Melissa Neumann Asks What Are We Really Shooting?
So often we attend seminars where we’re told that portraiture isn’t just about camera technique and lighting, it’s about emotion. What’s often not quite so clear is where you find that emotion.
Sure, the emotion is in the expression of the clients you are photographing, but it is also in the memories the clients have of the shoot. If you can create a positive experience during the shoot that they really enjoy, then selling the photographs becomes much easier.
Melissa Neumann takes it a step further with newborn babies and their parents, but in a genuine way. The approach also works best over a number of meetings, so it begins with the maternity shoot before the baby is born. Explained Mel, “When I’m talking to the prospective parents before the shoot, or it may be during the maternity shoot before the birth, I tell them the thing I most love about newborns is their smell.” Admittedly this approach may work better for women photographers than for men!
Continued Mel, “When they return a few weeks or months later for a newborn shoot, I will set them up and take a few photographs. “Then I ask, ‘Do you remember what I said about the new baby smell’?” The parents undoubtedly smile, they bring their baby up to their noses, they hold the baby close, they look at each other, compare notes, smile, laugh and so on. “This is when I capture the emotion. I get the best expressions and some beautiful connections, and as soon as they see the images, the connection stays in their mind.
“Some of the photos will have them holding the baby up close with big smiles, sometimes their eyes are closed, but it sells every time. I swear it is only because of the connection and what has been said during the shoot.”
Melissa shoots from her home studio, but she has no qualms about packing up her gear and visiting a client’s home or location. “I’m very flexible in how I work, but of course I’m only doing two or three shoots a week and maybe a couple of 500 Club shoots, so it’s no big deal to pack everything up and drive to a location. If I were doing 15 shoots a week, then I’d need to be based in my studio.
Mel Neumann AAIPP is an AIPP National Vice President with over 20 years’ experience. She is also involved with a new venture to help photographers - take a look at www.cameralove.com.au.