Kayla Coleman’s Guide to Capturing Candid Happiness

Kayla Coleman, the professional photographer behind Kayla Coleman Photography, shares her tips on how to capture candid and natural joy when photographing clients, including families, couples, and individuals. After this list, you won’t have to ask anybody to say “cheese” ever again.


1. Establish a connection with your client!


It is so important to ask questions of a client that you would ask a new friend. Each email or inquiry I receive, I ask them the basics: “What are some of your favorite shows and movies?” or “What would you do on a perfect day?” With couples, I ask what three things they love most about each other and get a list of a few of their favorite songs.


Kayla Coleman Photography


2. Use that connection to plan for photos!


In my return email, I first make a comment on each of their answers. For example, comments like “YES!! ‘The Office’ is my all-time favorite, too!” or “I haven’t seen this movie, sounds awesome! I will add it to my list!” let them know I care.


After this, I refer back to their “perfect day” and ask if we could create that, or something similar, for their photos. Activities like going to brunch, sleeping in, going on a hike, ballroom dancing, anything that they love to do are great. Along with this, I offer the idea to bring along a playlist of some of their favorite music to play during our session!


Kayla Coleman Photography


3. Schedule something awesome!


If they mention a location or activity, start looking for ways to make it happen! This includes contacting a restaurant to ask about shooting there or opt for scheduling for a session at the clients home (my personal favorite). If the client is stumped on where to shoot, a great tool I use to find a perfect location is shothotspot.com.


Kayla Coleman Photography


4. Make it a sweet, memorable day by offering direction!


When a person is in their element, they are a million times more likely to relax, smile (the non-fake kind), and laugh in front of the camera. There are very few occasions that I have to ask someone to simply smile for the camera. For couples and families, I love to play little games and direct them to do fun activities to help them forget the camera is even there!


Something you can do for a family is ask them who the best singer is and have them sing a song to the rest of the group or you can check with the parents first and see if they’ll allow the kids to jump on their bed to strike cool poses! With couples you can ask them to dance, shout, and play games, including the “laughing game” to see who can make the other laugh first or “kissing tag” to get them to run around a bit.


Kayla Coleman Photography


5. Thank them for being awesome and keep in touch!


This one is the easy part. Be sure to ALWAYS thank your client for giving you a little peek into their lives, let them know how excited you are about their photos, and when to expect them. Open the lines of communication after the session and when delivering images. This, along with everything else you do, is why they’ll keep coming back to you for their photo needs.


Kayla Coleman Photography


About the Author


Kayla Coleman Photography


Kayla Coleman is a destination wedding and portrait photographer based in Durham, North Carolina. Beginning in 2016, Kayla plans to continue to grow her business while expanding to provide educational resources and workshops to fellow photographers. Check out more of her incredible work here.