Letting Your Walls Crumble
I hear this from almost every client before their session: "I'm so bad at getting my photos taken. I can't do that 'sexy' face thing." And I giggle. It's not a 'sexy' face thing, I tell them; it's a connection with the lens. That usually elicits a wee bit of confusion because...really...how does one connect with a lens?? Well, for some it's no easy task. For others, they just slip right into being that woman they came there to be. So let me explain to you how to do just that.
But before I dig into that, would you like to know what is one of the most interesting things I've learned? The women that come into my studio for a session for no one other than themselves seem to have an easier time with it. I think because they are so excited to treat themselves to something that will challenge them a bit and get them outside of their comfort zone. But I think the real reason is that there is no one to please but themselves with the outcome. The pressures off. They're there to have a good time. A party for 1. Don't underestimate how much it means to take care of yourself and treat yourself to life's luxuries when you want to and only for you. It's quite empowering and that's exactly what those women strutted into my studio with: confidence and power. No nerves, no concern with what he'll like, what outfits he would want, what photos he would like best. The only reaction to be concerned with is her own. I love that.
That's certainly not to say that you won't get good photos if you're there for your soon-to-be-husband or any kind of significant other. I promise you that you will be happy with the timeless art you envisioned; I'm just saying that when there is no one to please but yourself, the pressure just fades away, leaving a woman that's ready to challenge herself, for herself. And these concepts are not mutually exclusive; I have a lot of women that fit both of those types: she's here for her, but she plans to allow him to enjoy the fruits of her fun.
That's a win/win!
So, let's get down to it. How do you get that connection you need to get the photos you want? It's a simple concept that you have to let sink in, accept and let go.
Vulnerability. That's it. That's the whole of it. Easier said than done so let me go a bit more in-depth.
Vulnerability is allowing yourself to let those walls of comfort and security crumble down so that your inner rawness of the real you can be let out to play for a bit. Honestly, in my studio it's a bit of role-playing and acting all mixed in with your own raw bits and personality. And that recipe results in a sort of fearlessness and abandonment of shyness and embarrassment during your session.
It's all of that and a huge heaping bucket full of trust from you to me. That's a big thing to ask of a woman, you see. We have worked years at putting up walls of strength, independence and our own teflon brand of bravado. I wish we all lived in a world where we had the gumption to be superbly vulnerable all of the time, but we don't or my job would be a whole lot easier.
What I ask every client to do when our session begins is listen to me, trust me and do what I say, let your walls down and allow yourself to step into the role of that part of yourself that wants to be photographed. It is very important to note that the only clients I have to really push push push hard during their sessions are the ones that cannot let their walls down. They resist it and as such are resisting me. The truth is, they are too focused on feeling silly, rather than being focused on engaging emotionally with me and trusting that I am leading them somewhere that is safe, fun, soulful and artful.
You can't feel silly in front of me. First of all, I've been a photographer for 12 years and this is what I do. I wouldn't ask you to do something that was going to expose your emotions in a negative way to anyone. This isn't the dream where you're at school and you realize you're walking down the hall with only your underwear on. I've done this time and time and time again. You went looking online for a photographer whose work speaks to you and you found me. Because of my experience I get what I need out of my clients and I do over and over and over again. It works. I'm doing something right. Trust me.
Second, and so importantly, I do this with you. I don't ask you to do anything I don't do with you or show you ahead of time. I am your mirror. I show you what emotion I want on your face by first showing it on mine. I use my body to show you poses and I touch my body so you know how to touch yours. So I don't put you in the spotlight for entertainment. I don't put you in the spotlight at all. You and I work together combining our superpowers to get you to engage and bring forth that confident, non-apologetic powerhouse that you are. And don't tell me you can't do it. Just about every woman on my blog said that and you see the result of that statement. Yes. You. Can. You can either make it easy or hard on yourself. The quicker you trust me and realize I got your back, the quicker you can start to enjoy your session and have confidence in the photographs we are creating together. Now, doesn't that sound nice?
Lastly, I'll leave you with this: did you know that even Kate Moss needs a built character for her to become for all of her shoots? That's right. I read that she needs someone to create a character that she can embody for each of her shoots so that she can step out of her shoes and into the shoes of another to become her. That's brilliant.