What I see is that there are a lot of articles out there for clients on how to prepare for their sessions, but there are barely any articles out there on how to prepare photographers for their sessions, and also how to prepare photographers in making sure that their clients are ready and prepared for their photo shoots, thus making sure that we are all less nervous. So, I’m going to walk you through some things that I do and some tips that I like to use for my clients that really seem to work for me.
Read on or scroll to the bottom and watch the video!
Clients are nervous because they don’t know what to expect.
If you said, “Hey, can you take my car down to the corner gas station and get some gas for me?” they wouldn’t have any problem with that because that’s something that they’ve probably done a million times. But if you say, “Hey, I want you to go to this random place that you’ve never been in before with this person you’ve never met, and I want you to get half naked, and I want you to be able to pose and act like a supermodel,” probably not going to work out well. So, I need you to change that.
We need them to be educated. They need to be educated on exactly what to expect before, during, and after their photo shoot, but mostly during. They want to know what their day is going to look like, and that is where you have the ability to step in and do that. My clients know immediately what’s going to happen the minute they walk into the studio door. I lay out everything for them. I even give them estimated times on everything that’s going to be done whenever they walk into my studio.
A prep guide is essential.
A prep guide is one of the best things that you can invest your time in. This is where your clients are going to know where the studio is. They’re going to know what the studio looks like from the photos you’ve included. You’re going to talk about how they should show up, how they can prepare their hair and their skin. You’re going to talk about wardrobe choices. You’re going to talk about how the day’s going to go. You’re going to have a timeline laid out for them. They need to know this so that those nerves can just start to kind of etch away a little bit.
Prepare yourself and your space
I always show up in my studio at least an hour before a client is going to show up. That’s because I want to make sure that everything’s put away. I want to make sure that I’m calm and relaxed. I want to make sure either the heat is on or the air conditioning is turned on and that it’s comfortable. I turn music on, and I kind of just get myself in my headspace to be able to provide a comfortable environment for my clients.
When my client arrives it’s time for hugs and excitement. “Hi, I’m so excited! I can’t believe that this day is finally here. Are you so excited?”
You always want to touch your client. Hug them. I don’t recommend shaking their hand, because you’re about to get really intimate and vulnerable with them, so we want to make sure that they know that you’re not a robot and you’re a real human being, and you want to do that by giving them a big fat hug.
You want to have comfort items close by. I always have bottled water, champagne, and white wine. I don’t have red wine, and the reason why is because red wine stains lips and teeth. I also always have snacks on hand. And yes, it is true that most boudoir clients don’t want to eat snacks because they want to feel less bloated. But, I have snacks there because I have had clients get a little dizzy, and you want to be prepared. I also have candles lit, I have music playing and I’ve started creating an environment for the walls to fall. I want them to walk in and feel like they’re home. My space is decorated to feel homey and warm. My energy is in there, which is warm and homey. So, you just want to make sure that you have all those kinds of comforts in there, that if they walked into their own home they would likely have any way.
I can tell you when my clients come in, they always have multiple bags. They have so many things, and they are so afraid that they’re going to disappoint me with what they’ve brought. So, I get really excited for them. I’m say something like, “Oh my gosh. Look at this body suit. This is going to look incredible.” or “Oh my goodness. You know what I’m going to do with this? We’re going to be on the couch with this one. ” ” This one is so bad-ass. We’re going to do this one on the wall. We’re going to get the fan going.” And once they see how excited you are about what they brought or about what you are giving them from your own wardrobe, no matter what it is, once they see how excited you are about the wardrobe that they’re going to wear for these photos, that gets them excited.
Picking the right team members
The next thing that I do after we figure out wardrobe is my clients go into hair and makeup with my stylist. I try to leave them alone during that time. Up until this point, my clients have had a little bit of time to get to know me usually by email, or phone, or text.
They have never met my stylist. They don’t know anything about her. This is their time to get to know her a little bit, and this is that time for her to be pampered, too. They’re getting their hair done. They’re getting their makeup done. They’re sitting in a professional chair in a professional setting. My stylist, Leanne, is incredible. She’s funny. She’s down to earth. She’s so sweet and kind. You can’t help but just fall in love with her. They are with my stylist about an hour to an hour and a half, so I need them to relax and feel good about themselves, and also feel good about Leanne being there. My stylists stays for the duration of the shoot to change out hair and makeup looks, to assist with wardrobe, and to make sure that my clients look their absolute best in every single photo that I take.
The big talk
This is where I tell them that I got them, that I’m going to take care of them, that I know that they have no idea what they’re doing, and that’s okay. I don’t expect them to know what they’re doing. They’ve never done something like this before. And even if they have, they might feel a little bit more confident, but they’re still at the mercy of me, so I’m there to guide them through everything. I tell them, “I know that you don’t know how to pose. I know that you don’t know what to do with your face, but I do. I’ve been doing this long enough, and I got you. We’re going to get through this together, and you are going to have so much fun.”
The number one important thing that I tell my clients is just do what I say and you’re going to love your photos. Don’t be scared. Don’t be shy. There’s no reason to be that way. You came to me for a reason and this is what we’re going to do, and we’re going to do it right.
Giving feedback and knowing when to take a break
Now during shooting, I never shut up. I am constantly saying something to them, whether it is, “You’re doing great. This is perfect. Just hold it right there. This looks really great.” I’m giving them positive affirmations. I’m telling them that I’m so excited when I look on the back of my camera and see these photos. I am constantly, constantly, constantly giving them positive feedback, affirmations, information, and directions. The minute that you go quiet and you don’t say anything, they have no idea if what they’re doing is any good. And if they’re not hearing it from you, they’re going to start to kind of crinkle inside. And before you know it, you’ve lost them completely. Good luck editing those photos.
There are times whenever you do have a really particularly nervous client, you can just stop the shoot, take a break, and have a snack, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, maybe some water. I had a client one time that was really, really, really nervous. Had her going, everything was going great, and then all of a sudden she shut down. That was my cue. We needed to stop what we were doing. We needed to just sit down in our comfy little robes, have a snack, and chat. I wanted to hear about her husband. I wanted to hear about her job. I wanted to hear about what she was going to do for the rest of the day after her session. These things were important to me. And the more I heard her talking about those things, the less she was focusing on how nervous she was. Worked out beautifully.
humor, humor, humor
If you can make your clients laugh, if you can make them forget how nervous they are, if you can show how down to earth you are and how genuine you are, then they’re going to be putty in your hands, and that’s all that matters. Humor is one of the best ways to do that. I happen to be pretty funny, so it works really well for me. If you’re not that funny, work on it. I promise you it’s going to work.