My mother is one of the most difficult people to photograph. She hates having her picture taken and it shows when you force her to smile for the camera. Well I was thrilled that this one turned out. And how did I get it? Easy, I lied.
You see, when you are an amateur you have some built-in excuses. People expect you to fumble around and take time to "get things right". Do you know how many killer shots I have gotten by saying "Just hang on, I'm getting some light readings, don't worry, we're not starting yet". YEAH RIGHT! I scored this one by telling my mother that I was just refocusing and not actually taking a picture. HA.
I am not suggesting that you need to lie to be a good photographer, but whenever you can disarm your subject, you get a much more relaxed and natural look. Try some techniques of your own to get those candid portraits. We all have the Uncle Marty that smiles at the camera like a dope every time you go to a family function. Try to get a picture without them knowing. Candid portraits (or at least not "posed" portraits) are almost always my favorites.
This all goes to the importance of having a comfortable relationship with your subject. Even if you met them the day you shoot them, talk to them for a few minutes before the camera even comes out. Tell them briefly what you'll be doing and that it is EASY and will be FUN. That alone goes a long way.
I remember my first paying client. I had no idea what I got myself into and she had never been part of an on-location photo shoot. Not only was it my first paying client, I knew it would be published on a magazine cover. First thing I knew I had to do: lie. If I was nervous and she was nervous (because I was nervous) it would have been a disaster. As it turned out we started off by just chatting. And when we started shooting I told her things like, "Stand here, this will look great!" Half the shots weren't great. But it didn't matter. She was having a good time and was relaxed. It was all I could ask for. That assignment taught me so much about getting your subject to be at ease. You should have fun and so should they. If that isn't happening in your shoot, you are doing something wrong. You're an amateur, you aren't getting paid so you better at least have fun.
The shoot, by the way, was a success. I'll post the pictures in a future post.
>> On the photo above I converted from color to B&W and increased contrast. I hate OVER-post processing, so I do the bare minimum....hmmm sounds like a future post.