I don’t know about you, but I always feel anxiety before a photo session. It is a strange feeling because on one hand I love photography and I am happy about booking photo sessions. On the other hand I suffer because all kind of fears come to me: Am I going to do it well? Is the client/model going to be happy with my photos? Maybe I am not good enough! OMG!! Sometimes I feel like I am boycotting myself. Luckily my passion for photography is stronger than my fears and for that reason I looked for strategies that help me to handle my pre-photo session anxiety.
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There might be photographers over there that are able to do great photo session without or just a little of preparation. Not me. I know that if I don’t prepare the photo session in advance my anxiety will be unbearable and I won’t perform well as a photographer when the moment of shooting arrives. I found than investing some time preparing the photo session makes me feel much more confident and in consequence my anxiety diminish. The first time I prepared a photo session took me a lot of time. But then I developed a protocol and now I enjoy getting ready for a photo shoot and doesn’t take me so long. You can have a look to my How-To Guide on Organizing a Portrait Photo Session to check how I prepare everything and get some inspiration.
I always recommend working on the poses before the photo session. You can create a list of poses and have it with you in the photo session (printed or in your phone/tablet). Put first in the list the must-have photos. This is a great strategy to reduce anxiety because you won’t need to be all the time thinking if you took all the important photos or if you forgot something. You just do the important photos at he beginning and then you can relax and be creative.
Yes, we all make mistakes, even the super pro. Understanding this simple statement was difficult for me. I don’t like making mistakes. Especially if my clients are involve on them. Just thinking about the possible consequences of our mistakes might paralyze us and make us fell self-conscious. This feelings won’t help when you are with your client/model and you need to direct them and look professional. They will notice you don’t trust on yourself and they will feel uncomfortable about it. I needed to meditate a lot about mistakes. I finally understood that the best thing I can do in order to develop myself as a photographer is trying to do always my best (because my clients deserve it) and if a mistake happens, solve it with a professional attitude and learn from it. Mistakes will happen and they will be hard and painful. However, they are a natural part of any learning process. The important thing is that you learn from them and don’t repeat them again. Mistakes can help you to growth as a photographer and as a professional. Accepting this was a big step for me.
I do all the photo session preparations enough time in advance to be able to relax a little. I know we are all busy. But I have found myself preparing my equipment for a morning photo session in the middle of the night and believe me…. This didn’t help me to diminish my anxiety at all. Since then I arrange my schedule in order to have my equipment ready early enough to be able to relax doing some kind of activity I like. Personally, I like doing yoga, meditation, running or going for a hike. But this depends on your taste. Maybe you prefer reading or meeting with a friend. It is up to you! But take this relaxing time seriously enough to include it in your schedule. It will help you to recharge your energy and clear your mind. You will handle the photo session with a more positive attitude and much less anxiety.
Don’t misunderstand me. I love going out for a beer or a wine with my friends. But the night before the photo session I prefer drinking something alcohol-free just because I want to make sure that I won’t have any headache in the photo session. I also try to eat healthy because if I eat heavy food that is hard to digest I usually don’t sleep well and next day I feel deadly tired. If you are like me, the day before the photo session eat something light and drink alcohol-free beverages. You will notice that you wake up in a good mood and with energy to handle any photo session
This advice goes in the same than the previous one: if you don’t sleep enough hours you won’t have enough energy to deal with all the little problems that a photo session might have. In fact these little problems will look like huge problems because you will feel too tired to solve them. Make sure to sleep enough hours and be rested for the photo session.
If at any point during the photo session you start to feel too anxious and you start breathing to fast, try to slow down. Take a 5 minutes break in the photo session, go to a calmer place and breathe deeply. Breathing exercises (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4386/A-Simple-Breathing-Exercise-to-Calm-Your-Mind-Body.html) can calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety.
Are you also feeling this photographer’s anxiety before a photo session? Do you have a technic to handle it? Feel free to tell me about your strategy or anything else in the comments below. Have a happy photo session!!