Have you ever thought about the confidence building potential you possess as a photographer? I think about it all the time. I believe that taking a person’s picture should be a positive experience from the start and should result in a tangible memory to be held dear. For most, being in front of the camera is a new experience and isn’t easy, but if we tune into our communication we can create our own sense of peace. Here are 6 ways to instill client confidence so you can produce portraits that will be treasured by both you and your beloved clients.
1. Use your client’s name. When you call someone by name, you are telling them how important they are to you as an individual. Writer and communication expert, Dale Carnegie, said it best, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. Remembering and verbalizing your client’s name is a small gesture, but it tells them that you’re invested in the personal experience you offer them. Whether it be to offer instruction, beckon their gaze back to your lens, or to encourage your client as they successfully navigate their time in front of your camera, incorporating their name promises your client that they are your primary focus.
2. Get specific. Part of your job as a photographer is to give clear, specific instruction to your clients, to help eliminate any doubt lingering in the minds of your client. Reflect on the words you choose when guiding clients and put yourself in their shoes. What would help put you at ease if you were the one in front of the camera?
3. Lead by example. Demonstrating the poses, gestures, or movement that you’d like your clients to embody is probably the most surefire way to make your clients feel right at home during your session. Some clients will simply engage and respond much better to visual instruction rather than verbal. Some will benefit from a combination of both types of instruction. But one thing that I’ve found to be universally true is that a demonstrative approach breaks down barriers. You can get as detailed as you’d like, or just demonstrate a pose or gesture for inspiration, allowing yourself to take the creative lead while building common ground with your client. Think of it as the world’s most uplifting game of Simon Says!
4. Use gentle language. This is one to tailor to your own voice, brand, and client. However, I believe that there are common threads (encouragement, compliments, gentle direction, warm conversation, etc…) that we can all celebrate when it comes to the language we use around our clients. My clients are sweet couples who hire me for both the images we create and the experience I offer during their engagement, bridal session, and on their wedding day. My experience is built around kindness, warmth, positivity, relaxation – all of which are supported by the intentional, gentle language I use whenever I have a client in front of my camera. In addition to the words you say, pay attention to your tone of voice, the speed of your voice, the volume at which you speak. Use your voice and language to set the tone for what you wish to capture.
5. Be confident. You’re a professional and you do everything you can to provide a meaningful experience for each client you photograph. You’re passionate about your work, you’ve mastered your equipement, and you read educational photography blog posts like this one because you know that there is always something new to learn. You have every reason leave self-doubt at the door and when you do, both you and your clients will reap the reward. You’ve come prepared, having already anticipated what they might worry about the most, with a clear direction for your time together. Leading with confidence tells your clients that they are in good hands, totally and completely taken care of.
6. Always take the shot, even if it doesn’t match your exact original vision. You’ve used clear, gentle language to communicate confidently. You have a vision for the most beautiful image and you’ve demonstrated exactly what your client should do to achieve it. But then, it just doesn’t happen. Maybe the timing is off, nature sent a poorly-timed gust of wind, or there is just a tiny little mysterious missing link in communication lurking somewhere in the process. It’s going to be okay. You never want your clients to feel like they’ve done wrong or let you down by not creating exactly what you had in mind. Some things just don’t go as planned and one of the most beautiful things about being an artist is celebrating the imperfectly perfect. After all, your images are about honoring your client and whatever they are experiencing in that precious season of their life or even in that exact moment. Always take the shot and remain positive.