Building a Client Closet can take your portfolio and photography business to the next level. A client wardrobe can help you to attract your dream clients that crave the images you create making clicking that “book a session” button that much easier!
But, should you build a client closet? Are you ready to take it on? Sure, it takes time, money, know-how and willing clients to make it happen. But, is it worth it in the end?
Let’s explore the options together to see if a Client Closet is the right choice for your business!
WHAT IS A CLIENT CLOSET?
First things first, what is a Client Closet? A client closet is a collection of items you have for your clients to borrow for their sessions. Ideally, the clothing in your client closet are tried and true pieces, available in multiple sizes that photograph well and are in line with your photography and editing style. Your client closet should help you build the portfolio and cohesive brand experience you’ve been working towards since you began your business.
Let’s face facts, sometimes your clients don’t show up in outfits that work in pictures. And often times, they show up in outfits that also do not match your photography and editing style. Unless properly coached through the styling process, clients are often unsure of what to wear to a photoshoot. This confusion can lead to procrastination in choosing outfits or buying anything for the photoshoot. Then, the night before they scramble to put items together.
Having a client closet and items to offer can be a solution to this problem your clients are struggling with. From the beginning, they will know that there is clothing available for them to use at their session and they will be able to see in a very visual way what the best style for them to wear to a photoshoot with you is.
WHO IS A CLIENT CLOSET FOR?
A Client Closet can work for pretty much every type of portrait photography! Family, Lifestyle and Maternity Photographers can help those busy moms out with a dress that fits her changing body from maternity to newborn to holiday family photoshoots. There is also a place for a Client Closet in Brand Photography, where you want to build out a collection of items that work together for your clients, think tiny capsule wardrobes! And how cute would it be to keep a collection of tiny newborn and baby clothing for newborn and child photographers that serve all those babies with Fresh 48’s and milestone sessions!
I recommend being in a specific season of your business before building out a client closet. It’s definitely not for newbie photogs that just started booking sessions. It takes some time to figure out what your ultimate photography style will be and how to edit your pictures to perfection! So, I’d wait until you are consistently booking clients and have solidified your photography style and editing preferences, before building a client closet around your business.
If you are consistently booking clients, have a signature style and editing process, and are ready to build the portfolio of your dreams, then it may be time to build out your client closet. Also, if you have built a portfolio you are happy with through style coaching your clients alone (go you!) and want to raise your prices…having a client closet for clients is a way to justify the additional cost to your clients. They won’t have to buy a dress, that they may wear just once, for the photo session with you if you have a client closet!
THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A CLIENT CLOSET
The benefits of building out a client closet are many!
Having a Client Closet can help you to:
- Create a Consistent Portfolio
- Attracts your Ideal Clients
- Serve Your Clients Even Better
- Finally Raise Your Prices
Create a Consistent photography Portfolio
Your portfolio is the first thing prospective clients look at and it helps them to decide if they want to book with you or not. Creating a consistent portfolio to share on your website and social media is a must if you want to attract your ideal clients. When you build a client closet based upon your signature style as a photographer, you will attract clients that are looking for your specific style, And, when they find you they are more likely to book with you and be happy with their final images. You’ll want to choose outfits that are the right colors, styles and types of clothing for your ideal audience.
Start by creating a custom palette that is ideal for your editing style, be it light and airy, moody, film-inspired or any other style of portrait photography. Your client closet should consist of this signature palette plus coordinating neutral items and accessories.
Next, make sure to choose styles of clothing that compliment your photography style and clients. Boho, Classic, a mixture of the two or professional, you get to choose what works best for you and your clients’. Just stay consistent to your style and make sure you buy quality pieces that will last.
Attract your ideal clients to your photography business
When you are attracting your ideal clients, the ones that are into the same aesthetic you are, there is a better chance for a great working relationship. In short, you both will be on the same page and looking for the same results, so you both are more likely to be happy with the experience. Your portfolio, and the clothing that people are wearing in those pictures, will be the biggest factor that attracts your ideal client. They won’t even look at prices first! They will want images like the ones in your portfolio for themselves and they will be willing to pay what you ask (if they can afford to) to get them.
