Helping Non-Photogenic Subjects to Relax

Rating: 5.00 based on 2 Ratings
  By Jonathan Ma
Helping Non-Photogenic Subjects to Relax

One of the challenges of photography when working with clients is helping them to relax and be themselves. Some clients are very photogenic and will need very little guidance during the photo shoot. But not everyone is photogenic, which means that the photographer will need to learn ways to help the client to feel safe and comfortable. The emotions of the subject will affect their facial expressions. If the subject is nervous, they may have trouble smiling naturally. So the key is in learning how to calm the subject’s nerves before and during the photo shoot. Let’s discuss some tips that you can use to help non-photogenic subjects to relax on a photo shoot.

Establish a Relationship with the Subject Before the Photo Shoot

There are many ways to go about doing this. If a potential client contacts you for some photography work, it may be a good idea to meet them beforehand to discuss the photo shoot. Meeting at a coffee shop to is a great way to get to know your client and for them to get to know you, the photographer, in a relaxed atmosphere. It is not essential to the only talk about photography or the photo shoot. Talking about personal experiences or things that you both have in common will help you establish a relationship with them. During the photo shoot, this established friendship will help the subject to relax. Naturally smiling in front of a friend with a camera is much easier than trying to do so in front of a stranger with a camera.

Talk to the Subject During the Photo Shoot

Photographers can sometimes become too focused on the technical aspects of photography and get stuck behind the lens. When this happens, they forget to spend time talking to the subject. Photographers shouldn’t only be giving instructions too. This leads to the subject becoming anxious because they don’t have anything else to focus on besides themselves. Try to have a regular conversation with the subject while you are photographing them. You can discuss everyday topics such as the weather, food, or work. The best topics to talk about are the ones that make your subject happy and also laugh. This is why getting to know your subject before the photo shoot is so important.

Give Simple Instructions When Posing the Subject

Subjects that are already anxious don’t need extra stress added. When a photographer gives instructions that are too specific or hard to understand, it can cause the subject to stiffen up even more. Simple instructions such as “Walk towards me slowly”, or “Lean on the wall over there” are perfect. General instructions like these allow the subject some flexibility when following the instructions. Unclear instructions would be ones such as “Act Naturally”, or “Look towards the sky”. Subjects need easy to understand instructions that they can easily follow. It is the photographer’s responsibility to communicate clearly.

Another easy way to pose subjects is to bring photos of sample poses to show the subject. When they see examples of the pose they are supposed to do, it helps them visualize it. This helps prevent the subject from becoming anxious or nervous about whether or not they’re posing correctly. Sample poses are great for the photographer too because you can always refer back to them when you run out of ideas on the photo shoot. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. I highly recommend saving a list of great poses that you like and having them handy on all of your photo shoots.

Commend the Subject Often

Everyone loves to be praised. Commendation is a great way to boost your subject’s self-confidence in themselves. As the photo shoot progresses, give out shouts of praise as appropriate. “Great pose!”, “That looks great!”, “You look beautiful!”, etc. Complimenting the subject helps them to relax. When they hear that they look good, it takes the pressure off of them. Non-photogenic clients generally become nervous because they can’t stop thinking about how they look in front of the camera. They may think that they are not pretty or handsome, or that they look awkward in the photos. The irony is that it makes them more awkward when they are thinking about how awkward they look.

Happy shooting!

Rating: 5.00 based on 2 Ratings
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Jonathan Ma

Jonathan Ma is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States. The natural beauty that surrounds this area has helped him to learn to appreciate art and photography. Jonathan's favorite styles of photography are nature and sports photography. He enjoys learning and teaching others what he knows.

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