The final product you deliver to portrait clients is important, but of equal importance is the experience they have with you while shooting the portraits. No matter how stunning the result, if your clients are uncomfortable working with you, they won’t book you again–or refer their friends to your business.
Fortunately, making your clients relax and enjoy their session is as easy as following the steps outlined below:
Project Comfort Yourself
Even if you’re new to professional photography and experience nerves at a session, you want your clients to see you being calm and composed.
This means coming to the shoot with all the appropriate equipment (and knowing how to use it!), smiling, and keeping your session jitters to yourself! If clients see your stress or nerves, they’ll feel the same–if they see that you’re relaxed, they’ll be inclined to follow suit.
Establish Expectations Beforehand
The time to have a first conversation about photo session expectations is not on the day of the shoot. At the initial consultation, or some point in advance of the session, ask questions about your clients’ preferences and get a feel for their individual style.
Explain to clients as best you can how the day of the session will go–what to expect, what to wear . . . the more questions you can anticipate and answer for them before the session date arrives, the more comfortable they will be.
Be Confident in Giving Direction
If you’re a seasoned professional photographer, this point is likely second nature to you. If not, it’s something you’ll want to study and practice outside of paid photo sessions.
Clients are likely not experts in posing or movement during a photo shoot. They’ll need to be coached in some way, even if posed portraits isn’t your goal. Be confident and clear in what you’re asking of your clients; they’ll feel much more comfortable knowing what they can do to achieve the photos they’re asking you to produce.
Few things could bring more stress to a photo shoot than rushing through it. Especially if you’re attempting to work with a group, you’ll want to make sure time management is a major component of planning your session.
If you only have half an hour with a client, don’t promise to deliver dozens of poses in multiple settings–make sure you can move at a comfortable pace through the session. It’s hard to relax and behave naturally on camera when you’re aware you only have a moment before moving on; the pressure to get the perfect shot immediately shouldn’t be one your portrait clients experience.
Give Positive Feedback
As you preview photos throughout the session, or see your clients responding to your coaching, let them know how great they look!
Affirmations that the client looks gorgeous, is a natural on camera, and will receive beautiful photos–these are exactly what an anxious client should be hearing throughout the shoot. If you notice the nerves creep in, focus in on offering genuine positive feedback to assure your client that they’ve made the right choice to work with you.
Do you have any tried and true methods for calming your clients’ nerves during a portrait session? We’d love to hear them! Leave us a comment on Facebook with your best tips.