Helping Clients Feel Comfortable in their Own Skin
As cliche as it may seem, a picture can really be worth a thousand words. Every single element in a photograph — from the way light hits the subject, to the emotions and feeling they express (which is why helping clients feel comfortable is so important), and even to the way angles are carefully considered — tells a story. And when it comes to portraits that not only memorialize incredibly important milestones in one’s life but also capture intimacy, confidence and boldness, there is nothing (or rather no one) better at conveying a story than the subject himself/herself.
This undeniable reality is the reason why it is crucial for photographers to make sure that their subjects feel at ease in front of the camera. In his book Photography Field Guide: People And Portraits, Robert Caputo explained how engaging with your subject right from the get-go can help you anticipate and capture authenticity and vulnerability. Here are some of the ways, photographers like you can help your subjects/clients feel more comfortable in their own skin:
Do small talk before and during the shoot
Regardless of how harmless and chill a photoshoot may be for you, it can easily turn into an intimidating activity for camera-shy folks. To help your clients feel more relaxed, take the time to make small talk. An article by Forbes suggests talking about something besides the theme of the shoot before the actual session. For instance, if you are taking maternity photos, save the small talk about motherhood and children for the actual shoot. This way, you will be able to capture the fondness and happiness the mother feels on camera.
Ask if they’re comfortable in their clothes
In itself, smiling and posing in front of someone you barely know is already awkward. What more if you have to bare yourself during a boudoir or maternity shoot and take creatively intimate photos? To keep your clients from feeling conscious about their bodies, ask their opinion about the kinds of clothes they want to wear. In PrettyMe’s discussion of sexy lingerie types, Chrizelle Diaz explains how the perfect lingerie can have an amazing effect on a person’s mood, self-esteem and confidence — especially if they fit the wearer’s personality perfectly. Clients feeling a bit more nervous may want to try on a one-piece bodysuit, which allows for less skin exposure than bikinis, but still highlights all the curves of one’s body and gives off a classy, sophisticated silhouette. Clients who want to bring attention to their waists, on the other hand, may want to go for corsets, which effectively flatter the upper body figure.
Build rapport and trust through long conversations
Aside from small talk, you would also want to engage in long, meaningful conversations with your clients — more so if you are doing an underwater photoshoot. As highlighted in our previous post ‘Underwater Photography Safety Gear and Tips for a Successful Shoot’, remember to ask your clients about water comfort, swimming proficiency and, in general, photoshoot experience. Ensure their safety and keep their minds at ease through a safety briefing that discusses relevant information about the set. For instance, for underwater shoots; talk about the temperature, current direction and rock features of the body of water you are entering with them.
Photographs are not just creative memorabilia of significant moments in one’s life, they are also records of the photographer’s relationship with his or her subjects. So, to be able to take photos that are for the books, you have to zoom in on making your clients feel more at ease by making small talk, asking how comfortable they are with their clothes and building rapport and trust through long, meaningful conversations.
Rachel Joanne, written for Water Bear Photography