Welcome to the Workshop In Your Pocket series. If you’re an aspiring photographer, recreational or professional, these little snippets can offer you a little valuable advice to help get you over the hump in your people photography.
You’ll find these, as well as other helpful posts, over at Workshop In Your Pocket, so be sure to check over there as well.
No question… in my first few years of shooting professionally, posing was one of my biggest challenges. Particularly as an introvert.
There are so many factors that go into creating a good photograph: knowing the ins and outs of your camera to lighting, and don’t get me started about the freakiness associated with flash. Add to all of that, the people skills: directing and guiding subjects, by and large uncomfortable with a lens in their face.
Bottom line, it’s tough. Aside: it’s also why we charge so damn much… in case anyone was wondering!
So, here we are, trying to make people comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera as you struggle to feel comfortable and relaxed behind it. Not that I want to indulge in my introvert victim story, but dammit I maintain that lesser photographers with more dynamic, sparkling personalities have an easier road to success.
There. I said it. And, yes, I totally indulged in my introvert victim story. But, here’s the deal: if you’re not a people person, but want to photograph people… Posing. Can. Be. A. Bitch.
So, how do we make it easier? Whether you’re an introvert trying to push beyond the ol’ comfort zone, or simply an aspiring professional wanting to establish an easy rapport a little more quickly, here are a few easy tips to help RELAX YOU, the photographer. Because, not unlike a rabid dog, your client will smell your fear!
Despite their own self-consciousness and discomfort, your client will immediately dial into your own. And, unfortunately, it impacts their perception of your professionalism. The easier you seem, the more professional you’ll appear. And, most importantly, the more they will trust you with their sense of vulnerability in this unfamiliar and awkward situation.
- I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again. And again. And again. Open with a simple chat. Ask questions about your subject, without the camera between you. Shooting a couple? Inquire about the engagement: where did they meet? How long have they known each other? It’s small talk and, while it often gets a bad rap, it’s super effective at greasing the wheels and letting you get to know each other a little before you stick a lens in their face!
- You’ll hate this one, introverts, but it’s essential: talk to your subjects consistently. Casually chatting – a lot! – renders the camera secondary to simply being and interacting with each other. It also reassures your subject, so they aren’t left hanging out there in front of the lens on their own. The chatting, the constant reassuring and positive reinforcement, it’s necessary to easing the tension and building your subject’s confidence. Just for kicks, and in the spirit of developing your photographic empathy, stand in front of someone with a camera to their eye, in silence, and see how you feel. Yup, AWKWARD! Consider these muscles to be worked. It does get easier… and, ultimately, your people pictures will be better.
- Keep it simple. Identify a half dozen of your own favourite poses that you’ve seen and embed them in your memory and use them. Over and over. There’s nothing wrong with the repetition, and really, the poses will vary from subject to subject, reflecting their individuality. The more you use them, the more confidence you have in their implementation and your clients pick up on that confidence. The more you use them the more you make them your own and part of what becomes your identifiable style and brand.
I know. A lot of talking. And this is where it gets sticky for we basement dwellers. But, take it from one who knows; one who’s pushed through, or rather, practiced through my own solitary, loner proclivities to make beautiful people pictures with happy clients.
If you’re wanting a handy dandy little tool to help with your posing confidence when and where you need it, here’s a quick reference to help with proven posing ideas: Workshop In Your Pocket Posing Inspiration Swatches. In your pocket and at your fingertips… no-one even has to know!