When I take a photo, I want the person looking at it to feel as though they’re in that actual moment. I want the fact that it’s a photo to disappear. I want the smile of my model to make the person looking at the photograph start smiling too and a large part of getting to that point is making your model feel comfortable. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting a professional model, a client, a friend, a family member or a significant other. The person you’re shooting needs to feel relaxed and comfortable and it’s your job as a portrait photographer to create an environment to support that.
Here’s how I get my models comfortable at a shoot.
Conversation: From the first interaction I have with my model, I try to have conversations with them. Talk about their life, their hobbies, interests, goals in life. Talk about anything. Having a genuine conversation with your model will make them more comfortable shooting with you.
Music: Before a shoot, I ask my model to give me their 3 favourite songs. Then I use that to create a bomb playlist for the shoot. Having your model listening to the music they like the most will definitely make them way more relaxed at your shoot.
Jokes: A couple of corny dad jokes here and there can give you true laughter on set and then its up to you to just capture that moment.
Count Down: If all else fails try counting down to a shot. 3…2…1… but take the photo before you reach 1. In those couple of seconds before your model tenses up thinking the shot is coming, you can catch glimpses of them relaxed and happy.
Relax: Not every shoot needs to be a rush. Very often, I just sit down on the floor and play around with my camera while I’m talking to my model and once they’re relaxed, snap the moment.
As a photographer, you eventually learn what works for you, your models and your clients. These tips have worked for me and I hope they’ll do the same for you. Now… off you go to capture that special moment.