Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fun times for my 5 year old

Tyler has been in toy heaven since Christmas. Above is a photo of him and 72 of his newest friends reenacting some battle only known to my son and he's recruits. Which brings me to today's topic. Photographing authentic action/emotion.

One of the hardest parts about photographing people is simply the barrier between you and your subject that the camera creates. Here are a few simple tricks that have worked for me to help disarm and even find a personal connection with clients (weird I know).

  1. Talk to your subject! Before I even start a session I take time to meet with my clients, discuss what they like, dislike and learn a little about them. I even let the conversation digress into random small talk since the whole point is to learn more about them. Then when we start shooting, I continue talking! A gift of gab can be very useful. Another key tool is listening. Search what the client is telling you for details that will give hints about that person's personality that you can then reflect in their images.
  2. Walk your client through the photographic process. Chances are that if you work with the general public they aren't in front of the camera every day and won't know what to expect or how to act. Explain what you are looking to achieve and complement them when you like what you see.
  3. Provide motivation. If you want a particular emotion, help the client feel the sentiment you desire. If you want a true smile make the client laugh with a self deprecating joke, silly prop, etc. A laughing smile means the corners of the eyes will also turn up, erasing any faked smile. I've been known to anything for a laugh. Having a good joke on hand is always helpful, or an assistant that will dance on command! Terice over the last 4 years has been the butt of many jokes that have helped to produce many great images. Thanks for taking one for the team Terice!
  4. Ask for input. Over the years a number of my favorite shot ideas have come from  clients. Remember you aren't the only creative person alive!
  5. Step out from behind the camera. If you have a client that can converse with you easily but becomes stiff when you look through the viewfinder, then back away. Put the camera on a tripod and grab a remote shutter release and strike up a conversation. This works great for kids. I start playing with them and then hit the shutter release when the smile appears. Plus it adds the element of surprise since the subject doesn't know when the photo will be taken. 
  6. Keep in mind that some times luck is always a factor in photography. Keep your reflexes sharp and chances are the fortunes may smile on you.

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