"we've never taken photos before"
"I'm so awkward"
Ah my favorite words. I ask every single one of my clients before a session if they have any experience in front of a camera. This helps me get an understanding of how comfortable they are going into the session and to gauge how much direction I'll be giving them. About 99% of the time, my clients have never done professional photos. Ever.
I have a lot of experience working with people who absolutely hate the idea of a photo shoot. (I'm one of them!) Ironically, I just get SO uncomfortable in front of the camera. I work best behind the camera where there's no attention on me, haha.
However, I had a great experience with a photographer friend of mine recently. And let me just say, it is waaay more fun working with someone who knows what they're doing! I have a newfound respect for people who do photoshoots even though they're not comfortable- it's hard! But once I felt taken care of, I had so much fun.
I make sure that with every client experience, I show them that I know what I'm doing through the direction I give them. I tell them I'm very "particular" about certain things, and that's actually appreciated. No one wants to look unflattering in the photos that they paid for! From day one, I start building a relationship with each client based on trust. I show them my past work, client testimonials, and assure them that they have nothing to worry about.
The way that you communicate to your clients throughout the entire shoot is so crucial. If you're quiet, they'll feel like they don't know what they're doing and feel even more uncomfortable. If you don't make them feel confident and beautiful, they'll fixate on their insecurities when they get their photos back. Helping people look and feel their best during the shoot makes them appreciate the final photos even more! They won't be thinking "ugh I don't like my __," they'll be thinking about the positive experience they had and how much fun it was.
When I say communication, I mean direction and compliments. I'll say it again in case you didn't get it.
direction and compliments
I don't like to pose people too much. If it looks to curated, it just looks fake to me. I use prompts instead of poses. Directing a family, a couple, or an individual looks differently based on their personalities, their vibes, and the purpose of the shoot. Everyone's different so I just adapt to the people I work with. This makes it super interesting and fun for me! Even if I'm pushed out of my comfort zone, I learn how to adapt and create a unique client experience. Using prompts and guiding people constantly through a session shows people that I'm confident in myself- which makes THEM confident in themselves! Isn't that cool? All it takes is for me to show them that I know exactly what I'm doing. This takes the pressure off them to try to look a certain way and to just be themselves. The flow of the shoot always goes well when my subjects trust my process.
I also am constantly complimenting my subjects! I love to encourage them, it's just way more fun when we're all hyped. Doing this can get genuine smiles or laughs, which is always adorable. It's not everyday that we have someone make us feel like a model,
Again, it's about building that TRUST.
One thing that I love to do with couples is to just let them be together. Sometimes it's better for people to just take a moment with the one they love and forget that they have a camera on them. These are the times when I can get really intimate moments and they can relax.
Overall, just get to know your clients right away. The more you all get to know each other, the smoother your session will go. That's the key to having natural photos and a positive client experience.