I’ll be the first to admit that I still get nervous before every photo session (and technically weddings too). Why? Because there’s a lot of variables that it takes to make a successful photo session come to life. After being a photographer for almost 8 years, I’ve narrowed down my best tips to help you, too, have a successful photo session!
One of the many things I love about a photo session vs a wedding day is that I don’t need to be taking all of my wedding day equipment (which you can see what’s in my bag here!). Typically, with my sessions, I’m still bringing both of my camera bodies, my 50 mm 1.4 lens, my 85mm 1.8 lens and then my 105mm macro lens for the ring shots. If I’m traveling to a location that I know I’ll want a super wide shot, then I will take my 35 mm 1.4 lens. A few other items are my batteries, battery charger and of course my memory cards. Again, I want to make sure that I am prepared to have a successful photo session and that I have everything I need! It’s better to be over-prepared than under! Always.
I cannot stress this enough! I have never regretted showing up to a session early. Especially for sessions and weddings, I personally do not take chances and I give myself plenty of cushion time for travel. You cannot predict what you could occur on your way there; traffic, accidents, construction, etc. Secondly, I always give myself time to scout around the venue or property. This will change depending on if I have or have not been there before. So, if I’ve been there a few times before, I still give myself a minimum of 30 minutes to scout around. On wedding days, I always arrive 60 minutes prior to my contracted starting time (unless I’ve been there multiple times before and know my game plan ahead of time). With that additional time, I can scout around and create a game plan so that when my couple arrives, I’m ready to go!
Setting the expectation is huge! I could almost guarantee that nine times out of ten a lot of people do not like getting their picture taken (am I right?). The camera makes people so nervous and I get it! With every single session that I have, I always go over at the beginning what they can expect from their session. We meet up and have a “meet and greet” (which is approx. 10-15 minutes) before we start photographing. I like to chat a little bit and break the ice instead of jumping straight into photos and posing.
My first go-to tip for my couples is letting them know that they cannot “mess up” or “ruin” their session. That is huge for them. I know that from personal experience it can be so nerve-racking to be in front of the camera. It can truly be intimidating when you know that the photographer has expectations of what images they’re aiming to capture and you just hope to do okay! So I always want my couple to know they can’t mess it up. If I tell them to walk left and they walk right that’s OK! I just tweak my original idea and keep going with the flow! (Also, in that instance, just take a few shots and then re-direct them again. You could say, “Ok, so let’s see how it looks to walk to the left side now!” to positively redirect them without breaking their confidence!).
The second tip I always tell my clients is that I want them to have fun. So that means if they are laughing, keep laughing. I don’t want them to stop laughing just because the camera is up… I want them to focus on each other and not the camera.
The third tip that I tell my clients is the game plan of the session! I explain that they can expect to be in their first outfit for 20 minutes, and then they have approx. 15 minutes to change into their 2nd outfit. While they are changing I will take her engagement ring for ring shots and then we will meet back up at the next photo location. When they come back from changing I let them know that we’ll continue to photograph in that outfit for the remaining 20 minutes and then they are done!
If you do not currently incorporate these tips, I highly encourage you to try them out! I hear a lot of my clients tell me afterward that they felt so comfortable in front of the camera! (yay!) My favorite part is when the clients tell you they’re nervous and how they’re not good at posing, but then at the end, they tell you that they are so comfortable in front of the camera. I believe it’s so important that I’m setting them up for success and also success for myself as a photographer so it’s a win-win!
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