I found this post in my buddy Scott's archives and just loved the simplicity of it all. You've read on so many different blogs, in books and heard people on the stage talk about being confident. Well, it's all under the same umbrella. You've got to demonstrate you're comfortable with the process of interacting with your clients, talking with them during the session and making it a point to, as Scott says, empower them. The greatest portrait photographers have a very specific way they communicate with they're subjects. They are engaging and the end result are natural smiles and that amazing twinkle they get in their eyes...and it's more than just catchlight!
In his video about photographing Vanessa Williams and her daughter, our good pal, Matthew Jordan Smith talks about the importance of attitude during a portrait session. Watch the video and you'll hear Matthew talk about the importance of making your subjects feel good and how you can achieve beautiful and natural expressions by setting the tone right from the start.
You have the power to set the stage with every portrait you capture.
by Scott Bourne
This isn’t going to be a post about what camera, lens, aperture or shutter speed you should use to get a great portrait. Instead, it’s going to be about you.
You see, if you’re a serious portrait photographer – your job is to make the subject look good. NOTE: It is NOT the subject’s job to look good. It’s YOUR job to MAKE them look good. And yes, you can improve your chances with the right gear, lighting, background, poses, etc.
But there’s another thing you should think about, but likely do not.
Not only is it the job of the photographer to make the subject look good, it is the photographer’s job to make the subject more powerful. You are supposed to empower your subject. The job of the photographer is to awaken possibility in other people.
Now what is all this about? It’s simple. Photography changes lives. My sister and her daughter wanted a portrait. But my sister has not been at all happy with how she looks in photographs. In fact, she gets emotionally stressed about being photographed the way some people get stressed when flying. Why is she stressed? She has some self-esteem issues. And I can help with that. That’s what I mean when I say you can empower the subject. Just think about it. If you can make someone who thinks they photograph poorly look good, you will make them feel good. If they feel good about themselves. . . they feel empowered. What a gift.
Now here’s the trick for how to accomplish that – how to empower your subject.
It’s really very simple. You are just a mirror. If your subject seems stressed, it’s probably because you are stressed. If your subject is in a sour mood, it’s probably because you are in a sour mood. In other words, you reflect on your subject. If your subject isn’t getting into the session and you aren’t getting the results you seek – you need to ask yourself this question: Who are you that your subject is not happy?
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.