Engagement season is here! So too, is the time to think about how to deliver the perfectly creative engagement session; to get there however, it is so important to lay out the groundwork first. As photographers, we tend to run straight to the creative, sometimes bypassing the basics. The below are just a few pointers (Part 1 of the Perfectly Creative Engagement Session) to help you on your way:
1. Have Your Clients Think About Comfort level
Each client is very unique…each have different ideas, desires for a certain look and style. To help them start to think about their session beforehand in a definitive way, ask them to consider the following:
Are you seeking:
1. Intimate images of a boudoir nature?
2. Does a quiet, reserved or formal elegance seem more appealing?
3. Perhaps flirty and fun…or maybe all of the above?
2. Coaching through “not” posing
In my world, I offer the engagement session as an integral part of my wedding collections. This is not only for the clients, but for myself as well. When photographing weddings, I take the photojournalistic approach which means I need my clients comfortable in front of the camera. I have found the best way to get them there is by hosting the engagement session, coaching them through not posing. That’s right! No posing…I need them as natural and comfortable with me as if they were there all by themselves. It does take some coaching to get them there (more to come on this). The best way to start on this approach is to ask your clients to consider your session as more of a date between them with their very own photographer present.
I will never forget a session I held several years ago; our couple was fashionable, refined, elegant and somewhat reserved in front of the camera – initially. They were wonderfully immersed with each other and it was a lovely session. We created some beautiful images and towards the end of our session, my clients took out two bottles of champagne from a picnic basket, finishing both off in a matter of a half hour; the elegant session soon turned into one of a boudoir nature! This is an extreme example of clients starting out with a certain idea in mind, quickly finding that their comfort level stems from how they felt in that particular moment, albeit they had a little help!
3. What can you do to help them feel comfortable during the session?
I start out with a short encouraging talk, letting them know they can be comfortable in front of me. I usually start by using a long lens, shooting from far away – papparazzi-like, offering occasional advice from afar – soon I find I am hardly noticed! I rarely use images from the first 10-15 minutes as this is the nervous/awkward stage; once you find things are really moving along, graduate to a prettier lens allowing you to move in closer. My go-to is the 85 mm – beautiful soft piece of glass, perfect for soft gorgeous skin and texture.
Try these tactics and you will see that in no time, they will have relaxed knowing you have little expectations – other than have them be close, natural and themselves.
I hope these points help you in creating that comfort level; encourage your clients to just be themselves, have them think about the session beforehand and let them discover how comfortable they can be in front of the camera.
Do you have your own ideas on helping your clients through their discomfort? Feel free to leave a note on your own approach below. For Part II on Engagement Session Location ideas go here.
I hope this keeps you inspired!