The Dangerous Confessions of a Photography Client
Over the years, I've observed clients become COMPLETELY different people in front of the camera and after we were finished with the session. From frantic to easy-going in less than 30 minutes. And I get it- it's a moment that's been planned, there are high expectations, and with that high emotions. To paraphrase a wise woman I know-
Photography is a very emotional business. It's like the medical field, it's all about that moment. It's about finding their story and telling it.
I always try to ease the minds of my clients, but its difficult to fully "put myself in their shoes", if you will. I've been doing photography for so long that I've forgotten what it's like to be on the other side of the lens. My inner Annie Leibovitz comes out whenever I'm having my picture taken and I have to fight the urge to take over.
I really wanted to see what goes through someone's mind while they are preparing and during pictures, so I asked a few clients for their real, uncensored thoughts. I wanted to see how we could make the experience easier for them.
Disclaimer: The names have been removed to protect the innocent, but the thoughts are completely their own.
Client #1- Mom of 2 small children, working and going to school. Has a session at least once a year.
I always plan outfits first. I pick one person's outfit and plan the others accordingly . I pick the day and time that has to work for everyone, a location that works with the outfit, different combinations.
I hope our outfits match and look good together. I pray the kids behave and don’t have creepy smiles. While we are taking pictures, I always try to remember to NO MATTER WHAT keep smiling and looking at the camera, not at the kids, even when they decide to be difficult. Also, keep reminding the spouse to pay attention to the camera. I yell at family members when they try to get the kids to smile- I tell them to let the photographer do their job. They are being a distraction. I also keep telling myself to chill- I’m not the photographer. Lol.
I don’t want all smiles looking straight at the camera. I want candid, emotional pictures. If my kid is frowning or makes a silly face, I still want it so I can remember it when they are older and tease them. If my kid is being an a$$**le and won’t smile, it’s okay- I won’t hound the photographer to make it work. I’d rather have a few great pictures then a bunch of okay ones. I’m just thankful for the memories.
When we are done, I always wonder how they came out, if there were good smiles, if there were any candid ones, did the clothes look okay, did I forget anything, did my face ruin the pictures? Once I get the pictures, I can’t wait to put them on social media and hang up some prints.
Client #2- Aunt who wants to surprise her sister and best friend with pictures of their kiddos.
I always think about what outfits I want, what locations, what themes, how I want the pictures to look. But during the session, I don't worry about anything because I know the right shots are being taken. I get very impatient waiting to look at the pictures, because I know they are going to be great.
Client #3- A mother of three kids, aged 5 years and up. Busy with work, church and after school activities. Wants to document yearly changes.
My Picture Day thoughts:
God I hope my kids don’t act like a$$**les or do that stupid fake smile I can’t stand. I hope they can photo shop my double chin out. Outfits are usually based on the season and whatever the photographer suggests, depending on location. She is the fashion consultant. It takes a few weeks to prepare outfits and coordinate a date.
I don’t have much anxiety about the results of the pictures anymore- not like I used to. It’s more excitement to see specific pictures when I know she got my kids doing something cute and not forced and excitement to get Christmas cards so everyone can see the family.
I love photographers that don’t get annoyed with my kids (to their faces) but also don’t put up with their crap. I always wonder what pictures will be on the disc that I didn’t know were being taken and I love getting the email saying the pictures are ready. I don’t care what I am doing, I immediately look at the pictures
Client #4- one half of one of those adorable millennial couples you hear about.
"Usually, and most frequently, I'm thinking something along the line of 'oh god I hope I don't look stupid right now- Like is my face okay, Am I doing the fake smile that moms complain about.How many chins are showing? How do I ask if my chins are showing without pointing it out to everyone in the room. Oh god, why did I think this was a good idea, these lights are pretty bright and I'm pretty sure my makeup has come off already. Hopefully just one comes out okay. Is it taking a long time because they are trying to make me look better. Hmmm CAN they make me look better? Am I gonna look like the people from Pinterest? Which one of these should I put on Instagram?
I really learned a lot from all their answers. I went in thinking I knew what they were going to say, which just goes to show, don't ASSUUUUUME anything. All 4 had their own individual reasoning and thoughts, but their concerns were all universal:
* Are the kids going to cooperate?
* Do I look good?
* I can't wait to show off my pictures
I had always thought we did a pretty good job at handling these concerns before- after all we had done it for so long, it just seemed like second nature. But based on these responses, I need to step up my game. We are going to take these confessions and develop a process to help with session planning. We want to make it an enjoyable experience!
So what is YOUR confession? What would would make the experience more enjoyable or easier for you? -m