A photographer’s approach to shooting portraits plays a vital role in getting a good shot quickly.
In my experience most people, unless they are an actor or model, feel very uncomfortable standing in front of a camera. They feel self-conscious and find it hard to relate to the photographer who might be hiding behind their camera. Who wouldn’t?
One of the biggest mistake a lot of photographers make is that tend to hide behind their camera. Much better to have your camera on a tripod. That allows you to move freely and converse with your subject to put them at ease. It’s important to chat for a while to help your subject forget about the camera and engage with you. This is also the time to study the shape of the face of your subject and alter the lighting accordingly.
While chatting with your subject have a careful look at their features. Ask them which side they prefer. In my experience ladies tend to have a preference.
Have them seated on a posing stool or an office chair which is easy to rotate.
It’s good to use appropriate humour to help your subject to relax and it’s a bonus if they burst out with a laughter. Catch the tail end of their smile as full smile doesn’t work so well with some people. Shooting with continuous light is a great advantage in capturing the right moment as you are not limited by the recycle time of your flash. As I shoot mostly on location and often travel by public transport, the portability of the gear is crucial for me. I have recently invested in Rotolight AEOS with soft box for key light and Rotolight Neo 2 with a diffuser as fill light. For hair light I use my trusted Dedeolight.
It’s worth spending time in mastering your approach to shooting portraits. That’s the best investment we can make as portrait photographers.
Here is a portrait of Clive for a brochure in my studio.