Alright, imagine you’re gearing up for a client photo sesh.
Lighting? Nailed it.
Creative vibes? Flowing like a river.
But wait, there’s one more thing you can’t afford to gloss over.
The question every photographer has asked themself: “What on EARTH do I say to my clients?”
Well, I’m not just here to answer that. I’m taking it up a notch. I’m handing you a goldmine of posing prompts, a collection that’ll have your clients feeling comfy, unveiling their true selves, and yielding shots that’ll be etched in memory.
Let’s be real; we’ve all felt the heat of trying to multitask between chatting and shooting in a session. The dread of cringe-worthy silences or those forced “cheese” smiles? It’s a real thing. But it’s ok!
I’ve got your back, and I’m here to banish those awkward moments.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro hungry for some fresh ideas or new to photography and wanting to build that client connection, this article’s for you.
But before we dive in, let me level with you. I’ve walked in your shoes, felt the uncertainty, and witnessed how a well-timed prompt can flip a photoshoot on its head.
So, let’s get you upgraded with some new posing skills and conversation skills!
How to Lead a Photoshoot When You Have Nervous Clients
I’ve had my fair share of camera-shy clients. Trust me, it’s more common than you think!
And guess what? It’s totally okay!
There are a few tricks you can do to ace a photoshoot when you’re dealing with nervous clients and to get that natural smile.
Alright, first things first – let’s talk about building that warm rapport.
Break the ice by throwing in some casual questions about their day or sprinkling in a few light-hearted jokes. It’s the secret sauce to make them feel at ease and cozy around you. And you know what that comfort breeds? Confidence, especially when they’re facing the lens.
Now, let’s tackle the posing puzzle.
It can be a challenge for many photographers, but here’s the scoop: give crystal-clear instructions without sounding like a drill sergeant.
Encourage your clients to ease into poses naturally, steering clear of stiff, awkward positions.
And then there’s the art of direction – a pivotal part of acing a photoshoot. Don’t just plainly tell them to pose. Show them.
If they’re supposed to gaze toward the left, don’t just say, “Look left.”
Give instructions to look at a specific point on the wall, tilt their head, and smile (or don’t smile). Physically demonstrate what that looks like. Oh, and don’t forget the importance of breaks!
Sometimes people need to pause in between sets or outfits.
Especially after holding a tough pose that could make them break a sweat. We don’t want them looking sweaty and gross!
Last but not least, be their personal hype man! Increasingly shower them with compliments, especially if you have an amazing shot of them.
You should naturally be able to get excited when this happens anyway because it’s also your work. The more you let them know how fire their photos are coming out, the more it’ll boost their confidence.
Cut Back on The Awkward Silences and Help Your Clients Feel Comfortable
Ever been in an awkwardly silent car ride with someone you barely know?
Yeah, it can be downright uncomfortable.
Now imagine your client feeling that way while trying to strike a pose for your camera lens. Not the best scenario, right?
So, here are a few tricks and 3 tips I’ve picked up over the years:
Small Talk: If there’s an outfit, lens, or backdrop change, try to get the client talking about themselves. Show that you’re interested in them. If they have to pose and be still, you do most of the talking. Tell them a light story as you’re shooting to keep the silence to a minimum.
Play Some Music: Before my clients arrive, I start to play music. It sets the tone for you as your prep, and it sets the tone for them when they walk in and hear hit songs from the early 2000’s. The music also helps for the times you run out of things to say, and they don’t want to talk.
Get Silly: Photography isn’t surgery – you can goof off and have fun! It helps you’re able to make your clients laugh.
Now, these aren’t guaranteed to work (nothing is), but they’ve saved me from countless awkward silences over the years!
Especially when you’re trying to figure something out with your camera or equipment.
Think of yourself as not just a photographer but also a part-time psychologist—understanding people, easing their nerves, bringing out their best side—that’s what makes or breaks a photoshoot!
Be Yourself and Don’t Be Afraid to Be Goofy
There’s nothing like drawing out your client’s true personality and making it shine through during a photoshoot.
