Build Rapport on Your Photography Shoot With the Language of Music

Build Rapport on Your Photography Shoot With the Language of Music

At the onset of a portrait shoot it is important to come packing the usual garden variety of a few safe jokes to lighten the mood, some fail-proof poses to keep things moving, and direction for the model to play off of. It is easy to forget, with all the headspace that pours into reflecting the images from inside of our heads, towards reality, that when the time comes to start working with our subject, we are not just setting a tone visually, but also emotionally. One simple way personally for me to connect and as well bring additional personality out of a model is via the universal power of music, which has long played a predominant role in my life.

So as you would guess for my photography, music is included as a crucial spice in the overall portraiture recipe. Music whenever I can get away with it, is as much a part of the soundscape as bad jokes, beeping strobe units and repeated shutter clicks.

There are many great advantages to either having music readily available in your studio, or simply bringing it along to a remote shoot. And sure, I can small talk with the best of them, and usually before long get a proper feel for the person in front of my camera, and how their personality fits in with mine. But music gets you and your subject there quickly, as an automatic rapport builder. In this tech first day in age, there is no end to the available speaker options that easily fit in your camera bag, so there is no excuse not to stow it along. Shooting without music at this point is like starting my day without caffeine, it is of course doable but it isn’t always pretty, and I’m not nearly as good as I could be.

Take action prior to the onset of your next session. Look to set up in-studio or pack a portable Bluetooth speaker along with your trusty smartphone and find out what genres, artists, or songs your model is into. Give them control of this aspect, after all they are guests on your shoot. The models comfort level is paramount. Utilize this time to bond with your subject, work this common ground, and converse off of it. You may have lived a very different life versus the person on the other end of the lens, but there is almost always a song or artist for the two of you to quickly get on the same page over.

Rapport is everything and this simple added layer can easily elevate the shoot a couple notches from solid to outstanding. Sometimes it really is the small things that make a huge difference. Music places you and your subject at ease, and allows you both to become more natural during the shoot. These audible vibes will spark your creativity and bring out the best emotion, edge, and energy in your model.

Bonus Fstoppers cred to whomever can guess the song choice in this image.

Personally my preferred music delivery vessel of choice is the UE BOOM 2 portable Bluetooth speaker, which for me checks all the boxes being portable with a rugged build, superb waterproofing, and quality sound adding up to a versatile speaker tailor-made for traveling with me in my camera bag. But the exact equipment isn't really important here. This is all about connection and I don't mean one paired via a Bluetooth signal.

Derrick Ruf's picture

Derrick is a portrait photographer based out of Southeastern, Pa. All in on all things photography related, but his main passion being the photographic capture of us humans via ongoing portraiture work.

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Absolutely agree, music and food, great for vibes and can set the mood for the whole session.

Absolutely David, it's all about riding those positive vibes on a shoot. Good call on the food aspect!

Great article Derrick. I totally agree. It always amazes me how a few tunes can totally change the vibe of a shoot.

Thank you Julian, agreed music is a powerful ally!

Just an added comment on this that it needs to the the RIGHT music. Music that someone connects with will help break down the wall and build rapport, but the opposite will also be true, too.

With a bluetooth speaker, your subject can play their own music from their smartphone. The only word of caution against letting your subject use their favourite music is that their choice in music may not always be suitable for the overall mood of the shoot.

True. The photographer must maintain control of the shoot to get what they need out of it for their client.

Absolutely, being a good director and communicator is half of it

Great article man

Thanks Gabrielle, much appreciated!

Music is everythinggggg!!