Photographers Can Survive Fall Busy Season


Today, I am sharing some answers to a list of incredible fall-themed questions that were asked over on Instagram. If you are struggling to plan for, or survive fall family portrait busy season, this post is for you.

Hit play or read the post below.

Video Transcript:

I dropped a question box yesterday asking for fall-specific type business questions for photographers. And I got a lot of great questions so that’s what we’re gonna focus on today.

  1. Have you ever had a referral incentive for clients? (2:30 min ish)

    Yes, I have. But I‘ve never done that specifically for fall, mainly because you don’t really need a whole lot of incentives for fall, everybody comes out of the woodwork, everybody needs a photographer, there is more than enough business to go around.

    So I‘ve never done it during the fall season. In general, they’re, they’re great if you’re newer in business, and you’re trying to, get an established client base set up. But there are a lot of moving parts to balance. You have to kind of you have to keep track of everybody, what the discount is, how long the discount or the bonus or the referral is going to be valid if there are any restrictions on when they can use it when they can’t, are there restrictions on how many referrals somebody can give out, etc. It’s a complicated web.

    So if you are considering doing that for fall, that’s great. You can totally do that if you need that. But the key to success with referral incentives is to be super specific on the details for them and be super organized to keep track of them.

    For example, in the specificity part, you need to be firm on what your incentive is going to be. Maybe it is to get a friend to book a session and you get a $50 print credit. Then determine how long can they use it? Do they have to use the print credit for their most recent session or any session? Can they use it for future sessions? And then how many incentives can they give out? What happens if their person books but then cancels?

    You have to think about every single scenario and every single detail. And you need to map all of that out explicitly up-front.


  2. Do you provide color and black and white images for mini sessions? (8:20 min ish)

    Yes, I do a few. And that is the same rule.

    As with my full sessions, I do not convert 100% of a gallery to black and white. That is my own personal preference. That is my own personal style. I personally don’t love every image in black and white. That’s just me. I am very vibrant and that is how I shoot. So I leave most of my galleries in color. But I do go through and I pull images out, they’re really strong and black and white, and I will convert those. I do the exact same thing for my mini sessions. So if a client gets 30 images from a mini session in color, they might get four or five in black and white.

    That being said, if you don’t like black and white, you don’t have to convert any of them. That’s not a thing. If you don’t want to do that you don’t have to you just need to be clear up front with your client. Hey, your gallery is going to be 100% in color.”

    Another thing you can do is in your questionnaire before you photograph a family, have it be a question. How do you feel about black and white images?” And if they don’t like them, then you’re totally off the hook.


  3. How do you go about scheduling and planning for rain dates or reschedules? (9:50 min ish)

    This is where people I feel like this is really where people struggle with overwhelm, because they book themselves so full, and then there’s a month of rain, and then everybody’s freaking out.

    Here’s the key: You have to schedule and book days that are set aside for weather, illness, drama, family, emergency, whatever you may need to reschedule. So if you are already looking at your fall calendar right now, which you should 100% be doing it is not too early. You need to be setting aside time NOW.

    The more sessions you take on per week, the more reschedule time you need for rain dates, okay? Because you might have a whole seven days of rain or a whole 30 days of rain.

    Here’s my rule of thumb. If you shoot every single day, side note: please don’t do that. But if you shoot every single day, then you need three or four spots PER MONTH left wide open for reschedules. And I also want you to consider what time of day you’re shooting. If you only shoot at sunset, then you need to have sunset spots available. If you only shoot on Saturday mornings, same thing.

    What happens if everything goes well and you don’t use the reschedule dates? Great! You get that time off, or you can use that time to get caught up on life or whatever.

    You MUST be super intentional about rescheduling now and put those dates on your calendar and highlight them or mark them off or whatever. Because as busy season starts rolling, and you’re getting inquiries, and you’re trying to cram people in, especially if it’s repeat clients are dear friends who you feel really guilty about use, the tendency is to start sliding people into those spots that you have left open for reschedules. That’s where you get in trouble when you’re sliding people into spots that they should not be going into.

    You have to keep those open against everything because you’re not going to need them until you need them and then it’s too late. You have to be intentional about putting those dates and marking them off safeguarding yourself. Nothing goes in those spots unless they are rescheduling.


  4. When should a photographer hire a virtual assistant? (24 min ish)

    If you are looking to hire a virtual assistant because you know you will need help this fall, you need to hire somebody now. You’re not going to have the time or the bandwidth to train somebody this fall. You need to hire them immediately.

    Start handing off tasks early and teaching them how you want things done and getting them completely functional in your business. So that this fall, you can feel the freedom of having somebody help you out. Because if you wait until September, to hire a VA, then you’ve got the stress of fall on top of teaching somebody the tasks that they need to be doing and fixing things that are done wrong.


  5. When do you release your fall schedule? (15 min ish)

    You can open up your calendar as soon as you’re ready. The key is you need to be intentional about when you release it. You need to have all of your systems put in place, all of your marketing emails set up, have your social media plan ready, have your dates and locations ready. You need to have all of that stuff organized so that you’re not releasing something all willy nilly. Because that’s where you get into trouble.


  6. How do you manage and schedule during the fall busy season when what you mostly shoot is newborns? And when you combine that with fall, busy season, and families and all of the stuff that comes up plus the fact that babies can be born any time, how do you manage that? (17 min ish)


    The first thing that I need you to know is babies come when babies come. And when you are primarily a newborn, or young family photographer, which I have been for years, some months that happens just fall apart. You can plan super well, and be super intentional about your availability, and your flex days and reschedule days and all of that. And then all the babies come within three days.

    It happens and you just have to kind of roll with it. It’s not going to be that way every month. But going into fall, it can feel even harder, because you’ve also got a lot of family work in there.

    The key is to leave time open, not only for reschedules but for your sanity for editing for rescheduling. I said this in my three tips live two days ago. Everything takes longer in the fall because the Fall is just overwhelming.

    Not only is it overwhelming with work, and with our photography business… it is overwhelming in our personal lives too. There are all the holidays, there’s all the school stuff, there are just lots of things in the fall. Everything takes longer because we are naturally carrying a lot at one time. So you want to make sure, especially in the fall that you do not overbook yourself.

    Maybe that looks like having extra childcare two days a week, or hiring a consistent nanny, or doing a carpool setup where somebody else picks your kids up several days a week to give you more time. Maybe you just need to leave more days open so that when you do have a crazy month and all the babies come at one time plus you have a whole weekend of family sessions, you’ve got time to recover from it.


I hope you found this post helpful! Fall can be incredibly overwhelming for family photographers, but it doesn’t have to be! If you would love a quick and inexpensive guide to help you get through this fall with your sanity still intact, grab your Fall Success Kit here before it goes into the vault!


  1. […] I fully own my love of a plan. But as a photographer, who’s now worked my way through 11 busy fall seasons, I say with experience and some hard-learned lessons under my belt, that planning for busy season […]

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