Creating a safe space.
Creating trust doesn't stop once you get to the session, it's the most important part! Just because your clients have gotten to this point with you, doesn't mean they have any idea what to do in front of the camera (remember, they are trusting you to continue guiding them through this process). Everything I do during a session is aimed at creating more, and more, and more trust - until hopefully we all walk away from the session feeling like friends.
The most important thing is not telling someone to be themselves (because how easy is it to be yourself with a complete and total stranger); but by showing them it's safe to be themselves.
How do you do that, exactly? For me, it's all about giving them lots of direction, speaking with confidence and being myself. At the start of every session (or wedding) I take my time at the stat to just chat, so my clients can get to know me, I set expectations, and give them tips and tricks to help them feel confident wen i finally bring my camera out. Setting expectations is the *most* important thing, because when you set expectations it takes the uncertainty away (the uncertainty of not knowing where to look, where to stand, what to do etc).
As we go, I crack lame jokes, and trip over things (unintentionally, but it helps), I get down on the kiddos level and I ask them to break my hand with their hardest high fives and I tickle them and ask them silly questions; basically I'm inviting them to be themselves, and to be silly and playful WITH me, instead of FOR me. By sharing my personality first, I’m showing them it’s okay to share their personality with me.
During the session, I will also give them lots of feedback and ask them to make small adjustments to the way they are standing, and things they can do to avoid double chins etc. By giving them feedback, and showing them photos as we go, the more they trust me (and the more they relax).