We’ve all been there. That place where you’re photographing and you suddenly see the perfect photo in your minds eye. Your heart beats a little faster. You smile a bit. Then that little nagging “if only…” phrase creeps in. “If only I could get to that spot over there past that sign”, “If only those people weren’t in the background”, “if only my clients would be cool enough to do that pose.”
Stop Holding Back
If you find that phrase or phrases like it creeping into your mind at any point in time I want you to stop everything you’re doing. Why are you putting up your own barriers? Limits hold you back. Really, what’s stopping you from getting the shot you really want? All you have to do is ask.
Go to the management of a location and tell you have an awesome photo idea from a certain spot and ask if they would mind you going there. Chances are, they’ll say yes. Walk over to the group of people that are totally screwing up your background and kindly ask them if they mind moving for just a minute so you can grab this killer photo. Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to oblige. When it comes to clients, don’t doubt them. Don’t make their decisions for them. Ask them if they mind walking through that mud puddle, or out into that part of the woods, or climbing up on that bit of fence. They hired you because they believed in your photography and if you’re seeing something that could be stellar, let them know! I will bet you 99 of 100 times they will say yes.
Some Things I’ve Learned
Just to share a little about my success with just asking, here are a few case studies of my own:
A Bride in Chaos
It was less than 15 minutes until the ceremony. Things were a tad chaotic. I saw the bride getting overwhelmed at about the same time I spotted this gorgeous window light on this marble staircase. Generally I leave my couples alone just before the wedding so that they can focus on what’s most important about the day, however, I didn’t want to give up that light. I also thought that perhaps the bride would like to step away from the chaotic room for a bit. I asked her if she had a minute for me to get a gorgeous portrait of her in the stairwell and she took one look around the room and said “sure”!
So we went and I took several of her going up, down, standing and I was so bummed. I just didn’t get what I wanted to get. It was getting very close to ceremony time and I was about to give up but I decided to ask “do you mind if we do ONE more take coming down the stairs?” I fully expected her to say no, but she didn’t and it turned out to be JUST the take I needed to get this shot that I love.
A Time to Move
This photo had the obstacle of location. Ever been to one of those places that is just gorgeous yet there aren’t a lot of easy or obvious places to shoot? Yeah. That was this place. There was, however, an amazing spot up in the woods that had been cleared out and mulched. The setting sun was hitting the fall leaves in epic fashion and I knew that’s where the photos had to be. Trouble was, the bride’s dress was exceptionally exquisite and delicate. She had a long veil (a.k.a. the branch and leaf picker-upper that easily tears) and she had ridiculously expensive shoes that in addition to being super high heels, had the potential for getting royally messed up on the steep trek uphill over branches, roots, logs, and foliage. I had a choice; give up the perfect photo or open my mouth and ask her if she was willing to tackle the obstacles. Obviously, she said yes, and I was totally thrilled. I got a large series of images up at that spot that are just gorgeous.
Take a Chance
This next photo was an engagement photo session. The couple wanted a relaxed, country feel and I spotted an area of straw. I wanted to feature the straw but couldn’t figure out how to effectively do that without shooting down on it. Then I thought why not? I asked my clients if they were down for laying in the straw. Admittedly, they did look at me pretty funny at first but they did say yes and I got this shot that I adore. Then we picked straw off both of them for a good 15 minutes. It was worth it!
This engagement photo highlights another example of awesomeness that can happen when you just ask. We were on a farm and had meandered into this old hayloft. I noted how the setting sun coming through the slats was warm and romantic and I loved the hay rolls piled high. The problem was, they were about 8 feet in diameter on the lower level. Getting on top was going to be tricky. Plus, like the straw in the last photo, hay can be prickly or dirty, and can be a bear to get all the bits off clothing. Nevertheless, I asked my clients what they thought about getting up there. To my surprise they jumped at the chance. They even initiated looking around to find something to give them a boost climbing up!
Try a Different Spot
This next wedding photo was taken at Foamhenge. That’s right. The exact Styrofoam replica of Stonehenge, only in southern Virginia. My clients were getting married at the Natural Bridge about a half mile down the road. Natural bridge is awesome, but, like any tourist spot, there were definite people to contend with in a small gorge where they really had no where to go even if I did ask them to move for a moment.
I knew my clients had chosen the area for a reason so I decided to ask if they wanted to hop in the car and go take some stuff at Foamhenge. It’d be so different than any wedding photos you’ve seen! It’s just up the road we can be there, take photos, and be back within half an hour. It took a teeny bit of persuading but they very quickly agreed and we went. Later they said the photos there were some of their favorite of the day and I couldn’t agree more!
So next time you’re feeling stuck and your brain is bombarding you with excuses, tell them all to be quiet! You have a voice. Use it to ask. The worst that can happen is someone says “no” and you move on but I’ll bet you that will happen far less than people saying “yes”. Go ahead and try it!
Lisa is a D.C. area based wedding & boudoir photographer. Follow her on & check out her website.