Q: I sometimes go into a shoot thinking my clients will be good fun only to realise they are very awkward in front of the camera, which then causes me to freeze. What’s your number one tip for approaching a photo shoot in order to get the most natural results?
A: Great question! Reading this really took me back to a time when I too struggled with similar things, and it makes me truly appreciate how all the work I have put into this are has paid off, seeing how I’m able to fully enjoy pretty much any shoot situation and client interaction these days without worrying about things such as freezing or ‘difficult clients’.
You asked for my number one tip? Here it comes. Have no expectations. Having expectations on how the shoot will go, or what you want the outcome to be, is the quickest way to guarantee the kind of situation you describe. Based on what you (think you) know about the client you might be expecting for them to act in a certain way and go in with the expectation of a great success where they naturally reveal their inner beauty in front of your camera while perfect sunlight illuminates them in a magical way. Or conversely, you might have a client who you have pre-judged to behave in a certain negative way, based on an experience with someone who reminds you of them, and you go into a shoot dreading it in advance, which doesn’t really pave the way for a successful session. In both of these scenarios you are setting yourself up for failure.
The only way to truly allow your clients the safe space they need in order to reveal their true selves, is to not have any expectations, and just be prepared to go with the flow and with an interest in learning more about who your clients are. By all means go in fully prepared in all the areas you can affect (time of day for light, gear for the type of shoot, logistics, backups and workflows), but always remember to clear your mind when it comes to your clients. Most of all, keep in mind that the session is about them and what they are comfortable giving, not about what you want out of them.
And those awkward moments? Get comfortable with them. When you learn to just stay calm through an awkward or silent moment, your clients will feel that and mirror you. Likewise, if you panic or freeze, your clients will take a cue from you and feel similarly.Marianne Taylor is the creator of Beloved Magazine and founder of Her Lovely Heart.