Being photographed can be an incredibly insightful process!
Image by pink sugar photography.
When photographer and subject have a connection and understanding between them, the photos that are created can be powerful and real. That’s pretty straightforward, right? But the big question is “How on earth do I create connection and understanding with someone I just met??”.
Well, learning to connect with people is a lifelong pursuit, but there’s one really easy way that you can understand what your subjects’ are experiencing, and gain some empathy for their situation.
And that is to put yourself in their shoes, and get photographed.
Now, we photographers love shooting. You probably think it’s one of the most enjoyable things in the world. So that word “empathy” that I just used up there might be a bit startling. Why would you need empathy for your subjects? Shouldn’t they be excited to be having their photos taken?
Chances are they do indeed feel excited, but also stressed, nervous, uncertain, self-conscious, and downright scared. How do I know that? Well, because that’s how I felt when I’ve had my photos taken!
Things are really different on the other side of the lens, and you can learn that firsthand by putting yourself there. Self-portraits don’t count, though. I’m talking about a full session: picking a date, chatting about locations, choosing outfits, getting ready, experiencing the session, and then waiting to see the images afterwards.
Once you have that experience, you suddenly have a vastly better understanding of how to make your own process more enjoyable for your clients! It only takes a few hours, and you gain priceless insight. Good deal.
You can either hire someone, or arrange to do a swap with a photographer friend. If you do a swap, give each other the full client experience so you can get all the benefits of the exercise!
When you do have your shoot, the important thing is to make sure to pay careful attention to how you feel during the process. The insights you have will help you to create a better shoot for your own clients. Some things to consider are:
- How was the experience preparing for the shoot? Smooth? Stressful?
- Were you ever unsure of the plan? How did that make you feel?
- Did you have trouble picking out clothes?
- Was it a long process to get ready on the day of the shoot?
- How did you feel on the way to the session?
- How did you feel when you first met with your photographer?
- How did you feel when the photographer was talking to you?
- How did you feel when the photographer wasn’t talking to you?
- Was it easy to understand what they wanted of you?
- How did posing make you feel?
- What made you feel relaxed and at ease?
- What made you feel uncomfortable and awkward?
- Did you ever wonder why your photographer was making certain choices?
- Did you ever feel tired of taking photos, or was the process fun and enjoyable?
- At the end of the shoot did you know what was going to happen next?
- How did you feel after the session?
- How was the wait for the images? Too long? Too short?
- Did you enjoy the delivery of the images?
- What was your first reaction to the images?
- Were there certain types of images that you preferred more than others?
- What images meant the most to you? Which ones do you think you’ll enjoy the most 10 years from now?
- Did you end up actually using the photos? How?
This is just a quick list of questions to consider, and insights you can gain. You’ll probably come up with a ton more during your own session, and walk away with an incredible amount of knowledge.
A Lesson I Learned
I’m the kind of person that takes about 10 minutes to get ready. But when we had our own photos taken, it was more like an hour to make sure everything was just right. I never really thought about this part of the process, and what it felt like for our clients. But after going through it myself, I suddenly had far more appreciation for all the effort they put in!
I also became really relaxed about them being on time. I knew it was a lot of work to get ready, and didn’t worry if they were a bit late. And I definitely made sure to let them know how great they looked when we met up!!
Getting photographed can be one of the most valuable things you ever do when it comes to understanding your clients, and how to make their experience with you the best it can be!
Have you been photographed by a professional? What did you learn from the process?