Cameras have a fascinating effect on human beings. The presence of a camera can turn an otherwise relaxed, outgoing person into a nervous, shy – even terrified – subject. When it comes to portrait photography, relaxing your client from the get-go is critical. For many people, there’s something extraordinarily intimidating about a camera – even likened to the sight of a gun. If your client remains nervous as you begin the shoot, you’ll end up with the dreaded posed, emotion-less photos.
Here’s how to relax your client to get amazing shots and make it an enjoyable experience for everyone:
Make sure they like you as a human being.
As corny as it may seem, your client must know you, trust you and like you as a fellow human being. Talented photographer, you may be, but what will impact your client’s relaxation level in a shoot is whether they’re comfortable with you as a person.
Rather than jumping right into the shoot, take a few minutes, or longer as necessary, to get to know your client and enable them to get to know you. Whether your client loathes the camera or is an aspiring model, he or she is likely to be nervous. Show genuine interest in who they are as people. Ask them about things that they feel good about – i.e. their new upcoming novel release, their wedding, and their career goals. When this rapport is established, your client will feel that the photo shoot is an experience with you as a person they enjoy being around, making the camera’s role secondary. This way, when it’s time to start shooting, your client will view the camera simply as your tool and feel far more comfortable. You’ll capture your client in their true element and produce images that provide an accurate and wow-inducing reflection of the person.
Don’t get caught up with set up
You may have a lot of set up to do – from tethered shooting to lighting adjustments – before you start the shoot. Do as much pre-shoot prep as you can to enable more time to focus on conversation with your client. If you’re too focused on tinkering with your gear, your client has more time to focus on their nerves. Silence is uncomfortable; make a conscious effort to keep the conversation going, even when you’re busy setting up or making adjustments during the shoot.
Pick camera bags and tripods that enable you to set up quickly and hassle-free.
Break up the shoot with levity.
When you’re in the shooting zone, it’s easy to forget to stay engaged with your client. Talk! Be witty. Compliment, when appropriate. Maintain conversation throughout the shoot.
Make it fun for your client – well, as fun as it can be – and you’ll end up with a far more successful shoot.
Photos of model Sofi Tyler provided by photographer Floyd Dean ©Dean Digital Imaging Inc. 2016