Has your sister ever asked you to make a photograph of her? Or your BFF? Or your mum?
In a way, you can’t really say no because there are a few exceptions in the ‘’no pay - no pic’’ philosophy.
Even though the person who has asked you to take their photo is not a model, that doesn’t mean you can’t take nice photographs of them, you just need to use a couple of tricks to make that magic work out.
Photographing people who are not in the modelling industry is very much different than shooting professional models.
There is a reason why Kate Moss is Kate Moss.
Models are aware of their bodies and how their movement and pose are reflected in a photo. They understand that connection.
On the other hand, your ordinary Joe or Jane does not feel comfortable in front of the camera which will make him or her act in an unnatural way.
Whenever I’m shooting people who are not models - be it friends or strangers - I want them to feel relaxed in front of my lens.
No, I NEED them to feel relaxed.
That is the number one thing I’m working towards because capturing the image isn’t as hard as this one.
Remember: making a subject feel comfortable enough is half of the job.
HOW TO CREATE A CONNECTION
I always do something that might come across as seemingly obvious - I talk to people.
I talk before shooting and during shooting and after shooting.
I show them pictures so that they’ll feel like we’re creating something valuable together.
Sometimes I’m holding my camera with my hand, but I am not looking through the viewfinder. Instead, I am looking straight at my model and talking to them in a chatty sort of way.
It’s like I’m saying: ‘’My camera is not a weapon. We are in this together, mate!’’
Having a conversation before taking anyone’s photo will ensure that you get that first one on one connection.
Imagine it like this: you walk into a store and the clerk starts putting outfit after outfit on you.
Now think about the same scene, but with a twist: you talk to the clerk beforehand and feel more relaxed about the whole outfit-changing situation.
It is the very same in photography, especially since many people are camera shy and being the photographer means being the one in power.
MOVE, DON’T POSE
Besides having my subjects relaxed, I specifically ask them not to pose. If there is a certain skill that they have, they should definitely go ahead and showcase it!
If they dance, act, sing or do karate - they should go ahead and bust a move (or a vocal cord).
Not only can this be a good opportunity for a photo, but it will make them feel more self-confident. And that is exactly what we are looking for.
Instead of posing, I like to direct them in a way that will look more natural. I want them to act something out - something easy and familiar, like walking, playing with their hair, shaking their head, looking back.
These actions are performed in time and it is the photographer’s job to capture that split of a second when the subjects look their best.
This way the image will appear much more natural than having static poses.
GET THEM SOMETHING TO PLAY WITH
The old trick for fashion magazines used to be giving the models a cigarette to have something to do with their hands.
Nowadays cigarettes are getting all the negative attention (for all the right reasons), but you can give your subjects different props to make them feel less confused.
Try giving them flowers, a bag, sunglasses, a scarf - anything that looks nice and that is nice and easy to play with.
This trick will save you answering many questions that go along the lines of ‘’what should I do with my hands?’’.
The hands themselves don’t even need to be in the photo for this trick the work - the important thing is to make the subjects feel like they’re doing something right.
And if they do - if they feel appreciated and comfortable - it will be visible in the photos too.