As a professional photographer and business owner a primary goal with all projects is to exceed client expectations! (see "shoot for the cover" post) Every time! No exceptions! Hitting the target is good. Hitting the bullseye is better!
So, how do you do this? The first step is to understand and narrow the scope of every project you write an estimate for. Does an email like this ring a bell?
"Hi photographer xyzfstop:
In general, can you give me a ballpark figure to take a few shots for a project we have coming up? "
Sure, this is a bit exaggerated, but you get the point. How in the world will you ever even meet a clients expectations let alone exceed them with such vague language? You won't. The scope of the project must be defined and narrowed to ensure success and provide an estimate. A while back, I started sending a Photography Pre-Shoot questionnaire in response which helps A) get a feel for how serious the request is and B) narrows the scope of the project to the point that the I'm 100% confident on delivering the goods within the allotted time frame and budget. The questionnaire is really a simple tool that almost goes without saying. However, putting a project description in writing will kick off a great conversation with a serious client and build trust in you as a professional in the industry.
Feel free to hit me up at (info (at) kevinwinzeler.com) and I'll shoot you over either a PDF or Apple 'Pages' version to customize to your business. It's also available as a free download on the resources section of my site along with the Photography Gear Checklist. (Note: tailor the information in either document to your specific target market and needs).
Photography Pre-shoot - Questionnaire