How often do you hear the words, “I’m so awkward in front of the camera,” or “I’m not photogenic”? And let’s be honest, some clients might be totally awkward and might not like having their picture taken. At all.

We believe it’s a HUGE part of our job as wedding and portrait photographers to turn those awkward, un-photogenic feelings around. It’s amazing how much can change when your clients go from feeling weird to laughing, talking and forgetting that they were uncomfortable in the first place. Images go from stiff and posed with cheesy smiles to happy, relaxed and natural. Here are a few tricks we’ve learned over the years. If you execute the below tips confidently, you will have an incredibly relaxed and fun shoot!

Put these tips into action to make your clients feel comfortable in front of your camera:

Before the session

  • Communicate these things up front (weeks in advance, if possible): How long the session will be, where it will be and how excited you are to see your clients again, hang out and create beautiful photos for them.
  • Send them to a blog post you’ve created about what they can expect for their engagement session. Here’s ours:
  • If you aren’t familiar with the location, scout it out either the day of the shoot, an hour or two ahead of time, or do it another day. Make a plan. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable they will be.
  • Email your clients a questionnaire to get to know them better. Find out what they like to do, what kinds of food they like to eat, where they like to vacation, what they like to do for fun and what they love about each other. You’ll use this valuable info the day of their shoot.

Day of the session

  • Start with some small talk. Ask them about their day/week. Keep the conversation positive!
  • Before you start shooting, give them a short intro about what to expect for the next 1-2 hours. Let them know you understand it may feel sort of funny at the beginning, but after five minutes, they’ll feel like rockstars! Quickly describe how you shoot. If they don’t need to be looking at the camera every second you are pointing in their direction, let them know!

You might also like – 5 Must Read Posing Tips for Families & Couples

During the session

  • Create a relaxed environment that feels more like you are all just hanging out vs. a feeling of “It’s time to take photos!”
  • Give your clients stuff to talk about while you are posing/composing/getting your exposure right. They could figure out what they are having for dinner, what they are doing this weekend, where they are going on their next vacation, etc.
  • Give them stuff to do! They might start to stiffen up if they sit in same pose/position for too long. Have your clients move around, reset the shot and have them get back into the pose again. Not only will this loosen them up, but it will create little variations of your posing that feel more natural to them.
  • Keep the conversation going. Remember that questionnaire? Re-read it before you start the shoot. It’ll come in handy if the conversation slows down.
  • Compliment your clients! Not just on how good they look, or how much you love what they are wearing, but compliment them as individuals and a couple. If they are doing something cute or silly or sweet, tell them! Say stuff like, “You guys are so fun together!”
Helpful photo business resource – Pricing Yourself for Success Handbook (PDF download)
Some people think they aren’t photogenic because they have insecurities about their weight, blemishes, a birthmark, etc. It’s also your job to know how to photograph them in the most flattering way. While your clients may not feel photogenic or comfortable in front of the camera in the beginning, you can change that! Free them from those insecure feelings and bring out the happiness/love/personality that is hiding inside.
Now it’s your turn and time to take action – which of the above bullet points are you going to start doing more of with your clients?  Let me know in the comments!
P.S. – Note from Cole... make sure to pay Jesse a visit at Idealust, a totally awesome blog & resource for creative entrepreneurs full of free actionable tips & ideas to improve your photography business.  Speaking of business help, you’d be crazy not to pick up there newest ebook – “Energize Your Business – 5 Tips to Bring Your Business to Life!”, its such a helpful resource it easily could sell for $50 but they are giving it away for FREE.  Go grab it here.

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