You can take a great portrait, but can you take one that looks “relaxed” and natural? Most often, people are generally shy when it comes to being up close and personal in front of the camera, leading to tense-looking pictures. Depending on your subject on shooting day, it’s difficult to predict their mood and it can be frustrating when they simple can’t let their guard down and time is ticking.
That’s where your role as a photographer come to play. It’s not just point-and-shoot anymore as the skill required to capture stunning portraits goes beyond technical know-how. Think of yourself as specialists in human behavior who is able to summon any emotion or expression you need according to the brief – much like the director of a movie.
Of course, you can always fake laugh your way out of it but having a genuine reaction makes for a better shot! Here is a list of ideas we have for a more enjoyable portrait taking session. Just remember that every situation is unique so the technique you use may vary.
Have fun and say “Cheese”!
Works most of the time! Take a few shots at the start and when you need subjects to loosen up a bit, use cue words like “You’re doing pretty good, how about trying something like this,”.If you’re taking family shots, get them to interact and poke fun at one another. Be sure to get your camera up and ready so you can capture that smile when it happens.
It is fairly simple to get people laughing on set especially when there are 2 or more people involved. One way is to count 1-2-3 but on “3”, pause a bit to allow them to relax, then start taking candid shots of them laughing or smiling as they realized they were tricked. It works!
This is my favorite technique. It’s like being a kid again and getting everyone to wiggle their bums. Some movement does help in taking some natural giggles along the way. Do only try this for casual, light-hearted shots as it would be awkward if it was a professional photoshoot=)
The best way in encouraging kids to loosen up and smile! Start with some simple faces like pursing your lips, winking, raising your eyebrows or making funny noises as you are pulling these expressions. You’ll be guaranteed lots of toothy grins from the little ones!
For families with young kids in tow, it can be a challenge for everyone to look pretty with perfect smiles for the camera. Children are unpredictable all the time so if you encounter a kid who pouts and refuses to smile, try saying,” Okay, I want everyone to smile except Johnny!” It might be a spell breaker!
For adults, it’s easier to get them to smile upon request but in order to make it sincere and heartfelt. Ask your subject to think of that special someone or a sweet moment in their life. Many times, you will see their facial features softening and lips turning upwards, that’s when you snap that perfect portrait.
It could be a simple hop or a big, swooping jump in the air with arms overhead, anything to get the adrenaline flowing for your subject. Play around with the shutter speeds and aperture settings so you can take multiple frames without missing any single moment. Once again, depending on the angle of the shoot, this technique is usually suitable when you’re taking a casual shot especially if it’s outdoors.