New book

Photo Nuts and Post is the third installation in the Photo Nuts series and it just launched!
Written by professional photographer, Neil Creek, it gives you the tools you need to make processing work for you. Even if you have experience in editing, you can always learn new tricks.
To celebrate, they are offering 33% off if you buy today -Click here to read more!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dealing with clients who don't want to be there

Have you ever had a client who made it clear that he would rather eat dirt than be at the photo session? I have had my share of these types of dads, small children, high school seniors and even old people that have made a session less than desirable.

How do I handle these situations? I treat them all like they are children. Really. It works, trust me. No, I don't put them in time out. But, I do "punish" them at times.

I did a huge family get together once where one older gentleman would not smile in most photos. Finally, after posing this group of 50 people and noticing that once again, he wasn't smiling, I blurted out very loudly, "Well, this would be a perfect group photo if Grandpa Joe would give us a great smile!" The group laughed loudly, (probably because they knew how he was) suddenly, his grumpy expression changed to a smiling one-turns out that he did have a great smile! After that, he made sure that he smiled for photos. It might have been because he didn't want to be put on the spot, but at any rate, it worked.

Many times, dads may not want to be there because they are missing out on something else, like a game or something like that. Try not to let it affect your mood and just ask them. Sometimes, they just need to be heard-like a child does. Let them know how you can relate to what they are missing and the sooner they let you get the session done, the sooner they can get home.

High school kids can be the worse when dealing with getting them to want to be there. I really haven't had too many problems with girl seniors, but boys can be bad-maybe this is where it starts? ha ha. I tend to take advantage of their "seriousness" with some shots because they really look cool and parents like them, but I can't do ALL of their pictures that way. So, when I've gotten enough of them, I try to bribe them, or reason with them. I had one boy that was not going to smile no matter what I tried. Our session was going into overtime and I was ready to call it quits.

Finally, I took him aside and explained to him that I knew he was ready to go home and so was I, but that I wasn't leaving until I got some smiling shots. I guess he decided that it was silly to keep the session going, so he started smiling for every shot after that.

His mom was so happy with the end result, she sent me this wonderful email: Thanks for your wonderful help! I would highly recommend you. My son is the hardest to get photogenic and you did an outstanding job. You can put that quote on your website. Job well done!
What if the client IS a child? Try not to address the situation too much. Kids can feel like they are put on the spot and their reaction is to simply react. Instead of addressing their "acting up", ignore them. Don't include them in the group, but praise the rest of the family that are getting their photos taken. Hopefully, they will feel left out and start wanting to be in the photo.

You can also try the opposite and make them the star of the session. Let them decide a pose, take a photo, then tell them it's your turn.

As a photographer, clients expect you to know how to handle an uncooperative person of the group. It can be hard, and you might start thinking that you are running a daycare instead of doing a photo session. Just relax and stay in control- let your mommy skills come out to handle the situation-no matter how old the client is!

The new "look"

It seems like the new trend for portraits is the non-smiling or, "serious look". I really am liking this style, especially when a child is standing in a field with their hair slightly blowing across their face. I think it gives the portrait an artist feel to it. My youngest daughter is really good at this, so it's very easy to get her to do it.

The norm is to catch children being happy and having fun, but adding some poses that are more of a deep expression might surprise parents-in a good way. But, how do you get them to look natural and not looking like they are frowning?

Get them to loosen up

Play a game with them to let them feel comfortable with you. When I first started, I was always nervous, so I would automatically throw out the poses and start snapping photos right away. BIG MISTAKE. I might get some serious looks, but not the ones that I want. Now, I let them feel safe with me first, then we start.

Do the smiling poses first

Once they feel comfortable with me, I do any fun and easy photos first. Yes, it's easier for me to get them to smile then the non-smiling photos. I can also find out at this time whether they can change their expressions easily or not.

Catch them off guard

Sometimes, the best expressions are in between shots. Usually, a child will wait til asked to give you a smile, so catching them waiting can give you the best shot.

Get rid of the parents

Not really. You can ask parents to let you have some alone time with their child (within in reasonable distance from them) if they are being overwhelming. Parents can have the tendency to get anxious and worried that they won't get the perfect end result of their investment.

Start all over

Wouldn't it be a perfect photography world if every client did what you planned in your head? If you aren't getting the results you want, start from step one and eventually, you will be able read your client enough to catch that pose that the parent will simply melt over and shout, "THAT is so my child!"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Welcome to Protography 101!

Thanks for visiting! If you love taking photos and want to find out all there is about going professional, this is the place to be! I am a professional photographer who loves anything to do with photography. So, if you are looking for advice on taking photos, marketing, reviews, equipment, or just plain inspiration, pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!