Making Your Subject Comfortable


So often, models & clients come voice to me that during our photoshoot, they got more direction than they had with any other photographer. This makes me proud, knowing I'm doing something right. But honestly, doesn't everyone give direction?

I guess not.

This post isn't for model photography, FYI, so I'll continue from here on a strictly client basis.

Just a note to self, or to you, as a photographer, you have to make the people in front of the camera feel comfortable. Every - single - time I photograph someone (unless they're a professional model), I CONSTANTLY hear "Oh, I look TERRIBLE in pictures" and "I'm so NOT photogenic" and my favorite "You're going to have to do a LOT of photoshop on my face".

I'm not sure if it's human nature to HATE the way they look, or if society's way of painting people who find themselves beautiful as vain, but just about everyone I meet is vastly uncomfortable in front of the camera. As a photographer, it becomes not only my job to take their picture, but to make them look GOOD, and honestly, not hate themselves.

The shoot starts and they're tense, not knowing whether or not to smile or 'smolder', turn, stand up straight, lean in our out, profile, etc; so I immediately begin with direction. I'd say it's a bit of a recipe.

60% Direction: "Turn your face this way, look down with your eyes, shoulders up, cross your hands"
25% Confidence boosting: "Now that's a great pose", "With your eyes looking that direction, you look really studious", "Standing that way makes you look very elegant"
15% Hard Evidence: Yes, once I finish a pose, if I came up with a shot that I know they'll like (instinct), I show them. It's a raw, imperfect photo, but when you tell them it's a great photo, show them they created the exact look you were hoping for, and that they look (insert adjective here), you'll start getting results.

Of course, I pepper in some joking, a few small anecdotes, and as many opportunities (without being too many) to remind them that they are not alone, everyone else feels weird and unnatural in front of the camera.