I’m so thrilled to have Cyrissa from Immerse Photography as our Guest Blogger this week! Cyrissa has really been growing her Senior Guy clientele and she was so excited to share the helpful hints that she’s been using to gain a great connection with her guys…which results in these fabulous images! Thank You Cyrissa!
If you’re a photographer, I certainly don’t have to tell you that summer is just around the corner; and, ready or not, senior season is here! Things are about to get real!
We all know, there are plenty of senior girls, but there is also this entirely different creature that we’ll encounter – the senior guy.
Let’s be honest for a second, shall we? Some of us, maybe a whole lot of us even, feel absolutely clueless when it comes to shooting guys. They don’t smile on command. They don’t twirl in fields; and, we all know those show-stopping floral headpieces are a no-go. Photographing a guy can be downright intimidating – unless you come armed with a few tricks up your sleeve!
As an elementary art teacher, I’ve learned to “read” my students. If I can meet these little ones on their level, I can usually keep their attention and help them perform their very best. The philosophy is very much the same when I’m photographing guys. Before I even pick up my camera, I take some time to get to know and read my guy. If I can mentally predict when he will be at his best, I can better plan my time and manage the flow of the session with him. Time is of the essence and every click matters with the senior guy. Once he’s lost interest, that’s it. Before I start shooting, I take some time to chat with my senior and get a read on how he’s feeling. As we’re talking, I mentally run through a series of questions that help me assess my his personality and enthusiasm.
Is he nervous or shy? If so, I’ll need some time to establish a personal connection with him before I even think about bringing the camera into the equation. Many senior guys do best if you start with a formal outfit, very structured posing, then slowly ease them into more casual attire and more organic poses towards the end of your time together. I’ll ask him questions about himself and subtly pinpoint exactly what’s making him nervous. Is it me? Is it his entourage? Sometimes moms and friends can really overwhelm these shy guys, so I will usually encourage the family to hang out somewhere nearby, but do whatever I can to give my guy the space he needs to relax and feel comfortable in front of the camera. Is there something about himself that’s making him overly self-conscious? Usually a quick chat about my editing style, “I’ll make sure to remove any blemishes or a knick from shaving,” helps put them at ease. Do whatever you can to establish that you’re here to make him look and feel his best in his images.
Is he less than interested in portraits? I actually enjoy the challenge of getting these guys to smile for me. They’re a hard sell at first, but if you can get them on your side, you’ll usually get some amazing images! Before you shoot, you’ll need to develop a rapport with him; get him talking about something that does interest him, and help him realize that hanging out with you for a while might not be so bad. With these guys, I start off more serious faces or edgier locations. While I’m getting these poses, I’m coaching him on the difference between looking mad and looking intense. It’s a fine line, so don’t be afraid to show him the back of your camera to illustrate your point! Once we’ve nailed that expression, I teach them how to give a good smirk. If I’m being totally honest, it usually involves some sort of elementary potty humor. That not only catches him off guard, but teaches him the exact smile I want. Finally, when I’ve convinced him that I’m really not that bad, I can get some smiles. The best ones usually come at the end of the session and that’s just fine with me. There are few things more rewarding than getting a text from his mom later that night, saying something like “my son said that wasn’t nearly as bad as he expected!” Translation? You’re a rock star.
Is he excited? These guys are few and far between, but working with them can be really fun! We’ll need to quickly harness that energy and get right to work! While we’re walking to our first location, I’ll ask him about his ideas; allowing him time to voice his thoughts and enabling him to burn some of that excited energy. With these guys, serious expressions are often tricky. So it’s best to start with those warm smiles and poses that will melt his mammas heart. As you’re going through your session, don’t be afraid to pause every now and then to ask him if he would like to try a specific location or pose. Sometimes they surprise you! At the end of the session, I’ll do his more formal images and try to evoke some serious expressions. While intense gazes come naturally to most guys, these social butterflies may have a hard time keeping a straight face. Have him look away from you until you’re ready to click that shutter, then call his eyes to your camera at the last moment.
Regardless of where your senior guy is on the spectrum of emotions, you have to meet him right where he is. If you can train yourself to think on your feet and modify your plans as you go, you’ll be able to more successfully capture the amazing creature that is, the senior guy.