Serve your clients even better
If you have read this far, I can assume that you know that the styling matter for photoshoots. You may even have an amazing style guide (if you don’t, make sure to DM on Instagram to discuss that!). You know that coaching your clients through the styling process can make all the difference. They will feel supported and excited about the session, instead of confused and overwhelmed. And if you are going one step further by providing them with access to your client closet, your clients are going to be even happier!
finally raise your prices for your sessions
A wardrobe for your clients to use is a perk! It sets you apart from the competition and it should definitely be mentioned in all of your marketing efforts. Your client closet will be unique to you, a physical curation of your signature style if you will. And best of all, you will be able to happily justify raising your prices when you offer this extra service to your clients.
THE DRAWBACKS OF HAVING A CLIENT CLOSET
Now that we discussed the positive aspects of curating a client closet, let talk about the parts that stink.
- The time, effort and cost
- Choosing the items
- Storing and Fitting Appointments
- Taking Care of the Clothing
The Time, Effort and Cost of building a Client Closet
It’s going to take some work to build a dreamy client closet. That’s for sure! There’s no way around the time and effort it takes, that’s just a given. But, there is a way around the cost. Instead of just buying the items you need for your client closet, you can offer special sessions to your clients to help you build your client closet. Themed Mini-Sessions, Model Calls or Full Sessions where clients buy the items and receive free or reduced priced sessions or collections of images is a great way to fund your closet. Just make sure that you trade high quality dresses and accessories for these sessions to make it worth your while!
Choosing the items to include in your client closet
You may be completely ready to take this part on! If you are anything like me, as a Photoshoot Style Coach and Mentor to Photographers, I am constantly spotting and collecting dresses, sweaters, accessories and outfits in general that work in photoshoots. I just can’t stop myself!
But, if you aren’t exactly into that stuff, I understand. I once was a completely confused photography client that had no idea what to wear before I decided to learn and ultimately build a system for photoshoot styling. I didn’t feel stylish after having three kids and spending most of my days in leggings, t-shirts and sneakers. But, I am here to tell you, you can learn how! And if you don’t want to learn, no problem, take that “hat” off and hand it to someone else! Of course, I’d love that to be me (DM me on Instagram for more info on how I can help out).
So, one of the drawbacks is actually know how to build the client closet itself. But, if that is the only thing that is holding you back, there is definitely a way around that barrier. Make sure to sign up for the newsletter below for help with that part.
storage of your client closet and fitting appointments
You will need a place to store all of those yummy client closet pieces. So, there’s that! It doesn’t have to be anything special, it can just be in some extra closet in your house. You will have more of a traveling closet, and need to buy a try on tent for outdoor photoshoots.
If you have a studio, you will most likely want to have the client closet and fitting sessions there. You can go all out with fitting room and mirror if you can swing it! But, then you will have to have factor in some extra time with your clients for fitting, in enough time before the photoshoot so that they can coordinate the rest of the outfits.
taking care of the pieces in your client closet
And lastly, there will be the task of managing the client closet. You will need to have the items cleaned and have a steamer available for the day of the photoshoots. Sometimes items will be damaged during photoshoots. Make sure you have a seamstress for minor fixes. If pieces are damaged beyond repair, you will have the cost of replacing those items if you choose to.
I recommend keeping your items with you and bringing them to your photoshoots. Then, there isn’t as much risk of items being damaged on the way to the photoshoot. I’m thinking about kids eating snacks on the way to their family photoshoot at that lovely field you frequent! Also, if your client is a no-show, you don’t also lose your items. That would be an unpleasant situation and should be avoided at all cost!
IS BUILDING A CLIENT CLOSET WORTH IT?
Well, that is mostly up to you of course! As a Photoshoot Stylist I say heck ya! But, you will have to decide if it’s the best step for you in your business and if the ability to attract your ideal client with a client closet is worth it to you. It can be a lot of fun, and there’s help available (wink, wink).
Building a client closet can lead to an increase in bookings and revenue. There are inherent costs associated but there are ways to reduce those costs will some techniques I teach. A client closet is one of the easiest ways to reach the next level of your photography business and with some planning it’s totally achievable!
If you decide to build a client closet
Then yay! I’ve got a free checklist to get your started. If you are ready to start now, I offer custom packages for photographers who want to build their client closet. You can book an appointment with me to discuss your specific needs here.