How to get permission to show client photos, even the risqué ones


How I get permission to use client photosPIN When I read Facebook boudoir group posts, I often see photographers puzzled about how to get more real client work on their websites. I used to be that person, until the end of last year when I completely changed how I ask clients to use their photos. It comes down to planting the seed, using the right words, putting her in control, and assuming that you will be able to use some photos from every client boudoir shoot.

Plant the seed

When my client is starting hair and makeup, my makeup artist asks if we can do a before photo. Most clients say yes. I tell them at that point that I have every client sign a permission slip that tells me whether I have permission to show some or all of their photos in my portfolio at their ordering appointment.

Use the right words

I used to call this a Model Release, and the first paragraph included the words “allow to use.” Now, if I just paid beaucoup bucks for a photo session, and I am asked to allow my photographer to use my photos to market her services, I might feel a little uncomfortable. Then I changed the name of my form to be Permission to Show Photos, and the first paragraph says, “give permission to show photos in my portfolio.” All of a sudden the number of clients giving me the OK to show at least some of the photos jumped through the roof. Note the words:

  • Permission (not allow)
  • Show (not use)
  • Portfolio (not marketing)

Assume you’ll get a yes

I used to assume I would not get permission to show any clients’ photos in my portfolio. And, of course, that’s what happened. My form reflected it. I had too many choices:

  1. No photos
  2. Only in studio samples
  3. Studio samples and online
  4. Only anonymous photos
  5. All photos

This is the order I presented the options. So, guess what response I received most? No photos. I decided to experiment with that list, and I wound up here:

  1. All photos
  2. All photos except the ones marked out on the attached contact sheet
  3. No photos

By giving two positive responses, I now have a 66 percent chance of getting a yes. boudoir-photos-weight-loss-lynnclark-8adbPIN

Put her in charge

When I was assuming I’d get a no, I just had clients sign a form. Then, I decided to select about a dozen images, print them in a contact sheet and ask for a release on those photos. Usually, they were anonymous. The problem I ran into was clients were releasing the exact same photos. So, I never updated my boudoir portfolio. Who wants different women in the same 5 poses on their websites?

Then, I decided to print out a contact sheet showing every single photo I presented in her gallery—somewhere between 45 and 60 images. I reminded her that I ask every client to note whether I have permission to use their photos. I gave her the three choices: All, these or none. I instructed her to go through the contact sheet and mark out any photos she would not like me to show.

And then I left the room to go print her sales receipt. That alone increased my percentage of clients giving permission to about half. Then, I changed the wording and title on the form and the permission to use some, if not all, photos skyrocketed.

Give her an out

The last thing I tell a client before I leave the room is that I absolutely understand that these are private, intimate photos, and that she is under no obligation to allow me to show any of them. I assure her that I will never identify her by name (I use Ms. First Initial).  Then I tell her that she may revoke her permission at any time for any or all photos by simply emailing me. I do add the caveat that once something is online, I can take it off my site but that’s as far as I can go, and if I’ve used her photos in a studio sample I’ll phase it out as soon as possible.

When I come back to her, it’s likely that she’s given permission to allow me to use many if not all of her images. Now, my problem is sorting through and again, actually updating my portfolio and blogging those images.

Ask every client

I used to pick and choose which clients I asked. When I started asking everyone, of course the number of yeses I received went up, as it’s a matter of numbers. But I was most surprised by the types of clients who were saying yes.

Making this part of my standard client workflow also took all the fear out of asking. It’s just something I do. That’s my attitude when I ask.

Thank her

When I get permission to show one or all images, I thank her in person. I thank her in a Facebook post if I make one. I thank her in the blog post (while reiterating that I only show photos if I have the client’s permission.) A little thank you goes a long way. How do you ask clients for permission to include their photos in your portfolio? What has worked? What has failed? Let us know in the comments. lingerie-photography-denver-lynnclark-8ae2PIN


Lynn Clark

Lynn Clark is co-founder of The Business of Boudoir. She’s a boudoir and portrait photographer in Denver, Colo. with a mission to help every woman bare her beauty … and leave with an amazing photo of her own ass (because let’s be honest, we ALL want an amazing photo of our own asses.) She brings 25 years of communications background in writing, websites, public relations and strategy to The Business of Boudoir. She’s also available for 1 on 1 website evaluation, content creation and editing.


Isabella’s rebellion toward redefining beauty

Interview with Ella Photography

580150_10152677602665046_318687309_nMontreal has its share of photographers, but none like Isabella of Ella Photography. She believes that “no matter who you are and what you look like, you ARE beautiful”. She has been running her wedding and lifestyle photography business, Ella Photography, for a number of years now which she started after deciding that the fashion world contributed to a broken view of beauty. Fashion is fickle, and its images it promoted to young girls, such as her niece, gnawed on her conscience to the point where she realized she was part of the problem. “So I quit”, Ella recounted.

In a rebellious spirit, Isabella launched her photography business offering wedding packages and expanding into the growing market of boudoir photography. Boudoir photography is more elegant, sensual and quite intimate in comparison to weddings. Isabella believes that she captures what is already there. Her goal is to prove to her clients that “they are awesome just the way they are, right now”. By making her clients feel comfortable and “real” in front of the camera, the images could completely change their own perspective of “Beautiful”. Two years into her photography business, she was diagnosed with a thyroid condition that affected her eyes and challenged her personal view of beauty. The journey to her self rediscovery was challenging but made the belief in her cause even stronger. She understands the value of her company’s philosophy in making her clients look and FEEL beautiful.

For Isabella, photography was something she just did ever since she was a child. She hadn’t thought of photography as a career until one day, in her marketing job, she was given the opportunity to shoot fashion. Since then, she evolved and made it her mission to make the world a better place.

Her photographic style focuses on redefining the term “beautiful” to her clients and touches on emotions. “I like photographs that speak to the viewer, photos that evoke emotion”, she says. She makes her clients feel beautiful and she captures couples on their most beautiful day, their wedding day. With two lovable dogs and great clients, she says she wouldn’t change anything in her life right now.

Isabella says she landed in photography by fluke, but we all know effort and work was involved.  Coming from a marketing background she starts off with key advice, “Word of mouth is the best marketing strategy”.  With that said she also believes you must be genuine and provide great customer service so that people remember you and talk about you. Isabella doesn’t believe in competition amongst other photographers, because there is a client for every kind of photographer.

To keep the business side running smoothly, an accountant is the first thing you need to find. They can help you set up your systems, give you tips on managing money, and keep all the compliance work such as business filing, registrations, income tax filings up-to-date and orderly, helping you avoid penalties or fines for non-compliance.

Starting any business is challenging. She adds, “If you want something to happen, you will stop at nothing to make it work. Money should never be an issue. When starting out, everyone feels just as lost as you”. The best advice for that, she says is “Don’t give up!”.

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