How to Relax a Nervous Boudoir Client

How to Relax a Nervous Boudoir Client

How to Relax a Nervous Boudoir Client with Shannon K Dougherty

You hear the notification from your email and… Yes! You have a new booking for your studio. You encourage your potential client into an actual paying Boudoir client… Now, how do you take a client that’s nervous and relax them for their badass session?

Before the Photoshoot: Phone Call and Emails

If you’re a photographer who is too afraid to get on the phone with your clients, I recommend you change that right now. I might be in the minority when I say I love to get on the phone with my Boudoir client before their photoshoot. Why do I love this? It’s a time to really get to know them. I can understand who they are before they even step in front of my camera. This is when I can introduce myself, get to know their life, and go over what they need to know for their photoshoot. They get to hear that I am a real person on the other end of the phone, and the same for me. I find this especially important from a safety protocol as well (for myself and the client).

I have personally had a lot of success when I’ve talked to a Boudoir client beforehand versus not having the chance. I know, I know… Who wants to chat on the phone when we can text, email, and send Facebook messages? I will keep preaching to get your clients on the phone. Seriously, take 15 minutes to chat. It will make them more excited. Take the time to make a phone script before your calls. This doesn’t have to be a different script per client, but make sure you are connecting with them on a personal level. Don’t just sit on the phone reading robotically from a piece of paper.

After I get them on the phone for their initial call, I like to follow up with an email about a week before their photoshoot. This is a check-in to see how they’re doing as they prepare for their shoot, asking if they have any questions or concerns, and really just keeping them excited. I like to know why they want to come in for this experience and relate to their viewpoint. This helps me tailor their photoshoot experience to them and their needs. The shoot should be a collaboration more than a just a service and provider relationship.

Again, communication is so important with your client, even before their photoshoot. We all want an excited client to walk through our door knowing what they are about to experience will be fun, relaxed, and empowering for them. Help take the pressure off and ease their anxiety by letting them know you’ve got an amazing photoshoot planned.

When the Client Arrives

It’s now the day of the photoshoot. The Boudoir client arrives excited, but they are nervous as hell! Many of my clients bring their own wardrobe, so I’ll have them lay out what they brought so we can have a chat about it. I like to ask them, “Which of the wardrobe items you brought today make you feel your best and sexiest?” (Also, I always ask them to try on what they want to bring before their shoot so they can better answer this question.) At this time, I pull out some of the studio wardrobe I think would be amazing pieces to add into their wardrobe for the day. Who doesn’t want to play dress-up in the studio wardrobe?!

When the Boudoir client is in the hair and makeup chair, I offer them a snack or something to drink, such as coffee or tea. I don’t offer alcohol to my clients anymore. I did in the past but found I want them to be fully attentive in their session. Find out what works best for you!

I sit with my client when they are getting their hair and makeup done. It’s important I keep conversation going. This is light and fun conversation at this time (no crying and messing up mascara!). I take this time to go over how the photoshoot flow and process will be for the day.

During the Photoshoot

Most of us have probably had a nervous client in front of our camera. This is a bit trickier when your client has an intimate photoshoot. How can you relax them?

To start, I ask if the temperature in the room is okay for them. If the client has a playlist that will help them relax and have fun, LET’S PLAY IT AND DANCE!

One thing I mention throughout the whole shoot is this session is all to their comfort level. They don’t have to do anything that feels uncomfortable, such as certain poses or nudity. NEVER PRESSURE YOUR CLIENT. I keep this communication going the whole time and constantly check in with the client to make sure they are okay with a pose. I will show them the poses as well. Normally, at this time we have a big laugh as I try to show them a sensual pose or expression and completely fail at it. It’s a wonderful icebreaker. Also, I let them know to never hesitate to speak up if they need a break at any point.

Your client might have some anxiety over how they are doing during their photoshoot. I definitely see this come up more in boudoir/intimate sessions than any other type of photoshoot. Sometimes I will show my client the back of the camera on some shots throughout their session. It’s a confidence booster for some. For others, not as much. So, always check with the client to see if they want to see the back of the camera. Not everyone does! Some like the surprise later and some just still have the rush of anxiety and need to focus. If they are doing a great job, I want them to know the magic we are creating! It’s a huge mood booster and motivator for them. Feedback at this point is so valuable.

I am big on directing my client beyond just posing. I have a conversation before and during the photoshoot on breathing. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had a client hold their breath during their shoot then get dizzy! I have them do a few relaxation breathing exercises with me to start. This not only calms nerves but can help facial expressions when shooting. Breathe in through the mouth softy, then out softly. Start slow with shooting then pick up the pace when needed. Remember, most clients aren’t used to big flashes and rapid-fire shutter clicks, so this can feel intimidating. Let them ease into it.

I’ve had clients come in for a variety of reasons, but often it’s for a confidence boost for themselves. Sometimes they are dealing with major life changes and want to document this new journey. If they want to cry, I let them. I sit with them and chat it out. It’s important to remember that this photoshoot is more than just pretty photos. This is special and a vulnerable moment for them (for better or worse). Take the time to have that connection with your client. This will bring trust into your session.

After the Photoshoot

Once we are wrapped for the day, I do another check-in and ask how they are feeling. I like to know if they had the experience they wanted for the day. If there was anything missing, I like to rectify that in whatever way I can (do a few extra shots, go over concerns they have, whatever it may be). I am keeping their trust in giving them an empowering session.

I always thank my client again for coming, for trusting me with photographing their session, and I let them know I can’t wait to share their images with them in their image reveal.

It’s important to remember that this is a significant moment for your client. They took the time to find you and trust YOU to photograph them in a way that maybe they have never been seen.

We spend so much of our time photographing that I think we sometimes forget what the other side of the camera feels like. These moments and this experience can be life-changing for people. Always take the time to check with your client on how they are feeling. Take the time to talk to them about concerns or questions. Be open to the vulnerability of what a boudoir/intimate session means for your client and I promise the photoshoot will be so empowering!

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To read the full article, launch the digital version of the September 2020 magazine.

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