Having your photograph taken can be a difficult experience, particularly in a formal setting such as a professional shoot. Not many of us are trained in the fine art of making our bodies and faces angle themselves for the perfect composition and there’s no rulebook for photographers on how to get the best out of their human subject matter either. Here are our top tips for encouraging your not-so-still life to get the most out of their shoot time, so you can get the most out of your photos.
Get them to do their homework
Advise your subjects to stand in front of a full length mirror wearing the outfit they’re going to be photographed in and practice posing. It sounds weird. And it feels weird when you’re doing it, but it will give them the confidence coming into the shoot knowing they’ve’ got a few ‘moves’ that they’re comfortable with. Get them to have a look at other similar images, red carpet shots in magazines; bridal and wedding shoots, etc. and have a go at similar poses, in advance of the day itself. In a smaller mirror, practice with the face too. It seems silly, but whether your shoot is high glamour or goofy family fun, your subjects need to know which smile works best for them.
Make them feel comfortable
Most people aren’t used to having a camera pointed at them for hours on end and this new experience can leave body language awkward and faces stiff. Make sure to spend some time before the shoot putting your clients at ease. Discuss with them exactly what they hope to achieve from the shoot and the process involved to get there so everyone has a clear understanding of what to expect.
Create the right atmosphere
Creating the right mood during your shoot can have dramatic effects on the photos you end up with, as well as making the whole event more enjoyable. Think carefully about the kind of shoot you’re planning and select some appropriate music to accompany it. If you’ve got a family shoot coming in, think about age appropriate tunes, or ask the engagement shoot couple what their favourite bands are to help set their mood or if you’re in for a full on pout-filled, sexy romp of a shoot, ramp up the style of music to help your model get their strut on but be sure to keep the volume at a level where you can still be heard over it.
Be aware of your subject’s comfort
Ensuring your subject is as comfortable as possible throughout your shoot can improve the overall experience no end. Make sure there’s a way they can achieve some privacy for changing and during the shoot keep extra people to a minimum; no one wants to pose in front of a bunch of extra hangers on.
Wherever possible, ensure you can control the temperature during the shoot and if it does end up in a freezing warehouse or a blazing hot conservatory make sure to provide heaters, blankets or fans.
Take regular breaks and keep everyone (including yourself) refreshed. Holding your body in a stress position for long periods of time is tiring. Make sure to shake out those limbs once in a while.
Don’t be afraid to direct
During the shoot, if you’re wishing someone would move their leg or take a step to the right or stop doing that weird thing with their eyebrow then TELL THEM. No one wants to have orders barked at them all day but direction and encouragement are key to the success of your shoot and the happiness of your client. After all, you’re the one that’s looking at the whole picture therefore you’re in the best position to guide your subject, so speak up.