You know, those quirky mannerisms and goofy grins that make them unique? They’re not flaws; they’re features!
When you embrace them, you get fantastic photos out of your clients that are genuine reflections of who you are.
And as a photographer, one of the best things you can do is be yourself and don’t be afraid to show your goofy side.
When you’re being yourself, your clients will relax and be themselves too—and that’s when you’ll get the most amazing photos.
Think about it: if you’re constantly putting on a persona that’s not really you, your clients are going to pick up on that. They’ll sense that something’s off, and as a result, they won’t be able to fully relax or open up in front of the camera.
So next time you’re feeling nervous before a shoot, just take a deep breath… and then make some bad jokes until everyone’s laughing.
An Intro to Photography Prompts and How They Help During Photography Sessions
What are photography prompts?
Photography prompts are simple directions or ideas that a photographer gives their subject during a photo session.
It can be as straightforward as “say cheese”, “laugh out loud”, or something more conceptual like “imagine someone just called your name and then look behind you.”
Well, one of the most challenging aspects of any photo session is getting natural-looking shots. Ever noticed how awkward some people look in photos?
That’s often because they’re not sure what to do or how to act in front of your camera lens. And this is where photography prompts come into play!
These handy little instructions help folks loosen up and express genuine emotions. Seriously!
A good prompt can turn an awkward situation into a fun one with real smiles and natural reactions.
But how do these prompts assist during sessions?
Breaking Ice: Prompts act as icebreakers between photographers and clients—especially when meeting for the first time.
Boosting Engagement: They encourage subjects to act and engage more naturally with their surroundings.
Enhancing Creativity: For photographers themselves, having a set list of prompts ready can stimulate creative juices and inspire unique photographs.
11 Posing Prompts You Can Say During an Individual or Portrait Photography Session
1. Compliment Them
First things first, who doesn’t love a genuine compliment? I’ve found that it’s always a great icebreaker. Saying things like “That outfit looks fantastic on you!” or “Your smile is truly great!” can really help put a client at ease. It also boosts their confidence, and that definitely shows in the photos!
2. Tell a Corny Joke
Next up, let’s talk about jokes! Now, you don’t have to be a stand-up comedian. But I’ve found that even the corniest of jokes can lighten the mood and bring out natural smiles.
3. Keep a Portfolio of Funny Videos You’ve Found Online Then Joke About It (Short YouTube or Instagram Videos Work Great)
Remember those funny cat videos? Or the hilarious fails compilation? Sharing these funny things with your clients can be another way to get them laughing! Just pull out your phone and say something like, “You won’t believe what happened in this video!”. Trust me, laughter is one of the best props for genuine shots.
4. Ask About a Happy Memory
Another trick I use often is asking clients about their happiest memory. This not only helps build rapport but also brings out some truly beautiful emotions which are perfect for getting on camera.
5. Pull Out a Funny Prop
Props aren’t just for kids’ photo sessions! A clown nose, oversized glasses, or even an emoji pillow can add an element of fun surprise to any photo shoot.
6. Make Sure You Smile
Don’t forget your energy sets the tone for the session! If you start smiling and having fun, chances are your client will too. So make sure you have a genuine smile as much as you can!
7. Have a Few Go-To Tongue Twisters You Can Use And See Who Can Say It Best
This one’s a fun way to break up the session and get some candid shots. Just try saying your favorite tongue twister really fast and ask your client to do the same!
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8. Tell Them a Few Funny Stories or Things That’ve Happened to You
Sharing some of your own funny experiences not only makes you seem more relatable but also lightens the mood.
9. Get “Over-Excited” With Every Good Shot You Take
This one is all about praising their effort! If they hold a pose well or give you an amazing expression, let them know how great it was. It’ll boost their confidence and keep them excited for the rest of the shoot.
10. Praise Them For Every Good Pose They Take
Giving positive feedback on your clients’ poses can make them happier and more confident during the shoot.
11. Tell Them The Photos Will Get Better as We Take More Pictures
And last, always reassure them that practice helps. As you take more pictures, they should naturally become more comfortable in front of the camera. This will lead to great photos.
