Working with Different Kinds of Portrait Subjects

“The reason some portraits don’t look true to life is that some people make no effort to resemble their pictures.” ― Salvador Dalí

A portrait shoot is a team effort so its important that you talk to your subject and discuss what you and they would like to accomplish during a shoot. Many times I’ve seen photographers shooting people and expecting them to do all the work. Sometimes that works and sometime it doesn’t because there are basically two kinds of photo subjects:

Inner-directed people are the Energizer bunnies of photo subjects. You tell them to stand “over there,” point the camera at them and they will change poses as fast as you can click the shutter. You will get lots of good poses, some great ones, and a few not so good because the subject isn’t getting any feedback, except from themselves. The other downside is that you will also shoot more photos, which in turn takes more editing time. This type of subject probably represents 20% of the subjects that you’ll get to photograph.

Outer directed subjects represent the other 80% of photo subjects and they expect that you will tell them what to do. Shooting this type of subject takes longer and you need to take the time to communicate what you want them to do. They will respond better if you occasionally (key word) show them what the photograph looks like on the LCD screen. It’s up to you to tell them how to pose and in order to do that, you need to know what you want but also be gentle and allow them to be who they really are.

The original title of my book “Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photography” was The ABC’s of Portrait Posing. On this blog there are lots of posts about portrait posing. Use the Search box on the upper right-hand corner and type “posing” to find appropriate posts. If you want something more lasting, take a look at my book that’s available from Amazon


Author: Joe Farace

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