As a photographer, I know that I am guilty of remembering what it feels like to on the other side of the lens. As a former bride myself, I remember how awkward it was for my husband and me to get comfortable in front of the camera during our engagement session and at our wedding. Posing felt completely unnatural. As much as we loved our wedding photographers, we really just wanted a beer because *this* was stressful!
I try to remind myself from time to time just how strange and nerve wrecking it feels to be a "model" for a photographer. Listening to their directions about the ways they want you to contort your body can be challenging when you're not used to it. As a photographer, it's sometimes challenging when we're directing our models, and well, they're just not getting it (which is totally our fault, not yours!). That's why I think it's important for all photographers to get out from behind the camera and get in front of it!
A couple weeks ago a photographer friend came out to visit California with her husband, and she and I decided to get together for a photo adventure. I met her at her hotel in Los Gatos, and we ventured around the town and took portraits of each other. I'm not going to lie-- it was strange. I've had my portrait taken by professionals several times (school, engagement, wedding, boudoir, head shots, etc.), but having Agnieszka take my photo still felt really weird. I all of a sudden became very conscious of my hands and arms. I wondered if my hair was frizzy. Did the dress I decided on that morning make me look fat? I should have tanned more so my legs matched my arms. And damn these heels! I'm guessing that these are all things that you my beautiful clients, feel when having your own portraits taken, right?
It got easier, and it got fun... especially after we stopped for a glass of wine. But what this experience reminded me of was that as a photographer, i need to keep working, and working my ass off, on communication. I need to always be trying to communicate as clearly as I can exactly what I want you to do so that I can get the photo that I want. I need to not settle on "that looks alright, I guess" because I'm too afraid to put the camera down and fix whatever I'm seeing that I'm not liking. I need to make sure that you're having a great time and that you're relaxed. I need to do the same.
So for all of you photographers out there-- consider this a challenge to get in front of the lens! Find a photographer friend and trade portrait time with them. Have a little fun. it's so very important to remember how our clients feel, and consider if what we're telling our clients to do and if the experience we are providing for them needs any clarity or improvement. Chances are you're probably forgetting how your clients are feeling because you're focused on doing your job. Let's take a sec to stop that, and put ourselves in their slightly uncomfortable heels they've spent the last hour posing in. Your clients and your photos will thank you, I'm sure!
Here are some of my favorites from the portrait adventure Agnieska (WojoImage Photography) and I had. It was seriously so much fun!