I remember being in my first years of business and feeling so nervous on the way to shoots. I would go from being totally excited to thinking “what if they feel awkward? what if I run out of ideas? what if this session is a complete failure???” and so on and so forth.
As you can probably guess this thinking will only increase that doubt, zap your peace and in my case: minimize all creativity I had.
I think its only natural to be nervous, especially when you are just getting started and you really want to do things well! buuut there should come a point where that nervousness subsides and makes a shift into shear excitement!
I was thinking about it recently…the shift I made in my photography approach and what I noticed was that there were a few things I was doing repeatedly at every session that helped me genuinely create a welcoming environment for my clients overall experience and rid those pre-session jitters! So I thought I would break them down!
Now, I am aware that there are many ways you can create natural images and produce a memorable client experience but I thought I would share with you a few of my go-to’s tricks that you can implement today to see major results ! ARE YOU READY? Let’s dive in!…
1. Pre-Session Questionnaire
Getting to know your couples & learning more about their relationship, who they are and what they love is a huge starting ground for me! I shoot over a custom questionnaire prior to our session or wedding day where I collect a handful of answers about who they are as a couple, what they do in their free time etc. etc. and right off the bat, this gives me a few questions to pull from if there are any of those dreaded awkward pauses or lack of connection with one another!
Thanks to personal marketing via your blog & social media, the majority of the time your clients know more about you than you do about them! which if you’re doing it right is a SUCH A GOOD THING. However, this just means that you need to do the work in proactively getting to know more about them!
Personally my photography experience is centered around forming a friendship with my clients so this comes naturally because I genuinely adore getting to chat with my couples and treat them like I would a friend, but! I think implementing a pre-session questionnaire would benefit any business whether your keep up with your clients once the experience is over or not!
2. Spotify Playlist
ohhh you guys this one is a game changer! this is something I wish I would have started doing years ago! It’s such a simple idea but it’s so powerful in working for you! It also helps fill in the blank with any conversation pauses between shots, getting your clients relaxed and ready to have a fun time!
There are a handful of playlists I have created over the years to play at shoots, but one question I love asking when we are beginning our session is “do you have any favorite playlists or artists you have been loving lately??” if they do and we put on their favorite jam it immediately makes them feel comfortable and at ease (WHICH IS A PHOTOGRAPHERS DREAM!!!)
**these days there area a ton of affordable options for mini portable bluetooth speakers and you just bring them along in your camera bag at sessions! super easy!!
3. Have some prompts to fall back on!
I think we have all had those moments, you know as photographers where we all of the sudden your mind freezes up during your session and that list of endless ideas + poses you’ve dreamed up are no where to be found. ohhh boy have a been there! and it is the WORST feeling you could have during your session. My mind would instantly go into freak out mode (which only further zapped any remaining creativity I had left) ultimately this left me repeating the poses I had already done.
I think what I failed to realize in these moments was: you are allowed to take brakes during your session! Maybe you’ve never heard this before & it is music to your ears!! For some reason I believed in my heart that incorporating small breaks into my client’s portrait session would somehow make me “less professional” <–lol someone please tell that girl she was cray!
Here is the truth:
Put yourself in your clients shoes! being in front of the camera for an hour+ is a lot of work! your client’s will most likely sing your praises for included small breaks here and there in between your hour (or however long) of shooting together. Personally getting to know my clients is a huge part of the #hspcouples experience and where I usually get to know them initially is through their engagement session. So it is only natural for me to ask them questions and get to know them throughout their session and pause from time to time to intentionally invest in them + get to know them!
Now, I am not saying to take half of their session chatting with them before even touching your camera. No, not at all! your clients would probably feel like they were getting gypped from the experience they invested in!! what I am saying is:
You DON’T need to freak out, friend!
It’s ok if you have one of those moments during your session, I always recommend just taking a short break to “change a memory card” or battery and using that time to think of a few ideas + prompts to have your couples do. It is totally normal to do that and can be super helpful to a take a few minutes to stop and get those creative juices flowing again! Not to mention it will allow your couples to feel a bit more relaxed when jumping back into shooting mode!
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