How to Get the Best Photos for Your Clients

When you enter into the world of portrait photography, you begin to realize that 90 percent of the job is people skills. Every client is different: each individual has a different vision, a different personality, and different levels of comfort. So how do you cater to each individual to get the best photos of them? The answer depends on you and your mission as the photographer.

Mother and son family portrait sitting on bench in park in Newburyport, MA photographed by Vision Balm in Charleston, SC.

I was ecstatic to do a portrait session with Danielle and Brayden. They are the quintessential vision of a loving relationship between mother and son. Brayden was excited to get his photograph taken and also had a lot of energy to release. This made the photo shoot both extremely enjoyable and challenging. A young boy on the move creates many opportunities to capture him in his natural element, but requires the full attention from the photographer to make sure nothing is missed. Here are four ways to get the best photographs that you can:

1) Get to know your client.

Fortunately for this case, I already knew Danielle and Brayden. But when it comes to a client whom you are working with for the first time, an effort to get to know them is crucial to a successful photo session. One great way to get to know them beforehand: set up a time to meet over coffee or dessert. This way, you create an opportunity to break the ice and create a level of comfort that is alleviated during your shoot.

2) Read into their energy level.

We all send off different energy levels. I'm sure you all have experienced this when you're in the presence of someone else. This is important because if your client is feeling mellow, then a gentle, more structured session may be best. If your client is energetic and free-spirited, then a fun and playful session may be more fitting. In Brayden and Danielle's case, I was feeding off Brayden's playful energy and went with that.

3) Get candid shots.

I'm not saying that all photos have to be candid. It's contradictory, but it's very important to know how to pose your clients so that they don't look posed in photographs! However, some of the best shots are the ones that are not staged, but rather happening naturally. I had many opportunities to capture Brayden candidly because of his playful and free-spirited nature. I was actually better off that way because, okay, let's be realistic here: few six-year-olds will stay in one position for more than ten seconds.

4) Be the best hostess / host you can be.

This is the most important one. I always try to think of myself as the welcoming and warm hostess. When I say this, I'm not telling you to have the photo session in your house (although, I know some photographers do)! I'm saying make your client feel at home and comfortable, no matter where you are. How? Present yourself with a positive and friendly attitude. If you are going into a session with negative and stand-offish energy, then how is your client supposed to feel? I think you get the point.

And with those four points in mind, we got some great shots!