How Professional Photographers Put Their Subjects At Ease

Posted on Oct 31, 2017

How professional photographers put their subjects at easeThere is an art to professional photography as much as there is an art to dealing with human subjects in your photographic work. Taking photos of inanimate objects takes time, patience, lighting, the correct approach, the right angle and a winning composition. The same applies when photographing people, except these people move, they have emotions, they are nervous, shy or even afraid. Professional photographers cannot simply snap shots of people, they have to coerce the character out of the person and bring them to life in front of the camera. Even the slightest hint of fear or shyness can be detected through the lens and unless this is part of the brief, it’s something that needs to be avoided.

As a team of professional South African photographers who’ve been around the block a few times, we have a few hints on how best to make photographic subjects feel at ease. Whether you’re shooting sports photography or doing a series of portrait photographs, these tips will help you create a laid back environment in which to work.

How professional photographers put their subjects at ease

Be Confident And Kind

As soon as your photographic subjects are within personal reach, extend a hand, shake theirs and greet them warmly. Show them that you are in control of your role and that you will be there to guide them through the entire process. This is so simply achieved with a little confidence and kindness.

A photographer who is easy to get on with from the get go will immediately instil a sense of calm in his or her subjects. You as the photographer also need to be relaxed in order for people around to feel the same.

Find Some Common Ground

You will have opportunities to speak to one another so try and find some common ground between you and them to get the conversation flowing and nerves untangling. It could be anything from the latest series on Netflix to a sports fixture. If there is a mutual interest in something they will feel as though you are more on a level with them. Be genuine, though. Forced conversation is simply awkward for everyone.

How professional photographers put their subjects at ease

Walk Them Through What’s Going To Happen

Give them the brief from your perspective. They don’t need to understand the nuts and bolts, but it will help if they know what you’re trying to achieve. You can give them a step-by-step guide as to how you see the whole day panning out before you take them through it all.

Give Them Direction

Don’t leave your subjects clueless as to how you envision the photograph looking as an end product. Share your vision with them and give them guidance on how you think they can best achieve that. With your direction they can reach for so much more in line with your vision. Tell them what you want them to do with clear instructions. If they don’t get it right the first time, try and elaborate on why you want them to act a certain way or do a certain thing. If they can understand where you’re coming from it will be so much easier for them to get it right.

There are so many other pointers that simply come naturally to a photographer who has been in the business for an extended period of time, but these are a great place to start. Let us know if you put any to the test and how they worked for you.