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Top 5 Rules to Implement in Boudoir Photography Business

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN your client takes out her cell phone during the viewing/ordering session and tries to take photos of her photos with her cell phone. You freeze up, unsure of what you’re supposed to do and what you’re supposed to say.

Has this or any other “awkward moment” every happened to you? Was it hard to know how to handle that situation?

The best way to know how to handle awkward situations is to already have rules in place regarding them. This includes questions like: “can we trade,” “can you knock off $200, pretty please,” “can my baby, ex-boyfriend and dog come to my viewing/ordering session?”

Some of these things have totally happened to me before. Have you had a client beg and plead to get her photos THAT weekend even though she had set up a payment plan and wouldn’t be paid in full until a few months from now? I have 🙂 If I hadn’t had rules in place I probably would have said yes. Just like the cell phone at viewings. If I hadn’t had a rule in place I probably would have been to shy to say “sorry we do not allow that.” Sure, written out on here it’s easy to come up with a great answer but when you’re on the spot with a client you love it’s HARD. Having rules in place so you know what to say when these questions arise is crucial. If you don’t already have at least some rules in place please set aside at least one hour in your calendar to do so. You can add them right into your business plan or in a separate word doc. This will come in handy for email questions as well as in person.

If you’re not sure where to start or if you’re new to business and maybe haven’t had too many “awkward moments” yet then feel free to keep reading as I list my TOP 5 RULES.

Molly’s TOP 5 RULES:

#1) It’s ok to say NO:

It’s ok to say no. Often times to get ahead in life/business you need to turn things away. For example, in order for me to accomplish my all boudoir mission I had to quit weddings and continue to turn them away. It’s hard when somebody wants to give you money up front 😉 Another great example is limiting your shooting so you can work ON your business instead of always IN it. Set a rule for how many shoots you’ll take in a week and how many days you’ll spend growing, marketing, book keeping etc.

#2) Establish Your Turn Around Time:

Determine your turnaround time “rule” and stick to it. If you know you can get them their pictures in one week than make your turn around time two weeks or even three weeks, etc. By having this rule you are setting their expectations and by getting their photos to them earlier (because you can really do it in 1 week) you will really wow them! Also if something goes wrong and perhaps their order is late to you, your client won’t even know the difference.

Also make sure to write down if you have a rush fee or if you have a no rush policy. I’m sure there will be a time where you will have a client that will want their order rushed so know your rush policy and if it will cost them extra. If so, how much? Make sure you’re keeping this consistent from client to client. Also, do you offer payment plans? If so when is their first payment due? Is it a monthly plan? How many months out can they go? What happens if they pay late or miss a payment? Ask yourself as many questions as you can and write out the answers. Be sure to write these into your business plan so you can refer to them at any time.

#3) Viewing/Ordering session Rules:

Be sure to establish who is allowed to the viewing. Personally, I don’t allow anyone except for the client(s), meaning those I’v photographed. Keep in mind everyone’s business is different and this is totally up to your discretion.

What if your client whips out her cell phone and tries to take photos of the viewing screen? Our rule is that nothing leaves the room unless it is purchased. Therefor no cell phone pictures are allowed of our professional photos (haha!).

#4) A re-schedule Policy:

Re-schedules will happen from time to time and you must have a policy for it! Like all your other rules you want to be consistent. Our rule is that we allow one re-schedule with 48 notice and the re-scheduled shoot must take place within the following 3 months.

#5) When will the client’s Images be Online:

“Can you put these images on Facebook right after I leave?” This is a very popular question at our studio and one of the most important rules we’ve implemented. We only post photos to social media once they’ve been paid IN FULL. So if somebody sets up a payment plan we are not posting anything online until after they’ve paid in full (and of course agreed to be online). This is SO SO important. If you’re posting images online before they’ve paid, you’re ripping yourself off. I know it’s hard to wait but you’re a business owner and you owe it to yourself. Even though you think they’re “low quality” your client doesn’t know better and she will now have no reason to rush to pay you the remainder of her payment plan.

Posting them online once they’ve paid in full is also a nice incentive to get them to pay you up front vs. a payment plan because most people will want to see their images online asap. Keep in mind this is OUR rule. If you don’t think you can edit quick enough to get them online the same day then don’t. Create what works for your business and yourself.

We also do not “specify images.” This means our client can not choose which images we put online or don’t. I always want to have creative authority and the right to change my mind later about what I’ll post if I choose to.

I hope these rules were helpful for you and a good reminder to always have rules in place for your business. Of course you can always set more then five rules (and please do) but I wanted to share with you my most helpful 5 rules. You never want to get caught off guard with a question that could in turn have you losing money or losing time that you should be spending on other avenues within your business. I would highly recommend setting aside some time on your calendar to add these rules into your business plan and any additional rules you think would be helpful for your business!


Ready for a business in a box and live coaching to help you prepare for and handle every situation that comes your way? Check out to see how I’ve helped photographers around the world build booming boudoir businesses.

Are you prepared for sticky situations? Check out Molly Keyser's top 5 business rules that help her maintain her successful boudoir photography business.

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Molly Keyser

Boudoir photographer and business coach, I am dedicated to changing the world with the power of a camera. Originally from Wisconsin, I'm now in Texas, but I help photographers around the world learn how to go full-time with boudoir photography.