The real way to get people to relax during a photoshoot.

Posing for pictures is just not natural. Few people feel comfortable in front of a camera, and even fewer feel comfortable when posing for an image that will be shared with the public in a business capacity. That being said, it is essential that commercial photography show people who are at ease and confident. This is impossible to do when a subject is stressed or feeling awkward during the shoot. 

I feel the photographer is responsible for making the subject feel as comfortable as possible during the session. This is as important for the shot as having precise focus. As part of my expertise, I bring key people skills to the photo shoot so we can a) minimize time wasted and b) create attractive, effective photographs.

By nature, I have a quieter, more reserved voice. I keep it friendly and not challenging as I feel out the subject’s mood and energy level.  I think that gets good results and it comes naturally to me.  I care deeply about my photography,  which comes through in everything I do during the shoot.  The bonus is that this helps people relax while I am taking their picture.

Also high on the list of photographers’ key skills to have is optimizing interaction with the subject. The most important parts of this I practice is empathetic listening and responsiveness. Find out what the person likes and wants, and more importantly, doesn’t like. I put myself in the person’s position and adjust my shot selection, posing and framing to optimize the situation for the subject. If the subject asks a question, I respond as succinctly and immediately as possible. I also listen “without” my ears. Often, I can pick up on non-verbal cues that let me know that a person is uneasy about something or wants to change the pace of the session. I then use simple questions to determine what can remedy the situation. 

Of course there are tricks to the trade. I usually shoot to my laptop, sharing images with the subject and making adjustments as we progress.  Posing is an art form as well.  Putting one or both hands in one’s pockets can help subjects feel more comfortable. Or they can brace that hand on a chair or against a wall. But it is up to me to make sure the overall composition of the image is still natural looking, attractive and balanced. Is the clothing still right? Or do I have to reposition or smooth-out someone’s jacket? Does the person still look natural, like they might take that pose without thinking about it?  Finally I make sure we capture a variety of expressions and poses.  With digital capture there is little reason to not create more opportunities to get the shot.

I have been told that I do very well at making people relax during a photo session. It is one of the factors that grows my word-of-mouth business and call-backs. But most importantly, it is another important component to creating an effective, professional end product.

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