What I learned from my very first family portrait event...
Location: Wild Hearts Farm - Tacoma, WA
Dipped Oreos: Rosebud Chocolates
When I first had the idea of hosting a portrait event I knew exactly where I wanted to host it, Wild Hearts Farm. At most, I have shot two or three sessions a day and have always been able to be somewhat flexible in our timeframe; going over our "time limit" was hardly ever an issue. However, fitting in eleven sessions in six hours meant I had to be organized and stay on schedule.
Weirdly enough, the farm was already booked but I just had a feeling it would work. A day later, the farm called me and told me that the other photographer rescheduled. Seriously, it was meant to be!
Once I was able to book the farm, advertising had to begin. Luckily, I was shooting in my hometown, so it wasn't too hard to get sessions booked. Friends referred friends, and within a week I had enough interest. Clients were able to claim their time slots in a private Facebook event page. This also made it super easy to make announcements to everyone. Clients could choose between 30 minute or 60 minute time slots. This worked brilliantly. However, next time I am going to hold 20 minute or 50 minute time slots with 10 free minutes separating each session. While sessions flew by, it would have been nice to have a quick coffee or bathroom break in between each session.
"Say yes. You'll figure it out afterward." -Tina Fey
I was so happy I was able to work with Wild Hearts Farm for my first big event. I honestly don't know what I would have done without their help! It was pouring all day long, however they had a STUNNING indoor studio space. Which is why I am going to stress the importance of this...have a backup plan. Communicate with your clients before the event that if something happens that is out of your control (rain, snow, aliens invade, etc.) you have a backup plan! Either reschedule or find an indoor space.
Don't forget to check if you need permits! Often, public parks still require you to have a permit. While very few (in my experience) enforce permits, if you are having clients coming and going all day, your chance of getting "caught" go up. Just take five minutes to call ahead and double check. Along with permits, don't forget contracts! Have your own contract and check with your event space to see if they require your clients to sign a contract/waiver.
Another important element, your assistant. Hire an assistant. Seriously, just do it. You will thank yourself later. While I was shooting, my assistant was going over contracts and releases so I was able to use every minute of session time. I don't know how I would have functioned without her!
Last but not least, don't forget thank you cards! I couldn't do what I do without my amazing clients. I actually dislike using the word clients because I typically develop friendships with all of them! I have been so blessed to be able to work with each and every one of them. Half of my clients at my portrait event were returning clients, and the other half were referrals. Along with thank you cards, I included packets of my favorite tea and sunflower Oreo cookies! (Get it...I am currently living in the sunflower state?)
Like I said before, I honestly felt like I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, but it couldn't have worked out more perfectly. If you still think it is too much, try tag teaming with another photographer or start with fewer sessions.