What to Say to Clients During a Photo Session When Taking Pictures of a Couple
Let’s talk about the magic words or actions you can use when photographing couples. Because you want to capture that perfect, natural shot that shows their connection and chemistry.
C’mon, Pretend You Like Each Other
I know it sounds cheeky, but trust me, this never fails to make couples laugh! The irony is they like each other and don’t need any pretense. This always sets a light tone for the shoot and often results in shots full of genuine smiles and laughter.
Tell Them to Sing The Chorus to a Funny Song Together
Music has a way of breaking the tension and bringing people closer together. Ask them about their favorite song, and then have them do a little karaoke in the studio together. You’ll not only capture their amusement on camera but also get some fun-loving shots.
Ask Them A Question That Brings Back a Positive Memory Like “How Did You Meet?”
This one’s my favorite! Have them share memories from their journey together. It could be anything from how they met or their first date stories. Their faces will naturally light up as they remember these cherished moments. This makes for some beautiful candid photos.
Have Them Take Turns Giving Each Other a Kiss on The Cheek
Now, who wouldn’t want a picture like that? This simple act creates so much intimacy between the couple, and it reflects beautifully on camera too!
Ask Them To Do a Silly Dance
Even if they have two left feet, ask them to dance! Dancing brings out a certain spontaneity and joy in pictures.
Have Them Get a Sniff of Each Other’s Hair
It might sound strange at first, but it works! You’ll either get a laugh or something intimate. But someone will crack up, and it might even be you.
Tell Them To Whisper Something Funny or What They First Thought About Each Other When They Met
I’ve seen it repeatedly – the moment one whispers in the other’s ear, their face lights up with surprise and joy. It could be a sweet compliment or a funny memory. Either way, you’re in for some heartfelt genuine expressions.
Act Like You’re Both Drunk
This is always a fun one! Acting like they’re tipsy often results in lots of laughter, goofy faces, and just an overall good time, which can make for some fantastic pictures! You can even have them mimic each other.
And for couples, just try to keep things light-hearted and fun. The goal is to not only capture beautiful images but also ensure the couple has a great time during their photo shoot!
7 Things You Can Say When Photographing a Group
1. Have Them Tell a Funny Story About Each Other
Let’s kick things off with an icebreaker, shall we? I often start by asking the group to share a funny story about each other. It’s not just for laughs though – it works wonders in getting everyone relaxed and comfortable. Plus, those candid reactions captured are pure gold!
2. Ask Them to Give Their Best Fake Laugh
Next up on my go-to prompts is this one: “Give me your best fake smile and laugh!” Sounds silly, right? But trust me, it’s magical. The initial awkward chuckles soon burst into genuine laughter and voila – you’ve got yourself some lively shots.
3. Make Everyone Stare at Each Other and Try Not to Laugh
Here’s another fun one: make everyone stare at each other and try not to laugh. Just picture the scene – pairs of eyes trying hard not to make eye contact and goofy grins barely suppressed… before you know it, they’re rolling with laughter again!
4. Tell Everyone to Coordinate Jumping Into The Air at The Same Time
Ever tried synchronizing jumps for a perfect mid-air shot? If not, you’re missing out big time! It might take a few tries (or more), but once nailed down, these shots end up being a highlight of the session.
5. Ask Who’s The Funniest in The Group and Have Them Tell a Joke or Do Something
Now this can be unpredictable, but always entertaining. Every group has that ‘funny guy’ who loves being in the spotlight. Let him take center stage for a while – whether he cracks a joke or does something wacky, it stirs up plenty of hearty laughs (and excellent photo opportunities!).
6. Have Them All Give You Their Most Serious Straight Face
After all that laughter and shenanigans comes my favorite part – serious face time! It’s oddly amusing to see everyone struggling to keep a straight face, and those few seconds before they break into laughter again make for some great captures.
7. Play a Game and Have Them Strike a New Pose Each Time You Say “Next”
Finally, wrap it up with something interactive, like a quick game of ‘pose on cue’. The unpredictability of the next pose adds an element of surprise and fun that keeps the energy going till the end.
