Kierstin Jones on posing.

Oh Shoot! Podcast #122 Kierstin Jones on Posing Photography Clients


In episode #122 of Oh Shoot! podcast, Cassidy Lynne and Kierstin Jones discuss strategies and ideas for posing your photography clients in a way that makes them the most comfortable. 

Listen to the full podcast on Spotify or watch the episode on YouTube

How Kierstin Got Started in Photography

Kierstin Jones is a photographer and photography educator based in Utah and she’s been doing photography for 12 years now. In high school, she took photography classes and realized she loved it. After high school, she started dental assisting school and didn’t enjoy that. She had an opportunity to do an internship with a photographer and then decided photography was the path she was going for. From there she worked part-time as a hostess for a Mexican restaurant and was doing photography on the side. She was mostly booking sessions due to word of mouth and people she knew. After four years of doing part-time hostessing and part-time photography, she reached a point where she felt busy enough with photography to go full-time. 

After going full-time she decided she wanted to start traveling for photography, so she started advertising it and after two years or so her business snowballed from there. She went from doing mostly shoots in Utah to doing mostly shoots out of Utah.

Kierstin’s Approach to Posing Clients 

Kierstin always goes into a shoot just wanting her clients to have fun and to leave the shoot saying, “Wow I didn’t expect it to be that fun”. She also wants the photos to feel light, happy and romantic. Going into a shoot with that mindset helps her get through and achieve the goal. 

  • Make clients feel comfortable by chatting with them and complimenting them. 
  • Keep their focus on each other so they’re not so aware of the camera. 
  • Continue moving through poses. 

Favorite Poses 

Anything with Movement

Kierstin’s favorite poses are anything with movement and anything that generates laughter such as running in circles, bumping into each other, rolling on the ground, and swapping hands. With swapping hands, the couple is holding hands in the middle and the girl runs out in front of the guy and they switch hands or vice versa. 

Dodging Kisses

One of her favorites is to have the couple face each other with the girl’s arms up around the guy’s shoulders. He’s nuzzling into her neck or he’s kissing her and she’s dodging the kisses. Some people do it so big like they’re gonna fall over. Other people do little pecks and it’s cute and romantic. It gives a lot of variety.

Remembering Poses

Kierstin goes into shoots knowing she wants not only close-ups and far-away photos, but also running, sitting, walking, standing, and playful ones. From there she has ideas under all of those sections of poses. She also says having realistic expectations and just going with the flow and enjoying what they give you is important too. 

Posing Lessons 

When it comes to posing, some of the lessons Kierstin has learned are: 

  • Constantly looking at screenshots from Pinterest during a shoot removes you from the moment.  
  • Being confident with your posing is a good thing. When you’re confident, your clients will feel comfortable too. 
  • There aren’t any rules with posing. You get to do what you want to do and how you want to do it.

Making Clients Comfortable

To make clients feel comfortable Kierstin recommends: 

  • Give clients constant affirmation and compliments. Make them feel that what they’re doing is right. 
  • Even if a pose didn’t turn out, just move on to the next one. 
  • Talk to your clients while walking to different spots and ask questions about their life. 
  • Keep their focus on each other during poses. 

Before Session Prep

For Kierstin, including clients in the conversation about outfits and locations is huge. She guides them with what colors and locations look best with her editing style. She also has her clients create a Pinterest board of what they want out of their shoot. Whether it’s posing, the location, or the vibe, it’s helpful for her to see. That way they’re not going into a session with their ideas not lining up. 

Most of Kierstin’s clients are coming to her because of how they see her work, so she doesn’t really struggle with people expecting to receive their exact Pinterest board. She does make her clients aware that she will try to follow it, but will also be in the moment and most of those shots happen anyway.

How to Pose Awkward Clients

There are only a few stand-out times when Kierstin dealt with awkward clients. In those cases, she just takes it a little slower than with others. She might start with poses where they’re more smiling at the camera. She’s slowing warming them up to work into those faster-moving and playful poses. Sometimes it could take 10 minutes or sometimes a half hour. Sometimes people don’t open up and that’s okay. You get a vibe for who they are and then base your posing on that. 

With certain people she wouldn’t do a lot of playful poses because they’re more serious. Some people are really comfortable with taking photos and others aren’t. You can make them feel comfortable to an extent but you can’t create something unrealistic. It takes not only you, but they have to be willing to give also. 

Even with posing and using the same pose over and over like with shy couples or very out-there couples, you’re getting such a variety in what they give you. That’s what’s fun about it. That’s why you can repeat poses so often because the way the people deliver that pose is so different. So even if it’s an awkward couple and they aren’t doing it how you love to see it, that’s okay because that’s them.

Realities of Traveling as a Photographer 

Work-life balance has been really hard for Kierstin because she’s a “yes man” and wants to say yes to everything which is good and bad. It’s a good way to build a good base of clients by doing a lot of shoots and it creates a web of clients for yourself. At one point, it was really helpful for her to be that busy because she didn’t have anything else going now. 

It eventually started to take a toll because she loves time with her family and was missing things due to going out of town. She also loves the gym and having a routine and that was non-existent. 

After four years of a lot of travel, she got to a point where she didn’t want to travel so much for sessions and wanted to be home more. For those four to five years there would be weeks where she’d travel three places in a week. One example is she had a wedding in New York. Then went to Yosemite for an engagement session. Then she went to Puerto Vallarta for a wedding. 

Eventually, she got burnt out and she says you have to learn somehow.  It forced her to decide what she wanted and what’s important to her. Kierstin says, ultimately you have to be happy with yourself and your lifestyle before you can give your best self to your clients. So she adjusted how she envisioned her work and life going. 

Those years of traveling constantly were incredible for Kierstin. It was  amazing to go, go, go and see all those amazing places. However, on Instagram people are only seeing the good. They’re not seeing what it does to someone’s personal life. She just knew she needed to make a change.

Approach to Work Life Balance

At the beginning of each year, Kierstin plans out her whole year as far as shoots go. For example, she’ll plan to do 3 sessions per week and 1-2 weddings a month. Depending on where those are, she adjusts. 

With travel sessions and weddings, she asks herself, “Do I really want to go there? Is it worth my time? Is it worth my time to be gone three full days? Or could I book a similar wedding in Utah instead?”. 

Ultimately, Kierstin decided that she was going to focus more on families for a while because that keeps her local to Utah with less traveling. When she gets sessions or wedding at places she really wants to go and it seems like a good opportunity, then she’ll go. She had a good four years of traveling and loved it so much, but then just adjusted how she did things!

Thanks Kierstin for coming on the Oh Shoot podcast!

Show Notes

You can follow Kierstin Here:

Instagram: @kierstinjones

Check out Kierstin’s Posing Course!

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