Last week’s article I wrote about providing the clients what they want. Today I am going to spend some time in this article going over another key area – working with your clients during the shoot. If you are shy and want to hide behind your camera when around clients, then shooting people is most likely not where you should be. But you may very well succeed photographing products, nature or architecture as area for you to specialize.
Unless you are photographing professional models, most people (and some models) need direction to create a photograph that they will love. You will often hear your client say “I’m not very photogenic” or “I hate having my photo taken.” Learning what causes these thoughts will help you create the photographs desired.
I will go for the direct approach by simply asking “Why do you hate having your photo taken?” or “What makes you feel that you are not photogenic?” So very often their answers will be easily addressed during the photography session. Sometimes it just creative posing/ligthing and other times it is going for the less staged portrait. The key is to understand their concern and find a way to show them you are confident that you will solve this.
To get natural smiles I have a running dialog during the shoot, telling some really bad jokes and just generally being a bit silly. Sometimes I talk about movies or television. You need to find an interest of theirs and talk about it. This will take them away from thinking about their photo taken and get them relaxed enough to create some great photographs.
You have probably seen the commercial where the dad says “I know all the songs from High School Musical.” The daughter is very embarrassed by the singing and dancing dad. Be that singing and dancing dad. By being aware of the world of your subject you can relax them. Shoot younger kids know Sponge Bob and his friend Patrick. You get the idea.
Consider shooting with background music. Having clients bring in their mp3 player of their favorite songs to patch into the sound system. If they don’t bring one, ask which station they want on the radio. Music usually elevates the mood and adds a comfort level.
And of course, getting feedback as soon as possible helps both you and the client. Some photographers hate showing the clients the LCD. I find that limited use can be a huge benefit. Nothing works more to put a client at ease then showing them a great shot on the LCD. And on the rate occassion they don’t like what they see, you can address it before you take all the shots that way
A running commentary on what you are shooting helps too. I am always saying ““Beautiful!” or “Wow!” or “Amazing!” or “This is a great shot” etc. Your positive chatter boosts your client. And the best part is, you should being telling the truth. These are great shots of the client. Just be sure to choose your words carefully. Using words like sexy and hot can make a client very uncomfortable very quickly.
What it really comes down to is making the client feel comfortable and relaxed. Remove the stress and make the photography session a very fun experience. By quickly developing a relationship with the client, you will know how to bring out their very best. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with a lot of very successful photographers and these thoughts are common across the group.