Do you ever have those days when you’re doing a photo shoot and no matter what you do things just don’t seem to be going the way they should?
You just can’t figure out what’s going on or why? Maybe you yourself are having a rough day or the model your working with who says she knows how to “model” can’t pose without being spoon-fed directions.
A friend of mine recently contacted me to vent about one of her photos shoots that upset her because of how it played out. She was offering a TFP (Trade for portfolio) session to someone who wanted to do vintage type shots. The model said she was familiar with posing but when she came on set she had no idea how to pose properly for the shots that she wanted.
More than once the model had to be told to smile and the one smile she was able to capture wasn’t a very endearing one. The remaining photos also had no smiles which made the model look like angry.
Of course the model wasn’t happy with my friend because all of her pictures looked “angry” despite repeated attempts to coax her to smile.
One thing my friend couldn’t figure out was why this person refused to cooperate with her when the model was the one that reached out to her in the first place.
Dealing With Camera Shy Clients
This made me think about what I call the Photographer-Camera-Model Barrier or (PCM Barrier) and the basis of it is when the person your working with sees you bring a camera up to eye level they no longer see as a person but just a floating camera giving them directions.
This barrier can feel like a continental divide to some of your subjects making them uneasy when they were fine moments before. Anyone that has worked behind a camera long enough eventually sees it in the fake smiles and the uncomfortable grimace on faces of those who just can’t seem to relax.
But there are techniques that you can use to help break down this barrier and become less of a floating camera figure head and take control of your set such as:
1.) Get To Know The Person
One of the best techniques I like to use is just to put the camera down and find out more about the person I’m working with. When I meet people for the first time I like to get to know them by finding out what their hobbies and interests are.
This helps break the ice between you and the client.
Finding The Inner Happy Place
I’ve found that when a person is refusing to smile or struggling to smile for whatever reason I ask them to close their eyes and pick a special moment in their life that meant the most to them. I ask them to think about how happy they were that day and the joy it made them feel.
Usually they’ll start to smile on their own and that’s when I would have them open their eyes and snap a few shots.
Boom! The ice just got broke!
2.) Get Ridiculous On Set (Within Reason)
Another fun technique is just to get ridiculous with your session. You need to have fun on set if you need your clients to be smiling and happy. Children and older people can sometimes be the hardest people to make smile.
Children usually don’t want to sit still or listen to some stranger give them directions while older adults are sometimes more reluctant to smile as well for the same reasons.
Puppets To The Rescue
Puppet’s can be the best friend of a photographer who has to capture children smiling all day.Those same puppets though work just as well on a 90 year old man!
Why does it work?
Because it’s ridiculous and silly. But laughter and smiling is contagious and when you’re having fun so are they.
3.) Ask The Client To Do Silly Stuff
This last method is a little tricky because it depends on how well you’re able to get the client to relax. A client who refuses to cooperate with any instructions will certainly refuse trying a few of these methods.
Intently Stare At The Camera
This method is a fun one to do if pulled off correctly. Have your client stare at your camera with serious intent and tell them they can’t smile at all. Not a single crack of smile. Then tell them they need to more intense but no smiling! Keep telling them it needs to be even more intense until you find a good point to throw in a joke that’ll make them smile and laugh naturally.
Overdo It All
Ask your client to make the biggest fake smile they can muster. Then have them make an angry face, then a sad face, then a happy face again. Eventually you’ll find them laughing at the silliness of your requests and their willingness to do it that their natural smile breaks through.
What Works For You?
Now I know these techniques won’t work for everyone nor every client. They are just small little stepping stones in the hopes that you find some tidbit of information useful to make your next tough session a little less tough.
What have you found to work the best for you when dealing with camera shy clients?Read More