One of the most important elements of photography to me is the relationship between myself and my clients. I think that the comfort and trust between the photographer and subject can make or break a shoot. I make it a priority for my clients to have an incredible experience; have fun, laugh, and actually enjoy having their photos taken. I once photographed a woman who compared having her photo taken to going to the dentist! By that remark, I would have to conclude that her previous experience must have less than impressive. There likely was no connection between the photographer and herself. Of course, for very high-paced commercial photoshoots time is money and you are lucky to have 60 seconds with “the talent” in order to establish trust and comfort. This certainly proves to be challenging and that’s where a little research on your subject can really put you in a good spot and put the client as ease.
Many clients don’t realize how much time they will actually be spending with their photographer on their wedding day; in most cases, it’s more time than with their partner. I think choosing the right type of photographer is very important. While their portfolio is important, looking at personality can be as important, if not more. Sometimes a low-key photographer will be much better suited for a low-key couple; they will be on the same wavelength without many clashing energies. Similarly, a more outgoing couple might have a better experience with a high energy photographer. Don’t get me wrong, the quality has to be there, but that is assumed.
Having that relationship with your clients can go a long way. I meet with my couples 2-3 times throughout their wedding planning stages to see how things are going, to check out their venue, to see if I can assist in anything or recommend a vendor. This gives us face time and interaction time – which is why I also highly recommend that couples do an engagement session (or E-Session in cool terms).
E-Sessions are a great opportunity for us to have even a greater connection and a chance to interact even further. The clients get a really good idea of how I work and I get a really good idea of how they interact with each other, with me, and how they react to my requests or suggestions during a shoot. This is a great opportunity to evaluate the dynamic between client(s) and photographer and make adjustments BEFORE the most important day of their lives. E-Sessions also help clients connect. Maybe they have been so busy over the last few months with work, planning, moving, and anything else you can think of, that they really haven’t had time to just enjoy each other’s company. E-Sessions are a great way for clients to get dolled up, go out and get some amazing professional photos. I notice a lot of couples just have party photos or a lot of “selfies” (where you hold the camera with your hands and point it back at you). Let’s get creative, do a stylized shoot or a magazine/editorial feel with some really cool and creative lighting, let’s explore the dynamic between the couples, lets have a BLAST !!! My #1 goal for engagement sessions is to have a lot of fun. I want my client to really enjoy having their photos taken and be comfortable with me and my style of shooting before their wedding day.
Trust is key. We have to build it together and I must earn it… but once I do, it’s like magic. My mission is to capture photographs of my clients at their best..where they look most flattering and where the photos show their personalities. Not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera, but it’s my job to put them at ease. They will look even better when we have that trust…. Let me explain: say my couple pick a fountain to take photos at. When we get there, the sun is at their side, casting really long and dark shadows across their faces. They pose themselves in front of the fountain and say “this will look so good here” – what do I do ? No matter what, I take the photo (always take requests from your clients, no matter what), and then immediately after suggest an alternative angle/view/position and ask them to move to the most flattering light and direct them to interact with each other. When I say “Jenny, that looks amazing, now just turn your face a bit this way towards the light (as i point) and bring your chin up just a bit. Beautiful. Now reach around an grab Mike’s butt” – and as they both start laughing hysterically and are having a blast having their picture taken, Jenny knows that it will look even better than what she initially suggested because of the trust she has in me.
This is part of the fun and it’s part of the job. Work on the trust and you will see a huge improvements on your photos.