Well hello there lovely! Are you a photographer and you sometimes struggle to ease your clients’ nerves or have your own anxiety about your shoots? Have you noticed that your sessions aren’t as great as they could be because you’re feeling stuck? If you’re raising your hand in the air like you just don’t care, read on!
Firstly, we want to say that we have BEEN THERE. 🙋🏻♀️Let’s be honest, sometimes we still find our hands raised asking how to have better sessions too. Something we’ve realized is that our couples show up to sessions feeling SO nervous, but when they leave, they say what such a great time they had and how relaxed they felt. Like they were lifelong friends with us. It’s kinda like when you are dreading jumping into a cold pool or epic lake in the summertime, only to get out smiling and say “LET’S DO THAT AGAIN!” We’re here for it!
So to help all the wonderful photographers out there (and their couples), we’ve put together a little list of things that we’ve implemented that actualyyyy work to calm those nerves and create a chill vibe for your session. Basically those natural, candid, emotional, oooozy photos that show your couple’s connection, instead of the awkward, posed version of them. Let’s jump in.
GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER FIRST
It’s like a first date, the first 30 minutes are guaranteed to be awkward. It’s fiiine. The key is to get that all out of the way BEFORE you start the session. We love meeting up beforehand with our couples, we stalk them on social media, and we treat them like friends. It’s so much easier to have a connection with them after you’ve had some time to get to know them.
We know, this isn’t rocket science. But not everyone does this and it makes a HUGE difference! It’s our favorite part too, because we always end up friends at the end!
Oh! Added bonus, grab drinks with them before their session! Not only are you giving your groom some liquid courage, but you’re breaking the ice and all loosened up.
Just in case we need to say this, people can tell when you actually care. Don’t ask questions just to fill the silence. Ask the questions because you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. See? We told you it was like a first date. Put your camera down and actually listen to that adorable proposal story and when they’re laughing about how the groom’s hands were shaking, sneak a pic!
Before we start shooting, we like to give them the scoop on what the session is going to be like. We tell them how we are going to photograph and what our expectations are of them (hint: only that they be madly in love). Sure, they’ll have seen it on your website and heard it during your chats with them beforehand, but the nerves are running high and it’s always safe to over communicate. Never assume they know what the session will be like. I mean… they won’t know. This is probably their first professional photoshoot. Like ever. It’s your job to walk them through it.
We always tell our couples a few things before we get started:
- Being nervous and anxious is normal! You aren’t models and we don’t expect you to be. We just want you to be your beautiful, adorable, selves.
- We will direct you, don’t you worry! We’ll tell you what to do with your hands! We do have a more “hands off” approach when it comes to what’s happening with you guys though. If we aren’t talking or directing, that means we just LOVE what you’re doing! We’re also trying to let you guys have your moment.
- Don’t overthink too much about what you look like or where you put your hands. Focus on your lover. If something looks awkward or you’re faking it, we’ll tell you.
- Always be moving, even if it’s just swaying back and forth. Rubbing her arm, dipping her back and forth. It always looks way more natural and you’ll feel more connected.
GIVE THEM THEIR SPACE
Let’s be honest, we love those tight, emotional shots more than anybody, but it’s important to read their vibe on this one. If you can tell that they’re feeling a little uncomfortable and extra nervous, back up a bit and just let the magic unfold. Start your session off with you farther away and let them do something active to get the jitters out. We start them off with walking. Everyone knows how to walk. Some people can even walk and chew gum at the same time. Or let them run. From there, you can edge closer to them as they get more comfortable.
If you’re feeling an extra round of jitters yourself, this is a great time to back away, give them some alone time, and focus on being creative without needing to direct them constantly.
FOR THE LOVE, SLOW DOWN
This is one we’ve struggled with a lot. We’re starting off sassy here because it’s true! Give your couples time to settle in, be themselves, and just hang out with each other. SLOW DOWNN. The more time in one pose/place will only make for more natural and connected photos.
When you go too fast, your couple can’t breathe long enough to enjoy each other. You treating them like manoquins just ordering them around. Just as soon as they settling into their “position” you’re moving on to something.
AHHH PLEASE DON’T DO THIS.
We can’t blame you, it’s natural instinct to feel like you have to hit every pose in the book and rattle them off. We promise, you really don’t have to do this. Speeding things along is sooo counter productive to the chill vibes you’re going for. When we get nervous, sometimes our first instinct is to just speed things along. But don’t. Make an effort to slow down because that’s where all the magic happens.
You and your couple will feel so much more at ease when you slow down, step back, and let them just settle. Plus, the photos will show how connected and madly in love they are.
GIVE THEM PERMISSION TO HAVE FUN
Before you started shooting and throughout the session, give them permission to just focus on their love and leave the pretty pictures part to you. Their only job during the session is to relax, have fun, and really connect with their honey. When you’re posing them or giving them prompts, ask them about their love story and their relationship. Ask them how they would hold each other once they saw each other at the airport after being gone for a long time. Then, just step back, give them space, and let them work their magic. Even when they turn to you to ask you what to do next, just continue to turn their attention to their other half.
It can be totally awkward having your picture taken and the photographer is silent. We’re big advocates for being quite and just letting them be in the moment, but again, read the room on this one, people. If they are dependent on you to give them direction, then make sure you are constantly reminding them (authentically) that they are beautiful human beings and what they are doing looks great.
KEEP THEM MOVING
When you give your lovely couples something to do, they’re much less likely to be worried about how things look or if their hair is in exactly the right place. You’re also more likely to capture those natural, in-between moments.
We like to have lots of fun things for our couples to do. We have the groom give his bride a piggy back ride, or pretend they’re walking to the parking lot after a night at the bar. Giving them games to play is also a really fun way to get them to loosen up. Have the groom’s job be to touch her booty, and the bride play keep away.
TAKE A BREAK
If you’re sensing some burnout and that someone needs a break. Take a break. Being in front of the camera for a long time is a lot of work. Allow for some rest time. Tell your couple to go soak in the views. Put the camera down and really dig into that epic proposal story. Eat your snacks or pop some champagne with the future Mr. and Mrs.
It’s not just for them. This break can be really helpful for you to recharge and give your mind a quick refresh before diving back in with your fresh ideas.
That’s all from us! We hope you enjoyed our top tricks for creating a chill vibe while photographing your session. The main takeaway is to make your couple comfortable in front of your camera! If this helped, share it with your photog friends and leave us a comment!