“I love how relaxed couples look in your photos.”
“How do you get such cool clients?”
“Your photos are so peaceful.”
I hear it all the time, and honestly, until I thought about it, my response was, “That’s just how I am with my clients.” No pixie dust is sprinkled. No one’s a model. Just real people showing real love. Often, the day of the shoot is the first time we’re all meeting, and while the couple is probably used to being sweet with each other in more intimate settings, it’s normal for them to feel a little vulnerable in front of a photographer. You can’t expect anyone to act natural with a weird third wheel (me) around. While there’s no magic spell to cast to get folks comfortable in front of the camera, I have developed some tips and tricks that help me help my clients open up.
Start with a pep talk
Before I even take my camera out, I give my clients a pep talk. I remind them these photos are 100% for them, and that I’m not coming in with any expectations for them to meet. I encourage them to focus on each other and show affection, because I love PDA! I put their nerves at ease by telling them I’m here to direct and pose them so they don’t look awkward, but that their chemistry is what makes the photos pop. I let them know it’s natural to feel awkward at first. Taking this time to chat can really help ease the clients’ anxiety and insecurity.
Set the mood
This is a new thing for me, but it’s totally changed the game. I love setting the mood with music! Having music playing in the background allows the clients to focus less on me and more on each other, and it sets the tone for the shoot. You’d think I was being paid by how obsessed I am with curating the perfect playlist on Spotify! I tote a portable speaker on all shoots and let the couple choose a playlist; we’ve got love vibes (most popular for couples), upbeat vibes (most popular with wedding parties), and swerve vibes (liiiit/more explicit). Each one is funky and fun. Test them out and see how your clients like them.
Keep it goofy
The trick is to keep joking and laughing with them the whole time. If I don’t want my clients to take themselves too seriously, I can’t either. I never want my clients to feel intimidated by me or my camera, so I cut up the whole time. The me you get IRL is the me you see on social media, so usually my clients already know what to expect.
Hype them up
If you’re not YASSS KWEEN-ing and WOAHH BABY-ing the whole shoot, you’re doing it wrong. Be your couple’s hype man! Encourage them, build them up and whisper (or yell) sweet nothings. You are, after all, their paid third wheel. Hyping leads to shy laughter, and nervous laughter and cute smiles, which I love to capture on camera.
Read the room, people
It’s important to be able to pick up on the vibe the couple is giving. If you’re trying to make them dance in public, run down a street, or make out in front of the camera and you can sense it’s making them uncomfortable, don’t force it! There are so many other sweet moments to capture without being a weirdo. Talk to your clients from behind the camera, ask them questions about their relationship and make the most of the natural smiles that surface as they think on those memories.
When all else fails, it’s time to bust out the bubbly. Clients typically bring champagne or other adult beverages on shoots (it is Louisiana, after all), and I let them know that’s totally cool and that I’m their designated driver. Sometimes, you just need a little extra help to cut the nerves.
Ready to book your couples session and let me third wheel like a pro? Head here.