Engaging your subject is one of the best ways to get awesome portraits. If you arrive at the shoot with a “Show up and shoot” attitude, it will definitely have a negative impact on the outcome. I try to engage my subjects with at least a 5 minute conversation prior to shooting. The easiest way to judge if you have engaged enough is simple, did you learn at least 3 things about your subject.
I recently traded head shots with another local photographer because I hate being in front of the camera (that’s why I take your pictures!). When she arrived, we had a 5 minute conversation before discussing anything to do with photography. In this short conversation I learned:
- She lives on my street (small world!)
- She has 3 children
- It was her sons birthday
- She is originally from Guelph and now lives on my street
I find these small conversations help relax the subject and make them feel more comfortable in front of the camera. It is kind of like a trust building exercise.
During the shoot, you must continue on the conversation as well. My job as a photographer is simple:
- Make the subject forget you have a camera
- Keep a conversation going
- Crack a few jokes
As long as you are doing this, the subject will be comfortable in front of your intimidating lens and also they will be themselves. There is nothing worse than a fake smile or reaction on a photograph.
In this case, we had a great time and the photos turned out awesome!!