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Capturing beautiful portraits is not just about knowing how to use your camera. In fact, most of what makes an exceptional photograph is the ability to capture real, genuine, and honest expression from your clients. However, most clients—even experienced ones—find themselves battling nerves as they step in front of the lens. As the photographer, it is your job to help them relax.

But how? That is the big question, right?

Below we outline SEVEN EASY TIPS to help your clients relax during a photo shoot. Experience does not matter. These tricks are simple, effective, and are incredible useful for any type of session:


Knowledge is power. A lot of stress and worry clients bring to their shoot has to do with fearing the unknown. The more that you can prepare your client before a shoot, the less anxious they will be. There are a few helpful tactics:

  • Send out a questionnaire to get-to-know your clients personally. Ask questions about their personality, their business, and who they serve.

  • Walk clients through your process and explain to them what they can expect the day of their session. The more information you provide, the more questions you answer, the more relaxed your clients will be.


Thoughts, whether conscious or unconscious, are a big factor in the level of anxiety clients experience during their session. The more clients are left thinking, evaluating, or questioning what they are doing, the more stressed out they will be. Talking to your clients is a great distraction tool to stop their mind from wandering. If clients are focused on what you are saying, they are not thinking about how awkward or uncomfortable they feel. The more you talk, the more relaxed they will be!

Note: the conversation does not need to revolve solely around the shoot itself. Talk about anything that comes to mind or about things that are important to them (See why this questionnaire pre-shoot can come in handy?)


You are the expert and your clients are relying on you for guidance. Give your clients direction and be specific. If you want a hand placed somewhere, which hand? If you want them to drop a shoulder, which one? If you would like them to smile, with teeth or without? If you want them to look somewhere other than the camera, where exactly—give them an object to focus on?

You get the picture…

The more detailed you can be in guiding your clients to the right pose and expression, the more relaxed they will feel.


Some clients learn really well just by verbal direction. However, for some people, seeing how you want them to move is key. Do not be afraid to show your client exactly what you would like them to do. Although in your mind a pose may seem simple—because you have direct clients into that pose hundreds of times before—the experience is very new to your client and may not translate as easily for them. Try different tactics to help you client feel confident in their movement. Confidence will lead to relaxation.

Also, do not be afraid to show your clients the back of the camera from time to time. Seeing the magic you are creating can be a real motivator! Plus, you can use the photos as a teaching technique. Show your client what they are doing and explain how you want them to change up their pose from there.


Do not touch your client without permission. Some people are more comfortable than others with personal space. A simple, “May I…” can go a long way with making your client feel respected. A kind gesture such as this goes a long way in helping clients relax.


Clients will feed off your behavior so only bring positive energy and vibes to your shoot. Also, be mindful of the language you use when talking to your clients. You want your direction and feedback to be encouraging. Compliment clients frequently and explain to them what they are doing well. Motivation is big when it comes to creating a relaxed environment for clients.

Tip: Do not just compliment their looks! A simple, “I loved the personality that showed through in that shot,” or, “I could feel your energy in that last one,” can be a huge boost in self-esteem.


When asking clients to laugh, be silly, act serious, or any other expression you might throw their way, do not hold back from joining in on the task! Asking clients to act in certain ways may make them feel singled out or embarrassed. However, if they see you acting just as ridiculous, it immediately creates space for them to relax and join in the fun.

Whether you have been photographing clients for a long time, or are just getting started, these seven tips are a perfect way to help you clients relax during a photo session. Which one will you try out next?

—Written for Ilona Jade by Mandi Ann


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