“I won’t know what to do.”
“I’m not photogenic.”
“I don’t know how to pose.”
As wedding and portrait photographers, we hear statements like this often. Whether the goal is to show your client in the best, perfectly curated light or to capture an unscripted glimpse into the personality, disposition, chemistry, and intimacy of your subjects, chances are your clients will arrive to the session highly aware of the camera. That awareness comes with nerves, anxiety, tension, and sometimes awkward body language. How do we help our clients feel comfortable and forget about the camera? Here are four things you can start doing right now to help your clients look and feel their absolute best.
Make the session experiential. Choose an activity-based location like an amusement park, street festival, or bowling alley so the client can be immersed in the experience instead of thinking about the camera. Encourage clients to bring activity-based props like bicycles, jump ropes, skates, or Hula Hoops. You’ll get their guard down, loosen them up, and in the process you’ll be able to capture something fun. Staring contests are another great ice breaker. Ask your couple to stand facing each other and stare without blinking. Add in some fun ground rules like, you can do anything to try to make your partner blink except talking and touching. Bring music. Find out some of their favorite songs beforehand, and have a playlist ready with the songs that will make them light up.
Have a few riddles and cheesy jokes prepped and ready. A well-timed dad joke is sure to elicit a genuine and expressive reaction. A good riddle instigates interaction. Ultimately, riddles and jokes are a distraction that prompts a reaction you can anticipate and capture.
Real conversation. In lieu of prompts, have a conversation with your clients while you photograph them. Ask open-ended questions to draw them out of their shell and lead them to talk about themselves. Let your curiosity guide your direction. Conversation between photographer and client is an opportunity to bond and build rapport. Rapport breeds trust, and trust builds camaraderie.
As photographers we’re positioned to see the scene in front of us and make adjustments. Observation is key. Pace yourself and examine everything you observe. Does anything look off? Scan the most common areas for tension when you’re posing clients, and tweak the small things. Detailed art direction will put nervous minds at ease. From the bend of their wrists to the point of their fingertips, clear direction is reassurance that the photographer is attentive and taking great care in their approach to posing the client.
Kesha Lambert is the owner of Kesha Lambert Photography in New Rochelle, New York.