I’ve done thousands of portraits over the years and they never start easy. Your client is always, always, always going to be tense when things get going. You’re lucky if you know them and there is a bit of ease because of the established relationship. But if you don’t, then there is going to be some tension. The first thing that I want to do with a new client is to get them to laugh, loosen up, relax. Maybe throw some jokes at them or make them do some funny poses first to break the ice. This will start to open up the relationship and get them to liven up.
It can take a while and each person or group is going to be different, so take time and become friends. Once they are comfortable with you, the smiles come easier and they start posing or goofing off themselves. They’ll start laughing and becoming the family that they want to see in their photos. Myself, have never really been a person to be the first to walk up to people and start talking to them. So this is a big step for me to take my hand, stick it out and meet new people. One thing I did when shooting weddings was to meet with them a few times before the big day. That way you have broken the tense, new and scared relationship down and turned it into a friendly partnership. So when the day came, they KNEW that you understood what they wanted and they KNEW who you are. It’s one of the wisest abilities that a photographer needs to have in their tool bag. If that is hard to do, it’s time to practice or get out of the game.
Photographers are SUPER important to Social Media, so it’s in our best interest to be social by default. If you have trouble breaking the ice with people, break that habit quickly. As I told my friend during his session “If you’re a photographer and you can’t interact with people with ease, you need to find another profession.” If you don’t have the confidence of your skills, your clients are going to see that and won’t give you the session you need to prove your abilities. Your clients need to know that you have their best interest in mind when you’re taking their family photos or their youngest child’s senior photos. They need to know that you are there to capture their family in the best light possible (little photographer lighting poke for ya). So take a puppet with you for the kiddos, share some stories with them that are going to make them laugh and don’t be standoffish. They’ll see it and not want to loosen up. Good Luck out there and Love what you’re doing.