Each of these words has been used by people I’ve photographed to describe the feelings they have going into a shoot regardless of whether it was for a corporate headshot, a model portfolio, or a full-body revealing boudoir shoot. This tells me something about the power of photography. We are instinctively aware that photography is not just an act of capturing what we look like–our features, the lines of our bodies, but that it’s a deeper, more profound experience where who we are gets permanently documented.
Undeniable truths are revealed in images in a way that even the most expensive mirrors somehow cannot. Looking in a mirror, we still see what we want to see. But when a photographic image is created, we see ourselves as we are seen by others…and as we are inside. It’s magical…powerful…and beautiful…if the eye of the beholder is one worthy of the trust placed in her to capture another’s soul.
OK, so maybe you’ve never thought of photography quite like that before! LOL! If so, don’t worry, it’s ok.
But it’s certainly why I work as I do. And why I think it’s so important to make sure there’s a “fit” between me as the photographer, and my clients. I can only ensure there’s a “fit” by chatting or meeting with someone before we decide to work together. It’s also why I do not simply respond to emails asking about pricing by shooting off a link to the latest a la carte menu. That’s so impersonal. And misses the really important point.
To me, choosing a photographer isn’t like buying a pair of shoes commonly available, and where the best price naturally wins out. In that particular apples to apples scenario, clearly price is the only differentiator. It’s the same pair of shoes regardless of who’s selling it. Who hasn’t bought something from someone you probably would rather not buy from only because they had a better price on the same thing someone else was charging much more for?
No, to me, photography is more like choosing a therapist, or an interior decorator for an expensive long-term remodeling project. Both require trust. Both require the ability to establish a close personal relationship. And you’ve certainly gotta live with the long term effects of it all…and so it goes with photography.
So how do you go about preparing for such a photo shoot? Glad you asked. And the answer is by preparing both body AND mind.
Let’s start with the easy stuff. You can best prepare for a photo shoot by:
*Ensuring everything is neatly groomed–eyebrows neatly shaped–stray hairs removed, nails freshly manicured, facial and body hair removed, skin moisturized and free from excessive peeling or tan lines, hair dyed and/or trimmed (but this is not the time for radical changes I assure you!)
*Practicing good posture in a mirror–What conveys confidence? How can you project the attitude or feeling you wish to convey?
*Conducting a full assessment–What are your favorite features? What do you love about your body? Do you have “a best side?”
Take care of the details and the images will be that much more polished. Don’t rely on the photographer to photoshop these things. Photoshop is awesome, but it’s not without its limits.
Now, the tough stuff. You can best prepare your mind for a photo shoot by:
*Performing a thorough assessment – Why do you want to have professional images done right now? What can beautiful images that capture who you ARE do to enhance your life? Even if you feel you have to have images for other, external reasons (e.g. “My boss wants and updated headshot”) how might revealing your authentic self influence the outcome of your photo shoot?
*Identifying potentially negative self-talk: I always tell my clients “Sexy cannot live in the space occupied by negative self-talk.” And it’s true! Think of negative self-talk as a black hole. It sucks everything else out of existence. There can be no confidence, ease, sensuality, beauty, or strength when negative self talk is the inner dialogue during a photo shoot. And when I see it, the camera for sure is seeing it too. Sometimes I stop a session to ask “What are you thinking right now?” I do this because I know something negative is going on inside my client’s head. And I’m always right. And by calling it out, we can work together to correct or redirect what’s happening in that moment. Sometimes it’s as simple as “This outfit is uncomfortable” in which case we just take it off! So, identify your negative self talk. Whether it’s “I need to lose weight,” or “I’m not photogenic,” write down the things you tend to think about yourself that might not be exactly positive.
*Rewriting said negative self-talk: Literally take a sheet of paper and fold it in half. On the left side write down the negative things you may say to yourself. On the right side, rewrite it so that it’s focused on something positive like “I have a great smile,” “My eyes always look so bright in images.” And if you have trouble with this step, get a bottle of wine, invite a dear friend over, and have her set you right!
*Thinking positive: Expect great images and you’ll get them. Expect a great experience and it will be one. Open yourself up to the beauty of photography that captures the beauty of your soul and you’ll have images to cherish the rest of your life and share with the ones you love most.
I felt compelled to share this with you: I can’t deny the influence of my former training. Before I built up enough courage to pursue my love of photography I was trained in psychology. I hold a Masters degree from Columbia University in the field. And it certainly shapes my approach to my work now. My mission is to cheerlead, to empower, to uplift, to bring joy and smiles and love. But above all, to reveal the beauty of each person to themselves.
Thanks for reading and have a really wonderful day!
All the best,