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When doing engagement photos, it is very important both to you and to the couple that everyone feels relaxed so that you can capture them being their truest selves. When your clients are relaxed and comfortable in front of your camera, it makes a huge difference in the images you capture and ultimately the client’s experience.
Here are a few tips that can help settle your nerves and your clients’ so that you rock the session and are able to photograph them at their best.
Have a simple meeting, either in person or via email, where you and the couple can talk about what the session will entail. The who, where, what, when, and how of their engagement photos. A few questions can help you narrow down the location, or locations if you’re up for doing more than one, clothing changes, and perhaps special information about the couple.
Start this conversation by asking how their wedding is coming along and how they met. This gives you great insight as to who they are as a couple. In addition, it conveys to the couple that you are interested not only in the session but in them as people. Let the conversation flow between topics and session details.
Ask questions like, “What do you envision for the feel of your engagement photos? Something more earthy or perhaps a more urban feel?” This will help you get an idea of what kind of surroundings they want for their photographs as well as where they’d feel most comfortable for their session. Another great idea is to offer shooting at a location that is special to them, so ask about that too.
Perhaps the place where they met, or where they went on their first date might be great locations if they are local and accessible. If they do reveal a place that is feasible, offer it up as one of the locations. They will love that you took interest in finding out such a place and recreating a special memory for them. If not, then go with the previous ideas and
narrow down some places where you like to shoot that go along with what they are envisioning for style and feeling.
Any additional details you can get during the consultation are key to helping you be more confident on the day of the shoot. Knowing a little more about the couple helps to have a few conversation starters as well, which will become important on the day of the engagement photo shoot.
Each couple is different, so it helps when you can get to know them on a more personal level rather than showing up at the location and having an awkward beginning. It isn’t unheard of for clients to turn into friends after photo sessions!
Now that you have the details of the session planned out and a little insight as to the personality of the couple, it’s time to begin preparing yourself for the session.
Aside from the obvious gear preparations, it’s good to go over some inspirational photos that you would like to try. Have at least 10 on your phone so that you can look at them during the session when you need a refresh or want to try something new. Having a set of images to help you with ideas for posing or lighting will make you more confident on the day of the session in the event you get stuck with a pose or need to change it up.
It’s a good idea to confirm with the couple a few days before the session and ask them if they have any questions for you. Being accessible reassures the couple that they have chosen a friendly photographer, which in turn helps them to feel more comfortable when the time comes to be in front of your camera.
Get to the chosen location early, even if it’s a place where you have shot before. Going early can help you make a plan of where you want to start shooting and move through your session. Having a plan makes the session run smoothly without losing momentum.
You’ve already set the groundwork for being friendly during the pre-session consultation and the confirmation and now it’s time to really be genuine.
When the couple shows up, don’t start shooting right away. Spark up a conversation with them. You will have much more relaxed clients this way and it will also relax you a bit if you’re nervous. Which, by the way, is completely normal! Plenty of seasoned photographers still get nervous before big shoots.
During the entire session, keep the conversation going. In between locations, clothing changes, and through the entire session. It relieves a little bit of the awkwardness between the clients and the professional, you. It speaks volumes when you can give your clients more of a personal experience by finding common interests, discussing the news, or even sports, anything. When your client has a good time, especially if they are nervous during the session, talking about common interests will aid in getting genuine expressions.
Each session and each couple is different. It’s important to keep the session moving smoothly throughout or the couple could tire quickly or become bored. This is why getting to the location and making a plan of where to shoot is so handy. Try different places within the location to shoot, offer clothing changes when you feel you’ve got enough with what they arrived wearing.
If a pose isn’t working, don’t say so, otherwise, you could make the couple feel like they’re doing something wrong. Keep going and try a different pose. Make sure that when you get a great shot, show them! This can build their confidence quickly and help them be more engaged during the session.
Whether this is your first engagement session or you’re worried because sessions sometimes go in a different direction than you hope – you simply need to take charge.
Direct the couple by showing the poses you’d like for them to do by demonstrating them first. Allow yourself to direct the flow of the session.
It sounds scary, however, you are the photographer. You’re the one who knows what to do and taking charge of the session speaks to the couple that you are confident in your work. Over time, it will become natural to you.
Once your clients become more relaxed in front of your camera, they will offer ideas, poses, and locations. Always allow them to be part of the creative process, as it makes them more confident and offers up more shooting opportunities where they are just being themselves.
You got into photography because it was fun for you, so why not have fun during your session as well? You should enjoy the shoot as much as the couple.
If you feel nervous that the session tends to go stale, have the couple do actionable poses. For example, have them dance, walk, tell each other a secret, or whisper something funny into their loved one’s ear. This will unwind them and you’ll be able to capture their real expressions.
All of these tips are here to help calm your nerves and allow the clients to be themselves in front of your camera. Being prepared, friendly, having a good momentum during the session, and most importantly, having fun all contribute to real expressions and real moments. Your clients will appreciate how real and relaxed you made them feel during their session and in turn, refer you to more people!