January 15, 2013

Guest Blog: Sharon Elizabeth on Bringing Out Confidence

Today we are SO honored to have our good friend & past Walk Through Alum, Sharon Elizabeth, on to guest blog all about making your clients feel beautiful and bringing out their confidence. Sharon is an incredibly talented photographer, and one of her biggest talents is taking incredibly beautiful portraits of women of all shapes & sizes. So when she told me her idea for her post, I knew she was going to knock it out of the park!

I remember thinking, ‘they’re not even going to be nice… I don’t know why I’m even going to this workshop…. Hopefully I’ll learn something; I mean they do have really great work… so I guess I’ll make the trip to Charlotte…’

That 6 hour trip was the defining moment for my business. 

I met Justin and Mary at their Spread the Love and Walk through a Wedding Tour in Charlotte a few years ago…. And after about a minute of hearing Mary talk, I wanted to ninja-kick myself…. “Not going to be nice?!” Ha! Was I ever wrong! J&M are two of the sweetest and most genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They are now two very key pieces for my business… in fact, every time they offer a mentoring session… workshop…. tour…. I’m there. No questions. I’m ‘THAT’ girl! Ha! 

Not only are they incredible artists, but they’re incredible friends – and I am so grateful for that.

 Mary and I talked a little bit about what in the world I could offer as a guest blogger…. Huh!? Me?! On THE blog!?!? But after picking myself up off the floor, I knew exactly what we could chat about! 

Bringing out the confidence in your female clients…

We are all faced with feelings of insecurities and self-doubts, so seeing a woman feel beautiful is incredible. The moment she brushes the hair off her face and purses her lips with certainty…. That is the moment… even if for just a fleeting moment…that she feels beautiful. She feels certain. She feels confident.

 As photographers, I think we have that ability… we have the capacity to make a woman laugh from her belly, and flutter her eyes with affirmation…. We have the ability to help her see her true self… her beautiful self.

Here are a few of the ways that you can do this as a photographer.

1) Professional Hair and Makeup
This might be a ‘cop-out’ but when a woman puts effort into ‘looking good’, she automatically feels better about herself. Add in a professional stylist, and ‘feeling better’ about herself would be an understatement. I offer professional hair and makeup for all of my sessions, and I don’t think a session goes by where I don’t see my client cry… She’ll walk up to the mirror and tears will flood the counter… every.single.time. Hearing, “Oh my gosh… I look so incredible”… never gets old…. because deep down, we all want to feel pampered and beautiful… and we know exactly how she’s feeling.

2) Know your angles
As a photographer, we’re trained to know angles, it kind of comes with the territory… but really knowing angles that are flattering is KEY. I recommend spending some time in front of the mirror and practicing some different angles and poses; if you’re not comfortable in those poses, your client will not be comfortable in those poses. You need to be able to show your client how you want them to pose… if they see you rocking out a pose; it will give them the confidence to rock it out too. You can also look through magazines to get posing ideas! Remember to give specific ‘directions’ for posing as well. “Susie, I’m going to have you take your right hand and place it gently under your right cheek… Perfect! Now take your left foot and rest it over your right ankle…. Great! Now slightly tilt the top of your head to the right… Chin forward towards me, and down… perfect… Susie, you look incredible.” Take the picture – and show her! So now you’re not only giving her specific directions but you’re showing her immediate feedback… the rest of the session will be a piece of cake! She’s feeling ‘hot’! Whewchilllldddd

 When a client asks you, what do I do with my hands – that’s your hint… Be more specific! They won’t think you’re being bossy, trust me! They want your ‘professional’ opinion; they are putting their trust in YOU to make them look good! 

3) Pay attention to details
Women are… by nature… detail-oriented. If we have one frizzy strand of hair – we’ll likely have a melt-down. Smiles normally have to be perfect and our waists MUST look small…. It’s how we are. So keep that in mind when you’re taking pictures. Once you’ve nailed the lighting, the pose, the location…. Start looking at the details. Is her necklace straight? How does her hair look? Does she have lipstick on her teeth? (Hey, it happens) and ultimately, does she look comfortable? You almost have to turn from a photographer to a personal stylist. If you find that you’ve posed your client in a super weird pose… take the picture (knowing you probably won’t use it) and gently guide her into a more comfortable pose! If you spend time posing her, and then see it’s ‘weird’ and move her, she’ll feel very self-conscious! But, if you find the pose is exactly what you want, and she still looks a little uncomfortable, simply tell her to ‘fall into it….’ ‘Rest her shoulders…’ or you can even tell her to close her eyes and take a deep breath. Letting the woman know that she can ‘be at ease’ is so important to getting her to feel beautiful. Fixing her hair and paying attention to other tiny details will let her know that you are making sure she looks her best…. And after all, that’s our job, right!

4) And lastly, tell her
Tell her she’s beautiful… haven’t you ever wanted someone to just tell you that you look beautiful?! I think we all have… especially if you’ve just spent some time pampering yourself – you’re feeling good, and you want someone to notice! So don’t be shy – she won’t think you’re weird, I promise! In fact, she’ll probably tell all of her friends how incredible the session was and that she’s never felt more beautiful.

Remember what I said!?!? “Seeing a woman feel beautiful is incredible…” But, ya’ know what?!?! Knowing that you are the reason she feels beautiful… that you are the reason she finally sees her true self… That’s not only incredible…. It’s indescribable. 

  1. Tiffany Farley

    Amazing post. So so true!

  2. Abby Grace

    Yeeeah, Sharon! I love this post. And I love the term "fall into the pose." Totally using that from now one! And don’t worry, girl- I’ve totally become THAT person too, the one who will buy whatever J&M are selling, sign up for any workshop they’re offering, because I believe in them too :).

  3. Jennifer Warthan

    Amazing post and super-helpful tips! I specialize in families and this holds so true for ALL sessions… what mom doesn’t want to hear those things? :)

  4. katie yuen

    Love this!!!! Super helpful advice.. even though I’m a girl doesn’t mean I remember all of this when I’m photographing other lovely ladies! I will now ;)

  5. Tiffany Bolk

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and knowledge! I often feel I’m really horrible at directing people, probably because I am rather self-conscious myself. So this was helpful!

  6. Brittani Croft

    Yay Sharon! These are such great tips, and it truly shows in your images that you have such a knack for making women feel amazing. You are not only gorgeous but so funny and amazing yourself…thanks for sharing!

  7. ashley barnett

    Yay Sharon!!! Great tips!

  8. ashley link

    this is such great advice! i especially like how she guides her clients step by step on how to pose and is constantly reassuring them along the way. very encouraging and the end result looks phenomenal! love me some sharon elizabeth! :)

  9. jamie

    I LOVE this. So many great tips with amazing images. Thank you for sharing- communicating beauty is so important!

  10. JamieY

    Great advice. Thank you.

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