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How to handle photographer’s anxiety before a photo session

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Sara Rodriguez Martinez
  By Sara Rodriguez Martinez
How to handle photographer’s anxiety before a photo session www.sleeklens.com

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.

Learning how to handle your photographer’s anxiety is crucial for developing yourself as an artist and professional.

Invest time on preparing the photo session

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.

Investing time preparing your photo session is a great way of reducing the photographer’s anxiety: when you know you are ready, things looks easier!

Do the must-have photos first

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.

photographer’s anxiety
I always do the must-to-do shots first. In this photo session my model needed to have photos with props (the necklace was one of them). We did first a series of photos with her props and then we moved to more creative images.

Learn from your previous mistakes

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 had a lot of mistakes along the way. Some of them are big and other small. The important thing is to learn from them. In this yoga session I didn’t put much attention to the hair of my model (Nita from Nita’s realm) and it is difficult seeing her face. This was a mistake and I learnt. Now I am always checking that the hair is ok before taking the photo.

Schedule some relaxing activity the day before the photo session

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.

Meditating is a good way to reduce anxiety.

Eat healthy and don’t drink so much

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

Eat a good amount of fresh vegetables and fruit the day before the photo session is better than eating food that is difficult to digest

Sleep enough hours

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.

Coffee can help you when you didn’t get a good sleep, but it is not the best solution because too much coffee can also increase your anxiety levels. Instead of drinking liters of coffee try to sleep enough hours the day before your photo session

Breathe

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!!

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Sara Rodriguez Martinez
I am a biologist and a self-taught photographer based in Barcelona (Catalonia). Buddhist philosophy has a strong influence on me: I have a deep appreciation to life and I give a huge value to the little things that makes our days happier. I became a passionate about photography when I got my first camera and I understood that photography allows me to express my way of approaching life. I love learning so I am always willing to trying new things. These days I am shooting mostly nature and portraits.

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