How to Address and Resolve Shoot Concerns | Part 1 | Transcription

Let’s talk about how to resolve shoot day concerns. This is basically about building a language of communication for your posing. Meaning that not only are you going to basically have concerns with what your clients are doing in terms of that are poses, but they might have concerns about how they look in a particular photo. They might feel like you’re capturing them from a side that’s not their best side. Maybe they just don’t like an image for a certain reason, and as the photographer you need to help them to figure out what it is that they’re not liking about the photo and address it.

Likewise when they’re doing something in a pose that doesn’t necessarily look quite right, you need to use an appropriate means of communication to communicate that to them without making them feel awkward or bad about their self-image.

Granted, there’s going to be a whole variety of different things that you all can do, and it’s going to be based upon your personalities. Oftentimes once I develop a strong rapport with my clients, I’ll joke around and make fun of them during a shoot like “No. That looks terrible.” Or I’ll say things like that, but that’s after I know that they know that that they look great. They know that the shoot’s going awesome. They know me. They know I’m joking around. We’re having a great time. We have a great friendship established already.

Where we don’t have that I’m very sensitive and very cautious to the way that I’m talking speaking to them because I want to make sure that they have that confidence and they have that self-image. Otherwise it will show through in the images.

What are some key points to remember? We are going to show you guys a specific example from a recent engagement shoot. The first thing to remember is that we want to maintain humility. We need to be humble. If they have an issue with something, we do not say “Oh, well, I did this because of that. No. No. This is the way I want to do it.” We need to be humble. We need to basically accept what they’re saying and understand that any type of constructive critique is for your benefit. If you don’t listen to what they’re saying, then your images most likely are not going to be as good as they possibly can be, and your clients will for certain not be 100% happy with their photos. Be humble and listen.

Next understand, acknowledge, and remain confident. What I want you all to do is listen to the concern. Acknowledge that you understand that concern, and then don’t let it affect your confidence whatsoever. I’ve had situations where I take 5 wide shots in a row and the clients are like “Those are beautiful. Can we get some close-ups?” I’m like “Absolutely guys, let’s do that. Yeah, we just did a bunch of wide shots. Let’s go ahead and do some close-up shots.” It has no impact on my confidence as a photographer. It’s simply me acknowledging what they want and addressing it during the shoot.

Next acknowledge but build confidence. Meaning we are our own worst critics. The shoots that I’m going to show you, our bride and groom, they are great looking. They’re good looking people, and they’re not married yet … our engagement couple, bride-to-be, groom-to-be. You know what I mean. Anyway, she has generally a self-perception which is geared around her wearing her glasses. During the shoot her glasses were off. I show them the first image, and immediately she went “Ugh, I look weird without glasses.”

That’s not a moment to basically agree with them 100%? What we want to do is acknowledge. We want to acknowledge, but we want to build confidence. We’re going to understand that they are going to be their own worst critics. We’re going to acknowledge that we see the concern by saying “I think you look beautiful. I think you look amazing.” We’re essentially addressing the concern, but we’re playing it down and we’re praising to build confidence.

These are situations where we understand that they have a certain perception, but we’re not allowing that to basically affect us in terms of agreeing with it because it’s going to lower their self-confidence. If I go “Yeah, you know what, it does look a little odd without your glasses  …” No. I say “I think you look beautiful. I think you look fantastic. Would you like to go get your glasses though? Would that make you feel more comfortable?” She goes “No.”

We go through another thing, and I go “You know what? She is a little bit conscious about the way her face is looking. What I’m going to do is …” She didn’t know what her side was. Generally every single person is going to have a little bit of dissymmetry in the face, and that’s going to cause us to have a good side versus a bad side. A side that is flattering versus a side that’s not so flattering. For the most part a lot of girls will actually know this naturally. A lot of times they subconsciously will part their hair to the side that they actually favor. It’s a very strange thing, but it’s a rule of thumb that works 8 out of 10 times just to pick the side that their hair is parted from and generally that’s the side that they like.

I’ll always ask them in a very straightforward but nice way. You don’t go and say “Hey, do you have a side that you like better?” That doesn’t sound very nice. You can say “Let me know. Do you have a preferred side? Is there a side that you like to be photographed on? I think you look beautiful either way, but I like to make sure that I’m following whatever it is that you would like.” This client said, “No. I really don’t know.” That’s totally fine. I say “Okay, let me do this. I’m going to put you in 2 different poses.” I would do basically a straight shot. I’d have their chin go over to one side, do a straight shot, and then do a chin over to this side while their eyes are into the camera for all 3 shots.

