, and how we can plan a session that will capture that. One of the most valuable things about this information is that you’re able to create a connection with them before you’ve even started shooting! You’ll probably fall in love with their awesomness, and can’t wait to meet them!

We also want to know what they most enjoy about our work, and how they’re planning to display the images afterwards. If they are really interested in an album, you’ll want to know that right away so you can be sure to shoot for it! If they’re all about wall prints, you’ll have to make sure to get some epic shots that will look great nice and big on the wall.

So, with all that said, here’s the big idea. Don’t just copy these questions willy-nilly! Use them as inspiration, but make sure to take the time to think of *why* you’re sending a questionnaire. You might want totally different information from your clients! The better your questions fit with your business, and your shooting style and session goals, the more meaningful they’ll be for you and your clients.

(This questionnaire is for a couple. We have slightly different versions for families, newborns, and individuals!) 

The Questionnaire

You Guys:

What are your names?

Tell us about why you decided to have your portraits taken:

When was the last time you had your portraits taken?

What do you love most about your partner?

What do you want to remember about you two, right now?

Decribe your perfect Saturday together:

Tell us about yourselves. What are your hobbies? What is one fun fact about each person?

What do you like to do together? Places you like to go?

If you could pick one word that describes you as a couple, what would it be?

Send us your favourite photo of you two! We love to put faces to names right away.

The Photos:

Are there any shots, or sessions, that you’ve seen of ours that really stand out to you?

Are there any must-have photos?

Do you have a special location you’d like us to check out?

Are there any specific ways you’d like to display your photos? (albums, digital files, canvases, etc.)

Which areas of your home are you hoping to decorate with your images?

Is there anything else we should know?

Is there someone we can thank for referring you?

Do you have any other questions you ask your clients? Why? Share with us in the comments!

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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Discussion

17 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. This is a great reference! Get's me thinking of some stuff I should add to mine. Thanks guys!

  2. Google Docs have great forms also.

  3. Thank you! We are just starting out in the photography world and this is super helpful :) We try to get this information down on paper during our consults, but in many cases the details of the wedding day haven't quite come together yet. We love you guys, we follow your blog and you've been so helpful in guiding us through everything from workflow, the importance of branding, and client experience. Keep doing what you're doing!

  4. jessica ho says:

    Still following, I eat up all your posts! Thank you! :)

  5. *@Nina:* Thanks! So glad it was helpful!

    *@Sabrina:* Great suggestion, I didn't even think of Google Docs! Thanks so much for sharing!

    *@Erin:* Very happy to help! Thanks so much for following us :)

    *@Jessica:* Thanks Jessica! So happy you're enjoying our stuff!

  6. Wow, this is so basic but so well-said. In an attempt to use less paper, I use google docs to collect my model releases and contact info before every shoot… and should consider adding in some extra questions like yours as well. (The only bummer about google forms is that all the answers get squished into a spreadsheet, and it is not very easy to navigate individual results.)

    Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to ask the right questions, in the right way. This post was the perfect blend of informative and interesting. Well done, and thank you.

  7. Thanks for the comment Rachel! I really like the Google Docs idea. Too bad it puts the data into a spreadsheet like that though. Hmm….

    Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm so glad this was informative and interesting!! :)

  8. Hi Lauren,
    This blog post was a great help. I've created dozens of 'Creative Briefs' for design projects, but this was my first for a portrait session so I didn't know where to start! The sample questions you gave were great – and not too much for the family to fill out. I decided to use Google Docs, too, as it's where I keep all my other documents.
    Thanks :)

  9. Do you guys have a client questionnaire template for weddings?

  10. Hi Alora!

    Weddings were handled a bit differently! When we met with wedding clients there would be some standard questions we would ask them (eg. How would you describe your ideal wedding say? How important is photography to you? Etc.). Then about a week before the wedding we would meet with the couple to run through a pre wedding worksheet that covered exactly how the wedding day would go down.

    Our simple "Simply Wedding Photography eBook":http://www.photographyconcentrate.com/simple-wedding-photography/ goes into greater detail about the questions we asked at meetings, and also contains a template of our the pre-wedding worksheet!

  11. This is really useful! I've been putting together a questionnaire for my business and then thought of gaining some inspiration from the internet and found this. You mentioned families, newborns and individuals – would you be willing to share those questions? Thanks!!

  12. This is rockin’!
    I am altering this to work for HS Seniors. I will have a very brief section for parents and then a more get to know you type section for the Seniors. :) thanks for the guidance!

  13. Sherry Alberto says:

    Thank you very much for the informative, yet simple help. I’m just starting out with my photography and reading this was the perfect timing since I have an upcoming senior portrait with a friend. I look forward to reading more from your website :)

  14. Pleae forgive the silly question, but I am not familar with google docs and how to access information throught it.
    Help?

    Thanks!

  15. Awesome post. I just found this website and I can’t peel my self away from it! I wish I could digest all of the information instantly! :)

  16. Thanks so much for this got my mind working.

  17. The warm and friendly way you worded everything is very helpful! Thanks a lot.

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