When doing portraits, unless your intent is for everything to be serious, there will be times when you may need to help relax your clients. Everyone is concerned about how they look as in hair, makeup, clothing, their smile, an old scar, etc. and as the photographer your job is to do your best to reassure them so that the shoot goes well for everyone.
That’s when interacting more with your clients other than telling them how to pose comes into play. I never go right up and try to adjust an errant bit of clothing. I always ask them if I may help move a strap or whatever in order to make the outfit lay better before I touch or I tell them how to adjust what they are wearing. The same applies with hair.
If someone is shy about smiling don’t force the issue. I take the photos as they wish to “smile” but slowly I begin to inject into our conversation little jokes or mention things that I feel are a good memory for them in the hopes of getting them to feel more comfortable. I complimented the couple here during one pose by saying that they looked so in love looking at each other like that which helped them to relax and let their emotions and smiles shine through; always a good thing for portraits.
Continuing to just have a normal conversation (I’m glad the weather cooperated today or notice how nobody shows up in an area until we’re ready to shoot there) with your clients throughout the shoot also helps the session go smoother and sometimes opens the way to great candid and unplanned shots. In the case of this image, there was a lot of laughing when the father to be mentioned how heavy the pumpkin was.