How to Make Clients Confident Behind the Camera

Dear Jasmine,
I want to ask you a question. How the heck did you get all your confidence with your clients? I am about to secure my first ever engagement session, and, on the one hand, I'm so excited I could jump up and down all day and, on the other, I feel like I could go throw up with anxiety - in a very lady-like way! ;) Did your confidence bloom over time? I often have trouble telling my clients what to do and how to pose on a shoot because I get flustered easily :( I, like you, love the natural, candid emotions, but you said in one of your videos that you have to "pull this out of them." HOW?! :)
Warmly,
Waiting for the Confidence to Come


Dear Waiting,
Well, before a formal answer comes, we need to clear a few things up. Confidence is a somewhat new idea for me. For most my life, I've been the person who prefers watching, not engaging. I struggle in new social situations and find myself flustered when I can't walk into a room a feel comfortable. Still to this day I get nervous before I shoot clients. Seven years into my business and the butterflies in my stomach? They've MULTIPLIED.

Now that's on the table, let's chat about what we can do, in spite of how we feel...and help our clients trust our direction and ability to produce the type of images we're proud of.


I've discovered the following tips helpful:
1. Let the clients unfold naturally.
At the beginning of a session or on a wedding day, I stand back and let the couple fall into what they normally do together. Their bodies will--simply as a byproduct of time spent together--fall into what's natural for them. Once I see this, I work around and modify the pose with small changes (like closing their fingers so they're not wide spread, or ensuring a hand isn't dangling but placed strategically). Part of posing naturally is seeing what they do instinctively, then making small changes.
2. Follow clients on social media.
Whenever I'm shooting, I talk to my clients behind the lens. This helps produce a candid, conversational appeal. However, the most sincere reactions and engagement happen when I connect on a personal level. For example, at a recent wedding, I connected with the bride and her bridesmaids after reading about her bachelorette party on Facebook...this produced squeals and laughter, which resulted in great candid photos. Social media can help connect us to our clients on a closer level.
3. Set no expectations.
At the beginning of each photo shoot, I tell my clients I expecting nothing from them. I only thing I want is for them to have fun, relax, and enjoy...and I'll take care of the rest. If subjects worry they're expected to show up and act like models, the photos run the risk of two people not looking like themselves. I give them permission to simply be and this sets the tone for an enjoyable shoot with no expectations.

Speaking of permission, here are a few posts that might help you as well...
The Permission to Feel Beautiful
Can a Shy Photographer be Successful?
Basic Posing Tips
Tips for Posing a Couple on a Wedding Day

I hope this offers a little more insight into how I work, but--more so--what you can do to bring out the true soul of your subjects behind the camera.
Stay Fabulous,
j*
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Anja - I've often heard you say "it's important to set expectations". This is one situation where the opposite is true. I love it. Thank you, Jasmine.  07.09.13 - 7:32am
Ashley Rogers - Great tips! I especially like the idea of connecting with them via social media. Thanks J!!  07.05.13 - 10:56am
Jeanne Mitchum - These are such great tips!! Thanks so much for all that you share!  07.05.13 - 10:19am
Chris Renton - Connecting on social media is a great idea.. makes it much easier to start a conversation and relax your clients. I also love the idea of telling them you expect nothing from them at the start. Nice tips!  07.05.13 - 2:19am
Dan and Melissa - Thank you so much for sharing about your fears as well. You are the best!  07.03.13 - 7:54am
Alaina Bos - Great tips Jasmine!  07.03.13 - 6:38am
Kristin - Love these tips.   07.02.13 - 3:07pm
Katie Jackson - You method of posing is perfect! Naturally polished:) Sometimes photographers dictate too much and then the poses end up looking awkward. Sometimes photographers don't pose enough and the couple poses themselves in unflattering ways. I love your method of letting them pose naturally but making small adjustments.   07.02.13 - 10:11am
Whitney Lane - So true :) Confidence is such a strange thing... i think most ppl don't really have as much as you think they do :P  07.02.13 - 9:26am
Emily - Thank you so much for this post! This is something I struggle with and I love your tips! This is going to be SO helpful!  07.02.13 - 9:18am
Mercedes - These are really helpful tips! I'm off to read the rest of those posts you shared. #3 is especially good. I'll have to remember to communicate that at our next shoot.  07.02.13 - 9:14am
Jade - j* your words are like little nuggets of gold ;) thank you  07.02.13 - 5:21am
Eric Rogers - I don't know if its a coincidence or not, but I happened to book my very first engagement session this week as well. I was wondering the same things and this post was very well timed. Thank you for the advice.  07.01.13 - 7:00pm
Charity - Thanks for a helpful article! I liked this a lot!  07.01.13 - 5:55pm