I have now worked with enough couples to say this with complete confidence… Every couple I photograph always feels awkward! It’s like it’s intrinsic in our very DNA to feel uncomfortable being posed in positions that we would almost NEVER naturally get into ourselves…
So, to anyone reading this out there who is soon to get engaged and KNOWS they are going to feel SUPER awkward, know first that you are not alone! Every couple feels this way! This is one reason why wedding photographers really like to do engagement shoots with a couple before the big day! It not only allows the photographer to get used to you but also lets you get the awkwards out so you can spend your wedding day enjoying photo moments!
But here’s 4 easy things every photographer can do during any sort of short, whether that be couples, singles, engagements, and weddings, to help the clients feel FAR more comfortable and make yourself look are feel ABUNDANTLY more confident.
1. “So here’s the plan…”
First, do you have a plan? Before every shoot I do, if possible, I always show up fifteen to twenty minutes before the appointed time to “scope out the land.” This way, I can SEE where the great light is before couples arrive. I HATE not being prepared for a photography situation and although I can adjust any plan as needed, things just go far more smoothly when I am confidently in absolute control of everything.
For example, in a couple shoot I did with Grace and Josh a couple months ago [Click HERE to see that post], I showed up to the park we shot at about thirty minutes before them. So, this gave me time to walk around, finding all the spots I liked, and giving me the opportunity to plan out a timeline.
So make a plan! Then, when your couple shows up, tell them the plan! I can think of nothing more that could build confidence right from the start than having a pre-determined plan. Just think about it! How would you feel if you called a company, asked for assistance with your broken eggnog maker [one day I KNOW someone will invent this], and then you hear the guy on the other side say, “Well that’s new problem…” WHAT?! What do you mean “that’s new”?!
The point? It doesn’t matter if this guy can figure out the answer to your problem! INSTANTLY, by his level of unpreparedness to answer your question, he has dropped fifty percent on your confidence scale in him AND the company he represents. Translate this back to photography. Be the photographer who says, “We’re going to start at these trees because the sun is perfect and then in a little while there will be a nice shadow next to that building and then we’ll end in that field because the sun will be shining there last.”
2. “This is going to be awkward for the first twenty minutes. But don’t worry! That’s totally normal.”
Such a useful tip! I started this post by discussing how every couple feels awkward and that’s normal. How about you TELL that to the couple? “Won’t this make them feel more awkward?” Well… maybe! But I can say that after applying this point MULTIPLE times, it always helps.
And the first twenty minutes are going to be awkward whether you tell them or not. So why not let them know that you know, and then twenty minutes later be the one who tells them how much LESS awkward they are to photograph? They laugh. You laugh because IT’S TRUE and you continue on from there with a couple who has new found incredible confidence in themselves.
Last note on this: Even if a couple feels awkward and you know it, you can still build confidence by constantly giving honest feedback as to how awesome your photos are coming out.
I don’t remember what was happening here but it was one of the most genuinely awkward, yet absolutely fantastic photo moments I’ve ever had.
3. “Did you have any ideas you wanted to try?”
In an age where Pinterest is on EVERY phone, the expectations for photographers are so high that it is almost frightening. Of course we CAN capture those shots, but knowing exactly what couples want is difficult considering just how many creative photograph options there are!
Why not tap into your clients’ expectations by asking them to share with you what those expectations are!? And once you post the photos, you can be assured your client will like what they are seeing.
Example! Madison and David. This was HER idea and we’d forgotten to do it. So, on the way back, I saw this opening in the trees with the sunset SPILLING right down the middle and I simply suggested we stop. It was THEIR idea and so they embraced the moment and it’s one of my favorite shots from the whole day!
The worst feeling I’ve ever had was one of the first shoots I ever did. After we had finished a two hour shoot, one of them looked at me and said, “I wish we could have gotten more silly shots.” If I had only stopped to ask a one sentence question, I could have alleviated this discrepancy. After that day, I always ask this question.
4. “ALRIGHT! Let’s do this!”
I would much rather be passionate about my job than spend every day wishing I could be anywhere else and I figure most people share this same feeling. Likewise, very few people want to be photographed by someone who isn’t excited to be there. “And what you don’t say, people don’t know.” So let them know by saying how you feel!
And how could someone look at this face and not know I’m excited?
Implement these things, and you are BOUND to create couples that are far more confident in you and you’ll be even more confident in yourself! And remember to smile! Enjoy the job and you’re pictures will come out better.