Genuine connection is something so many of us strive to capture with our images. Below are 6 tips that I try and keep in mind as I photograph clients, so that I can truly capture images filled with honest connection and emotion.
1) Be confident.
Your clients are nervous too. It helps to put them at ease when you approach the session with confidence. Don’t feel pressured to shoot a certain way. Believe in your own vision and shoot to fulfill that. To capture those genuine moments of connection, it’s ok to start the session and simply say something along the lines of “hang out here on this blanket and talk with each other and pretend I’m not here” or “don’t look at the camera unless I tell you to.” At first they may be unsure of what to do with that, but if you say it will confidence they will follow your vision, and pretty soon you will find your clients relaxing into the moment.
2) Give direction without directing.
I always encourage people one way or another – I adjust where they are sitting, how they are physically connecting, how they are positioned to the sun….but then I want them to be free to engage in a way that is natural to them. I may offer suggestions to facilitate what I want to see, but the moment is so much more authentic when clients get to it on their own. After I give them some gentle suggestions or adjustments, I just let go and patiently wait for the right moment to happen.
3) Focus on the details.
One of the best ways to capture genuine connection and heart-felt emotion is to focus on the details – a father holding his child’s small hand, a little one protectively wrapped around his mother’s leg. To most effectively communicate the power of these details, I choose to shoot wide open. This renders the rest of the image very soft and immediately draws the viewer to the detail you long to preserve.
4) Pay attention to points of connection.
I make sure my clients are connected at all times. Husbands and wives, children and parents, brothers and sisters….any point of connection can help to tell the story and communicate the love between them. The hands are the most obvious point of connection and they are often the most powerful. Pay very close attention to what the hands are doing when you photograph. Other great points of connection are the shoulders, legs, the forehead, and, of course, the eyes.
5) Use light creatively.
I use light to illuminate the story that I am hoping to communicate with an image. I love backlight and the dreamy feel it gives to an image. When you are telling the story of a mother’s love for her child, having this dreamy warm light spill around them really adds a beautiful power to your image. Alternatively, I love front light with steep light fall-off, especially for black and white images. This high-contrast light is beautiful when converted to black and white and allows you to really draw the viewers attention to the emotion of the moment. The ways you can use light to convey your message of connection is endless. When I am scouting for a session location, I always looks for spots that will give me the option to use light in as many creative ways as possible.
6) Be patient.
After starting with some initial more traditional shooting, I try to just let go and patiently wait for the right moment to happen. It can be hard to resist the urge to keep shooting away, so I try to give everyone a moment to relax by busying myself by doing something such as adjusting my camera settings or changing a lens. Sometimes just a simple pause can be enough for your clients to let go of the anxiety and tension they inherently carried into the session.