As a professional photographer, you might come across clients who are awkward in front of the camera. After all, getting your photograph taken by a professional can put anyone in a vulnerable position and it can prove to be both uncomfortable and stressful. Whether you are shooting a corporate headshot, engagement photo session, or filming a stunning wedding, anyone can get stressed out under the flashing lights and cameras. It is your job as a professional photographer to put your clients at ease and diffuse these difficult situations. The goal is to get your subjects to enjoy the photography session so that they go back home feeling light-hearted and carry a memorable experience. Helping your clients relax is the first step towards a great photoshoot. From revealing quiet energy to big movement shots, awkward photography moments can be avoided by aligning your session with your client’s personality. It’s all about shooting emotion and authentic relationships between real people!

These photographer ice-breaking tips can help you capture moments that tell a story about the people behind them. These tips are useful for introverts, distracted extroverts, parents with demanding toddlers, naturally awkward clients, and anxious clients who need a bit of calming. From creating a connection with them on common ground to asking generic questions, these tips for professional photographers can help your clients relax before the photoshoot. The trick is to take your time before launching into these questions and reading the room.

Whether you are concerned about long, uncomfortable silences between shots, telling someone to pose in a more camera-friendly position, or simply not knowing what to say to your clients, there are a plethora of small details you can easily incorporate into your sessions to make everyone feel more at ease. After all, regardless of your level of experience or whether you are introverted or extroverted, your photoshoots should be enjoyable, creative, and energetic. With these professional photographer icebreaker tricks, you will be able to leave each shoot feeling connected to your subjects and confident that you captured some incredible photos.

Ice-breaking tips for photographers for a relaxed photoshoot:

Connect with your clients by asking questions.

Asking questions is a great way to break the ice with new people in any situation. Not just your clients, but anyone can connect with you through questions. Why? Because we humans have an insatiable desire to talk about ourselves. It’s just a part of who we are. So simply asking questions and being genuinely interested in their answers is a quick way to connect with clients. What is their profession? What are their favorite hobbies? What are the children’s favorite colors, games, books, and destinations? What was the couple’s first date like? What is their favorite local restaurant? Allowing the other person or people to talk and share about themselves will put them at ease, and you will be at ease as well. It’s also a quick way to learn more about people and keep the conversation going while preparing for the photoshoot.

Get your clients moving.

Getting your subjects to move around, such as running, jumping, playing games, or dancing around, not only results in great photos but also allows them to let loose. They won’t be stiff or awkward in one place in photos. Instead, they are going to feel more like themselves, as if they are just having a good time with their partner or family. That’s all there is to it. You could have them playing tag, holding hands, and trying to get the other to let go first. Piggyback rides, picking up and twirling, and running into each other’s arms are just some of the ways to get them moving.

Spend time together before the photoshoot.

It’s a good idea to spend some time together on the day of the session before you start shooting. If you are having a home session, take a walk around the house together. Show your client where you like the light or what furniture will look good in the photos while you are doing this. Take advantage of this time to speak with your clients. It will make them feel more at ease if you open up to them. Having a photographer photograph your private moments is a very personal experience. By showing your client that it’s a mutual sharing experience, they will engage much more naturally in front of the camera.

Treat them like an old friend.

Nervousness is contagious, but so is happiness and enthusiastic energy! Rather than worrying about the lighting or whether your clients will like you when you arrive for a shoot, tell yourself to treat them like old friends. Be friendly, talkative, and encouraging. You, as the photographer, are the session’s director. That means your energy influences how others feel. Your clients will feed off your nervousness if you arrive tense and jittery. Take a walk, listen to a favorite song or podcast, or repeat some uplifting affirmations to help you arrive feeling present and ready to roll.

Leave them alone after posing.

Unless your client is a professional model, they will have no idea how to stand, where to put their hands, or how to angle their face. Make sure that their weight is directed away from the camera. Distribute the weight on the leg that is the furthest from you. You know your professional photography poses. So start working with those and start distracting them by having them fix a lapel or telling their significant other (whoever they are posing with) what their favorite color or food is. When they start interacting with one another, the real photographs begin to emerge. You can try to give them as little direction as possible after that, but give them tasks to complete, such as, “Squeeze closer and pretend you like each other,” or, “Everyone give me your best fake laugh.” That’s when the real laughs come into play and you get the best photographs.

Add music to the mix.

Music adds such a cool dynamic to photoshoots, and it can forever change the way you approach professional photoshoots. Check out amazing photography playlists online. Think of it as a scene from a movie. Make your clients feel extra at ease. Consider having an upbeat playlist on hand if you are doing a lot of playful photography poses. Use a softer playlist for the more romantic poses.

Compliments and reassurance go a long way.

Never overlook the importance of reassurance and compliments! Children and adults alike enjoy hearing that they are doing a fantastic job. Express your delight at the moments you have captured. You could even show them an image from your camera’s back that you know will make their heart skip a beat. As lovely, memorable moments unfold in front of your camera, this encouragement will help the session move along smoothly. Similarly, when your clients walk into your studio or any other photography spot, genuinely compliment them and tell them that they look great. It could be their eyes, lashes, or even their shoes. This will immediately disarm them, and you will notice that they begin to act more at ease around you.

Take breaks.

Your clients can get exhausted after a couple of hours of being in front of the camera. Remember this is not something they do every day. Not only that, but they get thirsty, hungry, and out of breath from time to time while transitioning between poses. So, take a deep breath and soak in the scenery, or take a deep breath and relax. Bring some snacks with you or items that you can give them if they forget. This is especially important if you intend to photograph in remote locations.

Make them laugh

Keep the photo sessions light-hearted and fun! Assess the situation, determine how the subjects interact with one another, and then take off. You don’t need to rehearse any knock-knock jokes. Begin by making a joke about yourself or telling them about something amusing that happened to you recently. Getting your subjects to laugh not only relaxes them but also allows them to forget that you are a stranger with a camera in their face. Even if you are full of “dad jokes,” chances are people will find it amusing and ultimately it will break the tension between you and them. That’s the goal!

Give affirming directions.

It is your job as a professional photographer to make your clients look and feel their best. As a result, it’s critical to provide guidance in a way that boosts their confidence and, as a result, increases their trust in you. You don’t have to compliment them or try to flatter them all the time. Instead, you can simply mention how great the shot was or how cool the location is with the outfit they are wearing or any number of other praiseworthy things.

Some people are simply uncomfortable in front of a camera. As a professional photographer, you will deal with them all the time. You will come across people saying “I look like a deer in the headlights when a camera is pointed in my direction,” or “my smile freezes,” and “I’m unsure what to do with my hands.” But for every deer in the headlight, there’s an icebreaker trick to loosen them up. One of your most valuable tools as a photographer is the ability to make your client forget you are there and capture the emotions and feelings at that moment on your lens.

There is nothing more challenging sometimes than diffusing awkward interactions. But when you are a professional photographer, it becomes a part of your profession to deal with clients who are naturally awkward and camera shy. But the irony is, they are paying you to make them appear effortlessly beautiful in the photoshoot! These tips and tricks should lead to improved client experiences and gorgeous photos.

Join Our Community

We have more than 2000 members around the world

Join Community

Follow Us

Get the latest news and photo inspiration.