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{connecting with your clients}

connecting with your clients and making them feel comfortable in front of the camera is one of the most important aspects of photography....yet, one of the hardest things for a lot of photographers.
mike of ash imagery, a man whos work i admire beyond words, has some amazing tips and trick for you all!!
be sure to check out all of ash imagery's work out here-
ash imagery and ash imagery blog

Connection: by Michael Smith

Everyone wants the most outgoing, loving, affectionate, happy clients that just happen to be models. Problem is, very few are :)

This makes the job of a portrait photographer unique ... and tough. Without a doubt, I consider wedding and portrait photographers amongst the hardest divisions in the industry. There is so much to contend with ... weather, personalities, locations, atmosphere, etc. This is when connecting with your clients truly comes into play - and what differentiates photographers.

I consider the connection and relationship you have with your subject to be the most important part of a session. Yes, things like light, location, clothes, etc can enhance or even break a session, but its the connection you have with the subject you are photographing that truly makes the session what it is. Before shooting, don't be afraid to tell your client that their interaction with you and/or their partner effects the way the images turn out. I say it every time. While this may put a bit more pressure on them, my belief is that it is now in the back of their mind - and they will go a step farther in creating a better session - ultimately benefiting you AND them. Their job is to interact and your job is to capture it. Make both of those work and you'll have a killer

The easy clients are the ones i mention above. But unfortunately that is rare. When you get them though connecting is easy. They are easy going - which in turn makes you comfortable around them. You stop worrying, they stop worrying ... there's laughter, touching, loving ... everything you can imagine. You document that ... done. Amazing session. Undoubtedly though, you will have clients that are flat out shy or crazy nervous. You can say to them over and over that interaction is key, but when they get in front of you they freeze up. Stale. It happens all the time ... to every photographer.

Here is when the connection YOU have with them comes into play the most.

One thing i think of while shooting is that no matter how shy or nervous they are in front of you ... they aren't they way in front of each other. You know that if you weren't there - or if they were home - they are affectionate and intimate. Or if its one person they are not shy around their friends and are always laughing. They are capable of it - you just need to bring it out in front of you so you can capture. There lies the hard part.

Here are some things I do:

1. Be outgoing. Yeah, it may be hard for some photographers but you have to suck it up and do it. Its your job to photograph them, therefore its your job to get them going. If you are shy and they are too, well ... that's not going to be very good. So talk. Talk about whatever you can. A great starter question is "are you nervous?" They will say yes or no ... if they say yes then you can explain why they shouldn't be. If they say no, then say awesome and ask why. The more you get them talking the more comfortable they will become around you. This leads to:

2. Be their friend. Yes, you run a business and photography is your job. But don't act that way. You want to become their friend. They are comfortable around their friends so you should be trying to emulate that. I tell lots of stories about photography. I relate my family to theirs.

3. Talk. I talk before shooting, during shooting, after it ... i even talk while I'm taking the actual pictures. Crack jokes, make them laugh. Do something goofy. Make a funny face. Get them talking and interacting. When they are comfortable their "shyness" will disappear, i promise. There are times where i hold the camera away from my face and talk to them .. meanwhile I'm still firing away. +1 for digital ;) Don't try that with film ... ha.

4. Know your client. Obviously you know them but do you really "know" them. Find out things prior to the session to talk about. Ask questions during the shoot. Know them. If you know them, they will feel comfortable with you. Many of the clients i photographed or will be photographing i have had lunch with ... or dinner ... or coffee. Get to know them. It matters.

5. Step away. I'm an up close shooter. I like being right there with the client. But i also know that taking a step back and giving them some space can be huge. While walking ... stay behind or far in front. Watch them interact. If someone is nervous, and their partner is there with them ... they are going to confide in them, not you. Capture that. Capture the moment she turns to him and gives him that look of security. Capture the moment he puts his arms around her to protect her. Capture those moments.

6. Capture the moments in between moments. This is probably my favorite thing.

There will be wonderful moments with clients. There will be that small kiss that was perfect between an engaged couple. There will be those moments you want to get for sure. But in between those moments are special moments. The moment after he kisses her and stares in her eyes. The moment when you relax your camera and they think its done and they start laughing hysterical how everyone just watched them kiss in public. The moment they begin to walk away and she grabs his hand to pull him closer.

These are moments that happen because their guard is down. They don't think you are photographing them. To me, these moments make the session. These are the moments i strive to capture.

7. Be prepared. Put your camera down but don't put it away. Have it ready. You never know what is going to happen next. And how can you capture it if you aren't ready. If you miss a special moment, you won't be able to recreate the exact thing. So be ready all the time.

and lastly, and a very important one, (8) Be passionate. This is not a job ... its my life.

I love every second of what i do. I am deeply humbled this is how i earn a living. I know that each and every day that there are people out there that are doing a job to make ends meet and are miserable. You and I take pictures for a living. Pictures!! How awesome is that? And i make sure my clients know that and they can sense it. I have a passion for photography and i show it. I make sure all my clients know how much i care about what i do. In turn they trust me and that is huge. Gaining their trust and friendship will earn you valuable moments when photographing them. And it doesn't just end at the session. I am always talking with past clients ... catching up over email, phone, dinner. I care about all of them. And because you have this connection with
them, because you care about them and they trust you, you will be at the top of the list when the time comes for them to refer a photographer. The circle is complete :)

if you have any questions about this or anything else you'd like to ask mike, you can visit him here

thank you so much mike/ash imagery!!!


  1. This was amazing! I'm soo glad you shared. Great advice!

  2. Wow! This was a great read. I'm a terribly shy photographer. It's probably why I want to specialize mostly in newborn photography. But I really need to work on being more outgoing, so I can capture those special family moments. :)

  3. Great post! Mike just reinforced what I already do with my clients! He is spot on in the article!! Thanks again!

  4. Awesome post...thanks for the great advice!

    Love these pics!

  5. Thanks, Mike! Great read!

  6. perfect timing!....I've been asked, for the first time, to take some pictures for a friend while all of her kids are home......how to connect with them (even though I've know them for years) was my biggest fear!!........this really helped!!

  7. Melanie Brough2/09/2010

    Absolutely incredible. What a well written and helpful article. Thank you, Michael!

  8. This was just want I needed!! I really struggle with this part of the photography world. So much great info!

  9. Emily Mason2/09/2010

    Michael, your work is so inspiring. I've followed you for quite sometime. I'm loving getting a peak into your head. I really hope you do more of these here on The Maternal Lens. Thank you!

  10. Excellent tips. Thank you so much!

  11. Mike rocks my world!! Thanks for the advice.


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