“I hope you fall backwards, trip, and break your camera.”
When these works were uttered to me just a few months ago, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera. Some apparently so uncomfortable that they are hoping for my bodily harm or maybe they just wanted a good laugh. Who knows!
That moment made me realize how important it is to really make sure your clients are comfortable, confident and relaxed. Even when it comes to my own pictures and knowing I could photoshop myself perfect, I still do everything possible to avoid a camera. If this photographer does that, how do our clients feel? How can we help them truly enjoy the experience you are bringing them?
If our clients are not relaxed and comfortable, their pictures will be stiff, and they may associate their pictures with the stress of having them done. Instead of looking at their pictures and remembering how beautiful they felt or how much fun they had, they will be thinking about how stressed they were about the poses you were doing and how upset they were with your lack of patience with their screaming children.
These are not things we want associated with our work. These things will lose maybe prevent, or ensure no”future business from them. I firmly believe that photography is 20% quality, 20% price, and 60% experience. If your clients have a bad experience with you, they won’t be back.
Here are some things I incorporate into every session to help my clients feel relaxed. Some of these things happen long before a session ever takes place. It’s almost like building a foundation for a successful shoot.
1. Get to know them. We are in the business of people. If you want them to look comfortable, they need to be comfortable with you. If you don’t do a pre-session meeting, start. That meeting doesn’t have to be all about their session. Get to know them, laugh with them, listen to their story, tell your embarrassing stories and get them laughing at you. Then at the end, talk briefly about their session and what to expect.
2. Laugh and smile. These are two of the most disarming things you can do. Good photographers are like a mullet. They are business in the front, but party in the back. You need to know how to be professional, but you have to let loose and get your clients relaxed. Let loose and have fun. Your pictures will show it.
3. Don’t watch your clock. It’s amazing what an extra 10 minutes can do for a mom who needs a breather to help her newborn relax, or maybe even for a timeout for a 3-year-old. Focusing too much on the time will make your client feel rushed and devalued. Yes, we set time limits for our sessions, but constantly checking the time or giving a countdown for how much of the session is left will stress your clients out. Think of how much more business you could get just by being patient and allowing extra time. If people feel rushed, they will just rush through and want to get it over and done with
4. Shake it out. I do this ALL THE TIME. I literally have my clients just let their arms fall to their sides and just shake back and forth. It really helps loosen muscles and helps bodies look less stiff. When you are nervous, you automatically tense your body. Have your clients shake it out and get loose. It’s fun to do too!
5. Find the extraordinary. A little flattery goes a long way. But it has to be genuine. Study your clients, stalk their Facebook, read their blogs, pay attention to their hair or clothing and find something to say about it. People loved to be talked about and complimented. A simple mention of a new outfit or that you noticed they just went on a huge family vacation will make them feel special that you thought of them. People love when you talk about them, so find something amazing about them to talk about. They will appreciate it.
Kelly Kirksey Fisk has been photographing weddings since 2006 when a friend asked her to photograph her wedding. A love for weddings ignited in a little chapel just outside of Bozeman, Montana. Now this Louisiana girl turned Montana wedding photographer finds great joy in photographing brides in the Big Sky State. One of the things Kelly is most passionate about is helping other photographers in their wedding photography. Kelly went into this industry alone and quickly found out how lonely it can be so she’s made it a life goal to help other photographers really develop their photography.