The beauty of a lifestyle photography session is in the natural, authentic feel of it. Images that invite you in to the emotions of the moment, that tell a story and transport you……but these are not documentary images. The moments captured have been planned and facilitated in such a way as to bring out the best in the subjects being photographed. However, the anticipation of having to create honest moments on cue can leave clients feeling nervous and uneasy. To get everything you can out of a lifestyle session, it’s imperative that you help your clients fully relax into the session. You must move the camera from the starring role. The camera becomes merely a spectator, simply experiencing moments that are unfolding all around you. Below are 5 tips to help your clients relax into the session.
1) It Begins With Preparation
Helping clients relax into the session begins well in advance of the shoot. It’s in your initial communications, the expectations that you set and the ease at which you conduct your planning consultation. It’s also in the quiet time you put in on your own thinking, planning and anticipating what will bring out the best in the family. Once you have a plan, don’t let it be a surprise. Communicate your session plan with your client – let them know what to expect, how you would like to capture them, what they should wear and how they should interact. With proper planning and communication, your client will feel confident going into the session. And they will trust you. Trust, above all else, is what you need to establish for a successful shoot.
2. Spend Some Time Together Before You Start Clicking
On the day of the session it’s helpful to spend some time together before you start shooting. If it is a home session, walk through the house together. As you do this, show your client where you like the light or what furniture will look beautiful in the photos. Use this time to talk to your client. Opening up to them is going to help them feel more at ease. Bringing a photographer into your home to capture your private moments is a very personal experience. By opening up to your client you show them that it’s a mutual sharing, and in turn, they will engage much more naturally before your camera.
3. Get The Formal Shots Out Of The Way First
Once you start shooting, it can sometimes be helpful to begin with some more formal portraits. People have a natural tendency to want to look into a camera and smile. Rather than telling them this is wrong, let them do this, capture it, tell them it was beautiful, and then move on to the lifestyle moments. Even though people hire me for my honest and emotive images, I’ve learned they like to get at least one classic portrait out of the session, and they put pressure on themselves to get this shot – will their kids sit nicely, will they smile a real smile, etc. Once you client knows they got that “classic portrait” out of the way, they will be relaxed, ready and real with you through the rest of the session….and this is when the magic happens.
4. Facilitate The Moment You Want To See
Herein lays the difference between documentary and lifestyle. With documentary photography, you capture the moment as it is. With lifestyle photography, you help facilitate what is happening to bring out the best in the moment before you. Be sure to give clear directions. Don’t simply wait for the moment to unfold, but instead, help your client get there. Gentle suggestions as to where to put their hands, hot to show their connections, where do stand in relation to the sun – all of these gentle facilitations help turn their love and their connection into timeless, emotive art.
5. Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Reassurance
Further, don’t underestimate the value of reassurance. Both children and adults like to be told they are doing a great job. Share your excitement over the moments you have captured. You can even show them an image from the back of your camera that you know will make their heart jump. This encouragement will help the session roll forward smoothly as lovely, memorable moments continue to unfold before your camera.
Lifestyle photography is such a beautiful art. Clients hire you because they want the honesty and timeless quality that lifestyle photography provides. They know what they want, but they often don’t know how to get there. With planning, connection, guidance and simple reassurances you will turn today’s moments into art that will be treasured for a lifetime.