As senior photographers, it’s important that we create a positive and welcoming experience for our clients. Anything that’s a little different than the standard experience helps you create something even more meaningful for your clients – and is another point you can use to help yourself stand out in your market. One of my favorite experience upgrades is a Style Closet for our clients! Style closets solve two problems: what your clients should wear AND how to stand out in your market.
Let’s face it, what a client wears can make or break a photo. And while I’ll never tell a client not to wear something they love (because these are their photos!), I do believe that certain choices create photos we love. We’ve all been there when clients arrive in clothes taht don’t fit them or they aren’t comfortable in. By styling my clients and their wardrobes, I have been able to not only elevate their portraits but also their experience with me. Being able to choose their wardrobe also means they’re more confident and sure about their photos! Seriously, it’s a win-win all the way around. You don’t have to be super into fashion or an expert to create a client closet that will benefit your clients and your business. Read on to see my tips for building your own style closet!
Simply put… A style closet is a collection of clothing, jewelry and/or accessories that a photographer collects and allows a client to borrow for a photoshoot. These are pieces that you’ve come across over the years and can be worn by many clients to create the photos they’re dreaming of! Style closets are so helpful for clients because it’s one less thing they have to worry about now. They can work with you to pick out what to wear and they’re already feeling more confident going into their session!
Not only do style closets benefit your current clients, but they benefit your future clients. When your clients borrow from the closet, you immediately know that you have images that will fit your aesthetic and brand, which means you’re more likely to share those images. Let’s be honest: it’s the truth! This helps your potential and future clients understand what their portraits could look like with you. Even if your clients don’t borrow from your closet, they’ll know the kind of outfits that work well with your style of photography.
Client closets also give you more options for creative shoots. You can highlight outfits in your style closet for bigger photo shoots – or, if you don’t have what you need, you know you can add that item to your closet to be used again. It’s a super easy way to build up (and regularly use!) your client closet pieces.
First and foremost, you need money and a budget! Search for sales at places you like and try thrifting. That can be a great way to get the most out of your budget. I always recommend you consider pricing your sessions in a way that additions to your stye closet can be covered by some of the fee. You also need space to house the outfits you purchase. You don’t need a studio to be able to have a closet! Keep the outfits on a rack in your office or a closet in your house. Don’t forget a way to store accessories like jewelry, hats, or props.
Next, you’ll need a little extra time. By offering this style closet to your clients, you’ll need to have time in your schedule to actually meet with them. I have a 45 minute wardrobe consultation at my house where they can look through the closet and choose what they want. We look at the outfits together and figure out what they want to use – or use from their own closet! If you don’t want to do that in person, you’ll want to come up with a way to do it offline. Finally, you need the actual pieces of clothing! I encourage you to start small and grow from there. Maybe start with some jewelry or accessories. This allows you to help your clients dress up anything they might wear! After that, you can purchase clothing items. I tend to stick to items they may not have in their closets at home. This means flowy dresses, skirts, tops, and jackets. I focus on what I know will look great on camera!
Honestly, it’s a little bit of trial and error to find the right items! But, it’s worth the effort. When you work with your clients through their wardrobe consult, remind them that these items look great on camera. Something may be a little outside of their comfort zone, but with the right encouragement, it could look amazing in their photos!!
Every season, I add new items to my closet so I always have something new to offer, but also so I stay on the style and trends. When I’m done with items, I donate them. You could also have a client style closet sale each year! Whatever works for you is fine!
Wondering where to shop for these items? I love shopping at local boutiques that I know my clients love as well as lots of online stores. Places like Zara, Free People, H&M, Revolve, Shopbop, Amazon, Alterd State, Nordstrom, Asos, Lulu’s, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Red Dress Boutique, and Vici are some of my go to’s for style closet finds.
Currently, my closet is focused on my girls. Someday, I may offer pieces for the guys, but for many of my clients, they stick to what they have. The same principles will apply though: things they don’t have that can be layered and help create new looks in easy ways. I’d focus on hats, glasses, watches, hoodies, and sweaters.
Remember, a style closet is a great way to serve your clients that they may not expect. And it helps you create the looks and styles you’d like to share on the front end of your business. Your style closet is a chance to uplevel your client experience – so lean into that and have fun! And it’s 100% okay if you don’t want to offer one to your clients. There’s so many other ways to help them with wardrobes, like partnering with local boutiques or simply helping them style what they already have. Make it work for you!
I have a brand new course called The Senior Posing Academy (to be released soon)! This course will teach you the importance of posing, the entire posing formula and show you exactly how this formula works on senior sessions! If you are interested in being the first to know when this course is available, be sure to go to the waitlist and add your name so you’ll be the first to know (and get a special discount). And don’t forget to grab my FREE Posing Guide, 1 Pose 50 Ways.
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