How to Get Clients More Comfortable in Front of the Lens - 3 Simple Tips for Photographers
Being in front of the camera can be super awkward.
“Who should I look at?”
“What do I do with my hands?
“Why is this person just taking photos and not saying anything!?”
As much as I hate being in front of the camera, memories with Zeke are so important to me that I try to get us in front of the camera every now and then to remind myself all of the thoughts and nerves that come with jumping in front of someone’s camera. So what can photographers do to make this experience more enjoyable and less stressful? Well, there’s a lot of really easy and simple things you can do that can go a long way. It’s important to remember how vulnerable you can feel when you jump in front of the camera and to find ways to make the experience something that clients will want to be part of again.
First things first… Develop trust and become a friend. I feel way more comfortable when my friends take photos of me than when random strangers do. I trust that they’ll do their best to make me look good and get photos they know I’ll love. So here’s my point: Make a new friend! Not only is the session going to be way more fun for you as a photographer, but your client will be 1000x more relaxed. Getting a basic level of trust with your subject is the first and most important step in getting something beautiful and authentic.
Second, get their mind off of their nerves. I do this several ways. Asking your subject questions about themselves and having them do basic movements like walking, skipping, etc. gets their minds off of that nervous feeling of being in front of the camera. Sometimes even finding a location that requires a 5-10 minute walk can be a great opportunity to take some pressure off of getting the photos. It allows you to talk without the pressure of a camera in between you. Play silly games to make your subject laugh and don’t be afraid to make jokes and be a real person. Something I love doing is bringing my speaker and playing music. This always creates a better mood and helps encourage smoother movement.
Finally, I start off my sessions with a small disclaimer. I say something along the lines of… “Hey, it’s totally okay to be nervous. Taking photos can be weird, but I promise you’re in good hands. It’s always weird the first 10-15 minutes but I promise you will leave this session feeling like a model. I might ask you to do some silly things. I promise this is not to embarrass you, it’s mostly to get you moving, get you comfortable, and get you laughing. Also, a weird thing about photography is that if something seems really weird it probably looks great. I just ask you to trust me.” It’s important to acknowledge how your client might be feeling and explain what they should expect from the photos. Giving out compliments and praise as you're taking photos never hurts either! This relieves nerves and allows people to feel more comfortable trying new poses and getting outside of their comfort zone.
I truly believe that getting your client to be comfortable and to trust you is essential to consistently making great photographs. My worst sessions in the past were ones where I didn’t make efforts to gain my clients trust or they wouldn’t allow themselves to trust my direction. If a client is down to have fun, explore, and be a little bit silly, then I know we’re going to create some amazing memories.
As always, thanks for scrolling! I've put a few more of my favorite image from this gorgeous half-day session below. We drove around SF and hit some of the prettiest spots, and Elsie and Geoffrey looked amazing - despite the cold.