For many people, having their picture taken can be every bit as terrifying as public speaking. Sometimes even more so. Other people look great in pictures and they know it. They preen in front of the camera like they were born to be there. Both of these extremes can be equally detrimental in getting realistic, natural looking photos that genuinely present your clients in their best light. One of the most important skills any professional photographer can master is learning how to put people at ease: to neither be afraid of the camera, nor feel the need to pose like a Parisian high fashion model.

Here are 3 tips for helping put clients at ease:

1. Relax

Part of putting clients at ease involves giving them the impression that they are in calm, cool, capable hands. This may be your first professional shoot or your first shoot involving children, pets, large animals or chunky or curvy men and women but they don’t need to know that. In fact, they shouldn’t. If you seem nervous, uptight or tense, they will consciously or unconsciously become nervous, uptight or tense. Remember, you are the professional, so act like it – but also keep in mind being professional doesn’t mean being cold, distant or rigid.

2. Have fun

I am hoping that you are a photographer because you enjoy being a photographer, so act like it. While you don’t have to engage in “tricks” like telling a corny one-liner to get a subject to smile, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell jokes and use humor to keep the mood and tone light. To that end, however, be yourself. If you wouldn’t be the next Jack Black if you weren’t a photographer, don’t try and act like it. Maybe your style is more Jessica Day than Melissa McCarthy and that’s totally okay too. If you relax, have fun and enjoy yourself, then there’s a really good chance your models will too.

3. Watch your words and expressions

Be careful when you look at the LCD – or them – be careful of frowning or saying “oops” or “well, that sucks.” Hopefully, it’s your own work you are talking about and not them, but they don’t know that. You wouldn’t want someone to be looking at your portfolio and suddenly realize they forgot to call someone and exclaim “oh, that sucks!” Don’t do it to your models.