It’s time to talk about one of the most important things we need to focus on as photographers: how to create a relaxed session for your clients!
If you’re like me, you’ve probably had some. . . awkward. . . sessions. Ya know, the ones where your couple just isn’t vibing with you? Or where they show up in outfits that don’t work well with the environment? Maybe your couple is so stiff that you really can’t get any emotion out of them. We’ve all been there!
But as photographers, it’s our job (literally – it’s what our clients are paying us for) to create the perfect session environment for them. Our couples have likely never had professional photos taken before. Or if they have, maybe they haven’t had the best experience and that’s why they’re coming to you now. It’s not their responsibility to know what to do or how to be comfortable during their session. That’s what we’re here for!
In this blog post, I’m going to dive into allll things relating to creating a relaxed, comfortable session for your clients! I’m not going to get into posing + prompting – that’ll be another blog post in the future! Instead, I’ll dive into how to set the mood beforehand and prepare an environment that allows your clients to feel safe and express their truest selves.
Ready?! Let’s get into the good stuff!!
Now, if you’ve done a few sessions before, you’ve probably learned that a ton of the work in creating a relaxed session actually happens BEFORE the session. Probably 75% of it, to be honest! (And if you haven’t learned that lesson yet – hey, now’s your chance!)
We’ve gotta focus not only on keeping our clients comfortable during the hour or two that we’re shooting with them, but also on preparing them in the best way possible.
You need to make sure that from the moment a couple inquires with you (whether it be about a wedding or just a session), that you’re speaking in your true voice. By that, I mean you need to be writing your emails in the way that you actually talk in real life!
If you’re somebody with a louder, more bold voice, use exclamation points! If you’re more quiet or reserved, don’t use three exclamation points at the end of every sentence (guiltyyy!) – go for a period instead. This allows your clients to get a feel for your personality right from the get-go, and helps set the tone for your interactions together!
One of the most important things I do for my clients is send them a lil “What to Expect” email a month or two before their session! I use this email to fill them in on everything they can expect from our time together. This helps them know what’s coming if they’re feeling nervous or have never had professional photos taken together, and sets expectations before you even arrive at your session location!
A brief example of part of the email I send to my couples beforehand:
“‘We’re going to have such a great time – we’ll be moving, snuggling, laughing and exploring through the forest together. Hopefully you’ll forget it’s a photoshoot and just have a blast with your man! You might want to warn him he should be ready for a bit of a work-out 😉 hehe!”
Here are some ideas of what to include for this part of the email:
A few things to include:
The day has finally arrived! You’ve just arrived at your session to meet up with your clients, and you’ll want to make sure you take the time before shooting to really set the mood + create a great environment.
First of all, don’t take out your camera gear immediately! This might make your clients nervous right from the start and feel like they have to jump right in.
Instead, spend the first 10-15 minutes getting to know them, chatting, & making small talk. Get comfortable making conversation with each other and notice how they’re feeling. If you can tell they’re nervous, bring it up! Tell them that it’s totally normal to be nervous but that by the end of the session, they’ll forget they were ever anxious and that you’re a pro at helping clients feel 100% comfortable.
Once you’re feelin’ comfortable and like they’re ready to go, give them a little speech! Tell them once again what the session will look like – that you want to keep them comfortable, you’ll direct & pose them, you’ll start at x location, and you’ll plan to change outfits at x time.
Finally, ask them what kind of music they like best and put on some music to set the mood + get rid of any potential awkward silence!
Before you arrive at any session, be prepared with a few go-to, “easy” prompts that you’ll start off with! These first few prompts will help you get a feel for how your clients will react, interact with each other, and interact in front of your camera.
Once you get into the session, you need to make sure you pay attention to how they’re feeling!
If you can tell they’re feeling stiff, give them a little break! Go walk around “looking for a new spot” while they stay back, rest, and talk to each other. What if you give them a prompt and they’re not reacting well to it or look uncomfortable? Change it – don’t make them stay in it!
Do they seem like a more outgoing couple? Give them more movement prompts. If they’re a little more intimate or reserved, give them less prompts with big movement and instead focus on capturing the small moments between them.
Continuously pay attention to their energy throughout your session to accommodate how they’re feeling & make sure you’re bringing out their truest selves!
Awkward silence can be a vibe crusher. I try to always be chatting with my clients as we walk to the next spots. Ask them about their life, relationship, further details on how they met, where is their dream honeymoon…. or even share funny memories about the last time you shot somewhere similar (at least my awkward self has had plenty of falls, getting stuck somewhere or running into river people at a park – longggg story. lol!)
Especially pay attention to the person you haven’t been emailing and chatting with this whole time. Ask for their perspective on the story of how they got engaged etc. Making everyone there super comfortable is key!
Anything to make them feel that much more comfortable with you will help them let their guard down once the camera is out!
This is a big one! You NEED to cheer them on. This is all about giving them an incredible experience!! I want my clients to feel like they just freakin crushed their session when they are driving home.
‘OW OWWWW!!!’ – ‘OMG YOU CUTIES!!!’ – ‘GET IT, GET IT’ – ‘OKAY that hair blowing you MODEL!!’…. ALLL that good energy will amp up their confidence x 10000!
Once you feel like you’ve captured your clients in their truest forms & have gotten everything you + they wanted, end it on a good note! Thank them & tell them how much fun you had. Compliment them on how great they were and see if they’re still nervous, or if they’re pros like you knew they’d be by the end of the session!
Before you leave, make sure you remind them of what happens next + set expectations! Will they get sneak peeks? How long until they receive their photos? Anything that you want them to remember so you avoid them emailing you with questions afterward.
Aaaand that’s it!! Those are all the ways I never fail to create a relaxed, comfortable environment for my clients. It’s so much more than just playing the right music during their session or memorizing poses. It truly does start with your first email to them.
I hope this blog post helped you truly learn how to create a relaxed session for your clients! Now, take all the info to heart + make the process your own! I can’t waitttt to see you kill it every session!