Bringing out the best in a real woman starts with letting her know what to expect and taking the performance pressure off of her. Most women who approach me for a shoot have similar concerns and hesitations. Make sure to address each of them by keeping it light with a sense of humor, validating her feelings, and letting her know what to expect. The most common doubts I hear are:
“I DON’T KNOW HOW TO POSE.”
I usually respond to this hesitation with a laugh and say, “Good! Let’s not do that.” I explain how I’ll coach her by giving her simple directions, like “toss your hair.” I also reassure her that I will always demonstrate what I have in mind first. I make sure to let her know that we’ll take a bunch of shots and not to worry because we’ll delete any pictures we don’t absolutely love! This will take the pressure off of her concern about not knowing how to pose.
“I’M REALLY NERVOUS.”
This concern probably stems from the fact that she’s never done this before and has no idea what to expect. So first, I say “That’s great! Then you know you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, which is awesome!” I reassure her that EVERYONE gets nervous and it usually disappears really quickly, often within in the first five minutes. I also tell her who will be on set. Usually, it’s just my make-up girl and me. Lastly, I focus on how much darn fun the shoot will be; that we’ll be really silly and that most girls have such a blast that they want to do it again!
“I NEED TO LOSE TEN POUNDS.”
Join the club! I let the woman concerned about her weight in on the secret that all of my clients said the same thing to me before their sessions and that it’s MY job to flatter women of all shapes and sizes using lighting, angles, and wardrobe choices. Again, this takes the pressure off of her. Also, most people are savvy enough these days to know about Photoshop and inquire if I’ll be retouching their pictures. So, I make sure to distinguish between the light retouching that I’ll be doing which will make her look like herself on her best day versus the major reconstruction that will make her look like someone else, which I will not be doing.
“I’M NOT SURE IF I WANT TO DO NUDE.”
I like to discuss each woman’s comfort level up front right during the first phone call. There are many shades of gray in this area, so I discuss all the different ways we can imply nudity. Wearing a sheer top, being nude under sheets or behind sheer fabric are all ways to imply nudity so a girl doesn’t have to feel naked and self-conscious, but can still get tastefully nude pictures in a less scary way. On the shoot, I allow my model to go as far as she is comfortable with, and I am careful to respect each individual woman’s boundaries.
“I’M BAD AT TAKING PICTURES.”
In response to this, I say, “Then I’m glad I’m the one taking them.” I confess to her that most of what we do may not work, but some of what we do will be incredible, so just leave it all to me. I am the professional and taking pictures is my job, not my client’s. This usually gets a huge sigh of relief.
I think it’s so important to let your client know that you understand her fears and doubts even better then she does. This is the number one thing you can do to gain her trust, which will prove vital during the shoot, the sales session and long afterward when she becomes your biggest fan. Stay tuned for “How to Bring out the Best in your Boudoir Client, Part 2: Top 10 Ways to Work with Women”
Check out Christa’s New ONLINE Boudoir Photography Workshop! Launching this Tuesday, June 14th – click here to get more info and sign-up. (We’re happy to be providing some treats for those who attend!)
Christa Meola has previously shared her expertise on boudoir photography at Pictage U San Diego: Boudoir and Lighting as well as PartnerCon 2010. She is currently traveling and teaching workshops, as well as just finished a book for the Boudoir Photographer called “Exposed: Redefining Boudoir.” If you want more information on Christa’s workshops or how to purchase her book, visit www.ChristaMeola.com. See more blog posts by Christa on The Photo Life.