Then I’d simply show them. I’d say “Is there any one of these that you’d prefer more than the other?” If they say no, then fantastic, great, move along. Generally I know off the top of my head which one looks better because I’m looking at the images. I’ve studied enough faces to know which one looks better. I would just say something simple like “Great. I think you look amazing. You just look incredible. Let’s do this. For the duration of the shoot I’m going to have you actually on his right side, or I’m going to have you on his left side.” What I’m doing is I’m making it about what I want, not about saying things like “Well, since your left side is stronger than your right side, I’m going to put you on this side.”

Again, we address concerns without ever directly acknowledging them. If a girl says “My arms look big,” the first thing you should say is “I think your arms look amazing. I think you look perfect, but let’s try this. On the next photograph just lift your arm a little bit off the side so we have space between. What you’ll find is that when I have my arms flattened against my sides, it’s going to open up my biceps a little bit. For a guy that’s awesome, but for girls we might not necessarily want to make arms look bigger. All we’re going to do is put your arms to the side, but you look amazing either way. Just try that, and let’s see it.”

We’re acknowledging, but we’re playing down that concern. We’re helping to build confidence throughout the shoot.

One other thing I want to mention, during this particular shoot I was having such a hard time reading my clients. This occasionally happens. It’s like a 1 in 30 thing. It happens to me maybe once or twice a year where the clients are just subdued. The way that they communicate with you is very passive and they’re not really excited about anything and they’re just very calm. You can’t get a good reading on their emotion. You don’t know if they’re loving the photographs, if they’re liking the photographs, or if they’re hating the photographs because they’re so calm and just even toned throughout the entire thing.

It’s cases like that, where I can’t read the clients, where I fall back on I’m glad that I know my posing. I’m going to pose them and place their faces in the most optimal and positions that are going to be flattering to them. Number 2, I’m going to shoot the mood board. I’m going to keep shooting the mood board because those are the images that they selected that they liked, and if I shoot the mood board, I’m safe and I’m good.

If I can’t get a gauge on them and I’m sitting there shooting images that are not on the mood board, I’m setting myself up for potentially a client to come back and say “We didn’t really like the images,” even though they might give me lip service and say “Oh, yeah, I like those,” or “Oh, yeah, those are okay.” They don’t want to tell you on the shoot because they’re not comfortable. They come back later, and they say that they’re unhappy because we didn’t get enough mood board shots. In cases where I can’t get a good read on what they enjoy and what they like, I’m shooting the mood board basically straight up. I’m creating those shots because I know that’s my safety net.

Remember and show that you’re in tune. During the shoot we want to remember the concerns that they had. We want to address them but still always play them down. If she told me earlier in the shoot that she has a problem with her calves looking large, then later on as I’m posing her I’m going to say “Okay, drop the toe that looks so gorgeous.” Then I’m going to show her the image, and I’m not going to say “Look at your calves. Don’t they look great?” What I’m going to say is “Don’t your legs look beautiful? Your legs look fantastic in this shot. Look at that.” She’s going to go “Oh, yeah, they do. I love that.”

We don’t say “Yeah, I remembered your calves look big. I did this so that they don’t. Awesome.” We want to make sure that we are remembering and we are showing them that we are addressing the concerns without actually reminding them of the concerns themselves. Again, play down.

Show images to share that you understand and continue to genuinely praise. When I say praise, guys, please, please, please keep in mind the whole genuinely. That is probably the most important part of that little phrase right there. Just lip service for the sake of lip service is so detectable. It’s so easy to know when you’re being serious about something and when you genuinely feel like you love your clients and you’re praising them versus when you’re saying just crap like “Oh, yeah, you look good.” It’s very noticeable. Genuinely praise them and make sure that they feel your attention and love and support.

Remember them for the future. The last thing is that after the shoot if they had significant questions like this last shoot. If they had those kind of things, then I’m going to take a few notes upon the completion just to make sure that I incorporate it into our next shoot. Into the wedding we make sure that we remember how the engagement shoot went.

End of the story … after the shoot I walked away from this session with my clients thinking “I have no idea if they liked any of the photographs that I took.” I thought the photographs turned out great, but I was like “I did not get a single bit from them that was like they were ecstatic about what I was doing.” We shot mood board. We got it. We got the emotion. We got the feel that they wanted.

We sent them some of the teasers. It was funny. I got an email backing saying, “Yeah, we’re excited to see the images.” Then I sent them teasers. She wrote back and the email, it was like “These look nice. Thank you so much.” For her that was the equivalent of “Wow! These are amazing. This is so awesome!” Again, she was incredibly happy with her shoot, but it doesn’t come through in that communication. She notified Jackie how much she liked the photos, but when she responded to me in that email, it was “Thank you. These photos look nice.”

Moral of the story … when all else fails, that’s why you have your mood board, but this is how you basically approach concerns during a shoot. 


The Initial Meeting

Prepping for the Engagement Talk Through

Engagement Shoot Prep & Communication

Prepping for the Wedding Day Talk Through

Wedding Day Preparation & Communication


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