A great photograph — or collection of photographs — is a collaboration between the photographer and the subject. It's far easier to take great photos of a comfortable, confident client than one that is nervous or anxious. But our clients aren't trained models. We're shooting "normal" people —people who are trusting you to capture their special memories and to capture images that they can treasure for years to come.
Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take in the lead-up to each photo shoot that can help your clients feel more at ease.
Communication is one of the most critical elements to a successful photo shoot. Great communication gets easier with practice and makes all the difference to your client's overall experience with you.
Clear, friendly, and quick communication needs to begin before the camera even comes out. In the lead-up to your clients' shoot, make sure that you're responding to their email questions promptly and with kindness. There are no silly questions — there are simply scenarios that your clients will have never encountered before.
As you draw nearer to shoot day, take the initiative, reach out to them inviting questions, and let them know how the day or session will run.
People always feel more comfortable when they know what they are getting into, and taking the time to earn your clients' trust is crucial if you want them to relax enough around you to let their emotions shine through.
Offer advice on what to wear
Deciding what to wear in front of your camera can be a nerve-wracking experience for your clients. Helping them understand what works well in front of a camera (and what doesn't) can help put them at ease. A cheat sheet or a list of what to avoid can be incredibly handy, but be sure to include examples of things that do work well so that they have something positive to work towards as well.
For your clients, being confident in their appearance can make a massive difference to how relaxed they are in front of your camera — it's one less major thing to worry about.
Be aligned in the images you want to achieve
One of the main reasons your clients have chosen to work with you is that they love your images portfolio. Whether it's your photos on Instagram or those on your website, your clients are hoping to replicate that magic in their images.
Take some time to discover what it was about your past work that has drawn your clients to work with you. You can do this by asking your clients to send you some examples of your own work that they love. Not only does this give you a better idea of what they are hoping to achieve by working with you, but it also puts your clients at ease because they know you're both working towards the same goal.
Help your clients get glammed up
Of course, we don't literally mean wielding a make-up brush yourself, but you can help your clients get ready for their shoot by connecting them with some great hair and make-up artists. If you've worked more than a few weddings or events, there's a good chance you've made some connections with professional hair and make-up artists who are operating within the same circles. Have a list of these people on hand to recommend to your clients.
Not only will your clients begin their shoot already looking and feeling their best, but the time spent getting ready before the shoot with a group of like-minded professionals will allow them to relax and get comfortable rather than being thrown straight into their shoot.
Have a back-up plan
Unless you're shooting in a completely controlled environment like a studio, you'll want to have a back-up plan in place in case of bad weather. Whether you or your clients have chosen the location, make sure there is a sheltered back-up option. Not only will this give you every opportunity to capture some great images for your clients, but even if you don't need it, it demonstrates to your clients that you are prepared. It shows that you're determined to make sure they get their shoot and that you care enough about how the images turn out to have a contingency plan in place.
As you prepare for your next shoot, take a moment to put yourself in your clients' shoes. Think about how you would feel if a relative stranger was about to take photos of you. What would you want to know? What could they tell you, or how could they treat you in the lead up to your shoot that would help you relax. If you can put yourself in their shoes and understand what might be making them anxious or nervous and help to alleviate some of those stressors, then you can create a better experience for your clients — and who wouldn't want that?