Building trust and confidence with your clients is one of the most important things you can do as a photographer. The more your clients trust you, the more they will relax and feel comfortable which translates well in front of the camera. Your clients will allow you more creative freedom, which in turn will produce more amazing photos and ecstatic clients that rave about you to all their family and friends. Here are 10 ways you can build trust and confidence with your clients.

In Part One of our Wedding Workshop series we take you behind the scenes on live shoots, showing you how frequently clients find issues with images, challenging us to find a way to work around the problem to end up with something more pleasing. Learn more about streaming the entire Wedding Workshop series, including our latest installment Photographing the Groom, as an SLRL Premium Member.


Before we jump into these tips, the foundation for the some of the communication techniques we cover in this course stem from Olivia Fox Cabane’s The Charisma Myth: Master the Art of Personal Magnetism. Her book teaches us that charisma isn’t an innate trait, it can be developed over time and taught like any skill. This is important to note because just like our artistry, our ability to relate and connect to people needs the same amount of attention and practice.

Build A Relationship

When around a client, especially for the first time, focus on building a relationship. Now, generally during the initial talk-through, we’re meeting with either the bride or the bride & the groom to be. Always ask questions and refrain as much as possible from taking over conversations to talk about yourself. This engages the clients and makes them feel like you are their only client. What do they do for work? What do they enjoy as their hobbies? Focus the priority of your conversation on them.

Smile, be genuine, and be interested

Body language speaks volumes without you having to say a single word. In Cabane’s book, she mentions how certain body movements are representative of how someone is feeling. Being able to read whether or not your client is comfortable will definitely help you guide your conversation in the right direction. Alternatively, your demeanor and body signals also can encourage them to become comfortable because of your open body language and genuine interest.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Assume that as their photographer you can make anything happen for your clients. Meaning, if they have a ludicrous request that takes 100 hours to accomplish and a budget of $100k, you’re job is to use positive words to tailor the expectation into something that you can deliver. Generally, hearing “no” usually turns people off from voicing their opinions, and your client will no longer feel they have faith in your ability to deliver an amazing product.

Ask Targeted Questions

One of the best ways to understand them as people and what their needs are is to ask targeted questions. This could be questions pertaining to photography, things like, “What do you like about our work?”, “How has your experience been so far in the planning process?”, helping you gain access to information to help tailor your message. However, during that initial ‘building a relationship phase’, keep the questions general and open-ended.

Talk Less, Listen More


Focus on being present and in the moment. Often times in initial consults photographers get wrapped up in the sales aspect of their business, overlooking the fact that at the end of the day your work should sell itself. Steer clear of interrupting or stealing the conversation, this will most likely lead to frustrated clients who are unable to express their thoughts and needs due to your rudeness.

Be Present and Remember the Details


Being present means that your staying focused on what’s being discussed. Make direct eye contact, without getting too creepy, and use verbal and non-verbal cues to signal to them that you are engaged in this conversation. One of the most basic details that photographers constantly forget during a meeting is names. In Dale Carniege’s book ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People‘ notes that scientifically, the word that you, I, and all of us want to hear the most, is our own name. If it’s information that you should know, especially if it’s already been given to you, remember it.

Resolve Needs, Wants, and Concerns


The goal is to build trust throughout your relationship with your client, not just for one specific event. A concern could come up in the initial meeting or anywhere along your time with the client. Your ability to solve issues effectively and immediately will only encourage clients to trust you to capture such an important milestone in their lives. Being present while talking less and listening more, will help you identify their needs, wants, and concerns.

Understand, Acknowledge, & Remain Confident

Listen to the concern, acknowledge that you understand it, and try not to let it affect your confidence whatsoever. Don’t let the critique or disappointment shake you, just show them that you can step up to the plate and find a fix.


Remember the Details & Prove Your Worth

We’ve mentioned before how important mood-boards are for tailoring expectations for clients; they give us a clear understanding of what the client expects from us as shooters, and what exactly they want us to deliver. Some concerns can be voiced prior to the shoot in the initial meeting when discussing the mood board and locations, so it’s an opportune time to note any possible issues the client may have, and pay attention to those specific characteristics during the actual shoot. Every couple of shots or so, reassure the clients by showing them the images, and adress any problems that arise. Doing this will go a long way in helping to develop a strong rapport with your clients and strengthen your line of communication by building trust through your work.


Be Confident & Allow Constructive Criticism

One of the things that I love to do at the very beginning of my engagement shoot is to tell my clients that if they follow the posing framework I’ll be showing them in the session, their friends will wonder how they look so photogenic in every picture. Then I guarantee them that the image I’m about to take will be the best image of the two of them that they have.

Yes, that’s a bold statement. For the majority of cases, it works fantastically.

First of all, I would not make that statement if the couples were models or actors who are constantly on photo shoots. For most clients, though, they don’t have professional experience in front of a camera and they’re not going to be models, so, it is a safe thing to say.

A safer phrase if you’re uncomfortable guaranteeing that it’ll be the best photo they have of them so far is, “We’re going to take a single photo and it’s going to be an awesome picture. We’re going to see what we need to change and we need to do going forward and from that photo, we’re going to do a whole session of just amazing images.”

I know it’s going to be the perfect shot because I’ve already used my Live View to make sure that my exposure settings are all on or you can use spot metering over skin and so forth. I stand back, we take one single photograph, and I make sure that they can hear the click. Finally, I walk over to show the couple, and almost every single time, they will agree and proclaim, “Wow, we look amazing. That’s an amazing photograph.” And I say, “Guys, that was our first picture of the day. This is going to be an awesome day. Let’s keep going.”

