I have had my own studio for a year now. I offer Family Photo shoot, Portraits and Boudoir photography.
On this page I shall just be talking about Family and Portrait shoots as Boudoir is a whole different ballgame.
I charge just £10 for folk to make a booking for either the family or portrait shoot. This helps to ensure they keep the appointment and pays the cost of the electricty etc. Prints and products are then sold as extras. I also offer a FREE 8 X 10" print as a bonus gift. The average spend per client can range between £40 - £150. A shoot takes about an hour with just 20 minutes of that actually taking photos. This is more than enough especially for the little ones who very soon get fed up. I have a selection of toys for the young ones in the studio and these help them to relax when they first walk into the studio. I take my time chatting to the children before getting the camera out, not much just a few words like "Thats a pretty dress" etc.
Once I've taken a couple of shots to check the lighting I show them their images, this really helps to settle them down and they then are much more relaxed about having their photos taken.
I make sure that I'm the one they are listening to which can be a bit difficult with some Mum's who think they are helping by encouraging their child to pose or smile, it doesn't! I want the child to be listening and looking at me so I gently and politely explain to the Mum's that I need them to just sit and watch unless I ask for help.
The poses I use depend on the age of the child of course, baby shots are very limited as they can't really do much at a very young age but older children you can have more fun. Natural poses I find work best and this is where the toys can really help. I have brightly coloured toys that will look good in the photos and I encourage them to hold up a certain toy and show it to the camera. That way I'm getting them to look my way if I need them to.
I never get to close with the camera preferring to be about 5 feet distance. I don't want to crowd them and make them feel self consious.
If a child is particullary shy I'll put Mum or Dad of course in shot and snap away until the child is more relaxed.
I aim to take about 100 images for my family shoots that way I usually have about 30 sellable images which I think is more than enough and from experience is about what they end up buying. I keep my prices down low so they go away from the studio with a nice big bundle of prints for about the same cost that they would have paid at an expensive chain store and only have received a few prints.
I will book another time for them to come and see their then edited images which are shown via a projector onto a big screen.
Older children and adults are of course much easier and straight forward. I will allow a couple of changes of outfit but only the two any more and we are then getting into a model portfolio type shoot which is charged at a higher rate.
Portraits Revealed is a great resource and is very comprehensive, it will have your portrait photography business up and running in no time.