We've all been there, the location has been picked, the camera battery is charged, the lighting is superb, the stars have all aligned for the perfect shoot and then, the client gets in front of the camera and freezes up. Their smiles are unnatural. All their limbs protrude in awkward and uncomfortable ways. And now the hardest part of your job is upon you, to make them relax and get comfortable so you can get the money shot.
There are a lot of reasons why people get uncomfortable in front of the camera. They range from things like feeling self conscious about their weight or that blemish on their forehead to never having been part of a professional shoot and not knowing how to pose. While not every client will feel 100% comfortable by the end of your shoot, there are a few things you can do to put them more at ease thus making it possible to get those perfect shots.
1. Keep them engaged in conversation.
Before the shoot get to know them a little bit. Ask them questions about themselves and find out more of who they are and what they like to do. Tell them more about who you are and what makes you tick. Find places of commonality and bond over them. Talk about everything except the shoot. This will help shake off the nerves they undoubtedly came with. Continue the conversation throughout the shoot. If they are thinking about their favorite Super Bowl commercial they won't be so focused on feeling uncomfortable.
2. Make sure to keep them moving.
Giving your clients something to do will take their focus off the camera and may even help them forget you are there for a moment, which gives you the opportunity to capture natural smiles and interactions. Playing on the swings, straightening a suit jacket, or giving dad a high five will all help bring natural movement into your photos and can relax your client. It's also a good idea to keep the shoot moving by not spending too long in one location. This doesn't mean you have to drive all the way across town, simply walking to a new area of the park or around the side of the building changes things up.
3. Give them a quick posing "tutorial" before you get started and then continue to guide them throughout the session.
People become really self conscious when it comes to things like what to do with their hands or their feet. Taking a couple minutes before you get started to show them the basics of posing can be really helpful. While you're practicing, take a couple shots to show them how great they look. As you get started, continue to guide them by telling them where to place their hands, how to position their feet, and where to look. It can also be helpful to actually demonstrate the pose for them if they are having difficulty with it.
Little things like the three listed above go a long way in helping you to capture that perfect shot.