I remember one of the first paid photography jobs I ever had. I was photographing a woman for a hair salon. Before the session I’d spent so much time worrying about the photographic side of the process that I’d never given any consideration to what I’d actually SAY.
My face flushed and I that sickening feeling of panic started to overcome me. It got dangerously close to being like that episode of Friends where Ross panics when chatting to the pizza delivery girl and starts talking about gas!
I just about escaped with my dignity by saying “Wow, you’re so good I don’t even need to tell you what to do.”
After that I vowed to always come armed with things to say and do that were appropriate for the session.
After all, we all know most people don’t like being photographed, so anything you can do to make it a pleasant experience will be very much appreciated.
Silence is deadly. Once there’s silence everyone involved gets very uncomfortable very quickly.
I see our roles as being entertainers. Just be sure the things you say and do are appropriate for the audience.
For weddings I bring a bottle of bubbly to give as a prize for whoever performs the best during the group photographs. I tell them this at the beginning when I’m doing the photograph of everyone together. It inevitably leads to a lot of good banter opportunities. I often give the bottle to a grandparent or whoever has been the most helpful rounding people up. The key is that it helps to get everyone interacting, laughing and forgetting about the fact they’re being photographed. This means the group photographs feel much quicker and more fun for the guests.
I’m extremely self deprecating during the sessions and I strongly play on the fact that I look like a cross between Harry Hill, Heston Blumenthal and Elton John. It never fails to get a laugh. More importantly it helps people feel more relaxed around me because they can see I’m relaxed and easy going.
There are lots of little questions and games you can use to help your clients relax when you’re photographing them. Here’s a tiny portion of the ones I use at family portraits and / or weddings:
What do you love most about mum and dad / your brother / your husband etc?
Who can keep their eyes open the longest – loser gets tickled.
What bad habits have mum and dad got?
Do you have any nicknames for each other
Give me some lovely smiles or I’ll swap all your faces over – imagine mum with dad’s face!
If you want to know how to book more clients than the other photographers in your area then a huge part of your success comes down to how you engage an entertain your clients in every step of the process. Your website and blog posts, your emails, your telephone manner, your energy during the photography, EVERYTHING should be designed to help your clients fall in love with you.
Being engaging and entertaining is how bad singers become pop stars. People feel like they know their favourite celebrities.
With that said, I want to get to know you better too. What’s your biggest problem in the photography industry? What’s holding you back? Let me know and I’ll give you a hand.
Wishing you every success
Dan Waters – Co-founder of Get Pro Photo Club