The dreaded “cheese” is something that most portrait photographers tend to avoid. Fake smiles and laughter are as uncomfortable for the model as they are for the photo-taker. How can you make someone smile genuinely, though? The idea seems virtually impossible, especially if you consider strangers whose personalities and interests are unknown to you.
When all else fails, many photographers turn to reverse psychology. The tricks within this field can make even the most serious subjects burst out laughing. These tips are guaranteed to not only bring a smile to your model’s face but help you create a pleasant environment that will make anyone feel at home. Before you know it, your portfolio will be filled with beautiful smiles, genuine emotions, and cozy atmospheres.
Before you attempt to make people smile, get to know them. What are their interests? What kind of photographers do they admire? A general knowledge of any person will enable you to create the most comfortable environment for a model. A short meet-up will allow you to introduce yourself properly and appreciate the model’s talents. If you remain confident in your own skin, you’ll make any person you speak to feel like themselves in your presence. Finding mutual interests and hobbies will take you even further, giving you an abundance of topics to discuss and mention during the photoshoot itself.
Thoughts have the power to dramatically change moods and comfort levels. As a photographer, you can gently guide your models’ thoughts in the right direction by giving them heartwarming topics to think or talk about. This will inevitably make them smile and give you lots of opportunities to capture their true happiness.
Make sure to ask your models about their favorite hobbies, memories, or people. As mentioned previously, you can even get to know them before a photo shoot so that you can ask them appropriate questions later on. Your questions don’t have to be too deep, for the record. A polite conversation about pleasant matters can work wonders!
Though encouragement will make your model feel relaxed, remember to give compliments only when you truly mean them. This will show your models that you’re not simply throwing words around to distract them. Another form of encouragement is constructive criticism. If a certain pose doesn’t work, just be honest and offer an alternative. This will build mutual trust, which will help you understand what uplifts and irks your models.
Distractions and surprises can catch people off guard in the best way possible. If you ask your models not to smile at all, for example, you’ll compel them to smile at least once. Tricks like this may not work for everyone, but they’re certainly worth experimenting with. Here are a few more surprising things you can do:
You don’t have to be an extrovert to make others smile. You don’t even have to be a comedian to make someone giggle. All you need is to be your true self. A photographer’s authenticity, mixed with a model’s willingness to collaborate, will create natural photographs and brilliant friendships. Letting others know that you’re truly interested in their creative lives will make them feel exceedingly comfortable in your presence. Once you get to this stage, the natural smiles will immediately come to you. All you need is a little bit of patience.
And of course, don’t forget to smile. 🙂