Photo shoots | Dos & Don’ts | #3

Ok, so this one is for photographers 🙂

I can’t remember the last time I did a photo shoot for two hours and I was the one IN FRONT of the camera instead of behind it. Doing photo shoots is easy for us (photographers) because we do them all the time. It’s important to remember though that your clients might have never had their pictures taken by a professional and they often times are very nervous. So what can you do to make sure your clients are relaxed and have a great time?

Do Get to know your clients a little before you shoot them. Don’t have your first real interaction when the shoot starts.

There are a couple ways to do this, you can friend them on Facebook, meet them for coffee, or send them an e-mail questionare. It will all depend on the client. This is really important. It will take so much longer for your clients to open up and relax if they’ve never met you or talked to you. You will get so much more natural relaxed interaction with the couple if you do this beforehand. As an example, if you book someone who lives in another state and they’re only going to be in town the weekend of the photo shoot then you’re not going to be able to meet them for coffee.

Do include the clients in the whole process. Don’t assume they will know what to do.

If it’s an engagement shoot, let them know what to expect along the way. Remember they are probably nervous and have been thinking about the shoot all week. So the first thing I do when I get to the location is to tell my clients we are here to have fun and that’s all. I do a lot of photo shoots at the local arboretum so my clients can just pretend it’s a day in the park.

I’ll also talk about what I’m doing a little. I might say something like “lets stop here and take a few shots and then we can go just around the corner where there’s a really cool bridge”. This gives them something to think about and will also relieve some of the nerves of not knowing what is going on.

Do start your shoot from farther away. Don’t get so close to them they can reach out and touch you.

If you want your clients to relax, standing right in their face is not the way to do it. It makes things really awkward. I like to start out shooting at least 8-10 feet away, that way they won’t feel encroached on. Now as the shoot goes along your clients will get use to you following them and their butterflies will fly away. This is when you can get a little closer and get some more intimate shots. It’s different for everyone but most of my clients loosen up after about 30 min or so.

Do offer your clients encouragement. Don’t say anything negative!

This is really important. The more positive things you say to your clients the more their confidence will go up and the more comfortable they will become. Comfortable confident clients= Awesome natural pictures! If you say negative things to your clients it will burst their confidence bubble and they will want to hide from you behind the nearest bush. Here is an example scenario.

Wrong: Um… can you make your smile look less cheesy?

Right: Ok, take a deep breath and just relax. (sometimes people are nervous and don’t realize they are holding their breath, so this will make a huge difference). Another thing you can do is ask your clients to talk amongst themselves for a minute and not to worry about the photographer. People often loosen up when they are not expected to “perform”.

Do show them what you would like them to do. Don’t mold them into a position.

There’s nothing more uncomfortable then having someone man handle you. Your clients feel a lot more comfortable if you give them clear detailed instructions and maybe even model an example for them. With a senior I might say something like “Ok, Sit down with your back against the column, arch your legs and put the tip of your heal on the side walk with your toes point up. Now, place your hands on your knees and relax them, turn your face toward me”. That’s a lot of instruction, so I might want to demonstrate. Here is an example of the pose I just described.


Do act confident. Don’t act unsure.

If you are constantly putting yourself down your clients are going to feel uneasy that they hired you and will lose their confidence. Also, if you are more worried about the settings on your camera and keep looking at the back of the screen, your clients are going to become worried that they are doing something wrong. It’s important to talk to them and keep the dialog flowing. If you’re new to photography you might want to start by shooting family and friends. Practice keeping a conversation going and not saying anything about what’s happening with the camera.

Example: If you take a picture and it’s way to blown out, don’t tell your clients that the picture didn’t turn out. Simply adjust your setting and say “ok, now let’s do that one more time.”

Last but not least,

Do get to know your clients likes and dislikes. Don’t shoot them in a way that they will not like.

Find out what your client likes when they look at your portfolio. If they say that the kissing pictures make them feel awkward or that they don’t like the “serious” face poses, then don’t put them in that situation on the shoot. Some clients may be comfortable climbing a tree or lying on the ground, while others will not like that. It’s important to find these things out. And if you ask your clients to climb a tree and they give you an uncomfortable pleading look, quickly offer a different suggestion. 🙂

Alright, I hope this helps. Good luck on your next photo shoot!

– Kira Baron

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