Have you every been in front of a camera thinking “come on, take that photo”? As a photographer, you should know the meaning of what it means to be waiting in front of the camera. If your clients start thinking you should take that photo, you are making them wait too long. It can be a matter of seconds, or worse a matter of half a minute; however, your professionalism is measured also by how long it takes to you before being ready to take that photo.
I am a firm believer of trying the experiences you offer your clients. If you want to understand the feeling of how long a few seconds before the photographers take that photo, just give a camera to a kid. Nothing easier than asking your kid, or your friend’s one, to take that photo. You will be catapulted in front of a camera and will understand what it means to be photographed by someone who does not take that photo!
Uncertainty kills the mood
One of the worst things I have experienced while in front of a camera is a photographer who looks like he has no idea what he is doing. Fidgeting with dials, keeping his face buried behind the camera, giving more attention to his gear than to me… these are all things that kill the mood. All these things make the photographer be perceived as unprofessional; he will come out as if he had no idea what he is doing.
Please try to remember that it is very difficult to judge someone behind the camera. Many people have no idea of how many things need to be done right before you take that photo. But no one should, they are your subjects, your clients and they have hired you to have photos taken. Do you have any idea of how complex it is to make a good ice cream? As far as I know, it is not rocket science, but it is not simple either; neither photography is. The way you present yourself
The voice inside your subjects’ mind when you don’t take that photo
A good outcome of a photo session, is when my clients have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and they love the photos. It is not one or the other, it is both. You need to understand that it is extremely difficult to provide good photos if they don’t feel comfortable in front of your camera. What goes in your subjects’ mind affect the outcome of the photo as well. And this has everything to do with your perceived confidence and with you taking that photo. The more you show yourself as a confident photographer, the more your subject will relax.
It happens, from time to time, that I face a subject that does not inspire me. I am not a robot, of course, and I need to focus on what I find unique about that woman. In the minutes that goes from my first shot to the moment in which I can relate to what I find beautiful, I am not performing well as photo taker. The images I capture are mediocre, as simple as that. But I take that photo, even if it is mediocre, because I may not be a good photo taker in that moment, but I am good photographer. I am building up her confidence, I am making her understand I am a professional. The trust relationship grows, I make feel her at ease and then… it clicks. I see her for the beautiful detail that inspires me, and I become a good photo taker as well. I just take that photo!
Take that photo once, no twice… no a hundred times!
Another detail that makes people cringe when they are in front of a camera is the amount of photos taken of the same pose, from the same angle, in the same moment. I perfectly well know that not always you can get the right expression or the pose is not perfect. I know that sometimes your subject blinks three times when you are pressing the shutter three times. Things go wrong, but if you want to build your clients’ confidence you need to take that photo once, maximum twice. If you need to re-take a frame, make sure you break the ice by saying something, by moving yourself a little. Try not to be a silent mummy that takes hundreds of photos without saying a word.
I have the same issue when I see wedding photographers who use the technique “spray and pray”. They fill their cards faster than I can say “move your finger away from the shutter!”. Sometimes, especially with moving subjects, shooting in rapid sequence can be advantageous; however, in a one to one setting as a boudoir session, filling your cards with countless photos is bad. First of all you won’t come out as someone who knows what he’s doing. Then you will spend ages culling the images trying to decide which one is the best between ten images that look exactly the same.
How to avoid waiting before you take that photo?
So, how can you make sure to avoid spending minutes before you take that photo? It is as simple as 1, 2, 3!
- Pose your subject without your face to the camera. If you are not sure the pose is right, don’t hide behind your camera. The moment you do, you lose the ability to see details, and your subject will expect you to take that photo.
- Know your gear. This means that you have to be able to set the exposure, focus and recompose without thinking. This means making sure you have your camera ready before raising it. It also mean that you need to be proficient in handling your camera.
- Speak to your subject. If you don’t take that photo quick enough, at least make sure your subjects know what’s going on. In our workshops we say that if you are silent for more than 5 seconds, your clients will start thinking too much. That won’t make your photo better. You don’t even need to say insightful things, just make sure to feed your subjects information. “Good”, “Well done like this” or “Continue looking at me” will be enough. You are not adding anything, but you are keeping their minds busy on something different from the fact that they are in front of a camera. That always works out well!
Fake it till you make it!
I am a firm believer that “practice makes perfect”. There is nothing better than practice to move you from a novice to being an expert. Fail, fail quickly and then do it right! If you are not ready to take that photo, don’t raise your camera to your eyes; but if you do, don’t wait. Take that photo. The first time it will be underexposed. The second time out of focus. Even the hundredth time there might be something wrong, but you will learn. Raising the camera and taking the picture in less than a second will become second nature.
My advice is to hire a model and try as much as you can to step outside your comfort zone. You don’t need to take the perfect shoot, you need to take that photo and become proficient in doing it in a timely manner.