Now that the holidays are over, I’m so thrilled to bring back our weekly Editor’s Notes column. Today we’re welcoming Jasmine Star, a very special guest who is chiming in with helpful tips to improve your work for the editor’s eye. If you’ve ever been to Jasmine’s site, heard her speak, or chatted with her in person, you know Jasmine has a knack for making friends with pretty much anyone she meets. She utilizes her glittering personality along with a really great bag of tricks to help make her clients comfortable and ready for the camera. Her advice is not only helpful for photographers, but also for brides who want to look their best for the camera, whether or not modeling experience is on the resume. Let’s give a very warm welcome and special thanks to Jasmine!
1. When it comes to selecting features, editors are looking for subjects who are natural before the camera. Real weddings can be a challenge because your bride and groom are not normally professional models, and as we all know, standing in front of a camera can be nerve wracking and awkward. For starters, what are some things you do to prep your couple before they ever get in front of your lens?
The first time I interact with a couple is at their engagement session. However, my preparations begin before this point, as I feel it’s part of my job to make clients feel their absolute best. Before the engagement session, I email the bride and give her what I call Love Tips. These are basically a list of things to create an optimal shoot. Afterall, I want their engagement session to be awesome just as much as they do.
J* Love Tips…
1. Arrive on time. Nothing kills the vibe of a shoot than showing up late. The light changes, there’s less time, and more pressure. That’s not fun for anyone.
2. Be sure to check out the shoot location in advance. Nothing’s worse than showing up for a shoot only to realize it turned into a construction zone just a few days before. Once I heard of a photographer scheduling a shoot in Downtown Los Angeles without knowing the LA Marathon was taking place that weekend…needless to say, the shoot had to be rescheduled. Scoping out the location a couple days in advance is always advantageous.
3. Feel free to get hair and makeup done. Not only is it a great way to feel extra dolled up for the photoshoot, it can also double as the trial run for the makeup/hair artist!
4. Make sure the groom watches 2-3 engagement slideshows (I make a slideshow for every client) before the shoot. Guys are less likely to work-it in front of a camera, but if they come to the session already knowing my intention is to make them look their best (i.e. strong poses, masculine forms, etc), they’re malleable. This is only accomplished if the groom is aware of my style and my intentions in advance.
5. Feel beautiful. This probably sounds silly, but it’s true. During a session, I want my bride to feel beautiful; like the best version of herself. I let her know in advance that I want her to let her guard down and give me everything she has for an hour and a half. If she’s committed to getting beautiful photos, then so am I!
At the beginning of each shoot, I state the obvious: ”You’re probably nervous.” Once we get that into the open, it puts clients at ease. I don’t show up to a session expecting my clients to act like models…it’s my job to make them look like models.
I start each photoshoot simply by talking. No stress, no drama, no pressure. We walk, chat, and I explain what I want them to do, but–moreso–how I want them to feel. That changes everything.
3. Despite your best efforts, do you ever work with couples that are just frozen in stage fright? Do you have to work harder at some couples than others? If so, how do you go about “directing” them to be natural?
Yes. In fact, I’d venture to say most clients are frozen…but why would I expect them NOT to be? They’ve never done this before! :)
In all truthfulness, it’s a photographer’s job to, literally, give their subjects something to do. Directions, feedback, encouragement. Some of the best photographers are the best directors in my opinion. Sure, it can be difficult at times (I’ve been known to cuddle with a groom to shown the bride, precisely, what I wanted her to do), but it’s something photographers work on to make the client experience better.
No, I definitely don’t have a set of standard poses. If I did, I think the photos would begin to possess a generic quality about them. Every couple is different, so every session should be a unique reflection of their love. Some of the leading photographers create unique imagery without taking cues from others and this is a standard the industry should aspire to.
5. Editors often times notice standard poses that become a part of photographers’ repertoire—their photography can become quite stale because they rely on a very small bag of tricks. How do you keep things fresh and interesting, despite years of shooting weddings with the same elements?
The best way to keep things fresh–for me, anyway–is to let the clients dictate the pulse of the shoot. Sometimes photographers want to control every element during a session, but I’ve discovered when I take step back and let things unfold, pictures happen. Nothing forced, contrived, or packaged…just love. And, better yet, it’s love in the shape and form of two unique people, which never looks the same.
Own it. Let every worry or concern fade away and be prepared to have the best day of your life. If you feel like you’re happy, feel like you’re in love, and feel beautiful, a photographer can capture happy, lovely, and beautiful images as a true reflection of a perfect day.