Being a portrait photographer is like riding a constant roller coaster of emotion. One minute you are up, feeling on top of the world after a great session; then the crash comes. Those moments of self-doubt and sessions that went awry can get you second-guessing your abilities as a photographer. It happens to even the best of photographers.
We hope that each session is an unforgettable experience for our clients. While you can’t control every aspect of your session, there are things you can do to ensure that each portrait photography session is a success.
Educate Your Clients to Better Prepare Them
The more prepared your clients are for their session, the more likely it is to run smoothly. Getting your portrait photography clients ready begins with the first inquiry. You want to set the stage for what they can expect during their session.
It’s a good idea to know what concerns your client will have before their session so you can address it before they even think to ask about it.
In your first email, send a welcome guide to help them visualize their own session. A few weeks before their session, send out another email with tips for what to wear, what to bring with them, and another reminder of what to expect.
The day before, get in touch with your client again. Make sure you both have the correct session location and time. Answer any questions they have and remind them that it’s going to be a fun experience and nothing to get stressed out about.
Pro Tip: Check to see if your email program allows you to save these emails as a reusable template. This way, you only have to write the main points once.
Some people have nightmares about oversleeping before an important meeting or showing up naked. As a portrait photographer, my biggest nightmare has always been showing up to a session without my camera or memory cards.
You have spent time preparing your clients on what to expect from their session and easing their fears, so now you have to do the same for yourself.
The night before your session, make sure all your batteries are charged, the camera bag is packed and you have all the equipment you need ready to go. Waiting until the last minute can leave you rushing out the door without something you need.
Be the Expert
Your clients have hired you for a reason. They like your work and trust you as the expert.
It’s important that during the session you take charge and lead the session.
Be personable and friendly with the clients to make them feel comfortable, and don’t be afraid to explain to them what you are doing or what you want them to do. I have been known to model the poses I want for the client or making a fool of myself from time to time just to get them relaxed and laughing.
One of my biggest fears used to be freezing up when it came time to switch poses. I was afraid I would look “unprofessional” if I took a few moments to think about the pose I wanted or tried something and it didn’t work. To help, I started taking pictures of the poses I liked or wanted to use and keeping them at the front of my memory card. That way I could “check my settings”, but really be scrolling through the first images on my card for posing inspiration.