One of my absolute, all-time favourite things about equine photography is this…
I can turn up to a shoot and meet the most nervous of clients. A young girl with a whole world of insecurities, an older woman who hates the camera. It doesn’t matter how old you are, most of us hate having our photo taken, right? Me included!! I’m a total camera-phobe. And yes, I totally get the irony of this.
I’m pretty sure most of my clients book their shoot thinking ‘That’s ages away yet. I’ll have lost a ton of weight and look like a supermodel by then.’ And suddenly the date has rolled around and they are wondering what on earth they were thinking, when they signed up for this torture, all those months ago.
But even with the most apprehensive of clients, when they love their horse, as soon as that horse is in the picture with them, and I tell them the following, their anxiety just fades away…
The first thing I tell my nervous clients is that this shoot is all about the horse. It’s not about them. It’s about their beloved equine partner.
“Let him do all the work, you just give him lots of love and cuddles. Focus all of your attention on him and forget about me. This is just all about him.”
Suddenly, this photoshoot isn’t about how good they do or don’t look, or how good at posing they are. The shoot is focusing on their horse and they are just the supporting act.
It works every single time. Because not only have you just taken the focus off of them and relinquished them the responsibility of being centre stage, but whilst your client might be nervous of having their photo taken, they aren’t nervous or unsure about their relationship with their horse. It’s the one thing they are completely certain of and loving their horse is one thing they know they can do well. It’s something they do every day. It comes naturally.
So, once they’ve recognised that they aren’t going to melt into a puddle of angst and self-depreciation, I start to try and pry something more out of them. To do this, I simply chat to them through my camera.
Obviously, I’m continuously shooting in and around our prattling, but by talking to them and asking them questions, I’m taking their mind off of the photos and also pulling natural emotions from them. I ask them questions about their horse. What made them buy him? Have they been out competing lately? What’s their least favourite thing about him? Talking about their horse’s naughtiest habits very often gets a good laugh. I smile at them, I laugh with them, I relate to them and just generally get to know both them and their horse as we work. Ever wondered how I get all of the information I put into my blogs?
And before you know it, your client is posing, smiling and laughing, with ease and confidence, without even knowing it, and you’ve hardly had to do a thing. It’s that simple.
So, photographers, how do you deal with nervous clients? I’d love to hear your hints and tips, too.