Written by Christa Meola NYC Photographer. Join Christa at PartnerCon this November for her talk “The Anatomy of a Successful Portrait Business.”
In Part 1 of How to Bring out the Best in Your Boudoir Client: Overcoming Fears and Doubts, we talked about letting your client know what to expect and making sure she feels you understand her fears and doubts even better then she does.
Now on to the juicy stuff!
Bringing out the best in a non-model, ie. an everyday woman (who is most likely nervous to do a boudoir shoot) entails setting up your shoot for success during the planning stage. Let’s take a peek at how to plan a successful shoot so it runs smooth like buttah.
Make it a Collaboration From The Beginning
Invite your client’s full participation in this experience, which makes it much more meaningful than just a photo shoot and gets her fully invested in the event and the final result. During the initial contact with my client, I like to set us up for success. I make sure to do all of what’s described here for each client – it takes minimal effort truly, and really goes a long way in bringing out the best in each woman as well as juicing up my sales.
Focus on What She Loves
During our first phone call, I like to ask a few questions that will guide the direction of our shoot as well as creating an incredibly positive experience for my client. We start by talking about what she LOVES about her body. I keep the conversation here, and never let it go to what she’s insecure about. I say “we’re only going to focus on what you absolutely love!” This also guides our shoot: when I know she loves her hair, smile and cleavage – for instance – I know I’ll be shooting a lot of gorgeous close-up’s with the 85 1.2. I also ask what her partner loves about her body. And I keep asking “what else?” until I have about five or six points of focus.
Discover Her Heartstrings
Boudoir photography is not just about the body. It’s so much more. I’m even more excited to chat with her about what her favorite things in life are right now. This elicits such varied responses and helps make each individual client’s session completely unique. Some girls say “writing, shoes, vintage shopping, cycling, dancing, cocktail hour,” etc. It’s so fun to design a shoot around what her life is like right now. But, it’s equally exciting to design part of the shoot around what she would fantasize about her life being. I make sure to ask what her absolute dream shoot is, no holds barred. I like to use this scenario as inspiration for our shoot as much as possible. Both of these questions elicit a wonderful conversation that unearths a wealth of knowledge about who she is, her personality and many ways to set up a shoot that is MEANINGFUL to her and goes beyond just a pretty shot in frilly underwear.
By having that initial intimate conversation, we’ve already been building rapport, and it’s enhanced when you share your feelings about what you love about your body, your life, and your dream shoot. Make sure to be just as vulnerable as she is and put yourself out there at every stage of the process. I also like to keep the relationship building by keeping in contact in the weeks before our shoot. I ask her to send me inspiration shots of what she thinks is sexy and beautiful or what she’d love to emulate on her shoot. I like to call and check-in to see how the shopping is going. I love getting texts from girls while they’re in the dressing room trying something on, asking “do you LOVE it?!” That’s when I know we’re girlfriends now 🙂
Probably the biggest tactic towards bringing out the best in anyone who steps in front of your camera is having fun! Set the tone right off the bat – I like to make it a party, have champagne, be enthusiastic, have music, get her pampered with pro hair and make-up, and make a silly arse of myself as much as possible. I really am super excited for every shoot, and this energy carries over to her. During the session, we do silly stuff, laugh a ton, talk about men, and prance around in practically no clothing – who can’t have a good time in these circumstances?!
With all of your planning and contact with the client by now, you’ve already demonstrated that you are knowledgeable, experienced, professional, friendly, honest, and therefore: trustworthy. As I mentioned earlier, you can also gain trust by being vulnerable and doing all of the moves or poses you ask her to do. You can go even further in putting her at ease by showing her a pic or two as you shoot, ONLY if they are amazing! Do not keep showing pics as you go – it’ll ruin the surprise, she may get critical, and it may wind up being a buzz kill. So show her one or two as soon as you have a great pic (usually overexposed a stop or two, since it looks better on the back of your camera 🙂
Now, enjoy the rest of the shoot! – and that’s a whole other blog post!…
About Christa Meola
Christa Meola has previously shared her expertise on boudoir photography at PartnerCon 2010, Pictage U San Diego: Boudoir and Lighting, and as a speaker at PartnerCon 2011. Her boudoir business is based in NYC, while Christa travels extensively teaching workshops, as well as just finished a book for the Boudoir Photographer called “Exposed: Redefining Boudoir.” For more info, visit www.ChristaMeola.com. See more blog posts by Christa on The Photo Life.