“Do whatever you want. I trust your vision.”
There probably isn’t a photographer alive that hasn’t heard that phrase from a client. In a way, it’s a flattering subconscious confession of admiration and trust. It’s a way of getting something fresh and new from first time photo shoot that you would be proud to share with friends and family.
On the other hand, it’s a way to completely stress out your photographers and make-up artists and end up with a paid set that wasn’t exactly what you wanted.
How do you avoid getting that awkward, forced photo? How do you prepare yourself (and also your photographer) for your first photo shoot together?
I’ll give you some of the most helpful tips, straight from the photographer’s mouth.
1.DON’T say, “Do whatever you want.”
Usually, when clients tell a photographer to do “whatever they want”, what most people are really saying is “I haven’t really put a lot of thought into it because I’m usually not allowed to, and I don’t want to tell you how to do your job.” I get it, and I appreciate your compassion for my feelings. Now, quickly get over that, and be a little picky. In most traditional photography settings, you can’t pick too many colors, backgrounds, poses or props, so over time, it becomes second nature to have portraits or headshots done without saying a word. When you get the prints back, however, there’s that sinking moment of “how in the heck did I pay money to look just like I did in 3rd grade?!” When you get a little picky, you get just what you want.
When you decide that you want to have a photoshoot done, think about what inspired you to get one. Did you see a fun background on pinterest? Do you live near an awesome location? Do you own your own props or costumes that you particularly want to highlight? Are you doing it for a special occasion? All of this is great information to tell your photographer, and a great way to be picky and get exactly what you want from a shoot.
2.RELAX AND BE YOURSELF. REALLY.
Nothing is more nerve-wracking and aggravating than waking up in the morning and putting on your least favorite clothes, your tamest makeup, and dragging your self into a bunch of fake poses and fake smiles. No one is asking you to do that, so relax. You hate it, and your photographer hates it. I REFUSE to take high school portraits of you gripping your chin and cuddling a rose. The whole magic of photography is to capture something exactly the way it is and preserve it forever. If your 4 year old is OBSESSED with dinosaurs, let him take a picture in his dino suit! That memory will be with you for the rest of your life, why not have EXACTLY who he is (or was) documented. I personally cannot stand a stiff, nervous client. If you’re goofy, please light up the session. If you sit around and play video games all day, bring your XBOX. If you’ve got the mouth of a sailor, let it out! I want to know you for you. That way, when the “do what you want” answer eventually comes up, I can cater to you a lot better. ;]
3.DONT BE AFRAID OF BRINGING YOUR OWN PROPS.
Look, there will be times where I will not be able to supply you with exactly the props you need (though I LOVE collecting good props and will always be buying). Don’t be afraid to mention that you have some of your own items that you would prefer using over mine. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and it’s only going to make the photoshoot better for you.
4. PLEASE BE PREPARED!!!
I can NOT stress this enough. If you call and want, for example, a swimsuit themed shoot for you and your friends, make sure that you have the appropriate attire OR have confirmed with me that I will be providing it. If you are going to do a pin-up theme, make sure you have the appropriate makeup, hair, or accessories. My promise to you is that I will always tell you if I have any costumes, props, or makeup that you can use in a shoot. If I don’t have it, and you want it a certain way, YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE PREPARED AND GET WHAT YOU NEED. There are too many occasions where I was never told to supply items, we get to the shoot, and the client has NOTHING to tie their theme together.
Preparation also means children. If you book a shoot during heir naptime, right after school, or when they are hungry you are guaranteeing that this will not come out the way you want. Teenagers can adapt to situations quickly and easily, but smaller children cannot. If they are uncomfortable in anyway, they are going to show it. Because I’m a stranger, they are REALLY going to show it to me. Make sure that children are well prepared for photoshoots, just like you would for your own. (I will be making a blog post at a later date about tips I have gathered for best preparing your children.)
Not preparing gives you a lackluster experience and it gives me a migraine. I will judge you secretly. This is my BIGGEST pet peeve. PLEASE BE PREPARED!
These are just a few tips that I seem to see recurring the most often. If you have any of your own tips or experiences that could help people prepare for photoshoots, leave them in the comments!