As photographers, we want our shoots to go as smoothly as they can. One thing I've realized in my experience is, no matter how much physical preparation you do, it can all come crashing down if you don't go into it with the right attitude. That's why I've decided to share a little insight into how I approach my photoshoots and how I conduct myself during them to keep everything fun and relaxed. 1. Talk to your clients. When planning a shoot, you should talk to your clients as much as you can to establish a relationship with them. Ask them questions, listen to their ideas, and try to get a feeling of who they are. This helps when you start shooting because by that time, you've talked to them so much, you'll feel like you really know them. Suddenly, it becomes less "shooting a client" and more "shooting a friend," which is a big step in overcoming the tension. When shooting, be as outgoing as possible. Make jokes, inform the client what you're doing, and telling them when things are looking good. This level of communication relaxes them and helps them open up in front of the camera. Sometimes things may get a little awkward or you may run out of things to talk about, when that happens, just shake it off and redirect the attention to them. Ask them questions about family, weekend plans, what movies they've seen...whatever it takes to get them talking again.

(more after the jump) 2. Nothing matters more than trust. If you don't have your client's trust, you have nothing. Trusting you will make them comfortable, relaxed, and more open to trying new things in front of the camera. First thing is you should do is give them clear, concise directions. If you are confident and know what to do, they will trust that you have a plan and they will help you achieve the shots you're after. You should also try to show them a great shot immediately after you take it. This lets them see how great they look, which is a nice confidence boost, but it also shows them that the shots were not Photoshopped. Getting it right in camera proves to them that you know your stuff and makes you look like an even better photographer. If you work hard to earn their trust, you can turn a client into an advocate and get them advertise for you. They'll sing your name from the rooftops because they'll want everyone to have the same great experience they did.

3. Know Your Gear. One thing I cannot stress enough is to really know your gear. As the photographer, it's your responsibility to deliver great images and you obviously can't do that if you don't know how to use your equipment to it's fullest potential. Before you shoot, invest the time to learn what every button, dial, and toggle switch on the camera does and know how to rapidly make adjustments. Standing in front of your model randomly cranking dials and getting flustered isn't a great way to inspire confidence. Take a photo day to walk around, use different settings, and get your camera out of auto and into manual mode! Scary right? Wrong, it's nothing to be afraid of. It's designed to give you accurate, consistent control over your exposures, so manual should be your friend. Another thing I want to mention is the usage of flash. If you're going to use flash, do it well or not at all. Learn to bounce it, balance the flash exposure with the ambient exposure, and use modifiers to get pleasing effects. Don't just aim it straight at the model, the "deer in headlights" look isn't flattering for anyone.

So there you have it. By putting learning your equipment and building trust with your clients, you can really streamline your shoots so they become less stressful and more fun. Happy shooting!

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