On Anxious Clients

Bartram's Garden, engagement

I work with a lot of clients who let me know that they live with anxiety. It’s always been important to me that I acknowledge this piece in my work, which is why it’s mentioned on my home page.

Anxiety can manifest in vastly different ways. Mine affects my photo sessions every single time. No amount of breathing exercises or calming playlists can change the fact that I have extreme anxiety.

I’m writing this on a Friday, when my anxiety is typically at a weekly high leading up to my weekend work. I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I still get the same amount of anxiety before a photo session. It doesn’t matter how charged my batteries are or what I nourish myself with day-of.

Usually my anxiety looks like increased irritability around my family leading up to leaving. Scouting out parking with Google Street View or reserving a garage in advance. Excessively worrying myself with “what if” scenarios like, “What if I get a flat tire?” or “What if all of my gear stops working?” Arriving at locations an hour early. Over apologizing. Feeling my heart rate accelerating and my face flushing. I’ve had a panic attack behind my mask during family formals. No one realized it, but I was able to bring myself out of it by repeating a grounding technique in my head.

Once I’m working, my anxious thoughts usually slip away so I can focus on validating clients. Giving them space to take breaks to breathe if needed. Listening. Hydrating. Letting them lead the way, or taking the lead, depending on which helps most. For some, I give a lot of direction in posing. With others, posing might make anxiety worse, so we focus on movement and keeping things as organic as possible.

I approach my sessions differently every time because we’re all unique. I’m so grateful to those clients who have opened up about their anxiety. It means a lot that you let me in so we can work through it together.

For Derick and Joanie’s session, my anxiety-reducing method was to keep us in movement at Bartram’s Garden. We covered a lot of ground in an hour, which can be a helpful coping technique sometimes.

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