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For Photographers: How to Build a Client Closet

For Photographers

If you read my post on Reasons Photographers Should Consider Having a Client Closet and are ready to dive in, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a guide on how to start a client closet and key things to keep in mind while doing so.

As someone who has had and offered a client closet for a few years, I can be the first to tell you that it is an evolving process. It’s definitely a commitment, too. But for me, it has helped transform my business and offer my moms a way to look and feel good without the stress. So many times I hear “you have no idea how grateful I am that I didn’t have to worry about what to wear!” This is especially important as an Atlanta newborn and maternity photographer, since more than half of my clients are pregnant or postpartum.

I’m able to source flattering and comfortable dresses that photograph beautifully. As the photographer, I like to have control over what my clients wear, because as we’ve talked about, clothing has a huge impact on the overall aesthetic of the images. Having consistency in my brand is important to me, and offering a client closet is one way I can do that.

Building a client closet

Make a plan. Don’t agonize over it, but do have a plan before you get started. Will you only buy clothes for mom? Are you building a wardrobe for the entire family? Have an idea of what and who you want to buy for, along with how much you’re willing to spend. Set a budget and don’t go over it.

Choose a style. What colors work best with the way you photograph? Do you have a light and airy or more moody style? If you’re not sure, look back at what images are your favorites and observe their clothing. Is there anything in common? Any trends you see? Start there. Begin with what you know will work best with your editing style and the clients you photograph.

Start shopping! This is the fun part. Select online or in-store retailers, shop sales, and keep track of what you purchase with an inventory spreadsheet or even manually on paper. I recommend beginning with a “capsule” wardrobe, or pieces that are versatile and can fit many different styles, body types, etc. There are many things you’ll want to keep in mind while you shop, including:

  • Sizes: You’ll want to be sure you shop for a variety of sizes, depending on who you’re shopping for. Starting with pieces that can fit sizes XS-XL is a great place to start, and you can always build from there on a client-by-client basis.
  • Versatility: Opting for versatile pieces that can fit various sizes and flatter multiple body shapes will not only make your clients feel good, but also help you save money. For example, look for dresses that are smocked or stretchy and don’t have zippers to fit various chest sizes when shopping for mom. Consider midi length dresses that can fit both tall and shorter women.
  • Basics: start with the basics and build from there. Pick a few solids and patterns that go with your style and aesthetic. Over time, you can invest in more statement or splurge-worthy pieces, but start with options that many of your clients are likely to choose from.
  • Quality: Keep quality in mind. It can be an art balancing quality and price. While its often true, more expensive items don’t always mean higher quality. Shopping seasonal sales or at consignment stores can help you find a great look for less. Online sites like Poshmark are great for shopping gently used clothing pieces – remember, not everything need to be brand new! These are pieces that will be worn multiple times by different people over time.

Maintaining your wardrobe

Test and Learn. As you build your closet, start offering it to current clients. See how pieces photograph and what your clients gravitate towards. Ask your clients for feedback to learn what styles they like so you can tweak as you go.

Promote your closet. Once you feel you’re ready, start marketing your closet! Include it in your pricing and client materials, and talk about it on social media. Highlight the benefits of using a client closet on your website and be sure to include it as a benefit in your investment and pricing information.

Regularly update. It can be time consuming to keep your client closet fresh and up to date. Keep track of trends and shop seasonal trends to bring in new items without breaking the bank. Rotate rarely used items for more popular ones as you learn what your clients like and don’t like. There are a lot of online consigners you can use and even Facebook communities dedicated to this.

…want to know a trick?

Still overwhelmed by the thought of shopping for hours and hours and deciding on what to purchase and what will or won’t look good on your clients? Let me share a little secret with you. Did you know that you can shop on Google with images? Well, now you do! Yes, you heard me right. Using your Google mobile app, you can select an image from your phone (one you took or a screenshot) and use that to search. This is incredibly helpful in sources pieces on sale or pieces that are out of stock at major retailers. It will even be able to find items on online consignment retailers like Poshmark based on the listing photos.

I use this trick all the time! It truly is a great way to shop. Let’s say you see a dress that you would love to have in your client closet, but its over your budget. Take a screenshot of it, use your Google app to search with it, and it will find that dress, along with others that look similar to it! Who knows – you might even find one that you like better and for a better price. Thats a win-win in my book.

Like a dress one of my clients is wearing and want to know where it’s from? Screenshot my image (for this use only – never for upload as your own image!), put it in Google and see if it can find it for you. Or you can simply ask me where it is from since, unlike a lot of photographers, I’m an open book and don’t mind sharing. Hope this helps, and happy shopping!

Not a photographer and are instead looking to book a session with me? Contact me here.


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