One other thing that I do right after that is I’ll ask them, “Do you guys like the photo? Do you love the photo? If not, what do you think you want to change about it?” I zoom in and I say, “I think you guys look fantastic, beautiful expressions. I love it, look at this, that’s great.” That way they feel more comfortable in that they can actually critique these images. I’m opening up the window to allowing them to give constructive criticism.

When you start the photo shoot on that note with the very first photo, it builds confidence in the client. Yes, it’s putting on a little bit of a show but it really secures their trust in you right from the start of the shoot and you can promise them that every other image is going to be amazing.

2. Give Continual Praise Throughout The Shoot

When you capture a shot, praise your clients. Say, “Oh my gosh, that looks beautiful. I love that.” When they get into that pose say, “That’s perfect, I love that, that’s great. Let me get the shot. Oh that’s a fantastic image.” Talk and praise. As the shutter is clicking, do not stay silent. That is a big mistake. Even if you don’t like the shot or maybe your idea isn’t working, click the shutter, praise them on how great they are doing and then try something else.

Don’t let the clients know that you didn’t like that image, no matter the reason because they’re going to internalize that and think it’s their fault. When the camera is up and when the shutter is going, you are continually praising.


Show them images throughout the shoot

As you take great photographs in each scene, show them the images. This is again an opportunity for you to identify concerns. If they have something that they don’t like about an image, they’re going to feel comfortable telling you because you started the shoot giving them opportunity to give constructive criticism. That way, you don’t find out at the very end of the shoot that they didn’t like something because you never showed them a single image during the shoot.

Use positive words to describe changes

Do not say things like, “No, no, no, that’s not good. That looks weird.” If you’re comfortable with somebody, you can joke around and say things like, “That looks funny,” or whatever, but that’s if you already have a rapport built. When we’re building confidence and building trust and that relationship is not there yet, always stay positive. Reinforce their self-image and make sure they are feeling confident throughout the shoot.

Rather than saying, “That doesn’t look good,” you could say, “That looks fantastic; would you mind just putting that right hand on the pocket? Maybe just like this? Great, that looks so awesome.” Guide them through poses and looks with positive comments and praise.


Help The Clients Enjoy The Experience

One way to building trust and confidence during the shoot is to make sure your clients are having a good time and enjoying the experience-especially the guys. I want him to actually enjoy the picture taking experience because in general that’s not something that guys enjoy. If he’s enjoying it, then she’s automatically going to be more relaxed; he’s going to have a good time, and I can get him into different poses and look more natural in front of the camera.

When guys are relaxed, they have that aura of confidence and masculinity to them. When they’re nervous, men seem to shrink, stay to themselves and not stand tall. When you help the guys relax and enjoy the experience, he’s going to stand tall, his shoulders are going to be open, he’s going to be broad chested. He’s going to do all those things that make him look great in photos.

Focus on Helping Them Feel Beautiful

For the women, I focus on making her feel amazing. She’s relaxed because he’s having a good time. So, now focus on building her self-image because that’s the area that women tend to struggle with, and it’s going to make the most impact on the photos. If she feels beautiful, she’s going to be standing tall, kicking her hips, and showing you curves and doing all those things to make her look beautiful.


Educate Your Clients

One of our goals is to amaze our clients by showing them our effort, exactly what we are doing, and showing them how we are amazing photographers.  One way to do this is to educate them. Educating during the shoot does not mean that you’re talking about T stops and F stops and shutter speeds and all that. It means that as you’re walking around and setting up a tripod, you could say, “I’m going to set up this tripod. We’re going to put a light over there. I want to capture this background. We need to light you up so we can see you and have the background be all beautiful and dramatic.” Don’t explain all the technical details (unless they’re photographers, then you could).

What that does is it’s showing them-whether it be posing guidance, whether it be lighting, whatever it is-you know what you’re doing; that you’re putting forth effort to make these photos amazing so when you show them an image, they know what went into creating it. It also makes the shoot a little more fun. It gets them more bought-into creating the photographs with you, and understanding a bit of the process that went into it.

Get to Know Them During Down Time

When you have down times, when you’re walking to another location or taking a break, these are times to get to know your clients on a personal level. If you already know everything there is to know about them or feel at a loss for words, this could also be a perfect time to discuss the wedding day, wedding planning and the timeline. This is your chance to be a wedding consultant. It’ll open up a whole new line of conversation that can  continue for your entire shoot.


Underpromise and Overdeliver

At this point of the entire process, we’ve tailored their vision. We have shopped for their expectations and now, I want to exceed the expectations of their engagement shoot. There are several things along the shoot process that do that: Showing them the images, and showing them we’re getting that emotion and feel that they wanted in their mood board.

One of the other things that’s great is to show them teasers. Right after the shoot, prep five or ten images and send them off to them right away so your clients have something instantly, something that they weren’t even expecting to have for another four weeks and we deliver them in 1-2 weeks. Throughout this entire process, we’re setting ourselves to exceed their expectations in terms of the quality of images, how they feel, and the experience that they’re having, as well as how we’re delivering the images.


Building a clientele starts by gaining trust, an idea that will naturally come about through the strength of your communication. Clients will have a wide array of issues ranging from how they look in the photo, to how the post-production affects it, but it is up to you to pinpoint exactly what their concerns are and create a solution to avoid unmet expectations.

Doing these ten things will make your clients feel like you are an absolute hero. They’re going to walk away from the experience and talk about you with their friends, coworkers and anyone else who see and love their images.

If you want to learn more about wedding photography and how to create ecstatically happy clients, check out our Wedding Workshop Part One here. Gain access to this workshop and so much more by becoming an SLR Lounge Premium Member here.