Getting your clients to be creative with you starts with good old fashion communication. Communication of today’s world such as email, Facebook and Twitter are no substitute for face-to-face communication. If an in person meeting is not possible, picking up a phone or making a Skype call is the next best thing. When you talk to your clients, ask questions about what their interests are such as their favorite music, favorite movies and art, magazines they read, clothing styles they like, the stores they shop in, and even the type of architecture they are drawn to. I also like to ask what other photographers’ work they admire. Getting to know your clients on a personal level will shed more light into the creative process.
In my experience, there are two types of clients. There are the clients that want to be part of the creative process and the clients that just want you to create great images for them, which is why they are hiring you the professional in the first place.
We have all had clients who don’t have a creative bone in their bodies and they just stare back at you giving you zero input. It’s with this type of client that it’s really important to ask questions about the things they like and then offer up suggestions for what you think will work for their photographic session, whether you are shooting a family portrait, boudoir session, engagement shoot or even a wedding.
Empower your clients by letting them become a part of the creative process. One great way to do this is to have them email you images or subject matter that pleases them visually. Google images is a great tool for this. They can do searches for content based on their own creative ideas. Pinterest.com is also a great visual tool for image and idea sharing, especially when it comes to photography. If you have not been on Pinterest yet, be prepared, there is a fine line between Pinterest and procrastination; it’s a fun website.
Most clients are looking to you the photographer, as the expert. I have found in my twenty-two years as a professional photographer most people like to be led or even told what to do when it comes to making decisions, even when it comes to sales and what they purchase from you. The power of suggestion can subtly move things towards your vision or favor. If you lead they will follow. Once you have shared ideas and are starting to formulate a plan, your excitement and enthusiasm will also help in leading your client in a direction you want to go.
Choosing the right location for your shoot is sometimes more than half of the creative process. A great location can lend itself to great imagery. Depending on the type of shoot, choosing the right location is just as important as the clothing and any props used in your shoot.
Sometimes the best two ingredients in a photograph—besides the subject—is the right location and the perfect light. I have found that images with the most impact are in fact, the simplest. I think simplicity is the key to great photography. Choosing the right light for your shoot is important as well. Lighting is what gives your photography mood and style. Make sure the type of lighting you choose fits your clients style as well. A high fashion look with strobes may not work if your client wants a soft natural look.
Getting our clients to let go and show emotion, can be one of the biggest challenges we as photographers face. There can be many types of emotion captured in a photograph, happiness, passion, anger. Emotion in a photograph can be powerful but what it needs to be in order to have impact is real.
Getting your client to let go and be honest in front of the camera has everything to do with their comfort level with you their photographer, and that means they need to trust you. This connection or trust starts from the moment you first meet or communicate with each other and will grow over time as long as you are authentic.
Treat your clients like you would want to be treated and most importantly listen to what they have to say. Heart-to-heart sincere dialog is the fastest way to gain your client’s trust. During your shoot use your voice to guide your subjects through the shoot. Use a low soft tone if that is what you want back or smile at your subject if you want them to smile back. You are the mirror that they are looking in. What they see is what they will mimic.
Music, if appropriate during your session, is another perfect way to set the tone and tempo of your photo shoot and a great way to set the mood that you want from your subjects. If you want joy then play happy upbeat music, and if you want a calm serene feeling from your muse, that’s the type of music you should play to put your subject in the same frame of mind.
In the end, you are the director of your shoot; the outcome will be all up to you. Getting your clients involved can take you down new paths and expand your creative abilities. I personally love it when my clients get involved and collaborate with me on their session. I am presented with a new challenge each time, one that usually leaves me looking like the star.
Written by Robert Evans
Robert Evans, a native Californian photographer has achieved enormous success in his field since his studio’s inception in 1994. Robert is most notable for having photographed the weddings of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes as well as Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, Shania Twain, Trent Reznor and many more. Robert also has photographed personal events for Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Christina Aguilera. Robert’s imagery has been featured and admired around the globe. Based in Southern California, Robert and his team of photographers travel nationally and internationally to document weddings, personal celebrations, corporate festivities and editorial portraiture.
Robert’s images have been published in magazines and newspapers across the globe for over a decade. His work has graced the covers and content of almost every publication imaginable including USA Today, People Magazine, Playboy, Us Weekly, Hello Magazine, Ok! Magazine, Life & Style, In Touch, In Style Weddings, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Martha Stuart Weddings, Inside Weddings Magazine, Los Angeles Weddings, Modern Bride and numerous others. His work has also been showcased on Oprah, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra, MTV, CNN and others.