Thanks to all of you that joined in my ‘smirkshop’ (smile and work) last week on composition and shared your photos! This week I want to talk about one of my favourite subjects in portraiture and that is creating a connection and emotion between you and your subjects.
Though portraiture looks easy sometimes creating a connection with your subject isn’t easy at all. Many people have a cronic fear of being in front of the camera. I have worked with models and loads of people off the street and the great images come from those that have ‘let go’, the ones that have no fear, that are willing to play, to make an idiot of themselves and ‘to dance as though no-one is watching’.
Emotion doesn’t come just from the eyes and the face, our bodies are a vital part of the emotional story. The way we place our hands, our heads, the ‘shape we create with our body’, how we sit and the movement of our body tells its own story. If your body is tense, the camera sees it.
I am a fan of all emotion, it can be happiness, joy, frustration, questioning, fear, what is important is that in an image their is real ‘connection’ and this comes through in the photo. Our job as a photographer is to create this connection, it isn’t enough to have a pretty photo with nice light and nice composition and a dead subject! Sorry gang, this is the truth.
So if you subject is paralysed with fear or doesn’t know how to pose (who does) then you dear photographer need to charm them, to put them at ease, make the experience fun and have a secret booty of poses that will make anyone look good.
Here’s what I do:
1. I always talk with my subjects, have a coffee with them before getting out the camera. I try to get to know what their passions are, if they dance or are into cars. Whatever it is so we can relate.
2. I give them roles to play (someone in a film or someone they can relate to ) and often a prop.
3. I get them moving (nothing like trying to concentrate on where to put your foot) to take their minds off me.
4. I have an archive of great poses on my Iphone, so if I am stumped I check for inspiration.
5. I say dumb stuff that makes them laugh.
6. I speak in different voices, if I want the shot to be calm or full of energy.
7. I never tell them they look silly.
8. I love when they suggest something, you never know what might happen.
9. I remind them they are not at the dentist!! This is only photography.
10. I have fun and even if it is all going pear-shaped never lose my cool!
All images copyright Carla Coulson Chasing a Dream