Ways to prepare for holiday photoshoots that increase your profits.

September 19th, 2023
baby with mama and daddy looking at camera

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and you know what that means… Holiday family sessions are upon us. If they’re not already, soon inquiries will be rolling in at an alarming rate from all of those families wanting you to snap that perfect holiday card photo. It’s a time that’s notoriously busy for photographers, but when prepared for appropriately, has big payoffs. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season catch you off guard; do your due diligence to prepare for your busy season ahead of time to set yourself (and your clients!) up for success. Here are some things you can do to ensure that you maximize your profit potential during holiday photoshoots, and that your clients avoid the oh-so-common holiday-induced stress this year.

Send reminders: the holidays are creeping up! 

Your clients are up to their necks in back to school routines, fall sports, adjusting to later nights doing homework, and spending all their time in carpool lines and being a human shuttle service… they’re not necessarily chomping at the bit to plan for family pictures on their own just yet. And why should they be? With email marketing and social media, they’ll have plenty of reminders flash before their eyes as the Fall ramps up. If you wait for your clients to initiate scheduling their sessions for the holidays, you will surely miss opportunities and forgo the profits that come along with them. That’s why you should beat them to it: go ahead and get in front of your existing client base via email and social media before someone else does. Let them know that now is the time to schedule their session, and while you’re at it, go ahead and promote your services and products: mini-sessions, full length sessions, and holiday cards, to name a few. Make it as easy as possible for them to see at-a-glance all that you can do for them ahead of the holidays.

newborn baby with sisters and parents
Photo credit: Elizabeth Tate Photography

Promote deals and offers.

If you want your clients to get excited about the holidays early on, (and actually more importantly, if you want to sell more thereby increasing your profits this holiday season), you may want to consider encouraging them with a little sale – or at least news of a sale to come. If you haven’t already, go ahead and map out what you plan to offer in terms of deals and promotional sales, and then come up with an effective email marketing strategy for those. Your promotional emails will need to trickle into your clients’ inboxes in a strategic manner that is both well-timed and gives a specific call to action. Here’s what that first email may look like… 

Hello friends! 

Can you believe that summer is already in the rear-view mirror? I’m looking ahead to the holidays, bracing myself for the ever-common holiday rush for family pictures, and I encourage you to start thinking ahead as well! So you’re aware and can start planning, I’ve attached my Investment Guide that highlights my full-family session pricing as well as Mini-session pricing, dates and locations. 

Keep in mind that I’ll only be taking 20 Mini-sessions this year. They fill up fast and are first come, first serve, so click here to reserve your spot today. 

Finally, if you’d like to be entered into a drawing to get your Mini-session for FREE, simply post an image that I’ve taken of your family on social media, tag me, and mention upcoming mini-sessions. I’ll draw the winner on the last day of September. Stay tuned this Fall for some other promotional deals and sweet stuff I’ll be sending your way! 

Sending an email along these lines nudges your clients in the right direction to schedule and plan their session, it provides a clear call to action, and encourages them to promote and market for you in exchange for a potential freebie of great value. Win-win!

man and woman holding golden doodle dog
Photo credit: Elizabeth Tate Photography

And hey, photogs, stay organized with your sales and marketing campaigns! Pro-tip: purchase a calendar specifically for the Fall family rush, and notate your sessions and promotional emails on each date all in one place. This will ensure that you’re on top of your schedule and that your sales and emails are well-placed in the season. As an added bonus, you’ll keep a finger on your earnings as you see those sessions stack up – this is a practical bonus in terms of budgeting, but it’s also motivating to put a dollar sign on your momentum! 

If you’re already using Zenfolio to host your website or client galleries, you might want to take advantage of the BookMe tool. It is an easy to use, automated way to allow clients to book and pay for either regular or mini sessions directly through your website online. BookMe even automatically creates a gallery in your account for each scheduled session, and can be set up to include any prepaid products when client’s purchase through your custom online store. Think of the hours you can save having those bookings automatically added to your synced Google calendar, rather than manually scheduling each client! Whether you prefer to keep track of your holiday schedule digitally, with the old standby of ink and paper, or both, organization is key to a successful season.

couple embracing in field
Photo credit: Elizabeth Tate Photography

Get your name out there.

While we all know and enjoy the (let’s be real – lazy) benefit of repeat business, this holiday season is also a great time to drum up some new business via new leads, client referrals, and intentional client outreach opportunities. New business means new profits with potential to carry over into next year, so why not focus on this a bit to elevate your game? 

Perhaps the biggest key to generating new leads? An active social media account. Are you active on Instagram and Facebook? If not, why? Now is the time to drum up some activity on your page to encourage new leads. Make a plan for posting, and stick to it: how often will you post? 

While you’re drumming up new business on social media, don’t forget about client referrals, aka, hot leads. Why do I call them hot leads? It’s simple: someone that this potential client trusts has shown them your work, told them how much they enjoy working with you, likely disclosed the roundabout cost for your services… and they’ve still taken the time to reach out. They’re practically standing at your door with money in their hands–doesn’t get much hotter than that. Hot leads are the ones you want the most, so encourage your existing clients to generate them for you! Do this via email, either by encouraging a mass marketing effort (remember that social media giveaway we just talked about?) or by simply asking the direct question: will you tell your friends?  