Photography Prompts for Working With Children and Family Photos
As a photographer, I’ve learned that working with children can be both the most challenging and the most rewarding part of my job. But I love it!
It’s all about finding the right prompts and weird sounds to make them comfortable and capture their natural joy in a portrait session or family photos. Here are some of my favorite tips:
Have Them Touch Noses With Mom and Dad
This one is straight-up adorable every time during family photos–it creates such sweet moments! Plus, it helps draw out genuine smiles from shy little ones when they’re in close contact with their mom and dad.
Tell Them to Have a Tickle Fight With Mom or Dad
Nothing gets little kids laughing like tickling! This prompt usually results in candid laughter-filled shots which are always a hit.
Try to Get Them to Squish Their Cheeks Together With Their Parents
This playful pose brings everyone closer together – literally! And you know what? The resulting family photos together are just too cute!
Props can make a photo session more fun for kids. Consider things they love. Like stuffed animals, fairy wings, toy cars, etc. The trick is not to overdo it though – remember, we’re capturing them and not only props.
Ask Them to Give You Their Best Superhero or TV Show Pose
Kids love embodying their favorite characters! Whether it’s striking a superhero pose or mimicking a TV show, this prompt helps draw out their personalities.
Have Everyone Do a Huge Group Hug
A big group hug works wonders for family photos! It brings everyone physically close but also shows familial warmth and affection.
Have Them Jump In The Air or Over Something Safe
Jumping shots bring energy into your family photo session. Just make sure whatever they’re jumping over and the area is safe before asking them to leap!
It might sound silly, but saying “boogers” (or any similar word) often gets a good laugh out of kids. You’ll be surprised how effective it can be in capturing those genuine smiles!
Tell Them Don’t Smile (This Makes Them Smile)
Reverse psychology, anyone? Telling children not to smile often leads them doing just the opposite, making for some happy pictures.
Get “Over-Excited” When They Tell Stories or Things They’re Interested In
Show enthusiasm when they share their stories or interests. It encourages them to express themselves more and makes them feel valued.
So there you have it – my go-to prompts for working with children during photo sessions! Give these a try and see how they work for you.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating During a Photoshoot
Let’s go over some common mistakes photographers make when communicating during these sessions. Especially when it does get awkward and:
- You get nervous
- The client gets nervous
- You both don’t know what to talk about
First off, one huge blunder is assuming your subject or model knows exactly what you want without clear direction. It’s not enough to say “look natural” or “be more expressive”. What does that even mean anyway?
To avoid this confusion, try giving specific instructions like “turn your head slightly to the right” or “lift your chin up a bit”.
Another oopsie I see is photographers skipping out on positive feedback. Models, no matter their level of expertise, crave reassurance!
If they’re hitting the nail on the head with those poses or doing something just right, don’t skimp on the praise. It’s the secret sauce to keeping their spirits high and building confidence in front of the lens.
Tips for Directing Poses During Photo Sessions
First, I’d like to hit on communication again. You should be talking your subjects through poses.
This doesn’t just mean telling them where to put their hands or which way to turn their head but also explaining why you’re suggesting a particular pose. Understanding the reasoning behind a pose can help your subject feel more at ease and contribute positively to the outcome.
Second, I’d strongly recommend using visual aids when possible. Sometimes words alone can’t quite capture what you’re going for in a certain pose. Show examples on your phone or even better – don’t be shy about demonstrating the pose yourself!
Here are some other important pointers:
Keep it Natural: Encourage your subjects to move around and act naturally instead of holding stiff, posed positions.
Use Props: Don’t underestimate props. Props can sometimes make posing easier and definitely add an extra element of interest!
Think About Angles: Not every pose works well from every angle, so keep moving around as a photographer.
And there you have it guys! That wraps up my guide on ‘what to say to clients during photo sessions’.
I hope these tips are useful for your photography and portrait sessions!
And feel free to ask any questions or thoughts you might have on Instagram. I’m here to help!