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September 15, 2020
If we had a golden coin for every time a client would say: “I don’t like being photographed, I am uncomfortable in front of the camera and don’t know what to do…”Then you would possibly have found us retired now, enjoying glühwein and après-ski culture in Zermatt or hanging out on the beaches of San Tropez. We would definitely be diving around in golden coins, that’s for sure!
Every so often clients have a preconceived idea of what an engagement- or boudoir, brand- or styled shoot “should” look like. And it is our responsibility as photographers to guide our clients. To show them that you do not have to settle for what you have seen online or what is expected of a certain genre of photography. It is also our responsibility to make their shoot effortless, comfortable and an absolute adventure! A few hours that they will never forget.
Honestly, we would say that most people are already out of their comfort zone as soon as a camera is pointed in their direction. As creative artists it is our duty to learn the skills that will show our subjects that we know what we are doing and that will instill confidence during a photo session. Pursuing photography only full time from my mid-thirties gave me a unique perspective into the anxiety that clients and especially brides may feel about being photographed. As you see, I wasn’t a professional photographer when I was a bride myself and I had all the same insecurities and fears. I did not know what to expect and I definitely did not know how I was supposed to act, to “pose” when being photographed.
Now, this gives me a very different outlook when photographing a bridal or boudoir session than if I had been a pro photographer all my life. It gives me the courage to push my clients past the easy, to delve just that little deeper. And as I have walked in their very shoes at my own boudoir and bridal sessions, I can be sensitive toward their insecurities. If we work mindfully, calm and empathetic, it will translate into the photographs and into what our clients will feel comfortable with. It has also taught me that when photographing woman, having body awareness is crucial. If I am not aware of my own body how can I photograph a woman and make her feel comfortable? Guide her past what she though is possible? I have to know how these poses feel, how they work with different body shapes, so that I can not only guide them but have empathy while asking them to put their trust in my hands.
Going hand in hand with body awareness is body analysis. We have to stay aware of body shapes as different bodies will respond differently to suggested poses. What a model can do a client might not be able to do. And the poses we can put a tall, athletic client in will also be different from that of a petite, apple shaped client. We have to constantly think how we can elongate, create form that is beautiful, create pleasing lines and effortless imagery. Height also fall into this equation; from arm-, leg- and neck length to actual height. Think which poses, which forms and lines will be beautiful on your client and which will look like an effort, a struggle.
So much of being a photographer is about really seeing the person in front of you! Paying attention to flexibility, strength and how your client moves during the session also gives great insight into what is possible on the day. It’s about observing throughout the shoot and knowing the body. And as you stay aware of that, you can purposefully pose and coax the best out of your client. Not only will this help them to let go of a preconceived idea of what the photographs should look like, but it will also help you let go of your preconceived poses and ideas for the shoot.
Lastly, they have to trust you! They have to trust that what you are asking them to do will be worth it. That the resulting photographs will be worth it. By building up that trust, that rapport; your clients will allow you to push them far beyond what they’d thought a photograph of them could be. You will create something unique, timeless and exceed your client expectations. You do however have to build that trust, showing your clients respect, sensitivity and knowing that they are 85% of what will make the photograph work. It is their ability to trust that you are confident in your craft, combined with your ability to show them in a unique way that will make or break a session. You have to feel successful together all the time during your shoot.
That is what will coax your clients out of their comfort zone.
Article & Photography : Elaine van der Merwe-Louwrens
Muses | Tanja Robinson
MUA | Candice Storm
Hair | Zandri Cloete
Location | Campagen Living
Garments | Silver Swallow Design available from Bloomingtale