Finally, don’t ever underestimate the power of thoughtful client outreach opportunities–things like snail mail flyers in family-centric neighborhoods, or business cards left strategically in places that moms frequent- like the pediatricians office. It’s a small expense with a potentially big payoff, and a great way to get your name in front of so many new faces, so don’t skip it! 

mother holding newborn baby
Photo credit: Elizabeth Tate Photography

Plan your holiday photoshoots in advance.

As you solidify your plans for the Fall, I can’t stress this enough: stay organized. If you’re not organized, you’ll end up stressed at best, or, worst case scenario, missing a session because you forgot about it. While we’re talking about stress and staying organized, be honest with yourself: do you have a limited capacity? Do you have goals in terms of profit or production? Take these things into account when determining what “busy season” looks like for you. 

Part of your holiday prep could also include putting together holiday pricing and special packages of products for the gift giving season. This strategy would be a little different than offering a sale–these should be marketed more as a pricing specified for the gift giving of the holiday season and less as a discounted sale promotion. This holiday pricing can include things like mini photoshoot sessions, holiday card sessions, or packages that are more catered to gifting a professional photoshoot to someone. For any of these holiday pricing packages, think beyond just the price and time frame you will offer for the shoot–what is this going to involve for you? 

For example, you could include a set amount of holiday cards in a holiday mini session. If you choose to do this, you would need to add that expense into your pricing for the session. For Zenfolio members, the set of holiday cards could be built into the session with BookMe, and clients who book that service would be able to choose their favorite images and card design in your online store via their gallery after the session. Clients only pay for additional products or sets of cards that weren’t included in their package, and everything ships directly to their preferred address. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Creating specific holiday prices and packages is a highly successful way to market your business around the holiday because of its specificity–simple things like a day of mini family sessions intended for use on the annual holiday card are often easier to sell than a regular family photo shoot.

If one of your holiday packages includes the option for a person to gift a photoshoot to someone, think about the presentation. Will there be a physical gift card printed on nice paper with a fancy envelope? Are there other branded or locally made items you could include with the gift card and place together in a boutique box? What details will you provide on the gift card, so that the person receiving it understands what is included? 

Finally, beyond offering a photoshoot to give to someone, you can also look into other customizable photo gift options you can add to price lists and offer to clients in your custom online store. There is no better time than the holidays to launch a fun product, such as ornaments, photo mugs, or mini photo albums, all of which are great for the gift-giving season, no matter what holiday your clients celebrate. The earlier you plan your seasonal photo gifts, the better–that way you can order samples with some of your most stunning images and share them in your email newsletters and social media. 

If you do these things in preparation for the holiday photo rush, I promise you’ll find the season both profitable, enjoyable, and far less stressful! 

three young sisters wearing dresses sitting in gravel path
Photo credit: Elizabeth Tate Photography

Make use of automations.

Last but not least, we must talk automations. We’ve already mentioned the session booking tool Zenfolio offers, BookMe, but it wouldn’t be fair for us to leave out how much automations can help you save time and increase your efficiency, in turn, boosting up your profit. If you haven’t implemented AI technology into your photography business, prepping for the rush of the holiday season is your sign. When you use BookMe for scheduling sessions, you’ll be able to easily lay out your availability, the packages you’ve created for the holiday season, have clients both pay and schedule their own photo sessions, and save time creating their galleries in your website. Essentially, this tool will really help you get into the holiday spirit (and enjoy it more!) when you experience how much it simplifies getting clients booked.

PhotoRefine.ai is another important tool you can start using immediately–you can free up so much time by using this automation software that culls and sorts your photos after a holiday photoshoot. Here’s the thing about saving hours of time on tedious tasks–it means you can fit in more holiday card shoots and in turn, increase your overall profit from the holiday season. Or, it leaves you more time to celebrate with family and friends instead of pulling another late night editing at your computer and binging podcasts. This software tool can rank the photos you upload from your photoshoot and rate them, allowing you to cull them quickly. PhotoRefine.ai won’t delete the photos for you, but it will rank them in terms of sharpness, blinking eyes, and facial expressions, putting all of the best images in one place for you to edit and show to clients. 

As you look at your calendar for the Fall, decide definitively how much you want to handle, and try not to put more than that on your plate. Your mental health matters to you, and it matters to your clients. Just remember: the money is good, but burnout never served anyone well!


  • Elizabeth T

    Elizabeth has been with a camera in her hand since she graduated with her degree in Photojournalism from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2011. She currently lives in North Carolina, where she photographs Families, Births, and Newborns all over the state. Her work has been featured in various publications including The Fount Collective, Style Me Pretty Living, Southern Weddings Magazine, PDN, and Pursuit Magazine. She enjoys shooting Medium Format Film alongside digital, and when she’s not photographing families and little ones, she loves spending time outdoors with her husband and 3-year old twins. 

*Promotion valid until November 30, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Promotional discount off the subscription price of a new PortfolioPlus or ProSuite annual plan only will be automatically applied at checkout with code CYBERNOV75. Discount applies to the first year only. Cannot be combined with any other promotion.

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