Can a photographer be comfortable with a client directed photo session? Yes! But, I think it takes a certain kind of photographer. Clients often have a clear vision for their photo session. Having been a teacher and a director for so long, I didn’t think I could release control like that. My big revelation–I can! It makes me a better photographer. In fact, if my clients didn’t have ideas, I might not get any good pictures! Letting the client direct the photo session–at least at first–works best for me!
A week ago I traveled to Lampasas, Texas for a session with a yogi who’s just opened a Christian yoga studio out there. Since I was once a yoga teacher, I didn’t really prepare per say because I thought my years of experience would surely foster my genius. Even on the 45 minute drive, I had maybe four basic poses in mind–Warrior, Dancer, Fish, . . . okay, so three. I also knew that if she was on the ground, I was gonna be on the ground. I was prepared to lay in the elements and by golly focus that camera come what may.
Before we started, my client showed me her pinterest board full of great ideas for yoga shots. From then on, my measly three poses took up only a small space in my head in case I needed them. It was the pictures from her board that guided the shoot at first. And that got my creative juices flowing!
What I’ve realized is that ideas don’t just come to me as a photographer. I’m motivated by something I see the client doing naturally, or once we actually try something. Even though I’m a creative person and have prided myself on being one, it’s better for me to know what the client has in mind and then tweak it (tweak my height position, my angle, my crop, or the pose). “Tweaking” in this way correlates to “editing” in my mind. I’ll tell you why in the next paragraph.
When I write a play, or any piece of writing really–even this blog post, I have to start with something,–even if it’s not witty or a clear indication of my thoughts. If I type nothing, I’ll have nothing to edit. It’s editing that is my expertise. From the edits come my ideas of how to make something better. That’s when I create my best dialogue for a script or can finally get my point across in a blog post. This is just part of my process as a writer. So why would I think it’d be any different for me as a photographer?
While I’m more accepting of the idea of a client directed photo session, I do know that I have to have some semblance of control. I know myself. So to avoid that scary feeling of anxiety at appearing unprofessional, I’m combining one of my teaching strategies I employed as an English teacher with something I learned as a yoga therapy intern. I’m creating an agenda (teaching) with drawings (yoga therapy) for my photo sessions–shot list with pictures. I start the session with the client’s ideas, use mine as go to’s if I need them, then “edit” the experience as ideas come to me. No telling what brilliance I’ll create with my new method once I make it my normal process!