All images on this page courtesy of Hello Darlin Photography
Show Me Your You is a deck of pocket-sized emotive prompt cards for portrait photographers who want to take human connection to the next level.
Based on the science of human connection and the philosophy of shooting from the heart, these games, interactions and thought-provoking questions have been designed to elicit genuine expressions, tender moments and to foster deep connections.
Our cards cover three levels of intensity: from light, playful interactions (one star), through to more personal or tender interactions (two stars), and finally deeper interactions (three stars) that require strong rapport between the subject and photographer.
You'll find all three levels in the Original Deck, where the Expansion Packs focus purely on the lighter side of things.
How to use the cards
There are several ways to use Show Me Your You cards in the field or the photography studio. What's important is that you make them your own and adapt them to suit your personal style.
You'll also need to bring an element of personal preparation to the session. As nice as it would be to read out simple one liners from a card to every client and get a deep emotional reaction, that's just not how it works! Naturally, as the prompts progress into deeper levels of intensity, the prompts become longer and more detailed. They require you to internalise them somewhat ahead of time so that you can naturally lead your subjects to a safe space to explore a spectrum of emotions and connections.
Here's what we recommend for photographers who are just starting out with using the prompts:
Pre-select the ones you want to use before the shoot, based on what you already know about your subjects.
We don’t recommend that you read them straight off the cards during the session, as this could be quite jarring to the flow, or could make your client feel that you use the same things with everyone. Rather, it’s best to use the prompts as a guide during your planning of the session, and put your own spin on how you deliver them. By not reading directly off the card, you'll automatically use your own words and sound like you!
A good approach is to choose 5 or 6 prompts ahead of the session and write out a little plan for yourself with key words on one of the blank cards or a notecard. Keep this in your pocket so you can jog your memory when needed. Referring to your plan in front of your client will only enhance their perception of your professionalism. You can tell your client “I’ve put a bit of a plan together for today because I have SO many ideas for our session that I don’t want to forget anything! I’m just going to take a peek.” Always order the selected prompts from lightest to deepest, and remember that you can always have the rest of the deck as a back up in your camera bag as a safety net.
Over time you'll find that you use certain cards again and again, incorporating them into your repertoire, modifying the language and committing them to memory. And this is where it gets really fun because you'll be able to pull out the perfect prompt at the perfect moment! (I have at least 20 prompts per session type that I can reel off by heart. However, I still always make a plan for every session in case I go blank!) Best of all, even if you use your favourite prompts in every single session, it's always going to be the first time for your subjects!
Alternatively, some of our members like to photograph the cards they’ve chosen before the shoot and refer to them on the back of the camera during the session. I would do this as a backup, but personally I don't like staring at the back of the camera when I'm with my subjects, as they may interpret that I'm having technical issues or that they are not looking good in the photos.
Keep your cards in your camera bag as a photographer’s emergency pack! This way you can draw on them for inspiration if you get stuck for ideas.
Once you're feeling really confident, you might like to involve your subjects in the Show Me your You technique by getting them to pick cards from the deck at random. This can be a fun addition to the shoot, once they're really warmed up and good rapport has been established. This approach works well for the one and two star cards. However, three star cards are best used only at the discretion of the photographer, if and when you feel the subject is ready for this deeper level of emotional intensity.
As you grow more experienced with using the cards you'll be able to make them even more personal and powerful by developing your own prompts and writing them on the blank cards provided.
If we could give you just one tip it would be this: be prepared to fail sometimes! Human connection is tricky business. People are unpredictable bundles of feelings and past experiences. You will make mistakes, and you'll learn from them. But even if something falls flat or doesn't turn out how you expected, keep going, and keep growing. It's a small price to pay for all the magic you'll uncover along the way!
The Show Me Your You prompts have been tested, refined, and used with thousands of people from across the globe and they will usually work with about 90% of the population, as long as you are comfortable and confident.
Tips & Tricks
1. It's absolutely essential to always begin with level one prompts. Many shoots won't even need to go any deeper than this. Only progress to the deeper levels if and when it’s appropriate. The subjects must be relaxed and comfortable with what you're already doing. If one or more subjects seem uncomfortable with something you’ve asked of them, take this as your cue to elegantly backtrack to a lower level of intensity.
2. Before the session, do your best to leave your baggage at the front door! Do whatever you need to do to get yourself in a clear-minded, open-hearted state, so you can give to your greatest potential.
3. Before undertaking this type of shoot, examine your own level of comfort with being playful, vulnerable, tender or emotional. It’s only fair that you would do all the things you’re asking your subjects to do! Why not even ask a fellow photographer to try the cards out on you?
4. Show Me Your You cards are so powerful that in most instances only a sprinkling of prompts are needed throughout a whole session in order to get excellent results. It’s far better to use just three or four well-selected, well-timed prompts rather than overwhelming yourself and your subjects!
5. It's important to keep in mind that only 7% of the message we communicate comes from the actual words we use! So, pay close attention to how you deliver the prompts, and ensure you feel comfortable with what you're asking your subjects to do. Use language that's natural for you, and alter the prompts as required to suit you, the subject and the situation.
6. The easiest way to deliver the prompts is to first set up the shot you want to take, including lighting, background, composition and pose. Deliver the prompt, and then wait to capture the moment as it unfolds.
7. If you usually pose your subjects, It can be a good idea to brainstorm ideal poses for each prompt before the session. Pre-empt how the subjects might move in response to the prompt.
8. Give the subjects time. Time to understand, think about, and respond to the prompt. Don’t be scared of silence!
9. Shoot through the moment. Often the best moments happen well after the subjects have completed what you've asked them to do. And, just when you think the moment is over, there it goes again and transforms into something even more beautiful and profound! For example, have you ever noticed that if a subject cries in a session there is often a moment just after where they look up and laugh?
10. Let go of all expectations—expect only the unexpected! What may elicit a laugh from one person may have another in tears. Never try to make someone laugh or cry. Your job is to simply create a safe space and allow things to unfold.
11. For the deeper level non-verbal prompts it’s good to always give the subject an ‘exit’ (something they can do to show you they have finished) so that you don’t interrupt the moment or end up waiting awkwardly on the sidelines! These exit signals are already built into many of the level three prompts. for example, ‘open your eyes’, ‘give them a kiss on the forehead’, ‘give them a hug’.
12. What to do if a subject cries? Cherish it! Whatever you do, don’t apologise. Apologising implies two things: that you've done something wrong and that so have they! Thank them. Assure them. Congratulate them on their vulnerability and tell them how beautiful it is!
13. These cards will open your heart and mind to new ways of directing and interacting with your subjects. Invent some of your own prompts and write them on the blank cards provided!
14. Have fun. Experiment. Challenge yourself. Be curious. Be kind!