I remember when I first started out as a photographer, I was always searching for more information and helpful tips that would make me better at my craft. Here are a few things I have learned over time that have helped me better prepare for a session with a client.
1. Lighting is Everything!
If you’re shooting outdoors, you need to have a general understanding of light and the best times of the day to shoot. No matter what season you’re shooting in, there are a few things to always be aware of. Knowing what time the sun sets will help you master that golden hour session you’ve been dreaming of. Give yourself a 90-minute window before sunset to capture those golden rays and warm tones. Now let’s talk about overcast and cloudy days. Don’t dread them! I actually prefer them. The blanketed sky actually works in your favor to create a natural soft box. No harsh shadows or squinty eyes! Remember, you’re the professional; don’t be afraid to suggest shooting early or later on in the day, and always pay attention to the weather.
2. Consider Your Subject’s Wardrobe
As a professional photographer, you need to feel comfortable having conversations with your clients about what they should wear during their session. Be aware of the type of shoot: Is it in the woods during the fall? Maybe they should avoid wearing neutral colors. You want your client to pop and stand out, not blend in with their background. Will there be a lot of walking involved? Suggest bringing a comfortable pair of shoes to travel from point A to point B. In addition, take the time to understand your client’s style. Ask them what they plan to wear, and make suggestions on what they can add to accentuate their natural features. Bring an outfit change, a scarf, or a few props. All these little things can add so much to your session, and can help turn your images from ordinary to extraordinary.
3. Be Prepared
Being prepared means expecting things to go wrong. Bring extra batteries, backup memory cards, and lenses. When you’re out on your shoot, the last thing you want to tell your clients is that your battery died and that you’ve gotta call it a day. Being prepared for things to go wrong will help you maintain your cool when something does happen. You can easily change out your battery or memory card without your client even knowing what’s happening. Don’t think it won’t happen because it happens to the best of us when we least expect it. If the weather seems a little off, bring an umbrella, or a reflector to help with lighting. Before you meet with your clients, search on Google, Pinterest, or wherever you turn to for inspiration to find poses that you want to try out. The more prepared you are, the better your shoot will turn out. It also gives you peace of mind and lets you focus more on your client.
4. Scope Out Your Shoot Location
If you’re shooting at a location you’ve never been to before, do your research. If you’re able to visit before the session, you definitely should. If you’re not, at least use Google to scope it out virtually. Understanding the layout and potential backgrounds will help you feel confident when you meet your clients, and will show them that you’re professional and prepared. Scope out areas where you know you’ll capture great images. The last thing you want to do is take away time from your session because you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings. Look at the location’s reviews: Is this a place where there are always a lot of people? Suggest going at a non-peak time in the day. Will there be a lot of bugs because you’re near the water or trees? Bring bug spray for your clients. Whatever the case may be, get a feel for the location before meeting with your clients there.
5. Get Personal
As a photographer, you need to feel comfortable getting personal with your clients. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. During a consultation with a client, I always pay attention to their style. I ask them what the goal of the photography session is. What’s important to them? Do they have a theme in mind? If it’s an engagement shoot, get the couple talking about how they met. Do they have a special place under a tree where they loved to talk? Let’s recreate it! Do they have a book they both loved to read? Let’s incorporate it into the session. Whatever the case may be, ask questions and look for clues to create an unforgettable experience. Being able to turn your client’s vision into a reality is what will have them booking with YOU over and over again for every special occasion.
These are just a few of the things I’ve learned over the years that have truly helped me become a better photographer. I hope they will help you in your photography journey too.